Poonam Raj Singh

Peace & Social Justice Educator for Adults & Youth

Professional website for Poonam Singh--Non-profit consultant and leadership coach working in the areas of leadership development, talent management, diversity, equity & inclusion.

My Bio

Below is my academic, professional, and work background. For a quicker summary, check out my Linkdin page here.


Life story

I'm a daughter of immigrant parents who embody compassion and generosity in everything they do.  My father left an economically poor, semi-rural community in Southern India--fraught with local corruption and violence-- for a dream of a better, more equitable life in the United States. In our quest for our own personal freedom, we discovered that many others were not being heard or being left behind, and we established a family ethos of service and change in our local community.    I grew up mostly in LA, traveling frequently to India, and currently reside in the beautiful SF bay area. I am passionate about maintaining the beautiful diversity, long history of activism, and natural beauty of this area that I love so much.  I am married to a deeply empathetic and grounding partner, Nikhil, who teaches me to take care of myself.  I have three children  (Sanjana, Pranav, and Radhika) who are my deepest inspiration and biggest teachers.  Through the birth of my children and the passing away of a parent, my heart has opened up to doing work that is bold, transformative, courageous & compassionate, starting with myself first. 

Academic & Professional Training

UC Berkeley Leadership Symposium

UC Berkeley Leadership Symposium

My professional background & training begins with graduating from the University of California, Berkeley with degrees in Anthropology & Education.    UC Berkeley was great preparation for leading change in the world. I was proud to co-found Aspire for Change-a teacher mentoring program that continues to exist at UC Berkeley.  I also had the opportunity to travel abroad for 1 year in college, and live with indigenous communities & study the impact of globalization on the environment and local community in 6 different countries around the world as part of the International Honors Fellowship Program. 

I'm a proud AmeriCorps member completing a year of service working with East Bay Habitat for Humanity & completing my year of service with Partners In School Innovation.

I completed my graduate work by receiving a Masters in Administration, Policy, and Social Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a certificate of non-profit management at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Adaptive Leadership Inside Out Analysis

Adaptive Leadership Inside Out Analysis



The highlight of my executive level training was completing a 10-day residential program based at the Harvard Kennedy School called the "Art and Practice of Adaptive Leadership," led by Professor Ronald Hieftz and Marty Linsky, based on the Adaptive Leadership Model.   I continue to refine my skills by returning to the Harvard Kennedy School as alumni facilitator, being involved in the Harvard Adaptive Leadership Network, Harvard Global Leadership & Peace-making Network, and facilitating workshops at the Adaptive Leadership Alumni Conference. 

I had the privilege of completing a 1-year long certification program with the Coaches Training Institute and became a certified leadership coach. I draw heavily on this experiential & rigorous training.

Service Space Circles of Transformation

Service Space Circles of Transformation

My brothers and sisters at ServiceSpace have provided the newest and most recent leadership training, bringing me back to many of the fundamental values I grew up with. I was honored to participate in the Laddership Circles---program to understand how mindfulness, love, and inner transformation can serve as a model for how you transform the world.

In 2017, I completed the Kingian Training for Nonviolence with Kazu Haga and East Point Academy, and a series of workshops on peacemaking, restorative justice, and holistic movement building with Sonia Shah. 

I also completed Tier 1 and Tier 2 Restorative Justice training with Restorative Justice Center for Oakland Youth (RJOY) in 2018.

I am also trained in Theater of the Oppressed studying under Jiwon Chung over the past few years. Theater of the Oppressed has become to me the most important part of my practice and work. I have now given workshops at Foothill College, Maitri, Soulforce, and many other organizations.

Work Experience: 

I've now worked with organizations and people for 18 years.   Many have been community-based nonprofits, but I have also worked with law firms , tech companies, schools, and other organizations. At the heart of my experience was working at Partners In School Innovation as a teacher-level and principal level coach for 7 years.  Prior to that, I worked with a variety of community based organizations and schools, including teaching middle school children and working in youth development. 

My interest shifted to leadership development programs over last 7-8 years. I had the honor of leading the AIF Clinton Fellowship for Service in India & serving on the Advisory Council for a few years.   

For the last few years, I have been working as an independent consultant, trainer, facilitator and coach.   My projects range from 1 day workshops to several month-long engagements.  Some of these projects are summarized here:

  • Strategic advising on the national scaling strategy for Partners In School Innovation

  • Engagement with Bellwether Education Partners to integrate diversity in the talent management approach to consulting

  • Curriculum Development for the Muktangan School, Mumbai India

  • Capacity-Building Advising for Atma Mumbai (a NGO capacity-building organization.)

  • Development of Culturally-Responsive Management Training Series for new managers and scan of diversity/equity focused leadership training approaches across the country (through support from the Leadership Learning Network)--to be published.

  • Continuing relationship with Talent Advisory Board to advise select companies in the legal field in Silicon Valley conducting workshops and training sessions. (on-going)

  • Continuing relationship working with Public Allies to implement a diversity assessment across the country led by Public Allies alumni, including publishing a report and leading local campaigns nationally (on-going)

  • Leadership coaching for emerging leaders of color for College Summit

  • Faculty Member for Next Generation Leaders of Color Fellowship Program with Compass Point (on-going). Courses including authentic communication & multi-cultural leadership.

  • Guest speaker and faculty member for Alumni Series for the Next Gen Leaders of Color Program with CompassPoint (on-going). Past workshops focused on Negotiation Skills Across Difference.

  • Guest Speaker on Succession Planning on Silicon Valley Council of Non-Profits

  • Team Peer Facilitator and Workshop Leader for Washoe Native American Tribe in the Bay Area, in partnership with CompassPoint

  • Workshop Leader & Speaker for Adaptive Leadership Alumni Conference Harvard Kennedy School of Government

  • Consulting with the Talent Philanthropy Project on how to strengthen the investment that philanthropy makes with organizations in the areas of leadership development and talent investment. My current focus is executive and leadership transitions. (on-going)

  • Speaker & Trainer with Maitri around Skakti-Driven Leadership (Co-Equal Female-Centered Leadership)

  • Speaker & Trainer with Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits on Empowering Next Gen Leaders & People of Color (*creating a strong internal pipeline of leaders.)

  • Theater of the Oppressed with Maitri, Foothill College, and other Organizations

Frameworks I use in my work: 

  • Gandhian/Kingian Framework for Non-Violence

  • Adaptive Leadership

  • Appreciative Inquiry

  • Structural Oppression & Anti-Racist Leadership

  • Compassionate Conversations

  • Applied Behavioral Change

  • Social & Emotional Intelligence

  • Mindfulness & Inner Transformation


My Soulwork:

Soulforce Leadership Fellowship


My soul work is working with young leaders as part of the Soulforce Leadership Fellowship. During the summer, I get the privilege of bringing together students from different backgrounds to create social change locally in our community. I believe impacting young people between 14-17 has a tremendous impact on the direction of their life.   It it gives me great privilege to bring together students from different backgrounds to understand each other's world views, and as a response to the increasingly segregated and polarized community we live in.  We focus on building the inner strengths of leaders by focusing on skills such as understanding the "other," building community, understanding how to hold tension/conflict, and instilling a sense of voice and agency.   Learn more at www.leadwithsoulforce.com