Maya Ajmera

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Maya Ajmera is the founder of The Global Fund for Children, a nonprofit organization that invests philanthropic capital in innovative community-based organizations working with some of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth.[1][2]

Ajmera is also the author of nearly twenty award-winning children's books, including Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World, Extraordinary Girls, To Be an Artist, Faith, and Healthy Kids.[3]


Early life and education[edit]

Raised in eastern North Carolina by Indian immigrants, Ajmera graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham.[4] She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Bryn Mawr College and a master's degree in public policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.[5]


Ajmera founded The Global Fund for Children in 1994, when she was just 25 years old. The inspiration came from a trip she took to India on a Rotary Fellowship a few years earlier. While waiting for a train she saw a group of children being taught by a teacher on a train platform. Ajmera learned that these children were students in a Train Platform School for impoverished children who could not attend school. Moved by what she saw, Ajmera applied for and won a seed grant from Echoing Green. This initial funding helped her build an organization to support innovative grassroots efforts on behalf of vulnerable children around the world.[6]

During her tenure years with the organization, the Global Fund for Children gave nearly $25 million in capital to nearly 500 grassroots organizations in 75 countries. These grants have served more than seven million children around the world.[7] Ajmera left her position as president in 2011, after eighteen years, and remained on GFC's board of directors until 2013.[8]

Since 2011, Ajmera is a visiting scholar at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.[9]

For 2014, Ajmera is serving as the inaugural Social Entrepreneur in Residence for Duke University and a Visiting Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke.[10]

She also serves on the boards of directors of New Global Citizens[11] and Kids in Need of Defense,[12] and is the co-chair of the board of Echoing Green.[13]

Ajmera is a trustee for the North Carolina School of Science and Math and on the Board of Visitors of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.[14] She also serves on numerous advisory boards, including the Center for Advanced Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) at Duke University, the American India Foundation,[15] the Golden Baobob Prize,[16] and Africans in the Diaspora (AiD).[17] She was a trustee for the Blue Moon fund, and she served on the board of the Washington Area Women's Foundation for nine years before becoming part of that organization's Leadership Council.[18]

Marriage and children[edit]

Maya Ajmera is married to David Hutzler Hollander Jr., a partner at Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg.[19] They have one daughter.

Honors and awards[edit]

Ajmera was the recipient of a Rotary International Graduate Fellowship to study in South Asia in 1989-1990.[20] She was also the recipient of the 1993-1997 Echoing Green Public Service Graduate Fellowship and the William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations of North Carolina.[21]

In October 2007, Maya Ajmera was featured on CNN's Heroes segment. Actress Mira Sorvino named Ajmera as her hero.[22]

In June 2008, Maya Ajmera received the Women of Distinction award at the 2008 National Conference for College Women Student Leaders at Georgetown University. The award is given to women who have made amazing accomplishments in their professions and who serve as inspiring role models for female students.[23]

She served on the Innovation and Civil Society subgroup of the Obama Presidential Transition’s Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform Policy Working Group.[24]

Ajmera was a member of the 2011 class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute.[25]

In May 2014 she received the Rotary International's Global Alumni Service to Humanity Award, presented at the Rotary Global Convention in Sydney, Australia.[26]

Published works[edit]

  • Xanadu: The Imaginary Place Edited by Maya Ajmera and Olateju Omolodun. Charlesbridge 1999.
  • Extraordinary Girls By Maya Ajmera, Olateju Omolodun, and Sarah Strunk. Charlesbridge 1999.
  • Let the Games Begin! By Maya Ajmera and Michael J. Regan. Charlesbridge 2000.
  • Children from Australia to Zimbabwe By Maya Ajmera and Anna Rhesa Versola. Charlesbridge 2001.
  • Come Out and Play By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2001.
  • To Be a Kid By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2001.
  • Back to School By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2001.
  • A Kid's Best Friend By Maya Ajmera and Alex Fisher. Charlesbridge 2002.
  • Animal Friends By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2002.
  • To Be an Artist By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2004.
  • Be My Neighbor By Maya Ajmera and John D. Ivanko. Charlesbridge 2004.
  • Children of the USA By Maya Ajmera, Arlene Hirschfelder, Yvonne Wakim Dennis, and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge 2008.
  • Faith By Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge 2009.
  • Our Grandparents: A Global Album By Maya Ajmera, Sheila Kinkade and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge, 2010.
  • What We Wear: Dressing Up Around the World By Maya Ajmera, Elise Dertine, and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge 2012.
  • Global Baby Girls By Maya Ajmera. Charlesbridge 2013.
  • Healthy Kids By Maya Ajmera, Victoria Dunning and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge 2013.
  • Music Everywhere! By Maya Ajmera, Elise Hoter Derstine and Cynthia Pon. Charlesbridge 2014.
  • Global Baby Boys By Maya Ajmera. Charlesbridge forthcoming.
  • Every Breath We Take By Maya Ajmera and Dominique Browning. Charlesbridge forthcoming.

Many of Maya's books have forewords written by prominent individuals, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Melinda French Gates, Bill Bradley, Marian Wright Edelman, John Hope Franklin, and even Kermit the Frog.[27]

Interviews and speeches[edit]

Interview with the Clinton Global Initiative, 2007[28]

Interview with Think Change India, 2008 [29]

Appearance on NPR's Tell Me More, 2008[30]

Interview with The Financial Times, 2008[31]

Appearance on Dallas NPR Station KERA, 2009[32]

TEDxAshokaU: Universities Driving Global Change at Duke University, February 25, 2011[33]

TEDxSMU, 2011[34]

William D. Reimert Lecture at Cedar Crest College, 2011.[35]


  1. ^ Global Fund for Children | Staff
  2. ^ Global Fund for Children | Our Model
  3. ^ Charlesbridge | Maya Ajmera
  4. ^ Duke Magazine | November/December 2006
  5. ^ Global Fund for Children | Staff
  6. ^ Global Fund for Children | Founder's Story
  7. ^ Aspen Institute | 2011 Henry Crown Fellows
  8. ^ Global Fund for Children | Board of Directors
  9. ^ Aspen Institute | 2011 Henry Crown Fellows
  10. ^
  11. ^ New Global Citizens | Board of Directors
  12. ^
  13. ^ Echoing Green | Maya Ajmera
  14. ^ Sanford School of Public Policy | Board of Visitors
  15. ^ American India Foundation | US Advisory Council
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ Global Fund for Children | Maya Ajmera
  19. ^ Maya Ajmera, David Hollander Jr. - New York Times
  20. ^ Rotary International GASHA Winners
  21. ^ Welcome to Charlesbridge
  22. ^ CNN's Heroes Segment | Mira Sorvino
  23. ^ Philanthropy Journal | Women of Distinction Award
  24. ^ Global Fund for Children | Founder's Story
  25. ^ Aspen Institute | 2011 Henry Crown Fellows
  26. ^ Rotary International GASHA Winners
  27. ^ Global Fund for Children | Bookstore
  28. ^ Philantopic Interview
  29. ^ Think Change India | Download mp3
  30. ^ National Public Radio | Tell Me More, 2008 | Listen to Interview
  31. ^ Financial Times Interview
  32. ^ National Public Radio | Dallas KERA | Listen to Interview
  33. ^ TedxAshokaU | Universities Driving Global Change at Duke University | Watch YouTube video
  34. ^ TedxSMU
  35. ^ Reimert Lecture at Cedar Crest College