Rita Advani is the President of Bush Pond Ventures, LLC as well as High Touch High Tech of New England. She currently runs an organization that brings STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) enrichment programs to early childhood centers, elementary and middle schools in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
As the first South Asian woman to have served in elected office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 1780, Advani served as an elected member of the Town of Norfolk School Committee from 1996-1999, and as the Chair of the Energy Committee for the Town of Norfolk. Under the State’s Education Reform Act of 1993, she was appointed by Governor Mitt Romney to serve on the Foundation Budget Review Commission for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from 1995-1998. There she helped mold the funding formulae for public schools in our state.
For the past eleven years she has served on the Board of Directors of the VNA Care Network and Hospice, an organization that provides home health care, hospice and palliative care services in eastern and central Massachusetts and is a part of the Atrius Health Alliance. Advani was one of India’s pioneering women MBA’s from the Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, India.
INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?
Rita Advani: To be able to teach science to children requires the ability to understand complex natural and physical phenomena and explain it simply and practically to young minds. I have to be prepared to answer probing questions which, many times, are challenging and revealing to us adults. I love developing programming that helps children understand the world around them and become good stewards of the environment. And, of course, who doesn’t enjoy the warm and joyful welcoming faces of young children and teenagers when they see me come into their classes and realize that learning can be loads of fun!
INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?
RA: I have been on the Board of the VNA Care Network and Hospice, which is a part of the Atrius Health Alliance, for over 10 years helping them towards mergers, acquisitions, business strategy, continued growth and excellence while at the same time providing a much needed service at a lower cost. It allows people to receive care in their own homes and not have to be institutionalized when they need care. We as a family did this for our elders and I want everyone to have that same opportunity.
I work on a committee for my residents’ association to help fight for and preserve access to Boston’s Waterfront for all residents, visitors and the city.
I have been a member and served on the Nominating Committee for the Executive Board of the Indian American Forum for Political Education. I believe that our community needs to have a political voice so that our concerns are heard and we can influence the political discourse. This organization provides non-partisan education on the political process to our community and provides a valuable service.
INE: What are you hobbies and interest?
RA: I am an avid photographer. Photography helps me observe nature, shapes, color, street scenes and people in a more in-depth way. It also allows me to reflect upon all the natural beauty and incredible architecture I have had the privilege to experience on my travels.
My other interests include cooking various cuisines and preparing new and creative healthy meals from scratch for (hopefully!) a very appreciative audience of friends and family. But given my interest in lifelong learning, I would remiss if I did not mention my love of travel around the world to regions I have never had the privilege of growing up in and experiencing the natural beauty that exists in many remote corners of the world.
INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.
RA: On a professional level, I enjoyed a successful happy career and contributed my business acumen in the field of marketing industrial products and services ranging from refrigeration to automotive parts and from commercial fire engineering to electronic supply chain services. What this made me realize that while I was a “liberal arts Delhi U and IIM Cal” gal, my ability to understand and succinctly synthesize technical issues for the consumer and users from the minds of talented technical men was a special learned skill. It reinforced my desire to dive into science education for the best of minds – our children – and nurture in them, especially girls, a love of science and the natural world. Today that is where I am teaching and influencing elementary age children and their school teachers every day in my business.
On the School Committee of Norfolk, I brought my business skills to positively impact schools in Norfolk during collective bargaining with teachers, and also across the Commonwealth as the one ordinary citizen on the first Foundation Budget Review Commission in 1993 on funding and standards across Massachusetts.
Moving the needle and driving the establishment of renewable solar energy for municipal uses n 2009 in Norfolk was impactful and continues to reduce the energy bills for the municipality
Today in our home in the city I am utilizing my citizen experience with municipalities in making a thoughtful difference to promote a feeling of neighborhood and preserving the historic waterfront in Boston for residents, visitors and the whole city.
INE: Your rare talent?
RA: The ability to listen to all sides and influence decision making and open minded progress both gracefully and thoughtfully, yet forcefully.
INE: Your favorite books?
RA: I read a large variety of books both non-fiction and fiction by a variety of authors. Two books that stand out are:
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
A white lawyer defends a black man in the racially segregated South for a crime he was wrongfully charged with. This book resonates even to this day.
Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela’s wisdom to forgive his jailors otherwise he would have remained imprisoned while physically being free.
INE: Your favorite quotes?
RA: “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” – Etienne de Grellet, Quaker Missionary
“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time.” – Marian Wright Edelman
INE: Who inspires you the most?
RA: My parents inspire me the most. They lost their homes, jobs and way of living during the partition of India and yet through their resilience found a way to pull themselves up, find jobs again and build a community and a fulfilling life while keeping a positive attitude. They experienced the sectarian horrors of Partition and yet kept an extremely positive attitude towards all people, embracing people of diverse religions and countries and welcoming them in our home.
INE: Your core value you try to live by?
RA: I want to be a good representative of my people, especially as an immigrant in this country. I have been blessed with an education and many privileges and talents and feel it is really important to give back to society, especially the country that welcomed us in with open arms.