With 30+ years of financial and leadership experience, Ramya knows the importance of finance and administration in helping communities thrive on their own terms.

We’re ringing in 2022 by welcoming Ramya as our new CFO and vice president of finance and administration, and we couldn’t be happier. She starts on January 18.

She succeeds beloved and recently retired CFO Millie Acamovic, who positioned finance and administration as tools to advance our mission and support our priority communities: Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and people in rural areas.

She adds a wealth of leadership experience from the corporate and nonprofit sectors.

A native of Sri Lanka, Ramya began her career in public accounting and tax management before moving into the corporate world. She spent over a decade in corporate leadership positions in Sri Lanka, including seven years as treasurer and CFO for Energizer Co. USA. In 1999, she moved to the US to continue her career.

She eventually transitioned to the nonprofit sector, most recently spending six years as the CFO of YWCA Minneapolis. In 2017, she was named CFO of the year by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

“Ramya has a unique and robust skill set,” says President and CEO Kevin Walker. “She’s an accomplished CFO with hands-on experience in all facets of finance and accounting.

“And with a career that’s spanned both the corporate and nonprofit worlds, she brings exceptional insight to the Foundation. She’s as comfortable and adept analyzing policies, procedures, and fiscal data as she is fostering teamwork, advancing DEI, and promoting justice.”

“Ramya brings exceptional insight to the Foundation. She’s as comfortable and adept analyzing policies, procedures, and fiscal data as she is fostering teamwork, advancing DEI, and promoting justice.”

Kevin Walker
President and CEO, Northwest Area Foundation
She carries DEI and justice into all aspects of her work—and her life.

Ramya’s DEI and justice journey began in earnest at the YWCA. She says, “In the corporate sector, things tend to be profit based and process oriented. But in the nonprofit world, I learned that outcomes and people are just as important. Empowering women and fighting for racial and social justice were top priorities for me at the YWCA.”

As a woman of color who earned her education outside of the US, Ramya understands what it feels like to be part of a community that’s been marginalized. So she works hard to break down barriers and help her teams feel empowered.

One of Ramya’s accomplishments as the YWCA’s CFO was auditing all major third-party relationships not only for improved customer service and reduced fees, but also for enhanced diversity and inclusion.

Her commitment to DEI extends into her personal life. To Ramya, “DEI is what you do day to day, showing equity to all—personally and professionally.”

Growing up, Ramya’s family took action to reduce economic disparities in their community, everything from lending a hand with homework to collecting and donating books, clothing, and toys. She credits her upbringing with her devotion to promoting equity.

Ramya will continue former CFO Millie Acamovic’s use of finance and administration as tools to advance our mission and to promote DEI and justice.

As a board member for two Minnesota-based organizations, Ramya continues to open doors to equity.

She believes boards should reflect the communities they serve and use their resources to strengthen those communities.

At OneVillage Partners, which supports community-led transformation in rural Africa, Ramya has been instrumental in increasing the number of board and finance committee members from Sierra Leone.

And at Venn Foundation, she’s seen how program-related investments can be used to advance charitable impact, experience that will be helpful as she works to advance our Foundation’s mission through investing.

Ramya is looking forward to collaborating in a way that feels like family.

Ramya has worked for numerous large, even multinational, organizations. She says the leadership and skills she’s gained have been invaluable, but now she’s ready to collaborate on a scale that’s more personal: “I’m excited for the opportunity to join Northwest Area Foundation, an organization where I can get to know each staff member as part of a close-knit team.”

Teamwork is vital to Ramya, as is empowering staff. She says, “I look forward to investing the time, training, and tools so each individual feels empowered for long-term success, both for themselves and for the Foundation.”

We look forward to having Ramya on our team!

Established in 1934 and based in St. Paul, MN, the Northwest Area Foundation supports grantees across its region that use their wisdom, passion, and expertise to advance social, economic, and racial justice. Our funding and strategy is guided by listening to grantees and understanding how we can best be allies and support the journeys of our priority communities—Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and people in rural areas—so they can thrive on their own terms. Our region includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon, and the 76 Native nations that share the same geography. For more information, please visit nwaf.org.

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