Vishakha N. Desai

Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President, Columbia University

Dr. Vishakha N. Desai is Senior Advisor for Global Affairs to the President of Columbia University, Senior Research Scholar at its School of International and Public Affairs, and Chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University.

From 1990 through 2012, Dr. Desai served in various capacities at the Asia Society, ranging from being Director of its museum, to being the President and CEO of the organization from 2004. As President of the Asia Society, she expanded the Society’s reach in Asia through innovative programs such as Asia 21 Young Leaders programs and through establishments of centers and new buildings. She is widely credited with introducing contemporary Asian arts through major exhibitions and publications. A noted scholar of Asian Art, Dr. Desai is well known for her leadership in presenting contemporary Asian art to American audiences and in developing innovative approaches to the relationship between culture and foreign policy in Asia.  In 2012, in recognition of Dr. Desai’s leadership in the museum field, President Barack Obama appointed her to serve on the National Museum and Library Services Board.

Dr. Desai is a Trustee of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for AFS Intercultural Programs. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Teach For All, as well as the newly established KREA University, slated to be one of India’s top private Liberal Arts universities. She serves on the Corporate Board of Mahindra & Mahindra, one of India’s largest global corporations and has served as an Advisory Trustee to the Brookings Institution among other organizations.

Dr. Desai is also a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines in both the US and Asia. In addition to five honorary degrees, 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.