Muhammed Chaudhry – A Champion of Public Education
By C. Naseer Ahmad
Education is the great equalizer, wise folks say. Without education, chances of success in life become diminished but with education possibilities can become endless.
Promoting education requires initiative, energy and vision. Muhammed Ahmad Chaudhry – known to friends as Mac – is a visionary leader with a burning passion for education. For decades he has been striving tirelessly to transform California’s vaunted Silicon Valley into a model for enhancing public education. And, he has much to show for this.
When asked in an interview about what caused him to adopt the cause of education, Mac replied: “I got tired of being a cheerleader for products (I previously worked in brand marketing) and wanted to be a cheerleader promoting causes and initiatives for children, which was always a passion of mine. I wanted to be in a job where I could make the greatest impact on future generations.”
Mac is not a wild-eyed zealot but a methodical man who understands the challenges faced in promoting and delivering quality education. For example, discussing with Silicon Valley Talk the challenges faced with public education in California’s Silicon Valley he said: “Everyone thinks that ALL Silicon Valley kids are high achievers with plenty of access to the best in education because Silicon Valley IS, after all, the center of global innovation and an incubator for awesome technological success. But there’s a great dichotomy here – on one side of the Valley (west of H101) there is a very highly-educated population of mostly white and Asian students. But on the other side (east of H101) is a very poor, largely non-English-speaking population of students who go to underserved schools with lesser resources. These children do not have college-going role models. I’m in this job to work toward eliminating that gap.”
Mac is now a prominent voice for education in the Silicon Valley but is known nationally as a champion of education. He has been invited to the White House and has been mentioned on the White House website.
Stunning success, however, has not altered his down-to-earth personality. For the friends who know him as Mac, he still has the same humility with which he started the San Jose-based Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVEF) in 2001 when it had three employees, a $150,000 budget, and a trailer for its headquarters. Today, it is a formidable organization with the mission to “leverage partnerships and resources for public education, so all students can realize their full potential.”
The SVEF Board of Directors includes leaders with impressive accomplishments and credentials. With a history of achievements, SVEF is marching forward to a new objective to “make the Silicon Valley #1 in the percentage of high school graduates academically prepared to complete post-secondary education, measured by A-G requirements completion rate.”
Education is an investment and SVEF has been successful is enlisting a star studded list of investors ranging from corporate titans like Chevron, Cisco and Oracle not to mention the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mac serves as the CEO of SVEF. According to his official bio, his goal is to help prepare every student in Silicon Valley for completion of post-secondary education. Under his leadership, SVEF has become the leading education foundation serving Silicon Valley to support students, teachers and the community. The foundation achieves this through forging strong relationships with industry and the education community to develop traditional and non-traditional programs to support education. SVEF's latest initiative is STEM - a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math initiative targeted to significantly increase the number of students completing algebra 1 and 2 as gateway subjects to academic success.
Prior to SVEF, Muhammed held management positions in brand marketing with The Clorox Company and Dazzle Multimedia. He serves as Vice President of MKA USA, which is a youth development organization. He is a Board Member of the California Consortium of Education Foundation, the Hispanic Foundation Silicon Valley, Humanity First USA and an active member of San Jose Rotary Club. His personal interests include golf, long distance running, and volunteering with various philanthropic causes.
Mac holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Business Administration from San Jose State University and is a graduate of the Stanford Executive Leadership Program. He resides in San Jose with his wife, Rabia, who is chief of staff for Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese. Together, they are a dynamic duo championing the cause of public education.