Ashok Alexander was a successful corporate leader when he decided to give it up to do his bit for society. He left McKinsey & Company in 2003 after a 17-year stint to lead the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s India program. An initiative called Avahan was launched for the prevention of HIV/AIDS. Under Ashok’s leadership, it became the world’s largest HIV prevention program, involving almost 10,000 sex workers in India, spread across six states and 600 towns. This led Ashok to found his own NGO, The Antara Foundation, since he was keen to apply the Avahan learnings to other social issues, such as the challenges posed by maternal and child mortality. His TED Talk, 3 Women, Their Bindis and the Start of a Revolution, captures the work being done at the grassroots by The Antara Foundation.

Ashok’s book, A Stranger Truth: Lessons in Love, Leadership and Courage from India’s Sex Workers, is a part-memoir where he discusses the challenges the team faced while working on the Avahan initiative. An alumnus of Delhi School of Economics and the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Ashok has also started Alexander Associates, a training and knowledge-sharing network providing social sector advisory services. He has taught at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health as a Menschel Senior Leadership Fellow and has also played chess at the national level.

Educational Qualifications

  • PGDM, IIM Ahmedabad
  • MA, Delhi School of Economics
  • BA, St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi