July 20, 2021
A MasterClass in generosity
When Chhayal Mehta, director of marketing production at MasterClass, the streaming platform where anyone can learn from the world’s best across a wide range of subjects, invited her sister Seetal Parikh-Chopra to stay with her in Washington, DC, the summer after college and “find an internship you’re crazy about,” she didn’t know it would lead to Parikh-Chopra becoming the deputy director of CASA for Children of DC 15 years later.
Mehta, having learned about the critical work of CASA/GAL program staff and volunteers through her sister, recently nominated National CASA/GAL to receive contributions from MasterClass’ generous employee giving program. The San Francisco-based company, which offers unlimited access to 100+ instructors and classes, has committed to making a $250 donation on behalf of each employee annually to a handful of non-profit organizations voted on by team members in addition to a $1,000 charitable giving match per employee per year. National CASA/GAL is deeply appreciative of the $12,000 donated by MasterClass employees since last fall.
Last month, National CASA/GAL’s director of foundation relations Elise Rowan sat down with Mehta for a conversation about the MasterClass Charitable Giving Program and her passion for the CASA/GAL program and the work across the country to support children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect. NOTE: The conversation has been edited for length.
ER: Can you start by telling me a little bit more about your connection to the CASA/GAL program?
CM: My pleasure! When my sister Seetal graduated from college in 2006, I lived in Washington, DC, and I said to her, “Pack your things, come here for the summer and find an internship you’re crazy-excited about.” She found an internship with CASA for Children of DC. Now all these years later, she’s the deputy director of programs. She took an internship that she was passionate about, and now 15 years later she’s part of the leadership that drives the direction for that office, and it makes me really proud.
ER: That’s so wonderful that you gave her a launching pad and a place to be. We just love this MasterClass Employee Giving Program. It’s so cool. What made you want to advocate for National CASA/GAL to be included, or what made you think that other MasterClass employees would want to support us?
CM: MasterClass employees are natural givers. They want to help other people. CASA is really unique in the sense that the volunteers do the same, right? It’s a MasterClass in a different way, if you look at it.
ER: I love that! In a way, we’re doing a MasterClass in child advocacy. That’s what each volunteer does for each child.
CM: Yes! It’s essentially the same parallel path. In this case, the volunteers might not be well-known like our instructors, but they are absolutely impacting lives, too.
ER: What made you think of National CASA/GAL for this opportunity?
CM: There are very special types of people who take on this role, and I really admire that. That’s what made me think about contributing – I am in awe of people who can connect and sync up with youth in need.
ER: What did you tell employees about why they should contribute to National CASA/GAL? What’s your pitch?
CM: The reason National CASA/GAL was really exciting for me is because it supports [over] 900 programs across the country that serve children in care. Knowing that this donation helps with programs, drives better outcomes and brings better services to kids to create positive impacts—that’s huge.
ER: Do you have any advice, in terms of MasterClass’ leadership, for other companies considering this or other people who could advocate for National CASA/GAL with their company’s employee giving program the way you have?
CM: It’s amazing to be at a company that offers such a thoughtful giving and matching program and it is equally amazing for any company to consider advocacy organizations like CASA/GAL. In my mind, National CASA/GAL is a leading voice in this space. I’ve seen that impact first hand for at-risk youth. From my perspective, there’s just always been this fight to give children a voice through a very, very complicated system we have in the states. And it’s a beautiful thing when people step up for these kids.