Rupa Laxmi Shah is a non-profit executive with over 10 years of experience working overseas. She is now the Head of Philanthropy for a STEM and creative coding organisation called Scratch, which was born out of the MIT Media Lab. Rupa has helped grow the organisation from a seven-million-dollar annual budget to 23 million dollars in the last two years.
Her background is specifically in the philanthropy sector and she has raised over 500 million dollars in fundraising campaigns, and collaborated on projects over two billion dollars over her career.
In 2019, she moved back to Nepal to work with Dr. Bhagawan Koirala and launched a 15 million dollar fundraising campaign to help establish Kathmandu Institute of Child Health (KIOCH), Nepal’s first philanthropically supported non-profit children’s hospital. She has a Master’s degree from Cornell University and Executive Education from Harvard University.
Rupa also mentors graduate students at Cornell University where she also teaches fundraising class to Masters level students. Her interests are outdoors activities and following cancer research through her husband who is a research scientist at MIT.
WOW’s Anushka Shrestha talks to the change maker to know what makes her life beautiful.
What are you currently working on
Several work-related projects, the main one being expanding my organisation’s impact in APAC countries like Nepal.
What do you love about your work
I love knowing that my every day work makes an impact on children’s lives around the world. Scratch is a global non-profit with over 30 million kids using it around the world. Having a meaning and purpose to your work really makes a difference.
What makes a person beautiful
His/ her thoughts, actions, empathy and compassion
What makes you beautiful
My thoughts, actions and the way I treat other people based on how I want to be treated
What makes life beautiful
Having a wonderful, kind and loving family and friends, being grateful to all that we have, and seeing everything in positive light
What tickles your funny bones
My husband, who is a forever comedian and knows how to make me laugh even when I am upset
What makes you smile
Seeing people being nice and kind towards each other. There are enough bad things going on in the world already.
Maha Jodi, of course. I grew up with their humour and I can always relate to it. Trevor Noah, because the current world affairs and his commentary is on point
Therapy for happiness
Family, friends, making an impact through work
Juliet Has a Gun – not a perfume brand, I love the subtle smell
You are addicted to
Being out in the sun and outdoors activities. Asian cuisine
You stay fit by
I eat healthy. I avoid rice and simple carbs at all costs, exercise and outdoors activities
Best year of your life
Now because there couldn’t have been a better time before this particular time and after
I love Laneige products
My ipad that I use for notes, Netflix, gym, reading and everything else
Emmanuelle Alt (French Vogue Editor), Giovanna Battaglia (Creative Director, Swarovski), Joanna Hillman, so many to name here
Always in your handbag
What do you do to unwind
Favourite holiday destination
Puerto Rico – my husband and I have wonderful memories of the place
You always struggle with…
Not holding my thoughts sometimes. I tend to speak my mind and get into trouble almost always
Best thing about being you
My passion for the impactful work I do. I love getting up in the morning with a sense of purpose and plan
Make up… can’t do without
Mascara, concealer and some blush! That’s all it takes
Favourite makeup brands
Make up Forever, Nars
Three things you absolutely do to look your best
I always iron my clothes. The best thing you can do to revive old and new clothes. I don’t like prints so I always wear something solid and colour block. Also, jewelry! I have a huge collection.
On a bad hair day
Always a bun. Tie up and buns are the best
What do you like doing in your spare time
Netflix and chill
Books or movies
Movies… but books sometimes if it keeps me engaged.
Favourite place to eat in Kathmandu
Nina’s in Maharajgunj
One thing you can’t do without
Chapsticks. Probably because it’s winter and everything is dry
What advice would you give to your younger self
Believe in small victories. Take one step at a time
My celebrity crushes are doctors, scientists and others who actually make a difference in other people’s lives
A quote you live by
“You can be either bitter or better”
Have you ever been told to change something about yourself?
Nope and even if someone did, I ignored it. I’d never change anything about myself unless I had an epiphany
Movies that inspire you
Movies based on true stories, of struggles and successes.
Korean or any Asian Cuisine.
How we take everyday life for granted