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4 Indian Americans, 1 Pakistani American Named to President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans

4 Indian Americans, 1 Pakistani American Named to President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans

  • They will advise Biden on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work, among others, to address the intersectional barriers that women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities face.

President Joe Biden is appointing four Indian American civic leaders — Ajay Bhutoria, Dr. Kamal Singh Kalsi, Sonal Shah and Smita N. Shah — as commissioners to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Also included is Pakistani American Naheed Qureshi, head of Policy Partnerships at Instacart.

The commission will advise the president on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for every Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community, according to a White House press release. Additionally, the commission will advise the president “on policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, ways to build capacity in AANHPI communities through federal grantmaking and policies to address the intersectional barriers that AANHPI women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities face.” 

Ajay Bhutoria is a Silicon Valley technology executive, community leader, speaker, and author. The White House describes him as “a passionate advocate for the South Asian and AAPI communities in the areas of small businesses, educational opportunities, immigration issues, and technological advancement.” According to the press release, Bhutoria’s “expertise in the areas of organizational transformations and change management has supported critical advancements within the AAPI community.”

Dr. Kamal Singh Kalsi is an emergency medicine physician from New Jersey. He has served in the Army for 20 years and was awarded a Bronze Star medal for his work taking care of hundreds of combat casualties on the front lines in Afghanistan. He has transitioned into the Army reserves and now serves as a senior advisor for Policy Vets and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. He founded the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA) to promote diversity, religious freedom, and service.

Sonal Shah is the founding president of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), a convener, incubator, and funder committed to accelerating opportunity and prosperity for Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. A social impact and innovation leader, she previously founded and led Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, providing students a first-hand opportunity to work on social impact projects in the public, private, and social sectors. She served as deputy assistant to President Obama and created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, worked on international development at the Department of Treasury, and led social impact efforts at Google and Goldman Sachs. She serves on the boards of TAAF, Oxfam America, the Century Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute.

Smita N. Shah is an engineer, entrepreneur, and civic leader serving as president and CEO of Chicago-based SPAAN Tech, Inc, a multi-disciplinary firm with expertise in public and private infrastructure projects including transportation, aviation, and facilities. Shah serves in various roles with the Chicago Plan Commission, MIT, the Museum of Science and Industry, After School Matters, Delhi Chicago Sister Cities Program, YPO, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She is a member of the board of MacLean Fogg Company and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago. Shah earned her Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University, her Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from M.I.T., and a Post Graduate Certificate in Management Studies from Oxford University.

Naheed Qureshi has had an extensive 20-year career in civil rights, including serving as a founding board member and later deputy director of Muslim Advocates and as co-chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Hate Crimes and Bigotry Task Force. She started her career in the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors Program and has also worked at the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the City of Los Angeles, and the national legislative office of the ACLU. Qureshi received a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, she was raised in Wisconsin and is an avid Packers fan.

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