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Indian American Ishan Shah Appointed President of New Jersey Leadership Program

Indian American Ishan Shah Appointed President of New Jersey Leadership Program

  • The Manager of Government Affairs at Quest Diagnostics succeeds Amit Jani, co-founder of the nonprofit, who served as its president since its inception in 2015.

The New Jersey Leadership Program (NJ Lead) has recently appointed Ishan Shah as its new president. The nonpartisan nonprofit organization seeks to educate and encourage South Asian youth in New Jersey to get involved in public service, government and politics. Shah is the manager of Government Affairs at Quest Diagnostics. Shah, who succeeds Amit Jani, previously served in the office of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He also worked as chief of staff to New Jersey Assemblyman Kevin Rooney, as well as on NJGOP Chairman Bob Hugin’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2018.

Jani was a co-founder of NJ Lead and served as its president since its inception in 2015. He previously served as the National Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Director for President Joe Biden and has worked for several elected officials including New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, as well as Members of Congress Frank Pallone, Jr. and Judy Chu.

“I thank Amit and the NJ Lead team for building such an incredible program and I am glad to be able to take over during a time of incredible interest and success in political engagement within the South Asian community,” Shah said in an NJ Lead press release. “It has never been more important to get the young people more involved. NJ Lead through its Summer Fellowship Program seeks to develop the next generation of South Asian political leaders.”

Incoming NJ Lead leadership will include Meet Patel as vice president and Kunal Papaiya as general counsel. Patel currently serves in New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s Administration for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Patel is an alumnus of the NJ Lead Fellowship Program and joined the Murphy Administration as an IGA intern through NJ Lead. He previously also served as a committeeman for the New Brunswick Democratic Organization.

Papaiya is a co-owner and general counsel of USA Wine Traders Club, a growing portfolio of large-sized retail liquor stores throughout New Jersey. A graduate of Rutgers Law School in Newark, Papaiya was co-president of the Asian-Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and co-founded the Rutgers University Student Caucus (RUSC). He served as a City Year Boston AmeriCorps Member during the 2015-2016 academic school year.

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They will be joined by Board members Darshan Jha and Aadi Kulkarni. Jha currently serves as an aide to Senator-Elect Jean Stanfield, as well as outgoing Assemblyman Ryan Peters in New Jersey’s 8th Legislative District. He previously worked as a Burlington County Field Coordinator for the NJ GOP. He previously also worked for a nonprofit focused on helping individuals get into the workforce. Jha served in the U.S. Army from 2009 to 2018 and left as an NBC NCO.

Kulkarni, proud NJLP alumni from 2017, is currently the chair of the Alumni Board. He is a senior studying Policy Analysis and Information Science at Cornell University originally from Far Hills, New Jersey. He has interned with Senator Cory Booker, the House Committee on Energy & Commerce, and Harvard Law School’s Innovation Lab.

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