Woman of the Year Award Strengthens My Dedication to Public Service: Manisha Bhatt

BURLINGTON, MA—Manisha Bhatt, who was crowned Woman of the Year 2017 by INDIA New England News on Friday, says this award strengthens her dedication to public service.

“Receiving this award just strengthens my dedication to public service and motivates me to be a person who can always live up to the title “Woman of the Year”- not just for 2017, but for the rest of my life,” Bhatt told INDIA New England News.

An independent panel of seven judges named Bhatt Woman of the Year 2017 for demonstrating how law can be used to create “hope and spirit to elevate all of us” at the Woman of the Year Awards gala on at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA. About 500 people, including entrepreneurs, philanthropists, social activists and community leaders attended the ceremony.

Manisha Bhatt: Woman of the Year 2017 (Photo: Manoj Panicker)

“The judging panel was unanimous and excited to announce that Manisha Bhatt is the 2017 WOY winner,” said Prat Moghe, who served as the chief judge of a seven-member judging panel and is founder and CEO at Cazena and a trustee on TiE Global Board and an Overseer at Museum of Science in Boston. “Ms. Bhatt embodies exceptional passion for service for the less fortunate through her legal service as well as broader community outreach. In the process, she has demonstrated how law can be used to create hope and spirit to elevate all of us.”

Other members of the independent judging committee were: Jaya Aravind, a software architect and technical manager and president of New England Malayalee Association; Captain Alpa Ladani, the highest-ranking Indian-American female officer that served in the United States’ Armed Forces in Kabul, Afghanistan;  Sangeeta Moorjani , head of Workplace Managed Accounts for Fidelity Financial Services;  Bharat Patel, chairman of Board of Advisors of New England Office Supply; Chandu Shah, President and CEO of S4 Inc.; and Dr. Steve Singh, surgical drector, Heart Transplantation and Mechanical Circulatory Support at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

“I was truly honored to receive this award, especially in light of all of the accomplishments of my fellow nominees.   I was shocked when I heard my name announced and I was immediately overcome with emotion,” said Bhatt.  “I felt very grateful.”

Bhatt is a senior attorney with Greater Boston Legal Services where she practices family law concentrating in domestic violence law. Currently, she works with area hospitals’ domestic violence programs to facilitate their patients’ access to civil legal services and staffs a legal clinic at Rosie’s Place, a refuge for homeless women in Boston. Bhatt also serves on the advisory board of Saheli, a South Asian domestic violence prevention organization.  She is a past president of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston.

In 2013, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick appointed Bhatt to the Massachusetts Judicial Nominating Commission. In 2009, Bhatt received the NASABA Cornerstone Award for her work with domestic violence survivors.  In 2010, she founded the Know Your Rights! Program of the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston and has been the chief architect and director of the program since its inception.  Know Your Rights! is designed to empower the South Asian community with knowledge about fundamental legal rights and providing connections to lawyers and other legal resources so that community members can actually exercise their legal rights.

In an earlier interview, Bhatt told INDIA New England News that she was most proud of the “Know Your Rights” class that she started seven years ago.  It is a free of charge lecture series on people’s fundamental legal rights in the areas of criminal law, immigration law, elder law, trusts and estates, family law, employment law, bankruptcy law, health law, civil rights and racial profiling.

“It is my intention to provide our community leaders with information about their legal rights in these areas so that they can help other people in our community access legal resources in a timely fashion,” Bhatt said. “As a lawyer, I have seen firsthand people lose their rights simply because they didn’t know who to turn to for help or they talked to a lawyer too late. I wanted to change that so I started this class.”

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