Profile: A brief conversation with IFF’s new Missouri office executive director David Desai-Ramirez

David Desai-Ramirez joins IFF this month as our executive director – southern region for Missouri, metro Kansas City, and southern Illinois, working out of the St. Louis office. Desai-Ramirez has deep experience in the real estate, affordable housing, and financial markets.

What drew you to IFF?
“There is no doubt that IFF has a wonderful reputation in the local nonprofit civic community and that the IFF staff is top notch. At the end of the day, however, I am most excited about IFF’s industry-leading expertise in and passion for facilitating mission-driven real estate development.”

How do you think your previous work experience will help you in your new role?
“I’ve spent the last several years managing the capital structure strategy for a $500 million-plus highly complex real estate portfolio. To succeed, I had to leverage strong analytical problem-solving ability, a ‘challenge-embracing’ attitude, a knack for nurturing meaningful relationships, and effective presentation, communication, and negotiation skills. I have no doubt all of these things will be necessary to grow IFF’s impact in Missouri, metro Kansas City, and southern Illinois.”

How did you first become part of the nonprofit world?
“When I was in the MBA program at Wash U, I helped a local nonprofit that focuses on writing programs to do a strategic plan. Shortly thereafter, I joined the board and did a lot of work with the executive director to move the very small organization toward more financial stability. Also, for three years between college and grad school, I was an eighth-grade math teacher at a Houston school. There I had some of my most hopeful and most hopeless days professionally. I witnessed the challenges of deficient public education firsthand and to this day feel compelled to do meaningful work on the issue.”

Tell me about how else you are involved in the community.
“Currently, I am a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for a child in Children’s Division custody. Previously, I was on the board for Studio STL (extracurricular writing programs for kids) and was a Junior Achievement teacher at a couple of local public schools. Additionally, my wife and I are very active in the St. Louis community, including with Diversity Awareness Partnership and Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis.”

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