About President Vilas S. Dhar

Vilas Dhar is President of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, a 21st century philanthropy advancing artificial intelligence (AI) and data solutions to create a thriving, equitable, and sustainable future for all. Under his leadership, the Foundation bridges technological innovation and social impact with a commitment to justice and equity. These core values sustain his deep optimism that technological advances can ensure a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.

Vilas is an entrepreneur, technologist, and human rights advocate with a lifelong commitment to creating more robust social institutions that foster shared opportunity. Vilas has served as an independent Trustee of the Foundation since its inception in 2017 and has served as chair of both the Audit and Investment committees. Fusing his experience as a lawyer, an investor, and a philanthropist, he has dedicated his professional pursuits to exploring solutions for some of the world’s largest challenges like child labor, refugee crises, and data privacy and sovereignty.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Vilas founded and led two successful social impact organizations, including a field-leading nonprofit incubator and a sustainable public interest law firm. Vilas has also been a leading contributor in the academic study of technology for good as the Gleitsman Fellow on Social Change at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Practitioner Resident on Artificial Intelligence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy.

As a leading voice at the intersection of technology and social change, Vilas has been invited to share his insights through international forums, academic papers, news commentary, and speaking engagements. He is especially passionate about building public awareness about the potential opportunities and impacts of emergent technology on social infrastructure, corporate responsibility, and human behavior. Vilas’ work has been published in the Harvard Business Review, Nature, Forbes, and Project Syndicate addressing data for good, the role of philanthropy in AI, and how CEOs, government officials, and civil society leaders can guide their organizations through the AI revolution. 

Vilas is actively committed to civic service, serving as a Trustee of the Christensen Fund, as a Senior Fellow of the Berggruen Institute, and as a Director of the New England International Donors, a philanthropic collaborative.  He has been appointed to the Global AI Council of the World Economic Forum, Advisor to MIT SOLVE, and is a member of the Xprize Pandemic Alliance.

Vilas holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and dual Bachelor’s degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois. He is currently completing his doctoral dissertation at the University of Birmingham, where his research drives novel approaches to economic and policy infrastructure for a data-enabled society to support and empower vulnerable populations.

Select Publications

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Philanthropy Needs to Prepare Itself for a World Powered by Artificial Intelligence

USA Today: Biden reopens door to refugees and Americans who want to help them

The Hill: Reclaiming American leadership in AI and data science

World Economic Forum: To harness the AI age, governments must keep these 7 factors in mind

Stanford Social Innovation Review: COVID-19 Is Challenging Medical and Scientific Publishing