Ajay Dahiya is Executive Director of The Pollination Project
, a grant-making organization that seeks to unleash goodness and expand compassion all over the world. Founded by active ServiceSpace volunteer Ari Nessel
, The Pollination Project makes worldwide daily seed grants – 365 days per year – to inspiring social change-makers who are committed to a world that works for all. Through a global network of grantees and community partners, the organization identifies extraordinary grassroots leaders who would not likely qualify for funding from other foundations or institutions. Once they have the backing of The Pollination Project, grantees often leverage their grant into more funding, building their team, media attention and more.
Ajay was born in Surrey, England, to a working-class immigrant family. Growing up in a diverse and disparate environment he enjoyed a childhood which immersed him in a variety of cultures. From early on in his life Ajay felt a great need for inner transformation. While in pursuit of this deep spiritual calling Ajay became ordained as a monastic in his late teens.
As a monk for eight years, Ajay had the honor of serving diverse teams across the globe and after transitioning out of monastic life would go on to hold executive leadership positions in a variety of mission-driven organizations including Insight LA, Hope Not Hate, and The Bhakti Center. An entrepreneur in all that he does, Ajay strives to realize a healthy, equal and just society for all by bringing out the goodness and compassion in everyone he meets.
Ajay was privileged to have gained invaluable experience in non-profits that question the status quo. His personal success has been a product of engaging and inspiring others to grow. He relishes solving puzzles involving the relationship between human growth and a compassionate society. He thrives in helping individuals to recognize their true selves as part of an integral whole and in applying transcendent principles to organizational and strategic contexts.
Join us in conversation with this spiritual activist and changemaker!
Five Questions with Ajay Dahiya
What Makes You Come Alive?
Connection makes me feel alive - whether it's connecting with people, nature or my inner self. I am moved by a sense of connection and look for it in all I do.
Pivotal turning point in your life?
There are many such moments. Some of the most pivotal were growing up in a heavily working-class environment as the only person of color, becoming a monastic in my teens and immersing myself in eight years of practice and service.
An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?
Many years ago, as a monk, a group of volunteers went to a Rainbow Gathering in the heart of a national forest in Tennessee. We were there for the primary purpose of cooking and feeding the many at the gather for free. Very soon the rest of the team disappeared and for the following three days I was left to cook for hundreds. One day, after cooking and serving out the food, just as I was cleaning up, a small, frail, young lady came out of the forest asking for food. She explained that she had been sick and had not eaten in three days. Feeling heartbroken that I had no food left after hearing her story and observing her condition, I frantically looking around for anything I could find to feed her I discovered an orange. I peeled it and handed it to her. She smiled and even though starving, broken the orange in half, extended her hand towards me and said, "Would you like some?" It's an act of kindness that will be forever held deeply in my heart and mind.
One Thing On Your Bucket List?
Climb a Himalayan mountain!
One-line Message for the World?
Always seek service.