Social justice leader and legal advocate, Monika Kalra Varma will become the next president and CEO of BoardSource in Washington, D.C. Varma will succeed Anne Wallestad, who announced this past in December that she would be stepping down in June.
Varma will assume the role in August 2022, after a brief interim period during which the BoardSource team will be co-led by the four members of its senior leadership team, Andy Davis, Stella Ford, Joan Payne, and Judy Reckelhoff.
A seasoned nonprofit executive and board leader, Varma has more than 20 years of leadership experience with mission-driven, justice-focused organizations, most recently serving as executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay area, whose mission is to dismantle systems of oppression and racism and build an equitable and just society, according to a statement from Kevin Walker, chair, of the BoardSource Transition Committee.
Prior to that, she led the DC Bar Pro Bono Center. Key victories, included, the repeal of an unconstitutional loitering ordinance in Oakland, Calif., a federal court ruling protecting immigrant youth in California, a permanent injunction against inhumane conditions in U.S. Customs & Border Patrol detention facilities in Arizona, and legalization of public banking in California. LCCRSF’s staff size nearly tripled, revenue doubled, and the organizational culture transformed to center staff well-being.
She also worked at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. She started her career as an associate legal officer with the Office of the Prosecutor at the U.N. War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.
“We have found in Monika a dynamic thought leader who will build on the organization’s transformative momentum to reach new heights.” said Julia Wilson, chair of the BoardSource board. “Her deep experience in the nonprofit sector and passionate advocacy for social justice and human rights are perfectly aligned with BoardSource’s vision for its future. We are thrilled that she will be joining us as our next leader.”
Varma said via a statement that she sees “the potential to radically shift the governance model of the nonprofit sector to better meet this moment of unprecedented social justice challenges. That is why I am excited to be joining BoardSource – an organization at the forefront of inspiring and supporting nonprofit boards and executives to lead justly and with purpose,” said Varma. “When organizations move beyond supporting their individual organizations to also aligning their work with what best serves their communities, we see true transformation. I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this effort.”
Varma’s appointment is the culmination of a six-month nationwide search that included a competitive field of more than 150 candidates. The search was chaired by Walker, president and CEO of the Northwest Area Foundation, and was led by Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group (NPAG).