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The Learning Conference 2015

June 10–11, 2015

Boston, Mass.

Short Talk 5: 30 years of Mistakes, Misfits and Magic

Thursday, June 11, 2015 at 9:30 AM–11:15 AM EDT
Martha’s Vineyard (Main Lobby Level)
Session Designer:

Rajasvini (Vini) Bhansali, IDEX

Session Description

International Development Exchange (IDEX) partners with funders and donors to provide flexible, small grants to effective, locally based organizations in Asia, Africa and Latin America led by women, youth and indigenous leaders. IDEX believes that by investing in those on the front lines who are shaping solutions to urgent issues we can achieve a just and sustainable world for all of us. Representing communities that contribute least to large-scale, global problems, like climate change, poverty and our broken food system, but are often the most impacted by them, these leaders are often marginalized as misfits. Through authentic engagement, IDEX has learned many lessons about investing in risky work, staying the course and not bailing when things get tough. Join IDEX’s executive director, Rajasvini Bhansali, to hear about how the organization learned from its early mistakes — and then made some more — before finding ways to build an internal work culture and grantmaking practices that truly reflect its external priorities of global engagement and community.

Primary Points Of Contact

Session Designers


Rajasvini Bhansali, IDEX
Speaker Biography

Rajasvini Bhansali is the Executive Director of 30-year old International Development Exchange (IDEX) and a passionate advocate for participatory grassroots-led social change and movement building. In a wide-ranging career devoted to social and economic justice, she has led a national social enterprise, managed a public telecommunications infrastructure fund addressing digital divide issues and worked as a researcher, planner, policy analyst and strategy consultant. Vini also worked alongside community leaders as a capacity builder for youth polytechnics in rural Kenya for over two years. Born and raised in India, Vini earned a Master′s in Public Affairs (MPA) with a focus on technology and telecommunications policy from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and Bachelor's degrees in Astrophysics and Interdisciplinary Studies in Humanities & Social Sciences from UC Berkeley. Vini has been involved in community organizing and volunteer board roles for the last two decades. She is currently active on the Board of Directors for Voice of Witness, an organization that works to illuminate human rights injustices through oral history projects; Greenpeace USA; and the Rockwood Leadership Institute. Inspired by the potential of social justice philanthropy to support movements and community based organizations, Vini has also served on the steering committee for the Bay Area Justice Funders Network (BAJFN) and on the advisory board for the Agroecology Fund. She is currently on the Planning Committee for the Association of Women in Development (AWID) Forum to be held in Brazil in 2016 and the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) Collaboration Conference.  Vini has spoken at various fora and universities and is also a published poet, essayist, storyteller and popular educator. When not serving community organizations, Vini can be found hiking, cooking and dancing with friends.