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Asia Society's India-born President and CEO stepping down

world Updated: May 10, 2012 11:40 IST

Global non-profit organisation Asia Society's India-born head Vishakha Desai, who has advised US President Barack Obama on India related issues, is stepping down as President and CEO after 22 years at the city-based leading cultural and educational body.

US-educated Desai would leave her post on September 1 and join the city-based Guggenheim Foundation, a preeminent institution for the collection, preservation and research of modern and contemporary art, as senior advisor for global policy and programmes.

She is also talking with several prominent universities to develop a special initiative focusing on the intersection of culture in international relations.

One of America’s leading experts on Asian art, Desai had joined Asia Society as its museum director in 1990, served as Senior Vice President and was appointed to lead the entire institution as President and CEO in 2004.

Desai said it was time for her to move to the next phase of her professional life, allowing more time for teaching and writing.

"It has been a privilege to preside over the institution during this time of dramatic transformation. It is now the right time to close my chapter and open the way to new leadership at the Asia Society," she said in a statement.

During her tenure, Desai oversaw a major expansion of Asia Society's headquarters here with establishment of new offices in India and South Korea.

At present, Asia Society's global reach extends across 11 cities in Asia and the US, recent additions being multi-million-dollar centers with gallery exhibition space in Hong Kong and Houston.

Asia Society co-chairs Henrietta Fore and Ronnie Chan said Desai "brought a maturity and breadth" to the 56-year-old institution which has long been a forum for leaders and policymakers from Asia and the United States and dedicated to connecting people from the two regions.

"Asia Society has been fortunate to have a leader of her caliber for so many years," Fore and Chan said.

"Through her leadership our organization has been transformed. A hallmark of her presidency has been the bringing together of issues of culture and policy to deepen mutual understanding among Asians and Americans."

Desai is also writing a book on the future of India's role in the world. She would serve as an advisor to the Asia Society Board to help with the transition process.

The board of trustees has launched a search for a new President and CEO.