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Google Exec, Social Entrepreneur Named Knight Foundation Detroit Director

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Rishi S. Jaitly, a former Google executive and social entrepreneur, has joined the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as a program director based in Detroit.

Jaitly will work with local leaders to find and invest in opportunities for fostering an informed and engaged Detroit.

“Rishi possesses a wealth of experience working with leaders of all stripes whether at Google, College Summit or Michigan Corps which he and his wife founded,” said Trabian Shorters, Knight Foundation’s vice president for communities. “When you find a young leader who has created strategic partnerships for a leading national nonprofit, played important roles at the world’s biggest Internet company, and founded his own organization comprised of local and global leaders committed to Michigan — well, you hire that guy.”

Said Jaitly: “Countless initiatives, including Michigan Corps, have already demonstrated that a more informed and engaged Detroit can lead to positive, serendipitous change. I’m very excited about this opportunity with the Knight Foundation because the foundation’s mission to inform and engage has been my mission as well.”

The foundation’s vice president for the arts, Dennis Scholl, said he was “looking forward to working with Rishi on using Detroit’s creative energy to spur its transformation. Together Rishi and I will be seeking a wide range of partners, both organizations and individuals, to build on the past work of Knight and unlock even more of this creative capital.”

Previously, Jaitly launched and led Michigan Corps, a local and global network of leaders advancing education and entrepreneurship in Michigan. To its group of “founding corps members” he recruited leaders including Google CEO Eric Schmidt; CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta; Skoll Global Threats Fund President Dr. Larry Brilliant; and Sun Microsystems Founder Scott McNealy. Jaitly will continue his association with Michigan Corps as the volunteer Chairman of the board.

Prior to founding Michigan Corps, Jaitly worked as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Public Policy at College Summit Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the college enrollment rate of lower-income high schools.

Prior to that, Jaitly was head of government affairs and public-private partnerships for Google in India after beginning his tenure with the company in Silicon Valley. He successfully convinced the government of Pakistan to end its nationwide block of Blogger in 2008 and YouTube in 2009 and the government of Bangladesh to end its nationwide block of YouTube in 2009. In India, he led the development of a Google product that informed and engaged voters by showcasing critical governance data during the 2009 general election.   

Jaitly, a former member of Princeton University’s Board of Trustees, has a bachelor of arts degree in history from Princeton.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed, engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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