Emily Leys

Emily has over 15 years of experience leading global initiatives in education, gender equality, and youth development in the US and over ten countries in Asia and Africa. She provides advisory services in the areas of international educational programming, gender-transformative programming, and cross-cultural leadership. Emily also offers expertise in meeting facilitation, training, and communicating through change.

 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. She built, maintained, and motivated a team of professionals in nine countries. With Emily’s leadership, the Girls’ Education Program grew 100x to over 30,000 girls while enhancing program quality. She worked with individual country teams to review programming, identify opportunities for improvement, and develop multi-year operational plans and reporting tools. Emily convened more than eight cross-national workshops to promote program sharing and improvement. She led strategic redesigns of the program and developed resources and manuals to be used across geographies. During this time, Emily developed a specialization in transitions and change management.

 Prior to joining Room to Read, Emily lived in South Africa where she designed, planned, and implemented direct service and educational programs with Rape Crisis Cape Town and a local youth development program. This hands-on experience with program implementation, capacity building, and training continues to inform her international programmatic work.

 Emily earned an M.A. from the University of Cape Town in South African and African Politics and a B.A. in Politics from the University of California at Santa Cruz. Additionally, Emily served on the board of Ecology Project International for eight years.


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