Rachele Tardi, senior program officer, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2021 as part of RWJF’s leadership development team. In her work she seeks “to support leadership in equitable ways, with a broad set of strategies, as a way to address structural racism and interconnected forms of oppression and promote health equity.” She is passionate about enabling “people to come together, learn together, decide together, and act together to turn resources they have into the power they need to achieve their goals.”
Previously, Rachele served as a director with the Open Society Foundations (OSF), the largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. She led OSF’s Youth Exchange program, providing individual and organizational grants aimed at addressing multiple forms of structural oppression, using the disability justice framework.
Earlier, she served as a representative at the United Nations for the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), a global network of 25 disability organizations. In her work she represented IDDC in advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities in the post-2015 agenda.
Previously, as a senior adviser for the American Red Cross, Rachele designed and launched the first International Law Action Peer Education Campaign, which enabled young people to be changemakers in their communities. In other roles—with Plan International; the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok; World Vision Albania; the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA); and Humanity and Inclusion—her work focused on advancing inclusive education for children with disabilities in West Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Rachele credits her mother, a retired nurse and single parent, with inspiring her to pursue higher education, and she is the first member of her extended family to do so. She earned her first degree at the University of Bologna, Italy, and her PhD at the University of London, UK. Committed to continuous learning, she also completed the Harvard Kennedy School course on Leadership Action and Organizing, and the International Disability Law Summer School at the National University of Ireland, Galway.
Born in Italy, Rachele currently lives in New York City with her husband and her son. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, especially around a picnic or a BBQ.