A Fond Remembrance: Damayanti P. Vasudevan
By Allegra Bennett
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Gandhi
Damayanti P. Vasudevan was an indomitable spirit and citizen of the world who valued the pursuit of knowledge and active citizenship. She strongly believed that a diversity of people, ideas and tolerance creates the best learning environments. She was an intuitive leader who donated generously to students from the South Side of Chicago to India.
As vice president of Diversity and Inclusion at RR Donnelley and president of the Foundation, she was a visible figure in the Chicago community. She is remembered especially for encouraging others to pursue their dreams and providing her time and tips to help them navigate territory that was not so familiar.
“She was not only a beloved member of the Chicago professional community, but the global community in which we both traveled extensively together – always with her special tea bags and hot sauce,” said her friend, Pat Harris, chief diversity officer at McDonald’s Corporation.
In pursuit of her big dream to be more of service, in July 2011, Damayanti left her corporate posts of 10 years to launch her own enterprise, Periscope at Work.
“My mom’s vision for Periscope at Work was motivated by the way that submarines use periscopes to navigate,” her daughter Nalika explained. “She envisioned herself as a periscope or tool to give individuals a lens through which to think about their personal and professional development.”
Damayanti was an accomplished academic who garnered many awards and honors throughout her career. She was actively involved with many organizations, the Global Summit of Women’s International Planning Committee, Robert Morris University Graduate Advisory Board and the Chicago Workforce Council to name a few.
Asked once about her most significant accomplishment, Damayanti said, “From the background I came from, Asian-Indian female born and raised in England in a working-class family during the ‘60s and ‘70s, just breaking through the gender, ethnic, racial, cultural, and economic barriers to reach a position in life where I can and hope to have a positive impact on the lives of others is for me an accomplishment in itself.”
As a tribute to Damayanti’s generosity and passion for equality, the family started a memorial fund in her honor for the education and equitable treatment of women and children around the world.
Donations will be received through
The Damayanti Vasudevan Foundation
9531 E. Kemper Road
Loveland, OH 45140