Who We Are
The Leher Tale Sheila’s hair was pulled out in clumps because dinner was brought to the table late. Little Lakshmi cried herself to sleep every night after being abused by her grandfather. Raju, in a fit of rage, accidently killed his drunk, violent father.
With over a decade and a half in developing India’s national emergency response service for vulnerable children, the founders of Leher listened to such heart-breaking stories for several years.
With an increasing awareness of the importance of a preventive approach to child protection, they are convinced that now is the time to shift the focus from intervention to prevention. The time is ripe to find solutions that prevent such abuse and violations in the first place.
So, in January 2013, they launched Leher.
Nipa has spent the past 4 years in the development sector, beginning with the Sandhi Craft Foundation where she developed and documented a report for Nabard on the weaver clusters in Bhandara. She moved on to CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) as Manager, Resource Mobilization, where she was responsible for relationship building/management with key corporate supporters/individual donors. Additionally, she was Manager, Communications & Strategic Initiatives where she worked on CIF’s overall communication goals including social media, publications, films, campaigns and media stories. Previously, she has worked with the MS&L group as a public relations consultant. Nipa is also a trained photographer.
Kajol (Devasmita) Menon, Co-Founder
With a career span of 30 years in teaching, media, communications and development, Kajol is committed to issues of marginalized communities, justice and equity, particularly children and their rights. As Executive Director CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF), she spearheaded India’s helpline for children into one of the largest child protection networks in the country. With the ambitious aim of expanding CHILDLINE to every district in India, she has managed the CHILDLINE network of over 450 civil society organizations, lead a team of 100 personnel at CIF and built national and global relationships with government, funding agencies, civil society and other strategic partners to increasing the public’s understanding of and engagement with child rights. Kajol is particularly passionate about scaling-up into replicable models and adapting technology to make child rights real.
Nicole Menezes, Co-Founder
Nicole is a development professional with over 14 years of work in the sphere of child rights and protection. Passionate about the rights of children, Nicole joined the founding team of CHILDLINE India in 1999. She was instrumental in developing the service from a single helpline for street children in Mumbai to the largest helpline in India, embedded in the nation’s child protection system, now reaching one third of India’s children. As Deputy Director of CIF, Nicole managed the CHILDLINE network across the North and East of India, managed the relationship between CIF and the Government of India and led organizational plans and strategy development processes. Nicole has contributed significantly to research studies and projects on the protection of children including steering a national study on the status of child protection mechanisms across 10 states of India.
Richa has been working in child rights sector from the past four years. She started with CHILDLINE India Foundation as a Programme Assistant, where she was responsible for the initiation, monitoring and evaluation of CHILDLINEs’ across Uttar Pradesh. The districts which she looked after in CIF are: Aligarh, Agra, Chitrakoot, Kaushambi, Kannauj, Varanasi and Saharanpur. Richa has carried out an assessment of Malnutrition Treatment Centers in Jharkhand with PAIRVI. Working as a consultant with Railway Children India, she has undertaken a process documentation of Railway Children’s intervention in Chandauli, Uttar Pradesh, and developed a vision document for their work ahead in Chandauli. Additionally, she has documented and collated Railway Children India’s partner organizations good practices of working with children in difficult circumstances. She later worked with Railway Children as a Programme Officer, Monitoring and Evaluation (Strategic Alliance) where she was responsible for streamlining SA’s work and creating a MIS.
Tasha has been working in the child rights sector for the past 4 years. She worked at the Planning Commission of India, where she developed background papers on economic crisis and gender, and trafficking. She moved on to CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) as Program Coordinator and played a nodal role on the Analysis and Report Writing for the ‘Everywhere Child Project’,developed a training module on missing children to be used by police academies across India with advice from UNICEF. She has also represented CIF at the India Alliance for Child Rights (IACR). Tasha was also a consultant with UNICEF, where she developed a framework and analysed sample child protection IEC material across the country. Additionally, she has undertaken a documentation and analysis exercise of village level child protection committees across 9 states, facilitated by UNICEF.
Madhusudan Menon, Board Member
Madhu is a Chartered Accountant with over 23 years in banking, initially with the Reserve Bank of India and then with American Express Bank where he was Senior Director, responsible for Commercial Banking and Capital Market activities in India. Since leaving AEB in 2002, he has been an advisor to various business groups in India as a wealth management and capital market specialist. He has a keen interest in using commercially viable business models to stimulate and sustain social change.
He is currently the Chairperson at Micro Housing Finance Corporation (MHFC).
Abhiroop Mukhopadyay, Board Member
With a Ph.D in Economics from The Pennsylvania State University, USA, Abhiroop’s primary specialization is in Micro-Econometric methods applied to topics relating to Health, Education and Labour in developing countries (particularly India). His recent research is on the economic effects of HIV-AIDS and cancer, the impact of better school infrastructure on rural schooling attendance and changes in Intra-Household allocation of labour due to the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
Currently, Abhiroop is an Associate Professor, Economics & Planning Unit, at the Indian Statistical Institute in Delhi
Pradeep Narayan, Board Member
Pradeep is a human rights and social development researcher. He has over 17 years of experience working in different capacities with leading government and non-government organizations in India, including CEC, CHILDLINE, CRY, Global March Against Child Labour, Save The Children, Plan, ActionAid, Magic Bus and other child protection and development organisations. He is involved in a number of projects on participatory monitoring and evaluation, policy advocacy, participatory research and capacity building across various sectors in India, South Asia and Africa.
Presently, Pradeep Narayanan is Director, Research and Consultancies, at Praxis Institute for Participatory Practices in Delhi.
Nilima Mehta, Board Member
Dr. Nilima Mehta has a masters degree in social work and a doctorate in sociology. She has done extensive work on the subject of child rights, child protection, family strengthening and non institutional alternative care like adoption, foster care and family counselling. Dr. Mehta was the chairperson of the first Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Mumbai, constituted under the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2000. She has been a consultant to several organizations like Unicef, CRY, Childline India Foundation, ICSW, Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW), CCW, IAPA, Family Service Centre (FSC) and Vatsalya Foundation. Dr. Mehta has been associated with the state and central government and the Planning Commission for policy development, training, research and review of national legislation concerning children. She was the Chairperson of the Central Adoption Regulation Agency (CARA) training and development committee.
Dr. Mehta has been a Chair Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and is a visiting professor at the Bombay University, and SNDT. She authored Ours By Choice - Parenting through Adoption, and Juvenile Justice System in India and Child Protection.
Vikas Srivastava, Board Member
Vikas is a Senior Partner with Luthra & Luthra Law Offices. He heads the Tax Practice of the firm, and has over 29 years’ experience in the area of Corporate Taxation, domestic as well as international. He has been ranked among the ‘Leaders in their Field: Tax’ by Chambers & Partners - Asia 2012. He strongly believes in equitable access to legal aid across all sections of the society, and in his capacity as a Senior Partner at Luthra & Luthra Law Offices, he has provided pro bono legal advice to several charitable institutions. He is also on the Board of Central Square Foundation, which is a philanthropy fund focused on improving the educational outcomes for low-income children in India.