Welcoming Akshara Vivekananthan as HealthSpark’s new Program Officer
Akshara Vivekananthan joins HealthSpark Foundation following 4.5 years at the United Way of Greater Lehigh Valley, serving as the Director of School Readiness. There, she was a champion for early childhood and education grantmaking. During her time at United Way, Akshara recognized a need for deeper investment into early childcare facilities and workforce; however, also noted that advocacy was needed to address systems-level issues in the sector. She led a series of convenings with local legislators, nonprofits, childcare centers, faith groups, and other community partners to successfully identify solutions and conduct advocacy at the local level to address these challenges. She also brings significant experience in building and funding programs from a racial equity lens. Of particular note is a project she spearheaded with a local pastor to implement a nationally recognized, research-based program model specifically designed to address educational challenges for children of color. Finally, she has led diversity, equity, and inclusion training and policy changes within her own organization at United Way, serving as a champion and internal advocate for more inclusive and justice-centered practices in internal operations and grantmaking. Previous to the United Way, she held positions with a children’s education fund in Chicago, focusing on evaluation and research. Akshara earned a Master’s Degree in International Public Service from DePaul University (2016) and a Bachelor’s Degree from Austin College with a double major in Communications and Psychology in 2013.