NEW YORK, NY–South Asians For America (SAFA) held a community forum and panel to
discuss unconventional paths to appointed and elected office on Wednesday, June 19, 2019 at Thoughtworks in New York, NY.
The panelists included Ahsia Badi the Vice Chair, Community Board Six in Manhattan; Biju
Koshy, District Leader for New York State’s 63rd Assembly District; Shanti Narra , Freeholder for Middlesex County, New Jersey; Dr. Neeta Jain, District Leader for New York’s 25th Assembly District Part B; and moderator Rajiv Parikh, General Counsel for the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.
Parikh discussed a host of topics with panelists including running for office, identity politics, mentorship, similarities that communities of color face in the world of politics, and ways for South Asian Americans to become leaders in their communities.
“It’s important to have good mentors and I really believe in empowering women. I like to make sure that I am doing what I can to encourage and mentor women in politics,” said Freeholder Shanti Narra.
Parikh asked panelists about a humbling moment that they wanted to share with the audience.
Koshy spoke about an opportunity to go to Albany recently.
“Senator Kevin Thomas is the first Indian-American to serve in the legislature in New York
State. He invited me to attend an event in Albany after the Senate passed a resolution that
declared May to be Malayalee Heritage Month. Hearing the prayer invocation in Malayalam on the Senate floor was a first and also made me realize the gravity of the moment,” he said.
“Serving in either elected or appointed office is a cornerstone of our representative democracy,” said South Asians For America Co-Chair Amit Jani. “South Asians For America is proud to host this panel to explain the process on how South Asian community members can get involved, so that we can hopefully help to build a pipeline of qualified candidates across the country to seek public office.