Board of Trustees

Karim Merchant, Board of Trustees

Karim Merchant


  • Director of Development and Volunteer Engagement, Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A.


  • JD, University of Virginia School of Law
  • BA, Vanderbilt University

About Karim Merchant

Karim Merchant is the director of development and volunteer engagement at the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF), U.S.A., a private, not-for-profit international development organization. AKF partners with communities in the poorest parts of South and Central Asia, Eastern and Western Africa, and the Middle East to improve the quality of life through programming that addresses hunger, disease, illiteracy, ignorance and social exclusion. Merchant’s knowledge of philanthropy, network of industry professionals, and years of volunteering experience has enabled him to bring new ideas and best practices in raising funds and leveraging talent in the organization.

Merchant believes in donor-centered fundraising and is passionate about helping people give in ways that both reflect their personal values and purpose and meet the needs of beneficiaries. Merchant is committed to ensuring AKF’s volunteers are supported in their fundraising efforts and that AKF uses smart, innovative, and efficient tools and practices to reach its goals of mobilizing both human and financial resources. Prior to his time with AKF, Merchant practiced as an attorney and an advisor with Chapman and Cutler LLP and most recently with Baker & McKenzie. With his background in legal and client management training, he is able to proactively identify potential issues, deliver creative solutions to complex problems, and spot opportunities to position his clients well.

Merchant also has many years of experience in volunteer leadership, serving as chairman of the Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) U.S.A. Midwest Region and then honorary secretary of AKEB U.S.A. He has collaborated with teams of volunteers to arrive at a shared vision, developed strategy with stakeholder buy-in, created tactical execution plans with attention to risks, agreed on performance metrics, and executed and troubleshooted, all while ensuring volunteers felt respected, valued, and appreciated.

Merchant earned a Bachelor of Arts from Vanderbilt University and a Juris Doctor from University of Virginia School of Law.