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2 South Asian Americans Among 26 Members Named to California 100 Commission

2 South Asian Americans Among 26 Members Named to California 100 Commission

  • The statewide initiative aims to envision and shape the long-term success of the Golden State.

2 South Asian Americans are among 26 members Named to the California 100 Commission, a statewide initiative to envision and shape the long-term success of the Golden State. Indian American Nidhi Kalra and Sri Lankan American Ahilan T. Arulanantham are part of a team that reflects “diversity by region and industry, and the perspectives of communities who have been historically marginalized or excluded,” according to the commission. 

The new members will serve as commissioners, and will be “deeply engaged in all aspects of California 100’s work and be heavily involved in crafting a vision and strategy that prepares us for the challenges and opportunities the next century will bring.”


According to Karthick Ramakrishnan, executive director of California 100, the “unique perspective” of the new members “will inform our work to create a vision and strategy for California’s future — one that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable. California 100 belongs to Californians and we are excited to begin our partnership with these dynamic leaders who represent the best of our state — and the best of what’s to come.”

Nidhi Kalra is a senior information scientist at the RAND Corporation, and spearheads its autonomous vehicle policy work, according to her profile on California 100 website. She has previously served as director of RAND’s San Francisco Bay Area office and as co-director of RAND’s Center for Decision Making Under Uncertainty. “Her research focuses on autonomous vehicle policy, climate change adaptation, and tools and methods that help people and organizations make better decisions amid deep uncertainty,” her profile says. 

In 2018, Kalra served as a senior technology policy adviser to U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris. Before that, in 2013, she served as a senior decision scientist in the Office of the Chief Economist of Sustainable Development at the World Bank, where she helped launch the World Bank’s portfolio in robust decision making. She developed educational technology tools to promote literacy among blind children in India, a project that went on to receive the Louis Braille Touch of Genius Prize for Innovation. She received her Ph.D. in robotics from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.

Ahilan T. Arulanantham is Co-Director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. According to his California 100 profile, he has “successfully litigated a number of cases involving immigrants’ rights, including a challenge to the Trump administration’s plan to end the TPS program for immigrants who have lived here lawfully for decades.”

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Arulanantham has argued twice before the United States Supreme Court and will argue again this fall on behalf of Americans of the Muslim faith who were targeted by the federal government for surveillance because of their religion, in FBI v. Fazaga. He has also testified before the United States Congress on three occasions. He previously served as a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School and at the University of Irvine School of Law, where he taught on Preventive Detention. Son of Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants who left Sri Lanka to escape racial discrimination and sporadic violence, Arulanantham has remained interested in promoting human rights in Sri Lanka and has also represented several Sri Lankan Tamil refugees during the course of his work with the ACLU.

Before joining UCLA, he was Senior Counsel at the ACLU in Los Angeles, where he worked for nearly twenty years. He has also worked as an Assistant Federal Public Defender in El Paso, Texas, and as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. 

In 2007 and 2013 he was named one of California Lawyer Magazine’s Lawyers of the Year for immigrants’ rights and has repeatedly been named one of the Daily Journal’s Top 100 Lawyers in California over the last decade. In 2010 he received the Arthur C. Helton Human Rights Award from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association, and in 2014 received the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for litigation to protect the rights of vulnerable immigrants, also from the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association. In 2016 Arulanantham was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow.

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