Why are you a strategist for good?
“Growing up, I visited my family in India often. I saw kids living on the street in Delhi, huge discrepancies in living standards. Why is the world the way it is? I thought. Why do some people have food and homes, but others don’t? Later, as I studied economics and social sciences, I started to understand the barriers people face — and knew I had to do something. Using communications to remove barriers and help people live happier, more productive lives: that’s my contribution, that’s the legacy I want to leave.”
What good have you done that you’re proudest of?
“Robert and I worked together to put boys and young men of color on the national stage. It started in California, lifting up groundbreaking work to improve education and reform juvenile justice. It was a very difficult conversation at the moment, because people didn’t see these young men as a group that deserved attention. Now, 18 foundations are taking up this issue. President Obama started My Brother’s Keeper. And the conversation has shifted to: when we invest in boys and young men of color, they benefit and so does the rest of the country. It’s thrilling to have been there from the beginning.”
Who is your intellectual crush?
“john powell of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley. His neuroscience research explores the subconscious brain processes that make race-based snap decisions. How does that affect who we choose to interact with? How we interact with them? Who we vote for? The answers help us make informed decisions about strategies to create social change.”
What are people surprised to learn about you?
“I write and perform one-woman shows. I performed in small theaters in San Francisco’s Mission District and I’m looking for new venues in New York, in Brooklyn and Queens. I enjoy a captive audience! It’s a more creative lens for my passion for social change. One of my pieces contrasts my life experience in the US with my earlier generations in India and Bangladesh, mainly from a feminist lens. I ask, am I better off than my grandmother or great-grandmothers? It’s fun, playful, and personally driven, with a political message.”
What’s your superpower?
“Coalition building. I can rally people — from different communities, generations, racial backgrounds — to move toward a common goal. I can figure out what people are trying to get out of their participation and get agreement so things can move forward.”
AUDIO: What inspires wonder in you?
First 5 LA
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
The California Endowment
Transgender Law Center