Emily Leys

Deputy Director

Emily is a passionate and industrious leader with a 20+ year career driving global initiatives in education, gender equality, and youth development. She has worked in 10+ countries in Africa, Asia, and North America. Emily brings expertise in strategic planning, organizational change management, and international operations. From 2004-2015, Emily led Room to Read’s Girls’ Education Program with the goal that girls complete secondary school with the skills to negotiate key life decisions. With Emily’s leadership, the Girls’ Education Program grew 100x to over 30,000 girls while enhancing program quality. In her consulting, Emily has led strategic planning efforts for more than 10 social change organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of Youth Speaks which creates safe spaces that challenge young people to find, develop, publicly present, and apply their voices in the SF Bay Area and beyond.

Emily is committed to the empowerment of youth, particularly girls, and to the transformation of the international development sector. She earned an M.A. in South African and African Politics from the University of Cape Town, and a B.A. in Politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Emily loves to prepare and share food. She is known for her willingness to try any unfamiliar food… at least once.