AMBASSADOR

The Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Mr. Sanjiv Gunasekara

Early Life

Ambassador Sanjiv Gunasekara grew up in Colombo 4 and attended Royal College from Grades 1 through 12. A student leader, Mr. Gunasekara was passionate about engaging with the Royal College community. From 1981 to 1982, he was not only a dedicated trumpeter of the cadet band, but also served as Chairman of the Buddhist Brotherhood. Winning the Kumaran Gunaratne Trophy for the 200 meter race, Mr. Gunasekara was a star track runner for Royal College. From 1982 to 1983, he was a member of the “Under 19 - Second XI Team,” Royal College’s cricket team. In 1984, Mr. Gunasekara was selected to serve as Co-Ten Secretary at the annual Royal-Thomian cricket match. Beyond athletics and extracurriculars, Mr. Gunasekara excelled academically. In both 1983 and 1984, he was selected as a Senior Prefect for exemplary academic, athletic, and citizen achievement. Upon graduation, Mr. Gunasekara was accepted into Sri Jayewardenepura University and received a Mahapola Scholarship on merit; however, opted to pursue his college education in the United States.

Education

Receiving a 4-year scholarship to attend university in the U.S, Mr. Gunasekara attended Beloit College in Wisconsin where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Economics & Management. After graduating Beloit College in 1989, Mr. Gunasekara went on to pursue his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in Finance at the California State University of Dominguez Hills. By 1995, he obtained his MBA in Finance.

While pursuing his MBA in Finance, Mr. Gunasekara worked as a staff accountant in the private sector. Using his MBA and industry experience to his advantage, he climbed the American corporate ladder- becoming Chief Financial Officer of two separate companies and ultimately, Chief Executive Officer of the final company he worked at in 2000 before formally launching his own business in 2001.

Career

Since 1998, Mr. Gunasekara has been building his own real estate company, acquiring commercial properties across Southern California. What started off as a USD $20,000 local business has grown into a USD $60 million enterprise operating in three countries, multiple states, and eight cities. Mr. Gunasekara’s businesses include real estate construction, commercial land acquisition, and private school operations. His private school operation alone serves over 2,000 children in 12 Southern California locations and employs over 270 teachers and support staff.

Philanthropy

Mr. Gunasekara’s commitment to his business is only second to his commitment to philanthropy. Throughout his life, Mr. Gunasekara has been involved in numerous charitable organizations serving his homeland of Sri Lanka. In 2008, he was recognized as the “Sri-American of the Year” by the Sri Lanka Foundation for his globally recognized philanthropic endeavors. To start, Mr. Gunasekara serves as an executive committee member of the Ranaviru Foundation USA, an organization that provides medical and rehabilitation aid to disabled and wounded veterans. Since his involvement and leadership with the Ranaviru Foundation USA, he has raised over USD $150,000 to fund long-term housing for Sri Lanka’s veterans. Serving as an executive committee member for the Foundation of Goodness, Mr. Gunasekara was able to raise over USD $250,000 to build a sports complex in northern Sri Lanka.

A devout Buddhist, Mr. Gunasekara is one of the founding members and current President of the Lankarama Buddhist Institute, one of the largest Buddhist institutions in Los Angeles. He was instrumental in raising over USD $250,000 for the 2004 tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. This organized effort led to the building of a model village, Nelumpokunawatta Induruwa, that consisted of 39 houses and a 32-ft replica of the Avukana Buddha statue. This project was completed in just 153 days and was the second such project to be handed over to tsunami victims. During that same period, Mr. Gunasekara built a community center for the village to have Sunday School and tuition classes. Over the past 20 years, the Sanjiv and Manil Gunasekara Trust has sponsored over 120 students to attend school and university. They are proud to have helped foster the talent of numerous ambitious professionals, including four doctors, who continue to serve the Sri Lankan community.

Most recently, in 2020, Mr. Gunasekara took it upon himself to renovate a 700-year old temple that houses over 20 monks, ranging from 6-years and a Arannya near Sella Kataragama called “Sadagirigala vehara”.

After nearly 23 years as an entrepreneur, Mr. Gunasekara has stepped back from his businesses in Southern California to assume his current role as the Sri Lankan Ambassador to Japan. He is humbled to be serving his motherland in this capacity and looks forward to bridging relations between the two countries during his term.