Tag Archives: USINPAC

USINPAC congratulates Indian American Azita Raji on her appointment as Member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowship

US President Barack Obama has appointed a top Indian-American fund raiser, who worked for his re-election campaign, to a key administration post.

San Francisco philanthropist, Azita Raji, who reportedly raised more than $3 million in contributions in 2011-2012 re-election campaign of Obama, has been appointed as Member of the President’s Commission on White House Fellowship.

The announcement came along with nine other appointments to key administration post.

I am honoured that these talented individuals have decided to join this Administration and serve our country. I look forward to working with them in the months and years to come,” Obama said in a statement.

A Trustee of Barnard College, and a founding Co-Chair of the Athena Leadership Council of Barnard’s Athena Center for Leadership Studies, Raji is Co-Chair of Barnard’s Development Committee.

She also serves as a member of the Executive Committee, the Investment Committee, and the Strategic Planning Advisory Group.

A Chartered Financial Analyst, Raji received a BA in Architecture and French from Barnard College and an MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School.

She was National Finance Vice-Chair for Obama for America in 2012 and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School.

According to The Washington Post, Azita Raji was earlier being considered as US Ambassador to an European country – Italy or Switzerland.

Source: The Economic Times

USINPAC condemns the killing of celebrated Indian author Sushmita Banerjee in Afghanistan

An Indian woman whose memoir about life under Taliban rule was turned into a Bollywood movie was shot dead Thursday by suspected members of the Islamist militia, officials said.

The killing of Sushmita Banerjee was the latest in a string of attacks on prominent women in Afghanistan, adding to fears women’s rights in a country where many are barely allowed outside the house will face setbacks after U.S.-led foreign forces fully withdraw in 2014.

The militants arrived before dawn at Banerjee’s residence in eastern Paktika province, which lies in Afghanistan’s east – a region where the Taliban are especially influential. Her husband, Jaanbaz Khan, answered the door, only to be quickly bound and blindfolded, provincial police chief Gen. Dawlat Khan Zadran told The Associated Press.

The militants then dragged Banerjee outside, took her to a nearby road and shot her at least 15 times, Zadran said. Banerjee, who officials said was in her 40s, was buried Thursday morning, a relative told AP. She lived in Daygan Sorqala village, and was well-known as a medical worker in the area, with special training in gynecology, said the relative, Zafar Khan.

Taliban spokesmen did not answer phone calls seeking comment late Thursday.

Banerjee – who was from Kolkata, India – wrote “A Kabuliwala’s Bengali Wife.” It later became the basis for the 2003 film “Escape from Taliban.”

The book described how she met Jaanbaz in India and agreed to marry him despite her parents’ disapproval and the fact that he was Muslim while she was Hindu. According to summaries of the book online, Banerjee moved to Afghanistan as Jaanbaz’s second wife, only to find that life would become unbearable with the Taliban increasing their hold over the country.

The Taliban militia, which rose to prominence in 1994 and officially ruled the country from 1996-2001, placed severe restrictions on women.

It forced them to wear all-encompassing burqas, banned them from working and prohibited girls from attending schools. The Islamist rulers’ harsh interpretation of their religion meant many women could not get proper medical care because the only physicians available were men who in most hospitals were allowed to examine women only if they were fully clothed.

In an interview posted on India’s Rediff news, entertainment and shopping website, Banerjee described trying to flee Afghanistan multiple times to get away from the Taliban, and how she was ordered executed as a result of her attempts. She made it back to Kolkata in August of 1995.

“I still remember the day I stepped on Indian soil for the first time after I had left,” the interview quotes her as saying. “It was raining outside. People were scurrying for shelter. But I didn’t run. I just stood there and let the rain wash off my pain. I felt if I could bear so much in Afghanistan, I can surely bear my motherland’s rain. I don’t know how long I stood there, but I won’t forget that day.”

Her book was published in 1997, about nine years after she got married, according to the interview, conducted around the time of the film’s 2003 release but reposted Thursday in light of Banerjee’s death. The film starred actress Manisha Koirala.

The relative who spoke to AP, Zafar Khan, is the father of Jaanbaz’s first wife. He said Banerjee was beloved in the area, was known locally by the name Sahib Kamal and that many residents were upset that a peaceful woman had been targeted. Zafar Khan said Banerjee had converted to Islam, though it was not immediately clear when. She and Jaanbaz had no children of their own, Khan said.

“She was a very kind woman. She was very educated – she knew the Internet,” Zafar Khan said. “Myself, I am very sad. Believe me, I haven’t been able to eat.”

Militants have targeted prominent women several times in recent months in Afghanistan.

Last month, officials confirmed that Fariba Ahmadi Kakar, a lawmaker who represents Kandahar province in parliament, was kidnapped and was being held in exchange for four insurgents detained by the government. Also in August, insurgents ambushed the convoy of a female Afghan senator, seriously wounding her in the attack and killing her 8-year-old daughter and a bodyguard.

Senator Rouh Gul Khirzad’s husband, son and another daughter were also wounded in the attack in the Muqur district of Ghazni.

Source: NBC29

USINPAC congratulates Nandita Venkateshwaran Berry on her election as Vice Chair of UHS Board of Regents

A new leadership team, which includes its first-ever elected Indian American, is set to lead the University of Houston System Board of Regents during the upcoming fiscal year.

During its recent quarterly meeting, the board elected Nandita Venkateswaran Berry as vice chair.

Berry, senior counsel with Locke Lord, LLP, is the first Indian American to be elected as vice chair of the board.

In 2009, Berry was appointed to the UHS Board of Regents. During the past two fiscal years, she chaired the board’s Audit and Compliance Committee. She has been a member of the Finance and Administration Committee and the Academic and Student Success Committee.

Born in Hyderabad, Berry earned her bachelor’s degree from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore. In 1991, she earned a bachelor’s degree from UH, and in 1995, she received her juris doctorate from the UH Law Center.

She is married to talk show host Michael Berry, an alumnus of the UH Honors College, and they have two sons. She has been on the boards of the Houston Zoo, the Houston Area Women’s Center, the South Asian Chamber of Commerce, and The Community Family Center.

Source: IndiaWest

USINPAC raises a toast for Indian American Vijaya Gadde on her appointment as Twitter General Counsel

Vijaya Gadde, who has led Twitter’s corporate affairs for the past two years, has been named general counsel at the company, after corporate counsel Alex MacGillivray announced on his personal Web site Aug. 30 that he is leaving the position as Twitter gets ready to go for an expected initial public offering in 2014.

Gadde specialized in corporate and securities law at the Silicon Valley firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati for 10 years, before leaving to work at computer routing company Juniper Networks. The Indian American joined Twitter in July 2011.

Civil libertarians have praised MacGillivray, who worked at Google before joining Twitter, for championing the rights of users and rebuffing requests for information about its users, The New York Times reported. The company fought a court order in 2011 to reveal names of WikiLeaks supporters and told users that their information was being sought.

MacGillivray — better known as Amac — said he would continue in an advisory role.

On his personal blog, he wrote, “I’m looking forward to engaging my various Internet passions from new and different perspectives, seeing friends and family without distraction, and just goofing off a bit. We should all do more of that.

According to the Times, Gadde said she is “honored to work with the @twitter legal and @safety teams as we continue to defend our users around the world.”

The Times also reported that Twitter has boosted efforts to increase revenues by recruiting senior marketing executive Kate Jhaveri from Facebook.

Analysts said that Twitter would face a key challenge to balance business interests and its advocacy of free speech.

The company’s public policy department will now report directly to chief executive Dick Costolo, rather than to the new general counsel, as it had in the past, a company spokesman said.

Source: IndiaWest

USINPAC congratulates Indian American Sunil Kulkarni on his appointment as Santa Clara County Judge

Governor Jerry Brown has appointed Sunil R. Kulkarni, who since 2011 has served as a senior counsel in the litigation group at the University of California, to Santa Clara County Superior Court.

A resident of Palo Alto, Calif., Kulkarni, 41, becomes the first South Asian American state judge appointed in Northern California, according to the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California.

(Indian American Paul Singh Grewal in 2010 was appointed a magistrate judge in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. Magistrate judges are federal judges.)

Kulkarni told India-West Aug. 30 that he was “thrilled to get the call” from the governor’s office about the appointment, and has practiced “a wide variety of litigation” in the office of General Counsel at the University of California, including civil litigation, administrative hearings, copyright law, patents and labor issues.

Born in Los Angeles, Kulkarni, 41, grew up in King City, Calif., in southern Monterey County.

He has a B.S. from U.C.-Berkeley and a law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.

The Indian American attorney was a law clerk for Judge Oliver W. Wagner in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California from 1996-97 and held various positions at Morrison and Foerster LLP from 1998-2011, including partner and associate.

“We’re extremely proud that (Gov. Brown) has chosen to appoint the first South Asian state court judge in Northern California, and that this historic appointment has been given to someone who is a pillar in our community,” said Akshay Verma, co-president, SABA-NC.

“It is inspirational to see someone as deserving as…Kulkarni appointed to the bench. His appointment reflects an evolving judiciary that reflects the communities that it serves. SABA-NC hopes that more deserving South Asian attorneys will follow in…Kulkarni’s footsteps and aspire to become a member of the bench.”

He fills a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Marcel B. Poche. A Democrat, Kulkarni will receive a salary of $178,000 per year.

A member of SABA-NC, Kulkarni served as endorsements co-chair and vice president of that organization. He was on the board and treasurer of Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto from 2009-2013, served as volunteer mediator for the Northern District of California since 2011, and was a temporary judge for Santa Clara County traffic court since November 2012.

Married, he and his wife, Sujata Patel, a psychiatrist at Stanford University, have two girls, Asha, 7, and Leela, 4.

There has been a flurry of recent appointments and nominations of South Asians to the judiciary in California and the U.S.

They include Rupa S. Goswami, who was appointed by Gov. Brown to Los Angeles County Superior Court in July (I-W, July 19); Alka Sagar, who was named a federal magistrate judge for the Central District of California (I-W, Aug. 30); and Vince Girdhari Chhabria, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. District Court for Northern California (I-W, Aug. 3).

These developments come on the heels of Skikanth “Sri” Srinivasan’s historic appointment and confirmation by the U.S. Senate in May to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (I-W, May 31), considered the second most powerful court in the nation.

Asked about the fact that more South Asian Americans are advancing in the legal and judicial fields, Kulkarni told India-West that he believes it is because “South Asians in my generation” are “more open about law as a career.” Many in earlier cohorts, he pointed out, came to the U.S. as engineers, medical doctors or business professionals.

The younger generation is far more likely to view law as “a new paradigm” for a career, Kulkarni added.

Source: IndiaWest