Social justice, education and leadership development have been touchstones in Krupa Desai’s career. The daughter of Indian immigrants, Krupa learned from her family the value of serving others and that everyone does not start out on equal footing. Her parents also instilled in her sister and her the firm belief that a great education was an essential path to opportunity.
Immediately after college, she joined Teach for America as a corps member teaching seventh- and eighth-grade science in New York City. She saw young people with enormous potential achieve at high levels, but she also saw the ways in which the structures, policies and mindsets of leaders in and around their schools often worked against their success. Students were coming to school hungry, missing days of school out sick without access to good healthcare and enduring other challenges impacting their learning. Witnessing these policy and system-level challenges, Krupa decided to pursue law school to build skills that would enable her to advocate for equity and excellence for all students.
After practicing law, she channeled her drive for social justice to education, first in marshaling resources to grow Teach For America in Los Angeles, and then as a founding team member of the first national network of racially and socioeconomically diverse public charter schools. Citizens of the World Charter Schools was created to challenge students to realize their full potential and thrive in a diverse society. Through her work there, Krupa realized that mastery of content and emotions go hand in hand. Students need practice in self-awareness, empathy and connection across lines of difference to be prepared to solve complex problems, work and learn productively with others and affect positive change in the world. She also realized that these are the same lessons and skills all leaders need to develop personally and professionally.
Now, as managing director of The Broad Residency in Urban Education, Krupa oversees recruitment, selection, session design and training and professional development of all Broad Residents.
“My hope for the Residency is to support incredibly talented people in their own professional and personal journeys and maximize their impact — with the ultimate goal being positive results for students and the school systems that serve them,” Krupa says.
What activities were you involved in at school?
Musical groups, theater and student government
What advice would you give your younger self?
The advice I would give to my younger self is to meditate.