Farrah M. Ahmad is a seasoned project management and change management professional, philanthropist, change-maker and entrepreneur, who serves as the President of Pillars 4 Dignity. Her personal story is nothing extraordinary, but she has been guided by two principles which resonated close to her heart starting at an early age –
- “If you don’t know your history, you don’t know where you’re coming from” – From Bob Marley’s song, Buffalo Soldier, this was drilled into Farrah by her 8th grade history teacher at St. Mary’s High School in London; and
- “Luceat lux vestra” or, in other words, “Let Your Light Shine.” – High school moto at Sydney Church of England Girls Grammar School (SCEGGS)
The first was important since at an early age Farrah was taught about her family’s rich history and background. Born to Bangladeshi parents in England in the late seventies this was especially interesting, and she always considered herself a history buff fascinated by her family’s roots and heritage. At age 14, Farrah moved to Sydney, Australia, where she spent the rest of her teenage years before later moving to the US where she initially had dreams of pursuing a career in medicine. However, life had other plans for Farrah. Her parents divorced when she was 20 and Farrah witnessed her mother who did not have a formal college education, work two jobs and struggle to raise her two daughters. Fast forward 23 years, and Farrah’s situation as a newly divorced woman and mother of two was vastly different. She had a college education, a more than modest salary at a reputable company, and she was beyond blessed with an amazing family and an army of close friends around her for emotional, moral, and yes, financial support. Farrah does not take it lightly that she is one of the more fortunate ones.
In 2020 with the onslaught of COVID-19 and the havoc wreaked across families here in the US and around the globe, several women find themselves without a job, with no formal education and training and with nowhere to go. Newly divorced women who do not have the financial resources or family backing and support have nowhere to go. Battered and abused women who are stuck in toxic relationships often have nowhere to go. Female veterans who return from service are lost and have nowhere to go. New migrants, female, and on top of that, with a language barrier, do not know where to begin. The common thread with all these women is that they did not have a formal education or training, and financial means to support such pursuits is something they could only dream of.
Keeping her story and her mother’s story in mind inspired the vision behind Pillars 4 Dignity – to provide the pillars and pathways to education and training, economic empowerment, financial independence, and improved health and wellness; to provide the pillars for a woman to realize her full potential, let her light shine, and live a life with dignity.
Farrah has always been a staunch proponent of all women’s empowerment initiatives, and her interest was sparked in 2002 when she served as a Committee member for Asha for Women, an agency dedicated to helping abused women of South Asian descent in the DMV area. Translating for Bengali women who had been abused by their spouses in court to fight for custody for their child and try and receive a fair deal was an eye-opening experience. During her time working at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic, she served as board member on the Regional Diversity Council, which provided advocacy for eliminating health care disparities and increasing cultural competency in health care teams. She also served as a board member for the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), a community literacy coalition that strengthens and promotes adult literacy and English language learning in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Her personal story aside, Farrah is a project management and change management professional with over 20 years of management consulting experience, specializing in program/project management, strategic planning, change management, and communications. Her focus for most of her career has been in the public health and health IT space. Her clients include multiple federal agencies such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Federal Occupational Health Services (FOH), and the Veterans Affairs Administration (VA). Farrah played a key role and led efforts in the development of organizational strategic plans and change management strategy and in the development, execution, monitoring and ensuring alignment of IT goals and objectives with organizational business goals, mission and vision.
Farrah recently ended a ten-year career at Booz Allen Hamilton where she provided leadership and support of major technological change management initiatives to transition full time to pursuing her true passion in the nonprofit world and serve as President at Pillars 4 Dignity.
Farrah lives in Montgomery County, Maryland, with her mother and two children. She loves to read, eat, and travel. Above all, she loves to hear stories from other women who have overcome challenges and hardships to realize their full potential, let their light shine, and live a life with dignity.