Dr. Abraham George

– Founder

As founder and main benefactor in the initial ten years, Dr.George and his vision for alleviating poverty and social justice are reflected in Shanti Bhavan.In 1995, Dr. Abraham George returned to India with the goal of making his contribution to reducing the injustices and inequalities he had observed from his travels throughout India, the media, and published works he studied. As a result, he started The George Foundation (TGF), a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India, dedicated to the welfare of economically and socially disadvantaged people.In addition to Shanti Bhavan, established by TGF in 1997, the Foundation carries out several other initiatives dedicated to poverty alleviation, livelihood/income generation, education, health, and empowerment of women, such as: community development projects in housing, vocational training and the provision of safe drinking water, social entrepreneurship programs employing poor women in farming projects, and the Baldev Medical & Community Center that serves 17 villages and over 16,000 people.Dr. George’s keen interest in promoting democratic institutions and values also led him to create the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore (see www.iijnm.org), where he serves as the dean.His work in the field of environmental health was instrumental in the removal of lead from gasoline throughout India in April 2000 and in the creation of National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning in India (see www.tgfworld.org/lead.html).Dr. George’s illustrious career spans the finance and entrepreneurial sectors with senior leadership positions at JP Morgan Chase, Credit Suisse, Chemical Bank and the founding of Multinational Computer Models, Inc. (MCM), which offered computerized systems to large multinational corporations to enable them to deal with their international financial risks. He has received several prestigious awards, and is the author of four books, including India Untouched: The Forgotten Face of Rural Poverty, a highly acclaimed narration of his first ten years’ of social work in India. Dr. George attended New York University’s Stern School of Business in developmental economics and finance and received both his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University.To learn more about Dr. George, click here.

Beena Nair

– Vice Principal

Ms. Beena Nair, Vice Principal of Shanti Bhavan, holds over 26 years of teaching experience in day and boarding schools in North and South India. Prior to joining Shanti Bhavan in 1999, she taught at the Air Force School (CBSE) in Udhampur, the Residential Public School in Mussoorie, and at Saraswati Vidyalaya in Trivandrum. Throughout her teaching career, Ms. Nair has consistently been promoted to additional positions of responsibility, including House Mistress in a boarding school and Senior Assistant Teacher to the Principal in a day school. As Vice Principal at Shanti Bhavan, Ms. Nair is responsible for scheduling classes, overseeing residential care of children and staff, and general administration. Among her many contributions to the school, Ms. Nair has been responsible for providing the foundation in the learning of Hindi – a challenge for many South Indian children who are not familiar with the language.Ms. Nair continues to monitor the Hindi program from the beginning 2nd Grade class, which she insists on teaching herself, right through to the 10th Grade class based on the ICSE exam, considered among the most difficult in India. Ms. Nair also coaches children in General Knowledge, a subject taught in Indian schools about government leaders, important historical events and other topical general information.Ms. Nair is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in History. She holds a Bachelor of Education in the teaching of English and Social Studies, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in the Humanities from Jammu University, with a focus in History. She has participated in academic competitions run by the United Schools Organization of India, a project of the United Nations, and by the National Social Service. Among her interests is Kho-Kho, an Indian sport featured in the Olympics, which she excelled in while attending university.

Ajit George

– Director of Operations

Ajit George is a passionate advocate of the transformative power of education for the underprivileged and socially discriminated. As Director of Operations, he manages various fields of operation, including fundraising, communications, partnerships, strategic planning, and volunteer and teacher recruitment. Under his leadership, he has expanded the organization’s donor base through grassroots channels, foundation support, and corporate partnerships in the U.S., Europe and Asia. He oversees Shanti Bhavan’s volunteer program which has had over 500 high-quality and dedicated volunteers from 23 countries.

George also works with affiliated programs in India, including the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, a graduate school of journalism dedicated to using high-quality journalism as a vehicle to combating systemic political corruption and the Baldev Medical & Community Center that provides healthcare, housing and community development for the surrounding 17 villages and a population of over 16,000. He has consulted for new and emerging non-profits, especially in the field of education and poverty alleviation. George spends four months out of the year working directly in the field in India.

Watch Ajit’s College of William&Mary TEDx talk and his UNC TEDx talk and follow him on Twitter @ajitgeorgeSB.

Kate Lytle Elsinger

– Senior Associate

– Administration



Kate Lytle Elsinger has been working with Shanti Bhavan contributing her administrative experience since 2011. Her job duties include the management of newsletters, assisting with social media, donor communications and administration for the Director of Operations.

Kate has always had a passion for working with children, whether hands-on or through her positions at the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services. Her other interests include music, theater and writing. Kate looks forward to continuing to support Shanti Bhavan as it grows and aids children in changing their futures.

Whitney Beltrán

– Social Media Lead & Consultant

– Administration

Whitney Beltrán plays an important administrative support role at Shanti Bhavan, helping with everything from managing media relations and grant writing research, to assisting with technological roll out initiatives.Whitney has been working with various non-profit organizations for over seven years, and across continents. She’s worked on the ground in South America on education, ethnographic preservation, and environmental initiatives, as well projects associated with the arts, education, sustainable food, and child nutrition in urban food deserts in the United States.Whitney has an undergraduate degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Tulsa, and an M.A. in Mythological Studies from Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is currently pursuing her PhD.

Ashley Monroe

– Senior Administrator

– Volunteer Services

Ashley Brooke Monroe began working for Shanti Bhavan as the On-Site Administrator in January 2012. After spending six fantastic months on campus, she returned to the states and has served as the Senior Administrator for Volunteer Services ever since.  Her responsibilities include interviewing all potential volunteers, helping train new volunteers and providing logistical support for both the team on the ground in India and here in the U.S.

Ashley also works as a teaching artist for Artists Striving to End Poverty and taught theatre at Shanti Bhavan for ASTEP’s 2014 summer arts camp. She lives in New York City and works as an acting teacher, theatre director and casting associate. She holds a BFA in theatre from the University of Oklahoma. Ashley is incredibly passionate about the life-changing education Shanti Bhavan provides for its children and looks forward to continuing her work towards that mission.

Seong-ah Cho

– Senior Teacher Trainer

– Volunteer Services

Seong-ah Cho first joined the Shanti Bhavan family as a teacher for six months in 2010 before returning to serve as a school improvement consultant in 2014. She now continues to support the school from New York as Senior Teacher Trainer by preparing incoming volunteers on classroom management, lesson planning, and other areas of teaching. Seong-ah recently received her master’s degree in International Education Development at Columbia University with a concentration in International Humanitarian Issues.She has experience in development, international education and program management with organizations such as Amnesty International USA, United Nations Development Programme and UNICEF. Her interests include international education programming, refugee education, and strategic communication in development.

 Renee Knipe

– Special Consultant

Renee Knipe acts a special consultant for Shanti Bhavan, supporting its US operations with editing, writing, video production, research, and various administrative tasks. She holds a Creative Writing degree from Adrian College, and is currently pursuing a degree in Video Production. Outside of Shanti Bhavan, Renee is a freelance author, a filmmaker, an audiobook engineer, a game developer, and an outspoken advocate for the creativity and vitality of diverse voices.