Executive Director, SODI
Neela Rajendra advises companies, researchers, NGOs, and universities to help them harness the insights from cutting edge research to advance the frontiers of social innovation. In partnership with faculty at the country’s top institutions, large corporations, and university leadership, she helps build coalitions of creative thinkers to transform the intellectual and research hubs of higher education into engines of social change.
Knowing that many choose the research path to make a difference in the world, but that the specialization required for top research can leave some of our best thinkers without clear channels and tools for their work to impact the world, Neela helps build that bridge from research to action. Her passion is to help people and organizations tap into their own unique skill sets to create social impact.
She has partnered with entrepreneurs and local governments in countries such as Benin and Nicaragua to accelerate urban economic development, advised C-suite executives on their talent development needs, and worked with and faculty and university administrators to develop social entrepreneurship programs on campuses across the country, such as Cornell, Tulane, University of Maryland, Babson, and Claremont McKenna.
As Executive Director for SODI, she combines her expertise in designing high-impact methods to create scalable, positive social change together with her talent for creating engaging and dynamic experiences to build cross-sector partnerships.
Neela earned her B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and her M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. Her other life is as a new mom and violinist in the D.C.-based Americana rock band, The Riverbreaks, who recently released their second album, Wildfire, at the Kennedy Center.