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Leadership Team

Yuva Pragati USA / Leadership Team

Jayant Shroff

Jayant Shroff is a founding member and President of Yuva Pragati. After graduating in 1965 with a B.S. in chemical engineering from University of Florida and then M.S. in chemical engineering from Drexel University, he earned an MBA. He worked in R & D at Bell Labs., AT&T and Lucent Technologies. He is married to his best friend, Dr. Yogini Shroff, both of whom had immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s.

Jayant saw that his personal success was unattainable for the vast majority of people in his home country, India. 70% of the Indians live in villages with little opportunity to receive good education – especially true for girls. This was a turning point in his life. In 1983 he joined Share and Care Foundation to conduct philanthropic activities in the fields of youth development, women empowerment and basic healthcare which are all interconnected. Jayant was deeply involved in the management and operations of this organization holding many executive positions including its Chairman of the Board of Trustees, President, Secretary and chairman of the Project Review Committee. As a member of its Project Review Committee, he travelled to India annually to meet with local organizations, assess activities and produce reports for the members and donors.

The high point of this second career of goal oriented, results-based charity was receiving a $500,000/- grant from the Lucent Technologies Foundation to conduct Youth Development projects. Subsequently he also received a $275,000 grant from A T& T Foundation.

After 28 years of experience in the field of philanthropy, he came to realize that more focused work in a critical activity with a specific target can help achieve permanent, positive results. This was the genesis of the formation of Yuva Pragati with the firm support of a few second-generation professionals including his two daughters, Viraj and Radhika “who have promised to keep this torch burning long after we are gone!”

Jayant adds, “It has been many years and millions of dollars since my first inspiration to serve, we are still hard at work in Yuva Pragati. We are also focused on mentoring young people to be leaders through Shroff Family Foundation scholarships in Chemical Engineering at University of Florida and Engineering college scholarships at Sarvajanik Education Society in Surat, Gujarat. At a local level my community service involves a board membership in Metuchen, N.J. Senior Center and local Food Banks.”

Ashwin Desai

Ashwin is a founding member and Treasurer of Yuva Pragati since its inception. He has been involved with the planning and organizing of Youth Wellness Camps since its early days in 2007. Ashwin brings with him many years of developmental work experience, particularly in the education field in rural India. He sharpened his skills at non-profit management as a Trustee, Treasurer and President at Share and Care Foundation. It is the dedicated work of people such as Ashwin that defines the integrity and trust that Yuva Pragati enjoys in the community.

Amit Akkad

Amit is on the leadership team at Yuva Pragati. Every year, as a team member of Youth Wellness Camps conducted by Yuva Pragati in deep rural villages of India, he joins US based volunteer doctors and dentists, inspiring the children of Ashramshalas (Boarding Schools). He is also on the Board of Indian Circle for Caring, an NGO based in the Boston area, providing family services and lifestyle services to mitigate the risks of heart disease and diabetes.

Amit previously managed a multimillion-dollar business in the videoconferencing industry as Vice President and General Manager. His expertise spans executive leadership, strategic planning, business development, product management, marketing, sales, strategic partnerships, and operations.

Amit earned his M.B.A. from Columbia University, New York, where he received the Wall Street Journal Award for academic excellence. He also has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from India. He has been a visiting faculty and guest lecturer in business at Boston area universities, teaching international business and corporate entrepreneurship. 

Amit lives in the Boston area with his wife Medha. Their son Apurva and daughter Neha are both doctors.

Ankur Desai, MD

Dr. Ankur Desai, completed his undergraduate degree in Child Development at Tufts University and his Medical Degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. His behavioral health career began in 2001 in Baltimore, at the University of Maryland/Sheppard Pratt Health System, where he completed his Residency in General Adult Psychiatry. This was followed by a two-year Fellowship program in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

After completing his fellowship, Dr. Desai started his private practice and worked as a Staff Psychiatrist at CPC Behavioral Healthcare and as a Psychiatrist Consultant for a therapeutic residential program managed through Community Treatment Solutions.

For the past 11 years, Dr. Desai has worked as a Medical Director for PerformCare, New Jersey, the Contracted Systems Administrator for the State of New Jersey. He is primarily responsible for completing utilization management reviews for youth and families in need of behavioral health treatment services that are offered through the New Jersey Children’s System of Care.  In addition, Dr. Desai is an integral member of the Quality Improvement Committee, which is responsible for PerformCare’s Outlier Management Program and the Enhanced Care Coordination initiatives. He is also involved in data analysis and presentation of quality improvement reports which are presented to members of the State Quality Improvement Steering Committee.

Dr. Desai maintains a private practice, known as Premium Psychiatry Services of Central New Jersey LLC, where he provides medication management and psychotherapy services and completes psychiatric assessments for child study team evaluations. He also works as the consulting psychiatrist for the Rugby School, which is a local, private therapeutic school. Board certified in Adult and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Dr. Desai’s areas of expertise include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Childhood Anxiety and Mood Disorders. He also has a Certificate of Additional Training in Sports Psychiatry which involves the effective management of behavioral health conditions and performance optimization in athletes. He works with Major League Baseball, as an MLB Certified Clinician, specializing in Therapeutic Use Exemption Evaluations for professional baseball players. Dr. Desai has also provided ongoing medication management and mental health treatment services for professional baseball players approved for Therapeutic Use Exemptions. Over the course of the 2020 season, Dr. Desai worked as a consulting psychiatrist for a Major League Baseball Organization. He carried a caseload of 10 non-40 Man players with Therapeutic Use Exemptions and managed their ADHD medications.    

As a media consultant, he has written and co-authored several articles on important mental health topics, including depression and suicide prevention and the effects of screen time on mental health. Dr. Desai was ranked among New Jersey’s “Favorite Kids’ Docs” in New Jersey Family magazine in 2012.

Nikhil Dhruv

Nikhil spent nearly a year and a half on the ground with one of our partner organizations in Gujarat. This enabled him to gain invaluable on the ground experience with our beneficiary partners. In addition, he has spent a significant amount of time at the Youth Wellness Camps on a nearly annual basis from 2010 onwards.  While working locally at the partner organization, he has had the opportunity to learn how the scholarship application process is conducted and how students are encouraged to develop their futures.  One of our goals is to put in cyclical funds which use compound interest to grow over a period of time — and decrease dependence on donors and others as much as possible.  

Nikhil works for a medium-size pharmaceutical company in the United States.  His experience there has enabled him to assist local volunteer pharmacists in India – who are recent pharmacy graduates, some with working experience –  set up an efficient pharmacy department within the Youth Wellness Camp environment.  Nikhil has a BA in English.

Alpana Gandhi, MD

Dr. Alpana Gandhi has a 40-year long career in private practice in Pediatrics in New Jersey.

As the Medical Director of the yearly Youth Wellness Camps (YWC) in the Rajkot area, Dr. Alpana Gandhi coordinates the work of the entire group of about 30 doctors, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and other volunteers who participate in the camp. She prepares in advance and distributes to the volunteers the treatment plans for different ailments, guidelines to create referrals for follow-up visits to local specialists, etc. The medicines and medical supplies are ordered and made available at the camp locations. The camps are conducted at different school venues in the rural area around Rajkot. Here children who mainly come from poor families living in the nearby villages are examined by volunteer doctors and dentists. Children are given medicines as needed and, if required, are referred to local specialists for follow-up visits. These cases are subsequently followed up closely by Dr. Gandhi until the treatments are completed.

During her career, she also worked for 15 years in a poor neighborhood in NJ and participated in several medical camps held in NJ by other NGOs. She plans to continue to work for the children in the Youth Wellness Camps in India because she finds it to be most gratifying.

She is a medical graduate from Jaipur Medical college. She then worked in Rajasthan, India for 6 years before moving to the USA. There she worked in rural clinics. In the USA, she did her residency in Pediatrics in UMDNJ- NJ Medical school in Newark, NJ. She is fond of traveling.

Dinesh Gandhi

As a key member of the Yuva Pragati leadership team, Dinesh manages several key programs executed in the Rajkot region of Gujarat, India. He plays the central role in identifying and initiating relevant projects to help the schools, always keeping the welfare of their students uppermost in mind. In addition to managing all aspects of the annual youth Wellness Camps conducted in the rural schools, he oversees a majority of infrastructure projects implemented in the region. He emphasizes impact measurements for all programs to ensure that students are the ultimate beneficiaries and ensures that the donors and well-wishers of Yuva Pragati are regularly kept informed on the progress of all the projects.

He has also worked with other NGOs in the Tri-State area on several programs, most relating to supporting education of students from marginalized communities in India. He considers education as the key to bringing disadvantaged families out of their generational cycle of poverty.

In his professional life, he is a chemical engineer and has worked in senior positions in major international consulting firms. He travelled extensively to many countries in his professional career. He is now retired and enjoys varied activities. The activities relating to the Yuva Pragati programs are always his high priority.

Ramesh Jhaveri, MD

Dr. Jhaveri is the Medical Director of the South Gujarat Youth Wellness Camp. He is a retired academic Neonatologist with emeritus faculty appointment at Albert Einstein Medical School in Bronx, New York. Over 45 years of his career, he has trained 800 residents and 30 fellows, published 85 original research papers and 250 abstracts, with 56 presentations in various society meetings.

After retirement, he pursued his interest in delivering medical care to rural children in India through Yuva Pragati in North and South Gujarat. He has been visiting Youth Wellness Camps since its inception in 2007 and religiously attends both camps every year. He loves to take care of children’s physical, medical, hygiene, educational and nutritional needs. “Yearly follow-up of critical cases, coupled with improving the health of all children is what motivates me to join these camps every year, without fail” says Dr. Jhaveri.

Right from his first visit years ago, Dr Jhaveri has funded various programs, including promoting girls’ education through scholarships, nutrition programs, toilet blocks, bathrooms, and showers, providing better water facilities through boring wells and water tanks. He also supports other programs, like children with Dyslexia, Hart and Hand for Handicapped (HHH), etc.

Radhika Shroff

Radhika has over 25 years of experience in financial services and investing. Previous to her current role, Radhika was the Deputy Chief Investment Officer of Accion Global Investments, responsible for leading global equity investments and managing a portfolio of 20 financial institutions and innovative financial services providers that support underserved populations in emerging markets, in Asia and Latin America. Before Accion, she spent 15 years in various investment, advisory and operational roles including Latin America investment banking, global consumer and commercial banking and microfinance principal investing at financial services institutions including UBS, Citi, Wells Fargo and Peruvian Development Group.

Currently, Radhika is a Managing Director in Impact Investing for Nuveen / TIAA, a global asset manager with over USD 1.3 trillion in assets. She is responsible for identifying, executing and managing direct private equity investments in inclusive growth (financial inclusion, education and healthcare) in both developed and developing markets and helping to manage a portfolio of USD 500 million of private equity investments globally. Radhika is fluent in Spanish and Gujarati and has worked extensively in India, Mexico, Peru, China and Myanmar.

Radhika sits on the Board of Annapurna Finance, one of India’s largest microfinance institutions serving small loans to two million women entrepreneurs in rural areas.  She also serves as an Advisor to MCE Social Capital, a non-profit focused on increasing economic opportunities for underserved communities in emerging markets.  Radhika is a frequent guest lecturer on impact investing at various graduate schools, including her alma mater, The Wharton School, and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Radhika graduated from University of Pennsylvania. She also earned  an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and an M.A. in International Studies, with a concentration in Latin America, from The Lauder Institute of The University of Pennsylvania.

Radhika lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Viraj Shroff-Mehta, MD

Dr. Viraj Shroff-Mehta is a board-certified dermatologist who lives and works in the suburban Boston area for the past 22 years. She is a founding partner of South Shore Dermatology Physicians, a dermatology private practice consisting of eight dermatologists and a plastic surgeon. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology with Honors at Brown University and continued on to earn her medical degree at Brown University. Upon graduation, she completed her internship at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City followed by her dermatology fellowship at University of Rochester. She served as Chief Resident in her final year. 

In addition to serving on the leadership team at Yuva Pragati, Viraj has volunteered with School on Wheels of Massachusetts for the last 13 years, an organization dedicated to supporting the education of children impacted by homelessness. Her participation includes tutoring students weekly, fundraising, and conducting school supply drives. Outside of the office, she enjoys exercising, participating in book clubs, traveling the world with her family, and practicing calligraphy.

She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and has three grown children.