American University of Beirut

Reeta Roy

Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, is an advocate for the world's most vulnerable through the creation of educational and economic opportunities for young people and their families. She believes in the power of listening and is often found working with the people that the Mastercard Foundation's programs serve. She has built a global organization known for its collaboration and lasting impact. 

Roy's determination comes from her own family story of hard work and migration. She was born in Malaysia where her father Durgadas, a doctor from India, met her mother, Emily, a nurse who grew up in a Chinese family in southern Thailand. Her father died when Roy was 14. Subsequently, she was raised by her mother, who championed the importance of education and self-reliance for girls, due to challenges she faced growing up.

At the age of 16, Roy enrolled in a public high school in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US. She won a full scholarship to St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina where she received her bachelor of arts in international relations. With the support of another scholarship, she earned her master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. 

Roy worked at the United Nations before joining the private sector. She held a number of leadership positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb from 1991 to 2002, working on global health policy issues and private-public partnerships, including a three-year assignment in Shanghai, China. She then became the divisional vice president of global citizenship and policy at Abbott, and was vice president of the Abbott Fund, its corporate foundation. She led the global product donations program, initiatives to address AIDS in Africa, and philanthropy. During her tenure, Abbott tripled its investment in global humanitarian programs and was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index.

In 2008, Roy became the president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, which had been created two years earlier. The foundation's vision is to create a world where all people have the opportunity to learn and prosper.

Under her leadership, the foundation has focused its work in Africa and committed more than $2.2 billion to advance education and financial inclusion across the continent. Today, it is one of the world's largest foundations, with $26 billion in assets and its programs have improved the lives of more than 33 million people and their families.  

The foundation also partners with visionary organizations to achieve large-scale impact. In 2011, it established the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program with leading universities around the world, including the American University of Beirut, to develop future leaders. The Scholars Program enables qualified young men and women, who are financially disadvantaged, to complete university education. In 2018, the foundation announced a bold new strategy, Young Africa Works, to enable 30 million young men and women in Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. 

Roy is the recipient of honorary doctorate degrees from EARTH University, McGill University, the University of Toronto, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), and Queen's University. She also has received several awards, including The Resolution Project's Champions Circle Award for Supporting Young Leaders, the C3 Women Empowerment Achievement Award, The Class of 1947 Memorial Award from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and the Women of Distinction Award from the YWCA Toronto.

During Roy's tenure, the Mastercard Foundation has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education's Friend of Education Award, the Global Education Award of the World Affairs Council, the Women's Leadership Award from Opportunity International, and the Global Foundation for Peace Award from International House at the University of California at Berkeley.​​

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