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October 9, 2017; India New England News

NPQ is hosting a webinar this afternoon, addressing some ways to ease the risks involved in the “big bet” approach to executive transitions. One topic being dealt with is that of shared leadership. Shared leadership can take many forms throughout an organization, but one important strategy involves implementing a co-leadership model.

We have found that some considering co-leadership are nervous about presenting it to stakeholders because it varies from the norm. So, we thought it might be helpful for our readers to illustrate the power of such a moment with one announcement made yesterday through India New England News.

Saheli Boston, a nonprofit organization that works against domestic violence and supports South Asian families in New England, has hired co-executive directors: Savitha Rajiv and Nadia Madden.

“As the need for Saheli’s free services to the South Asian community continue to grow rapidly, we are fortunate to have these two talented women join our staff,” said Gouri Banerjee, Saheli Board member and past president of the Board. “It is our sincere hope that they will guide us skillfully into the next phase of Saheli’s growth.”


Rajiv comes with extensive experience working in non-profit organizations. Originally focused on a career as a software engineer, Rajiv was looking for opportunities to challenge her son, when she found North South Foundation (NSF) and volunteered there for many years. NSF is a nonprofit organization that conducts educational bees in the US and uses funds to provide scholarships to kids in India.

During the 14+ years of working with non-profit organizations, she has honed the skills that has prepared her to take on the role of co-executive director at Saheli. She will be overseeing the domestic violence advocacy program, building strong community relationships as well as increasing the visibility of Saheli. Her goal is to reach every South Asian family in the state of Massachusetts facing domestic violence, and empower them to lead healthy and happy lives, free of violence. She is very excited to be working with a dedicated team of Staff and Board members who are very passionate about the work Saheli does.

Rajiv has a BS from Bangalore University and an MS in Computer Science from Tufts University. She loves to garden, read and travel. She hails from Bangalore, a city she still fondly calls home. Currently, Savitha resides in Westford with her husband and their two boys.


Madden works with Savitha as the co-executive director of Saheli. She has been involved with nonprofits since 2004, when she co-founded WatSan, a nonprofit that helps Indonesian women and their families improve environmental conditions in slum communities. She also worked for several years at the Union of Concerned Scientists, a large nonprofit in Cambridge. Madden brings substantial experience with nonprofit operations, grant management and financial oversight to her role at Saheli.

At Saheli, Madden will be overseeing Saheli’s finances, as well as working with the board on fundraising and strategic planning. Her goal is to help Saheli operate smoothly as the organization moves from being primarily run by volunteers to being established as a professional nonprofit. She also wants to strengthen Saheli’s connections with the growing South Asian Muslim community. She started volunteering for Saheli last June and has been inspired by the talented and hardworking Saheli team.

Madden has a BS from MIT and an MS from the University of California-Berkeley. She grew up down the street from Saheli and now lives in Groton with her husband and two children. She currently serves on the Groton Interfaith Council.

Again, we find intriguing power in this announcement of a young organization with a vision large enough to require combined leadership, and we thought it might help you imagine a new mental model.—Ruth McCambridge