Carla Da Silva, Chair at Reach For A Dream
Dreams Taking Flight: Carla Da Silva at the Helm of Reach For A Dream Foundation
In the world of aviation, Carla Da Silva is a well-recognised name. With a career spanning major international companies like South African Airways, Air France, KLM, Air Mauritius, and now Airlink Limited, she has proven her mettle in leading diverse teams to boost revenue, streamline efficiencies, and foster innovation. Beyond her professional achievements, Carla’s commitment to continuous learning and her plans to pursue a doctorate in Aviation leadership in Africa demonstrate an unquenchable thirst for knowledge.
But Carla’s drive continues beyond the runway. Recently appointed Chair of the Reach for A Dream Foundation, Carla is applying her leadership skills to make dreams come true for children with life-threatening diseases. We sat down with Carla to discuss her journey with the Foundation, her ambitions for its future, and her advice for women this Women’s Month. Buckle up as we take off into this inspiring conversation.
Can you share your journey with Reach For A Dream?
My journey with Reach for A Dream began many years ago when South African Airways partnered with the Foundation as part of its CSI, where I witnessed their phenomenal work firsthand. In 2016, I was honoured to join the board as a non-executive director, contributing my expertise to fundraising efforts. In 2018, I became Chair of the Foundation’s Remuneration Committee, formalising programmes to support better and reward our employees. Then, in July 2023, I was privileged to step into the role of Chair, succeeding Mervyn Serebro. It’s been a humbling and inspiring journey, with each step only deepening my commitment to the children we serve.
What do you love the most about working as the Chair at Reach For A Dream, and how has the Foundation changed your perspective?
What I enjoy most is the ability to make a meaningful impact and see the positive changes in South Africa through our children and the difference that every dream makes in their lives. It’s not about the title – it’s a heartfelt mission, and I’m humbled to work with a passionate team who contribute to improving the lives of children with life-threatening diseases.
Reach For A Dream has changed my perspective. It’s taught me the importance of giving back and making a difference. We create a legacy by touching the lives of children, especially those less fortunate or struggling with severe illnesses. Every day we fulfil children’s dreams, giving them hope, courage, and the strength to fight their battles. This work has brought immense fulfilment and purpose to my life.
You speak about the importance of leaving a legacy and making a difference. Do you have children?
I am a very proud mom and have a beautiful daughter Daniella Da Silva. Today, she has a PhD that looks explicitly at stem cell research, and really for her, her cause is about creating solutions to the problems that we face from an illness perspective. Daniella has been doing charity work with me from a very young age; she has been involved with a lot at the Foundation.
The Foundation’s work has personally impacted my family. My beautiful nephew Joshua was diagnosed with a severe illness, and the Foundation fulfilled his dream. Fortunately, he is well today, and I am very grateful for what the Foundation did for Joshua. I’ve lived through it, so it’s extraordinary knowing that our work positively impacts our children and families.
What is your vision for the Foundation? What do you hope to achieve as Chair?
I carry a heartfelt vision to touch more lives and extend our reach to even more children facing life-threatening diseases. But it’s about more than just growth – giving hope, courage, and love, helping these brave youngsters overcome their health challenges and chase their dreams.
In my role, I aspire to elevate our brand further, fostering innovation while preserving our core values. I want to broaden our horizons by attracting international funding and expanding our donor base. More than that, I dream of bringing the comfort and joy of our Dream Rooms to more hospitals across the country, transforming sterile wards into havens of hope and positivity for our young dreamers and their families.
In South Africa, we celebrate Women’s Month in August. What does Women’s Month mean to you?
Women’s Month is a heartwarming celebration of the incredible women who touch our lives daily. For me, it’s a time to acknowledge and appreciate the passionate women who power the Foundation, from our dedicated team members to the doctors, nurses, donors, and, importantly, the resilient mothers of our dreamers. Their contributions are invaluable in bringing hope and positivity to children navigating life’s most challenging battles.
But more than just a celebration, women’s Month is also a reminder to continue empowering women and to support them in their efforts to create a better world for everyone.
What is your message for women this Women’s Month?
This women’s month, I encourage all women to embrace their strengths, pursue their passions, and support one another. Remember, your voice matters, and your unique perspectives can drive positive change. Be fearless in pursuing your goals and aspirations, and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Together, we can create a better world.
Carla Da Silva’s journey is a testament to the power of dreams and the transformative impact of service. As she continues to lead Reach For A Dream, her vision and passion will undoubtedly inspire many more dreams to take flight.