Varun Thampi was born in Redmond, Washington and grew up in Mumbai, India. He has an undergraduate degree in engineering and worked in management consulting for 3 years before finding his true calling in public service. He mentored orphaned teenagers infected with HIV at Committed Communities Development Trust, a pioneering NGO in Mumbai and interned at IIT Bombay, India`s leading research institute, where he developed a simple tool for frontline functionaries to better identify and assess the severity of child malnutrition. These experiences motivated him to transition to the public sector, where he works with UNICEF at the state government of Maharashtra.
As a UNICEF consultant, Varun has worked on diverse state-wide flagship projects in child health and nutrition, as well as for economic empowerment of women. He supported UNICEF in developing a state-wide strategy to improve the routine immunization coverage for over 1.5 million children in urban slums; created guidelines to strengthen the supply chain for ready-to-use-therapeutic-foods to treat children with severe acute malnutrition; and led the design and implementation of systems to link 2 million underprivileged women farmers with organized markets. He was also appointed by the state government as a nodal officer to coordinate the provision of relief services to 2.5 million migrants stranded during the COVID-19 lockdown in India.
Varun will be pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy with a concentration in international development. He is grateful and excited to be a 2022 Payne Fellow and looks forward to joining USAID as a Foreign Service Officer, as it would further his commitment towards making systemic changes for vulnerable communities across the globe. Outside of his professional life, Varun is an avid swimmer, hiker and loves experimenting with food from diverse cultures.