Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is president and CEO of Asia Society, a global educational organization dedicated to deepening connections among the peoples of Asia and the United States. She sets the directions for the Society’s diverse set of programs—in the areas of policy, business, arts, culture and education—throughout the Society’s network of 11 centers in the U.S. and in Asia. She is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues relating to the Rise of Asia and its implications for the U.S.-Asia relationship.
Since becoming President in 2004, Dr. Desai has embarked on an ambitious expansion plan with new programmatic initiatives, such as a young leaders program, environmental partnerships among key Asian countries and the US, and the building of a contemporary art collection. Under her leadership Asia Society has also expanded its reach, particularly in Asia, with the opening new centers in India and in Korea, and with the planned opening of two new physical facilities in Hong Kong and in Houston, Texas.
Prior to her appointment as president, Dr. Desai served as Asia Society’s Senior Vice President and Director of the Museum and Cultural Programs. She has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Boston University, Columbia University, and Williams College.
Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in political science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan. A recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Dr. Desai has also received honorary degrees from Susquehanna University, the College of Staten Island, and Centre College, Ohio. She has been recognized by Crains, NY as one of the “100 most influential women” in NY, and by India Abroad as one of the 50 “most powerful Indian Americans in the US.”