Sharmila Rao Thakkar​, Partner

Sharmila Rao Thakkar, MPH, MPA, is a philanthropy and nonprofit consultant at SRT Advising & Consulting in New York City. Known for her expertise in leadership development, program implementation, resource development, and communications, Sharmila advises and coaches donors, families and organizations on operations, strategy, board governance/development, multigenerational engagement, equity & inclusion, grantmaking and community outreach activities; conducts workshops and trainings and manages peer cohorts exploring the above; and writes and presents at nonprofit and philanthropy forums. She is a 21/64 certified trainer in multigenerational philanthropy and mentor for philanthropy/nonprofit leadership development programs. Most recently, Sharmila has managed a local coalition of organizations and leaders in NYC active in COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts, implementing targeted response efforts with an equity lens; and served on several NYC Department of Health task forces, including the COVID-19 Test & Trace Community Advisory Board, NYC Healthcare Coalition Leadership Council, and Pandemic Response Institute Advisory Committee.

Prior, Sharmila was the first non-family executive director of the Siragusa Family Foundation in Chicago, where she directed the operational, programmatic, and administrative functions of the organization. She guided board funding decisions and evaluated programs in health, social services, education, and the arts for youth/families; provided capacity building and technical assistance to 100+ nonprofit grantee partners; built the board’s professionalism including recruitment and assessment; engaged the next generations in their leadership development; and provided strategic direction on grantmaking and grantee outreach and community partnership initiatives.

Sharmila has held leadership roles on several boards and committees including the Healthy Schools Campaign, National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers (Disability Inclusion Workgroup and DEI Taskforce), 21/64 Certified Advisors of Color Project, TrueChild, and the South Asian Philanthropy Project. She is an alum of the Council on Foundations Career Pathways leadership development program; The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Equity PLACES fellowship; and several training programs in racial equity, diversity, & inclusion.

A native New Yorker, Sharmila relocated back to New York in 2016 after nearly 17 years in Chicago. She holds a Master of Public Health from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, a Master of Public Administration from the Columbia University School of International & Public Affairs, and a BA in International Relations from Brown University.