Aminta Kilawan (Co-Founder & Board Member):
Aminta Kilawan is an attorney, community activist, and writer. Born in the Bronx to Guyanese immigrants, Aminta's passion for social justice manifests in various aspects of her life. Aminta writes a weekly column for The West Indian newspaper titled, "Civics, Culture, and Community Engagement" in efforts to increase involvement and stewardship in areas such as politics and volunteerism. Aminta uses her voice for multifold purposes: she is a spirited bhajan singer but is also a vocal advocate for her community. Aminta co-founded Sadhana to merge her passion for activism with her love of Hinduism's progressive values. Through her position as Legislative Counsel to the New York City Council's Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations and the Committee on Women's Issues, Aminta drafts legislation, liaises with advocates, and shapes New York City policy on an everyday basis. Aminta graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Fordham University and a Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School.
Rohan Narine (Co-Founder & Board Member):
Rohan is a community organizer with a dedication to public service. He graduated with his bachelors degree in accounting from the City University of New York's Queens College, after which he worked for one of the "top four" accounting firms in NYC - Ernst and Young. Rohan left the world of finance in pursuit of his true passion: interacting with people. He was in the real estate business for several years, beginning in this neighborhood and then branching out into Manhattan real estate with the New York metropolitan area's largest residential real estate brokerage, Douglas Elliman. Rohan then went on to get his Masters in Public Administration from Baruch College's School of Public Affairs. Rohan has served as Excelsior Public Service and has also been writing for the West Indian newspaper for many years. He currently has a weekly column entitled "On Leadership," through which he hopes to inspire and empower millenials. Currently, Rohan is a Procurement Analyst at the NYC Mayor's Office of Contract Services.
Sunita Viswanath (Co-Founder & Board Member):
Sunita Viswanath has worked for over two decades in women’s rights and human rights organizations. She is co-founder and active board member of the international women’s human rights organization, Women for Afghan Women. Sunita was raised in an Andhra Hindu family, and always felt that it was her Hindu values and beliefs that motivated her insistance on justice and human rights. However, she did not find that there was a Hindu voice or presence in the movements for justice of which she was a part. Sunita co-founded Sadhana in order to bring together these two parts of her journey: her activism for human rights and her identity as a Hindu. Sunita lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband Stephan Shaw and their three sons, Gautama, Akash and Satya.
Christopher Fici (Board Member):
Christopher Fici is a Hindu-American whose work, writing, and activism digs into the intersections of social, economic, and ecological identity for the 21st century Hindu in relation to all humanity and to the Earth herself. Raised as a Catholic, Christopher began a long conversion journey into the Gaudiya Vaisnava faith and path during his undergraduate days at the University of Michigan, and after attaining his bachelor's degree in cinema studies he spent five-and-a-half years studying and training in Gaudiya Vaisnava asramas in West Virginia and New York City. Following his monastic experience, Christopher entered the halls of Union Theological Seminary in New York City, the oldest independent Christian seminary in America. He received an M.A. in eco-theology and his master's thesis was on "The Anticipatory Community and the Yoga of Ecology," an Interfaith exploration of communal creation/recreation of Earth-honoring faith. At Union, he is one of the project leaders of The Edible Churchyard and will be working towards his Master's degree in Sacred Theology in 2014-2015. He is also part of the GreenFaith Fellowship Class of 2014 where he met some of the wonderful founding board members of Sadhana.
Nikhil Mandalaparthy (Board Member):
Nikhil Mandalaparthy is a student at the University of Chicago studying public policy. He is involved with various social justice, cultural, and religious organizations on his campus, including the University Community Service Center, South Asian Students Association, and Hindu Student Sangam. Off-campus, Nikhil is also involved with South Asian Americans Leading Together as a Young Leaders Institute Fellow. As a young second-generation Hindu American, Nikhil wants to see a Hinduism that is both self-critical and concerned with social justice; a Hinduism that lives up to its highest teachings. He is excited to get involved with Sadhana's work and help build a progressive Hindu movement.
Maya Bhardwaj (Faith-Based Organizing Liaison):
Maya Bhardwaj is a community organizing with Faith in New York, building local leadership to obtain affordable housing as well as living wages, criminal justice reform, and racial and social justice for our community in New York City. She has previously helped start an organizing firm fighting violence against women in her home country of India, organized on several election cycles throughout the US, and supported community health organizing in Cambodia, small holder farmer organizing in Argentina, and student organizing in France. She is also an avid world traveler and nomad, having traveled in over 30 countries, is passionate about collaborative art spaces in community activism, and hopes to complete her scuba diving divemaster certification very soon.
Tahil Sharma (Interfaith & Youth Liaison):
Tahil Sharma is a UN DPI-NGO Youth Representative to the United Nations for the Parliament of the World's Religions and a Communications Consultant with Religions for Peace International. His inspiration as a progressive Hindu comes from his interfaith background as a Hindu and Sikh and has grown with his passion for human rights, social justice, and interfaith cooperation. He is a graduate from the University of La Verne, majoring in Spanish and minoring in International Studies and has been named a member of the Future50, a collaborative by the Interreligious Council of Southern California and USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture that recognizes interfaith members within Southern California who will impact the landscape of religious diversity and service for the next half century.
Victoria Gross (Research Consultant)
Victoria (Tori) Gross is an adjunct assistant professor in the anthropology and theology departments at St. John's University, and an independent social impact development consultant. She recently completed her PhD in cultural anthropology at Columbia with the submission of her dissertation, which focuses on social mobility, urban aesthetics, and the intersecting forces of gender and ethno-nationalist politics in South India. Having conducted extensive ethnographic research for both her MA and PhD, Tori lived in Tamil Nadu, India for three and a half years, and remains captivated by the region's cultures and landscapes. She currently lives in Harlem where she is deeply engaged with the community, working for a number of rapidly growing nonprofit organizations, including Harlem Arts Festival and Harlem Lacrosse. She is committed to the causes of social justice promoted by Sadhana, and strongly supports modes of religiosity rooted in compassion for all.
Hemma Kilawan (Project Management Intern - Project Prithvi)
Hemma Kilawan is a recent graduate of Townsend Harris High School. She is currently a student at Stony Brook University, majoring in Biology. She has been an active volunteer for Sadhana's Project Prithvi since 2012. Hemma was part of the Summer Immersion Program at Girls Who Code, where she learned how to code in multiple languages. Her passion for environmental justice continues to grow. As a youth, she is avidly seeking ways to become more involved in her community.
Uma Gayadin (Media Intern)
Umadai (Uma) Gayadin was born in Guyana and came to America when she was a baby. She currently attends Millennium High School and is a hard-working junior. Uma looks forward to working with Sadhana because she is passionate about her religion and it’s value. She believes the voices of Hindus should be heard in times of conflict and when conflict is resolved unfairly. Uma believes in justice and achieving that in a peaceful manner.