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3 Indian American Changemakers Selected as Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows

3 Indian American Changemakers Selected as Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows

  • Gayatri Agnew, Jay Chaudhary, and Rinku Sen will join a national network of visionary leaders who are transforming the trajectory of children and families across the country.

Three Indian Americans are among changemakers selected as Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows, for “pursuing bold change on a host of challenges and opportunities families encounter, many still reeling from the pandemic and the nation’s racial reckoning.” The institute says the selected fellows are “committed to reinventing systems, unlocking potential and breaking barriers, so children and their families can thrive.”

Gayatri Agnew, senior director, Opportunity,; Jay Chaudhary, director, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration; and Rinku Sen, executive director, Narrative Initiative will join a national network of visionary leaders who are transforming the trajectory of children and families across the country.

“For our families to be the backbone of strength our nation needs, we must eradicate insecurity as the status quo for too many families,” said Anne Mosle, vice president, The Aspen Institute. “This requires visionary leadership that can not only reimagine an America where more families thrive but also have the courage to remake our society, dismantle discrimination, and make opportunity a destiny we all share.”

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based Gayatri Agnew has worked in the public sector both in government and nonprofits. “She later found her way to business because of her desire to work on impact at scale,” according to her Aspen Institute profile. “She is committed to shared value and believes businesses can be a force for good in society.” Agnew was raised by a single mom in California. At Walmart, Agnew serves on the leadership team of Walmart’s Global Responsibility division where she leads strategy and philanthropy for the company’s efforts on economic mobility. She is currently a Presidential Leadership Scholar working on changing the corporate culture for working moms. She is active in the local community, serving on the Bentonville City Council as well as on the national boards for the Vote Mama Foundation, &Mother, and Path Forward. When not engaged at work or in civic life, she can be found hiking, singing karaoke, enjoying the local farmers market, and crafting at home. She and her husband, Ryan, have two young children, Rohan and Kamala.

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Prior to joining the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, Jay Chaudhary served as managing attorney and director of Medical-Legal Partnerships for Indiana Legal Services. During his time with Indiana Legal Services, Chaudhary developed a medical-legal partnership between Indiana Legal Services and Eskenazi Midtown Community Mental Health Center that began on a part-time basis and later turned it into a full-time, multi-lawyer program,, It received the Outstanding Medical Legal Partnership award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership as well as the Innovation Award from ARC of Indiana for Chaudhary. He currently serves as a board member for the Indiana Health Advocacy Coalition and is the chair of the Indiana Behavioral Health Commission. Last year, he received the Maurer School of Law’s Young Alumni Distinguished Service Award.

Rinku Sen of Roundrock, Texas, is formerly the executive director of Race Forward and was publisher of their award-winning news site Colorlines. During her time at Race Forward, Sen played a major role in some of its most impactful racial justice successes of recent years. One of those campaigns was Drop the I-Word, for media outlets to stop referring to immigrants as “illegal,” resulting in the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many more outlets changing their practice. She was also the architect of the Shattered Families report, which identified the number of kids in foster care whose parents had been deported. Her books “Stir it Up” and “The Accidental American” theorize a model of community organizing that integrates a political analysis of race, gender, class, poverty, sexuality, and other systems. As a consultant, Rinku has worked on narrative and political strategy with numerous organizations and foundations. She serves on numerous boards, including the Women’s March, where she is co-president, and the Foundation for National Progress, publisher of Mother Jones magazine.

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