desi mideast asia latin africana
Page Title Graphic

« Previous 1 2 1 2 Next »

Ambreen Ali,
Communications Associate

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

There is always a behind-the-scenes brain who’s responsibilities and contributions are essential for any successful operation. Although she mastered numbers with an undergraduate degree in finance, Ambreen Ali, 22, Communications Associate for National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, found her true calling in the world of non-profit organizations. Surrounded by suffering during a recent trip to her impoverished motherland Pakistan, Ambreen realized that she had a personal responsibility to help and serve those less fortunate. It was then that she joined the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to monitoring the actions of conservative grant makers and expose financial scams. With NCRP taking care of the so-called “watchdog” work, non-profits can focus less time worrying about how to get grant money and more time on the actual social cause at hand. Escape from the sweltering summer heat by learning more about the notable achievements and efforts of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in this week’s issue of The DesiConnect.


National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy






Ambreen Ali, Communications Associate, 22


San Jose, CA

Current residence

Washington, DC


B.A. in Business Administration from the University of Washington, 2004
M.S. candidate at the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, 2007

Past Experience

Catholic Community Services’ Youth Tutoring Program (Seattle, WA) Impak (in Karachi, Pakistan)


South Asian

About the Non-profit

NCRP is a foundation watchdog that does research-based advocacy. We monitor the foundation sector, advocate for increased accountability and regulation, and push for a more effective sector that engages nonprofits in helping disadvantaged Americans.

Most notable achievements

We have been instrumental in monitoring the work of conservative grantmakers, including the WalMart Corporation. Most recently, we helped expose the financial schemings of Tom DeLay and Jack Abramoff.

What’s the niche?

Although most people don’t realize it, the foundation sector plays a huge role in the activities of nonprofits. It is increasingly becoming a larger source of funding than even the government; the way in which foundations, whether they are corporate donors or wealthy families, grant money is very important. Our mission is to serve nonprofits by doing that monitoring.

What’s the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is explaining to the average person how our work connects to their daily lives. If you think about it, foundations hold great amounts of money that is tax-exempt. Because the government is losing out on tax money as a result of their existence, it is in every citizen’s interest what is done with that money. We need that money to create social change and decrease the economic disparity that exists in our society.

What’s in store for the future?

We are campaigning for more general operational support of nonprofits, which means that nonprofits can focus on the causes that are most timely and necessary without dealing with grantmaking bureaucracy. We are also hoping that Congress will pass a law to increase monitoring of foundations that are connected to politicians and lobbyists to eliminate the abuse of foundations.

« Previous 1 2 1 2 Next »

Guiding principle in life

Those of us with privilege in our lives have a responsibility to create change and advocate for the less fortunate in our human race. That’s my personal philosophy, and NCRP is in line with that thinking.

Best practical advice

Don’t ever assume that you can’t do what you love for a living. It’s never too late to change paths, and it’s never too late to make a difference.

What motivated you to get started?

When I graduated from college, I returned to Pakistan with my family after 11 years. As I leaned over the balcony of my dad’s house and stared at the city of Lahore, I realized that if my dad hadn’t put us on a plane to the U.S., my life would be completely different. As much as I love where I’m from, I recognize that the education I received in the U.S. has given me opportunities others can’t dream of. It was then that I realized I had a responsibility to all those who don’t have this opportunity to use my privilege responsibly and to serve others.

What keeps you motivated?

Realizing that every day I am getting up to help the world. It’s such a good feeling to know that every small effort you are making is towards a better society. When I read the news and get frustrated with the world’s current politics, I know that I am doing my part to help create change.

Like best about what you do

I love writing and editing, which is what I do in my current job. I manage a quarterly journal for which I get to brainstorm story ideas. I design layouts and interact with the media. It’s such a creative, fun position!

Like least about what you do

As much as I love working at NCRP, the organization has a national focus. Because of my international background, I crave to work internationally. I feel very strongly about my South Asian identity and want to use the understanding I have of that culture to create greater understanding between it and other parts of the world.

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A doctor. I had no clue what I was saying; I just thought it was cool to check the heartbeat of my Cabbage Patch doll. Science is definitely not my thing; neither is finance, which I ended up majoring in during my undergrad. Like I said, it’s never too late to change paths. I am shifting from the nonprofit sector to journalism, and after some years in journalism, who knows what’s next.

Biggest pastime outside of work

Reading. I love to read, whether it’s magazines, books, or newspapers. I am a huge fan of South Asian fiction, and believe that fiction is used in that region to comment on social conditions and advocate for change.

Person most interested in meeting

One person I would love to meet is Amartya Sen. I was very impressed by his book, Identity and Violence. His ability to understand and articulate the current political context of the world is amazing. Plus he looks like a sweet desi uncle who would be fun to sit down and have a cup of tea with. His wealth of knowledge amazes me. When I meet him, I’ll tell him all this and thank him for his contribution to our world.

Three interesting facts about yourself

  1. I’m flying to Pakistan next August to talk to victims of last year’s earthquake. I’ve decided to do this without any support from anyone; I just feel so strongly about being there and about creating awareness about the needs that still exist in the area one year later. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’ll be there for three weeks using my just-good-enough Urdu skills as best as I can.
  2. When I was in high school, I was on the math team and I took road trips to compete in math competitions! Well, my first quarter of high school, I took advanced honors calculus, thinking I was really hot stuff, and got a .8 GPA! It was such a good humbling experience.
  3. I’ve lived in 9 different places in the past 22 years. I think that’s why I’m so anxious to travel; my parents have ingrained it in me!

Three characteristics that describe you

Enthusiastic, Compassionate, Honest

Three greatest passions

Food! I love cooking and I love eating.
Social Justice… I can’t help but notice the injustices that surround us. How can we be content in our lives knowing that they exist?
My family, particularly my very adorable ten-year-old brother, who is amazingly brilliant and always amazes me with his wit.

Favorite book

There are many, but a few are: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, and Mothsmoke by Mohsin Hamid

Favorite cause (outside of yours)

HDF: Human Development Fund in Pakistan. I’ve had first-hand experience of their work and it is so inspiring to see people working so hard to create change in an environment where it’s much easier to give in to all the odds against you.

« Previous 1 2 1 2 Next »


Interview by Pooja Merai
Introduction by Rupa Dev

Also this week

Namju ChoRebecca MedranoZeineb Mammou

Don’t forget!

Young & Professional Profile | News2Know

Toolbar Help
Press | Advertisers | Partners | Opportunities | Privacy Policy | Editorial Policy | Unsubscribe | Sitemap
The DesiConnect
The MidEastConnect
The AsiaConnect
The LatinConnect
The AfricanaConnect