BURLINGTON, MA– Revathy Ramakrishna, who was bestowed Woman of the Year Award 2019 by an independent panel of nine judges, said that this award is less about her and more about the cause she is so passionate about: Vision-Aid. The 17th Annual Woman of the Year Awards Gala, which was organized by INDIA New England News on Friday at Burlington Marriott Hotel in Burlington, MA, was attended about 500 people. World-class Carnatic Music Teacher Tara Anand received the Lifetime Achievement Award 2019.
“On behalf of all the volunteers and visually impaired beneficiaries of Vision-Aid, I gratefully accept the award,” said Ms. Ramakrishna. “I feel so very grateful and honored to be selected from such a talented pool of nominees. When I read the profiles of, and met the other 19 nominees, I honestly thought each of them was so much more accomplished than I was. This decision to confer this award on me was less about me and more about the cause I am so passionate about – Vision-Aid.”
Ms. Ramakrishna serves as the volunteer Vice-President for Vision-Aid, a non-profit organization that serves the visually impaired by enabling, educating and empowering them to live their lives with independence and dignity. Vision-Aid has blossomed into an organization which has offered enablement, rehabilitation and skills training programs for thousands of blind and visually impaired across 10 locations in India, besides also running several programs online through the Vision-Aid Online Academy.
The nine members of the judging committee were: Abhaya Asthana, Bell Labs Fellow; Monica Chandra, Managing Partner at 3EDGE Asset Management; Indira Desai, Founder & CEO, Waterview Lodge Skilled Nursing Center; Jeyanthi Ghatraju, Quality Assurance Specialist at Raytheon; Rakesh Kamdar, President & CEO, DB Healthcare; Anuradha Palakurthi, Indian-American Singer MITHAS Chair; Sanjay Saini, Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School; Praveen Tailam, Vice Chair, TiE Global, and Clint Valladares, Managing Director of Berklee India Exchange. Ms. Chandra served as chair of the judging committee.
Judges also selected two out of 20 Outstanding Women for Honorable Mentions: Meena Subramanyam, a scientist and an accomplished Bharatanatyam artist and teacher and Vice President and Global Program Leader in the gastroenterology therapeutic area unit at Cambridge, MA-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals; and Meena Ramamurti, Vice President at the Shishu Bharati School of Indian Languages and Culture.
“It was inspiring to learn about the many amazing things our nominees have accomplished. It was a privilege to celebrate them all. As an Indian American, it makes you proud to know that their contributions are making a difference not only in our community but also far beyond,” said Ms. Chandra. “Their work spans the preservation of our cultural roots, working with non-profits in several realms, excellence in the fields of law, business and medicine, to much needed work in refugee resettlement, domestic violence and gender issues.”
She said the committee was thrilled to honor Vision-Aid’s Ms. Ramakrishna.
“We are thrilled to honor Revathy Ramakrishna as the India New England Woman of the Year, 2019. She demonstrates focus and passion for an idea she has nurtured for over 15 years along with her professional accomplishments and service work in the local community. The impact of her work at Vision Aid to empower and rehabilitate thousands of visually impaired individuals speaks for itself. It can easily be said that in her case the whole is so much greater the sum of the individual parts,” said Ms. Chandra. “While we could only select one winner in a field with a lot of depth, we wanted to recognize two other individuals – Meena Ramamurti and Meena Subramanyam – who received an honorable mention for their terrific professional achievements and their ability to stitch our community together in magical ways.”
Ms. Ramakrishna also congratulated all nominees and award winners, past and present, and all women in the community and pleased to receive the award on behalf of Vision-Aid.
“Today, Vision-Aid has over 100 volunteers, and it is a growing family. I sincerely thank INDIA New England News for recognizing all of them through this award. Each and every one of these Vision-Aid family members, was with me in this happy and proud moment,” said Ms. Ramakrishna. “Every day in our various programs, we are amazed with the capabilities of our blind and low vision beneficiaries. It is a blessing for those of us who are involved in this cause, to serve in this capacity and each day we learn new things from, and are inspired by these remarkable individuals – visually impaired boys, girls, men and women of all ages and backgrounds, who face almost insurmountable challenges for overcoming them to the best of their ability, for raising the bar higher for all of us, with their dedication, commitment and passion.”
Dr. Manju Sheth, director and hostess of the Woman of the Year Awards gala, congratulated Vision-Aid’s Ms. Ramakrishna.
“I always say that you do not get the Woman of the Year Award. It finds you,” said Dr. Sheth. “Congratulations to Revathy. She is very deserving, and we are so proud as a community for all the work that she has done for visually challenged people.”
The award ceremony and all activities of the evening were conducted of Masters of Ceremonies Mandy Pant and Jharna Madan.
Ms. Ramakrishna, the 2019 Woman of the Year, is an electronics engineer and health informatics professional by training. She works as a Program Manager at Fresenius Medical Care North America, a premier health care company focused on delivering the highest quality care to people with chronic renal conditions. She has been with the company for over 10 years and oversees the Government Reporting and Clinical Informatics program related to specific CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control) government mandated quality and reimbursement initiatives that are aimed at improving the quality of health care and patient outcomes.
Her analytical and technical background, subject matter expertise and communication and collaboration skills help her liaise as effectively with the Medical Office, Clinicians and business team as with the IT and technical teams to build consensus among diverse viewpoints and build high quality systems.
Ms. Ramakrishna says that she feels privileged to serve Vision-Aid alongside so many other community leaders and volunteers and be in the front-row seat of this amazing cause which aims to bring independence and dignity to the visually impaired while also creating a more inclusive world for them through our advocacy efforts.
“I am very passionate about this cause because I have personally experienced the immense challenges posed by visual disability faced by members of my family and have also seen first-hand how these can be mitigated and overcome, when a supportive environment is provided,” says Ms. Ramakrishna. “Unfortunately, even today, in developing countries like India, too many people still lack this kind of support and are turned away when their impairment cannot be cured by modern medicine and surgery.
What cannot be cured, must be endured, says Ms. Ramakrishna.
“When my husband and I first started Vision-Aid it was a small organization running out of my husband’s home town in Vizag, India, benefiting people in that region. At the present time, it is gratifying to see its more expansive scope,” says Ms. Ramakrishna. “In 2019, Vision-Aid is bringing light into the lives of over 1000 visually impaired in 10 different locations across India each year. Our partners include the Aravind Eye Care system, the largest eye care system in the world, Sankara Netralaya of Chennai, Nethra Blind Schools in Hyderabad and Vizag and other leaders in the field.”