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John Wood
John Wood, Room to Read's founder and CEO, quit his senior executive position with Microsoft to launch Room to Read after a trek through Nepal changed his life.  John sought to weave proven corporate business practices with his inspiring vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world.  His novel approach to non-profit management called for scalable, measured, sustainable results, low-overhead, challenge grants fostering community ownership and sustainability as well as strong local staff and partnerships. Utilizing this business model, Room to Read has developed a holistic, multi-pronged approach to help children in the developing world gain the lifelong gift of education. With the School Room Program, Room to Read partners with villages to build schools utilizing active community challenge grants. Introduction
At age 35, John Wood did just that - quitting his position as Microsoft's Director of Business Development for the Greater China Region in order to found Room to Read. He has never looked back.  John's career at Microsoft spanned 1991 to 1999, where he ran significant parts of Microsoft's international business, as the Director of Marketing for the Asia-Pacific Division, Director of the Internet Customer Unit for Microsoft Australia, and Director of Marketing for Microsoft Australia.  In 1998, John took a vacation that changed his life. Trekking through a remote Himalayan village, he struck up conversation with a schoolteacher, who invited John to visit his school. There, John discovered that the few books available were so precious that they were kept under lock and key - to protect them from the children! Fewer than 20 books, all backpacker cast-aways, were available for more than 450 students.
While hiking in the Himalayas, John met a Nepalese “Education Resource Officer” who invited him to visit a school in a neighboring village. Little did John know that this short detour would change his life forever. At the school, John saw the harsh reality confronting not only this village, but millions of Nepalese children – a dilapidated schoolroom and a severe shortage of books. John was stunned to discover that the few books this school had had – a Danielle Steele romance, the Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia, and a few other backpacker castoffs – were so precious that they were kept under lock and key...to protect them from the children!  As John left the village, the headmaster made a simple request: "Perhaps, Sir, you will someday come back with books." His request would not go unheard. John emailed friends asking for help collecting children's books, and within two months had collected over 3,000 books. The following year, John and his father, accompanied by a train of eight book-bearing donkeys, returned to the village in Nepal. Seeing the faces of the children with the books convinced John to leave the corporate world and devote himself to becoming the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world. In late 1999, John quit his executive position with Microsoft and started Room to Read. Beginning in Nepal, John and his Nepali Co-Founder, started by working with rural communities to build schools (School Room) and establish libraries (Reading Room). History about Room to Read
John and co-founder, Dinesh Shrestha, quickly recognized the need to expand the scope of work beyond libraries and wanted to address the fact that many girls in the developing world are overlooked in the educational system due to cultural bias.  To that end, in 2000 Room to Read began the Girls' Education program which targets young girls and provides a long-term commitment to their education.  In 2001, Erin joined the team as Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (now Chief Executive Officer) and was instrumental in our expansion into Vietnam, at which point the organization became officially "Room to Read." With growing demand for our programs, John and Erin worked together to further expanded our work in Cambodia in 2002, followed by India in 2003. Children’s books in local languages were very difficult to find, and in 2003, Room to Read launched the Local Language Publishing program. The colorful books, written and illustrated by local authors and illustrators, together with donated English-language books, now fill the shelves of libraries and schools. A year later we celebrated one of our first major programmatic milestones by opening our 1,000th library in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Later that year, just days after the December 24th Asian tsunami devastated thousands of villages, we made the bold decision to launch operations in Sri Lanka and help this community rebuild itself. In 2005, Room to Read expanded into our sixth Asian country, Laos. And, on September 2nd, we opened our 2,000th library, once again in Cambodia – less than 18 months after our 1,000th library ceremony. We ended 2005, with another big milestone – the donation of our millionth book! The organization is now one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. John has been recognized in the worldwide media as a "21st century Andrew Carnegie," building a public library infrastructure to help the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education.
Gideon Tay Galvin Ng Nigel Yeo Benz Koh Nicholas Yap Derrick Phep

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John Wood

  • 2. John Wood, Room to Read's founder and CEO, quit his senior executive position with Microsoft to launch Room to Read after a trek through Nepal changed his life. John sought to weave proven corporate business practices with his inspiring vision to provide educational access to 10 million children in the developing world. His novel approach to non-profit management called for scalable, measured, sustainable results, low-overhead, challenge grants fostering community ownership and sustainability as well as strong local staff and partnerships. Utilizing this business model, Room to Read has developed a holistic, multi-pronged approach to help children in the developing world gain the lifelong gift of education. With the School Room Program, Room to Read partners with villages to build schools utilizing active community challenge grants. Introduction
  • 3. At age 35, John Wood did just that - quitting his position as Microsoft's Director of Business Development for the Greater China Region in order to found Room to Read. He has never looked back. John's career at Microsoft spanned 1991 to 1999, where he ran significant parts of Microsoft's international business, as the Director of Marketing for the Asia-Pacific Division, Director of the Internet Customer Unit for Microsoft Australia, and Director of Marketing for Microsoft Australia. In 1998, John took a vacation that changed his life. Trekking through a remote Himalayan village, he struck up conversation with a schoolteacher, who invited John to visit his school. There, John discovered that the few books available were so precious that they were kept under lock and key - to protect them from the children! Fewer than 20 books, all backpacker cast-aways, were available for more than 450 students.
  • 4. While hiking in the Himalayas, John met a Nepalese “Education Resource Officer” who invited him to visit a school in a neighboring village. Little did John know that this short detour would change his life forever. At the school, John saw the harsh reality confronting not only this village, but millions of Nepalese children – a dilapidated schoolroom and a severe shortage of books. John was stunned to discover that the few books this school had had – a Danielle Steele romance, the Lonely Planet Guide to Mongolia, and a few other backpacker castoffs – were so precious that they were kept under lock and key...to protect them from the children! As John left the village, the headmaster made a simple request: "Perhaps, Sir, you will someday come back with books." His request would not go unheard. John emailed friends asking for help collecting children's books, and within two months had collected over 3,000 books. The following year, John and his father, accompanied by a train of eight book-bearing donkeys, returned to the village in Nepal. Seeing the faces of the children with the books convinced John to leave the corporate world and devote himself to becoming the Andrew Carnegie of the developing world. In late 1999, John quit his executive position with Microsoft and started Room to Read. Beginning in Nepal, John and his Nepali Co-Founder, started by working with rural communities to build schools (School Room) and establish libraries (Reading Room). History about Room to Read
  • 5. John and co-founder, Dinesh Shrestha, quickly recognized the need to expand the scope of work beyond libraries and wanted to address the fact that many girls in the developing world are overlooked in the educational system due to cultural bias.  To that end, in 2000 Room to Read began the Girls' Education program which targets young girls and provides a long-term commitment to their education.  In 2001, Erin joined the team as Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer (now Chief Executive Officer) and was instrumental in our expansion into Vietnam, at which point the organization became officially "Room to Read." With growing demand for our programs, John and Erin worked together to further expanded our work in Cambodia in 2002, followed by India in 2003. Children’s books in local languages were very difficult to find, and in 2003, Room to Read launched the Local Language Publishing program. The colorful books, written and illustrated by local authors and illustrators, together with donated English-language books, now fill the shelves of libraries and schools. A year later we celebrated one of our first major programmatic milestones by opening our 1,000th library in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Later that year, just days after the December 24th Asian tsunami devastated thousands of villages, we made the bold decision to launch operations in Sri Lanka and help this community rebuild itself. In 2005, Room to Read expanded into our sixth Asian country, Laos. And, on September 2nd, we opened our 2,000th library, once again in Cambodia – less than 18 months after our 1,000th library ceremony. We ended 2005, with another big milestone – the donation of our millionth book! The organization is now one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. John has been recognized in the worldwide media as a "21st century Andrew Carnegie," building a public library infrastructure to help the developing world break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education.
  • 6. Gideon Tay Galvin Ng Nigel Yeo Benz Koh Nicholas Yap Derrick Phep