Shireen Santosham

Lecturer, Political Economy

Shireen Santosham

Lecturer in Management

Academic Area:

Research Statement

I am interested in the impact of technology on society. My research has focused on digital equity both in the U.S. and in developing countries.

Research Interests

  • Technology
  • Digital Divide
  • Social Media
  • Cities
  • Sustainability
  • Community
  • Agritech

Teaching Statement

I teach the “Future of Cities” class where I bring practical experience to the classroom as the former Chief Innovation Officer of San Jose and decades of experience working with companies like Nextdoor and Plenty, an urban vertical farming company.


Shireen Santosham has over 20 years of experience working across sectors to find innovative solutions to pressing social issues.

Currently, she is the Executive Director of the Nextdoor Kind Foundation as well as Head of Social Impact at Nextdoor.

Prior to Nextdoor, she led strategy, sustainability, and community engagement initiatives for large venture-backed startups as well as served as the Chief Innovation Officer for the Mayor of San Jose, where she secured multimillion-dollar partnerships to close the digital divide for over a million San Jose neighbors. Her experience ranges from consulting at McKinsey to impact investing at Vulcan Capital to authoring ground-breaking research on the gender gap in digital access globally for the GSMA.

She testified before the U.S. Congress and spoke on numerous prominent stages including at the United Nations Conference on Women (Beijing +20). Her work has been featured in Bloomberg Technology, the New York Times, and CNN.

In her free time, she serves on the CETF Board, and enjoys the great outdoors.


Academic Degrees

  • BA in International Relations, University of Pennsylvania, 2001
  • BS in Finance, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, 2001
  • MPA in International Development, Harvard Kennedy School, 2009
  • MBA, Harvard Business School, 2009

Professional Experience

  • Executive Director, Nextdoor Kind Foundation
  • Head of Social Impact, Nextdoor
  • Head of Strategic Initiatives, Plenty
  • Chief Innovation Officer, San Jose City
  • Director, Connected Society Program, GSMA
  • Consultant, McKinsey & Company

Awards and Honors

  • Top San Francisco Changemaker Shaping the Future of Tech, Builtin
  • Moxie Award, Builtin
  • Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers, GovTech (twice listed)
  • Top 50 Women in Tech, StateScoop Silver Stevie Award
  • Verge Vanguard Award, GreenBiz
  • Term Member, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Global Governance Futures Fellow, Bosch Foundation
  • Young Leaders Forum Fellow, Committee on U.S. China–Relations


Academic Publications