President Obamalastweekannounced his intent to name three Indian Americans among 14 new members
to the President’s Advisory Commission on
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Democratic Party activist and fundraiser
Shekar Narasimhan, Lieutenant Colonel
Ravi Chaudhary and actor Maulik
Pancholy, will — as the White House said
— serve as the ‘eyes and ears of the AAPI
community’ for the Obama administration.
The advisory commission works to
improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific
Islanders by facilitating increased access
and participation in federal programs
where they remain underserved.
The executive director of the
Commission, which is a full-time job, is
also an Indian American, Kiran Ahuja.
The members who serve as Commissioners
of the Initiative, and meet once or twice
every couple of months, advise the
President on innovative ways to engage
AAPIs across the country and to improve
their health, education, environment, and
The initiative, chaired by the US
Department of Education Secretary Arne
Duncan and led by Ahuja, is housed in the
Members of the Commission and the
Interagency Working Group also works col-
laboratively with the White House Office of
Public Engagement, which was earlier
headed by Indian-American actor Kal Penn
Modi, and now is helmed by White House
veteran Gautam Raghavan.
The Commissioners’ swearing-in ceremony will take place during the AAPI Heritage
Month Opening Ceremony May 6 at the
Narasimhan has been managing partner
at Beekman Advisors since 2003 and chairman of Papillon Capital since 2012.
Previously, he was the managing director at
Prudential Mortgage Capital Company
from 2000 to 2003 and the Chairman of
The WMF Group, Ltd from 1988 to 2000.
He is also co-founder of the Emergent
Institute (formerly known as the Indian
Institute for Sustainable Enterprise) in
Bangalore, India. It is a nonprofit for training entrepreneurs to build social ventures.
Lieutenant Colonel Chaudhary is the
executive officer to the Commander, Air
Force District of Washington, Joint Base
Andrews, Maryland. He has logged over
3,000 flight hours as a pilot and flight test
engineer, including over 700 combat hours.
Previously, Chaudhary served as
Commander of the US Air Force’s 317th
Recruiting Squadron from 2011 to 2013.
From 2009 to 2011, he served as Chief of
Strategy Integration in the Air Force
Strategic Plans and Programs division as
well as speechwriter in the Secretary of the
Air Force Executive Action Group at the
His awards include the NASA Stellar
Award, Meritorious Service Medal, Air
Medal, and Iraq and Afghanistan
He was also instrumental in urging the
Pentagon to appoint its first Hindu chaplain, Captain Pratima Dharm.
At the Diwali ceremony at the White
House, Chaudhary had the distinct honor
of introducing the First Lady Michelle
Pancholy, besides appearing for six sea-
sons on the television series 30Rock, also
appeared in six seasons of the Showtime
series Weeds and played Neal on the first
season of the NBC series Whitney.
He is the voice of Sanjay, the title character in the Nickelodeon animated series
Sanjay & Craig, as well as the voice of
Baljeet in the Disney animated series
Phineas and Ferb.
He shared the Screen Actors Guild Award
for Outstanding Performance by an
Ensemble in a Comedy Series with the cast
of 30Rock in 2009. He has also appeared
in numerous films and plays.
Pancholy is active with a number of nonprofits and social policy organizations like
Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the
New York City Anti-Violence Project, and
the International Gay & Lesbian Human
He worked closely with the Smithsonian
Asian Pacific American Center on its exhibition ‘Beyond Bollywood: Indian
Americans Shape the Nation,’ which
opened at the National Museum of Natural
History in February.
SUMAN GUHA MOZUMDER
New York-based women’s rights group Breakthrough, has won the third annual Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize.
The organization headed by Mallika Dutt, its founder and
president, received $125,000 and an official recognition at an
award ceremony April 24 at the University of Pennsylvania.
‘Breakthrough’s efforts to leverage the global allure of pop culture, technology, and media as instruments of empowerment are
not only innovative but inspirational,’ Amy Gutmann, president,
University of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
‘Their work to reduce violence against women exemplifies the
founding spirit of the Barry and Marie Lipman Family Prize. It
is an honor to work with an organization so deeply committed to
the ideal of universal human rights.’
Chosen from over 150 organizations worldwide, Breakthrough
is working to drive the culture change necessary to make vio-
lence against women unacceptable, in part by engaging men as
leaders and partners.
The other winners were Kickstart, a social enterprise designed
to lift millions out of poverty quickly and in a sustainable way,
and Not For Sale, a nonprofit that equips and empowers survivors of human trafficking and vulnerable individuals through
services of stability and restoration.
All three will profit from synergistic opportunities with the
Wharton School and Penn, the University said while announcing
‘ The entire Breakthrough team is deeply honored to receive the
Lipman Family Prize,’ said Dutt. ‘ We are energized by the oppor-
tunity to create game-changing new partnerships and engage
broad new audiences to realize our mission. Together we will
build the generation that makes violence against women and
Umi Howard, director, Lipman Family Prize, said the prize
committee was inspired and excited by the work of all three
‘Breakthrough is doing work that brings hope for positive
change because it demands accountability. That’s a powerful
message. Their approach to changing cultural norms through
media is provocative and notable for its potential application
across multiple social issues,’ Howard said.
‘The group’s accomplishments, including its award-winning
Breakthrough wins $125,000 Barry & Marie Lipman Family Prize
Bell Bajao media strategy in India, and its Ring the Bell public
awareness campaign around the world. These are a testament to
Breakthrough’s organizational strength and dedication to affect-
ing real change in attitudes and behaviors.’
Breakthrough’s current global campaign calls on men world-
wide to take concrete action to challenge violence against
Mallika Dutt, Breakthrough’s
founder and president.
Three desis on President’s
Lieutenant Colonel Ravi Choudhary Maulik Pancholy Shekhar Narsimhan
May 2, 2014