(Editor’s note: The following article on New England Choice Awards is reprinted with permission from TiE Boston from the organization’s newsletter. For more information about TiE Boston, please click here.)
On October 26th, 2018, TiE Boston was bestowed the honor of “Non-Profit Organization of the Year” by the New England Choice Awards (NECA). We are humbled. NECA, in a very short time has succeeded in uniting the community behind purpose, action and achievement. We decided to find out how this came to be, and discovered four incredible women behind NECA who have created a meticulous product. We hope they will inspire you as they have impressed us. We also invite you to join us, as we act to engage more women in TiE Boston who will propel us forward with equal drive and passion.
The force behind NECA are trailblazer Dr. Manju Sheth, Ms. Anu Chitrapu, Ms. Aditi Taylor and Dr. Mandy Pant. These are mighty busy women with major professional responsibilities, who travel non-stop, successfully juggling careers, family and community service.
Dr. Manju Sheth, an accomplished physician, past President of IMANE (Indian Medical Association of New England), creator of two popular interview series “Chai with Manju” and “Dream Catchers” (her guests have included Linda Henry, Deepak Chopra and Treasurer Goldberg) was observing men and women in the community doing outstanding work. She felt the urge to create an award show that would honor these incredible achievers. Dr. Sheth created NECA in 2016 in collaboration with Mr. Upendra Mishra, publisher of India New England News and serves as the CEO of INE Multimedia, the non-profit behind NECA. In under three years, NECA has become the showcase of the achievements of the Indian-American community. The categories are all-encompassing—Academia, Business, Non Profits, Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy, Health Care and the Arts. NECA recognizes those well-known through its Lifetime Achievement Award as well as rising gems through its Youth Award (this year’s recipients were Dean Nitin Nohria of HBS and civil rights activist Miriam George, respectively). Jaishree and Desh Deshpande, exemplars of giving back were the first Lifetime Achievement recipients and early supporters.
The awards are dedicated to those who inspire others and give back in life – the two most important criteria. Fourteen members of the jury look only at the work of an individual or an organization, making it fair and meritocratic.
“One of my most precious memories is that of our Youth Award Winner in 2016. Gautam Narula wrote a book about an inmate on death row who believed he was wrongfully convicted. Gautam spent countless hours with him before writing the book – he was still a teenager. The book is called ‘Remain Free’ and all the proceeds of his book go to Innocence Project. His father was so excited about this award but sadly passed away just before the event. When an emotional Gautam came on stage, he not only received a standing ovation, there wasn’t a single dry eye in the room. This confirmed what I always knew in my heart – that this was my purpose in life. I wanted to spend the rest of my life honoring wonderful people, causes and organizations in the best way that I could, so we could all learn, be there for each other and make the world a better place”, says Dr. Sheth.
Anu Chitrapu joined Manju as a close collaborator early in the formation of NECA. A Senior Vice President at Bank of America and TiE Boston Charter Member, Anu puts in long hours. Still she finds the time to do the research behind the nominations and creates the story behind the winners, presented in captivating videos at the award ceremony – “I get to meet incredible people and hear their personal stories as I create the narrative – that’s priceless. They each inspire me and show me how much more I can do myself.”
Finally, the awards are brought to life with sizzle and sparkle by dynamic-duo, MCs Dr. Mandy Pant and Ms. Aditi Taylor. Part of the core team, they are involved in the preparation from soup to nuts. Accomplished professionals who travel extensively for their work, they find the time to bring the production alive. “Some of my most memorable moments have been getting together with the team brainstorming and preparing over breakfast goodies (upma, coffee, donuts). An event of this magnitude and impact requires a fair bit of preparation and without a solid team who put in 110% through this period it cannot be done”, says Dr. Pant, who holds a doctorate in Computer Engineering from Georgia Tech and leads Academic Research at Intel. “Each of us is a rigorous planner with particular attention to detail so that the event goes flawlessly”, adds Ms. Taylor, Chief Risk Officer at MFS Investment.
We could not agree more – NECA is a beautiful production to behold.
We were wowed by the event and even more so by the women behind it. We salute them each for their incredible achievements and their dedication to building community with grace and gravitas.
Join us at TiE Boston Women and discover a platform where we help you discover your hidden talents.