BURLINGTON, MA– An independent panel of seven judges named Indira Desai the Woman of the Year 2018 for her courage and resilience confronting personal adversity and displaying great persistence despite failures as she built her business. This year, judges also felt strongly and created a new category called “Honorable Mentions” to recognize two women: Kumkum Malik and physicist Meenakshi Narain.
Over 500 people, including entrepreneurs, philanthropists, social activists and community leaders attended the 16th annual Woman of the Year Awards ceremony on Friday at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA. The event, organized by INDIA New England News, also bestowed Lifetime Achievement Award to Shobha Shastri for her services to the community.
“There were so many accomplished women who could have been named Woman of the Year. So, it was a tough choice. Ultimately, our decision was based on factors beyond professional achievement,” said Raj Sharma, Chair of an independent committee of seven judges. “Indira Desai exemplified courage and resilience confronting personal adversity and displayed great persistence despite failures as she built her business and raised a family. We were also impressed with her personal involvement with a variety of organizations to enrich the greater community. She is an shining example of a successful immigrant who has enriched our society.”
Other members of the judging committee were: Manisha Bhatt, Senior Attorney, Greater Boston Legal Services; Asha Dixit, CEO, Shah, Dixit & Associates P.C.; Sanjay Kaul, Civil Engineer, Massachusetts Department of Transportation, Kashmiri Overseas Association and World Hindu Council of America; Annette Philip, Vocalist and Faculty Member, Berklee College of Music; Mitali Prasad, Portfolio Manager and Senior Equity Analyst, Trillium Asset Management; Raj Sharma, Managing Director – Wealth Management and Head of The Sharma Group, Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group; and Satish Tadikonda, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Rock Center for Entrepreneurship at Harvard Business School.
Mr. Sharma said that the judges felt strongly that they needed a new category called “Honorable Mentions” to recognize two impressive women: Ms. Malik and Ms. Narain.
“Kumkum Malik is a multi-dimensional individual – a psychologist, author, speaker, singer and actor. She has also generously shared her expertise on motherhood, depression and wellness with various community groups,” said Mr. Sharma. “Meenakshi Narain is a celebrated scientist with a personal mission to inspire young women and minorities to careers in science and technology.”
He said these highly accomplished women serve the community.
“Overall, these accomplishments showcase the best in our community and we hope they will serve as role models for young people by their personal achievements as well as altruistically giving back to enrich our society,” said Mr. Sharma.
Ms. Desai, who was crowned Woman of the Year 2018 title, said she was humbled to receive the honor. She is Founder, President and CEO of Waterview Lodge, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Ashland, MA.
“I am very grateful to the community to recognize the work I have done,” Ms. Desai told INDIA New England News. “I would not have been able to do the work I do without the support of people I work with. This is an industry where many people may not want to work. It is the second most regulated industry in the US. It is a very difficult business. I am very thankful to the community. When people appreciate you feel good.”
Ms. Desai, who holds a Doctor of Science degree in Nutrition from Boston University, was recently honored by the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA) with the 2018 Eli Pick Facility Leadership Award. Fewer than 11% of facilities nationwide qualify.
In addition to her work, Ms. Desai supports a number of organizations: Worcester Crisis Committee Domestic Violence–being a survivor of domestic violence; Mothers Against Drunk Driving-after her 17 year old son was killed by a drunk driver in 1993; Newton Advisory Board Council on Health-to improve in public health initiatives in Newton.
The duo of Mandy Pant and Jharna Madan served as the emcees of the16th Annual Woman of the Year Awards gala. Dr. Manju Sheth, hostess of the INDIA New England News’s Chai With Manju celebrity interview series, was the hostess of the evening and served as the key member of the organizing committee of the Woman of the Year and who has played a key role in organizing the event for the last five years.
In addition, the following women were honored with various awards at the gala:
Academic Excellence Award
Venture Capitalist of the Year Award
POPPY AWASTHI CHARNALIA
Emerging Poet and Artist Award
Best Healthcare Facilities Award
Photographer of the Year Award
Start-up of the Year Award
Actress and Model of the Year
Civic Activist of the Year
KUMKUM PAREEK MALIK
Emotional Wellbeing Pioneer Award
Architect of the Year
The Young Dentist Award
Physics Pioneer of the Year Award
Real Estate Excellence Award
PRIYA SAMANT PARULEKAR
Social Entrepreneurship Award
Advancing Knowledge to Real World Award
Dr. ROSY SANDHU
Healthcare Award for Beauty
Financial Advisor Award
Art and Culture Award
Women’s Right and Welfare Award
Community Service Award.