INDIA New England previews 20 outstanding women; Woman of the Year to be chosen next week

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With just over a week to go, INDIA New England News welcomes you to take a closer look at the 20 finalists for the 2013 Woman of the Year award. These women were chosen as forerunners for their various contributions to their community, culture, organizations and businesses, as well as their personal achievements in diverse fields including art, education, health care, technology and charity work.

“Each year, without fail, we receive more and more nominations for the Woman of the Year award and we are always impressed with efforts and accomplishments of the women of the South Asian community in New England,” said Upendra Mishra, publisher of INDIA New England. “While there are so many women that proudly represent the best and the brightest of the South Asian community in New England, it is hard to imagine finding a more successful group of women, from a variety of professional and volunteer backgrounds, than these 20 finalists for INDIA New England 2013 Woman of the Year award.”

Last year, INDIA New England celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Woman of the Year award and in doing so reflected back on the history of the award and past winners. In starting its second decade of the Woman of the Year award, the paper looks forward to showcasing many more impressive women for years to come.

“The Woman of the Year award is the most prestigious celebration of the accomplishments of South Asian women in New England. These 20 finalists are the most accomplished women and the current and future leaders of the community,” said Mishra. “It is a huge credit to the women of the South Asian community in New England that we were able to find so many impressive finalists to honor — each with equally as impressive credentials to their name.”

Platinum Sponsors of the Women of the Year are The Boston Group/Subu Kota and Dr. Manju Sheth. The Gold Sponsor is the Marriott Newton. Silver Sponsors are Harvard Pilgrim HealthCare, Masala Art, Alankar, Boston Sound & Light Co. and The Mishra Group Inc.

The 20 finalist for 2013 Woman of the Year award are:

• Poonam Ahluwalia, president and founder of Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. She led the Youth Entrepreneurship and Sustainability campaign for over a decade and orchestrated an impact all over the globe. Following YES, she started YouthTrade, an organization supporting young entrepreneurs and helping them get access to premium markets. She is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council for Youth Unemployment.

• Rajini Anachi, president and CEO of mZeal Communications. Her company is a recognized leader in cognitive engineering and is helping to shape the future with intelligent systems that evolve and respond to the precise needs of its clients, offering products and services for commercial and U.S. government applications in cyber/network security, Big Data analytics, and cognitive tools/applications for enterprise, mobile, space, process control, and other industries.

• Tara Anand, founder and director of the Anubhava School of Music. She has been teaching vocals and violin in the Boston area since 1986 and founded her music school in 1989. Her students have won many prizes in prestigious competitions across the United States.

• Dr. Seema Arora, a physician for the Elder Service Plan of the North Shore; president of the United India Association of New England; and secretary, Indian Medical Association of New England. Aside from her 15 years in internal medicine focusing on geriatrics, she has been very active as a leading force with both UIANE and IMANE and is ever present at many area cultural events and gatherings.

• Shefali Sunderlal Chandel, president and program director of Child Rights and You America Inc. She has led the organization since its start in 2002 and has been responsible for building CRY America from a $90,000 organization to a $1.4 million operation that has supported 64 projects and about 430,000 children.

• Anu Chitrapu, president, Vision Aid; and senior vice president, Bank of America. She has served as president of Vision Aid for more than five years. The organization serves to provide tools and skills to the economically deprived people afflicted with vision problems.

• Dr. Ammani Dasari, trustee of the New England Hindu Temple Inc. and the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin. She worked for 40 years and retired two years ago, but has continued her dedication to community efforts with her work with various organizations such as NEHTI, AAPI and IMANE.

• Madhavi Donepudi, director of the Boston Chapter of VTSeva, a nonprofit organization established in 2008 in the United States to empower youth with values of volunteerism, and to reach out to underprivileged people around the world. She has headed up the group’s local efforts for a number of years.

• Monica Gill, clinical affairs associate, Ocular Therapeutix; member World Sikh Council’s Interfaith Committee; model, Dynasty Model Management. Her role as the member of the Interfaith Committee is to mediate relations with governing bodies of other faiths.

• Java Joshi, founder, Java Joshi Creative Arts; creative head, Kreative Approach Inc. She has worked at various organizations and advertising agencies as designer and creative director. Her drawings and paintings have been featured at many exhibitions locally, nationally and outside the United States.

• Jharna Madan, designer, Creative Office Pavilion. She does space planning and project management for corporations, hospitals and educational institutions. She is involved with a number of community groups, such as the Indian Association of New Hampshire, Ekal Vidyalaya, CRY and AIF.

• Hardeep Mann, member, WRise, the India Association of Greater Boston and the South Asia Center. She was a key part of the founding of WRise, a women-led group aiming to address universal issues that affect women and promote open dialogue about these issues.

• Dr. Deepti Navaratna, assistant neuroscientist, Harvard Medical School; Carnatic classical vocalist, the New England Conservatory of Music. She is first and only Carnatic classical vocalist in the history of New England Conservatory of Music’s contemporary improvisation program.

• Mondira Deb Pant, academic research director, Intel Corp. As an academic research director within Intel labs, her job involves working with universities to identify and enable research in areas of strategic importance to Intel in particular and the entire computing industry in general.

• Jayshree Bala Rajamani, founder and artistic director, Bharathakalai School of Dance. She has been teaching Bharathanatyam for 26 years and travels to museums, colleges and local area schools to perform lecture-demonstrations.

• Manish Roy, author, former professor of anthropology, Jungian psychoanalyst, faculty member, the C.G. Jung Institute of Boston. She has taught at various universities for over 40 years in the fields of anthropology and psychology.

• Mansee Sangani, clinical lab technologist, Foundation Medicine Inc.; Miss India New England 2013. Her role as Miss India New England 2013 has allowed her to work with many different people and charitable organizations over the last year.

• Alpna Seth, vice president, Biogen Idec. Aside from her work bringing life-changing new therapies to patients worldwide, she is also passionate about the education of underprivileged children and works with organizations such as ASHA for Education, Pratham, Akanksha, AIF and Salaam Baalak Trust.

• Dr. Meena Sundaram, cardiologist and director of the echocardiography laboratory at Newton-Wellesley Hospital; singer and organizer of charity events. She sees patients with a variety of cardiovascular disorders and performs stress tests, reads echocardiograms and nuclear imaging studies. She is a well-known local singer and has performed at countless events and for numerous organizations.

• Aditi Taylor, senior manager, Deloitte & Touche LLP. She is a senior manager in Deloitte’s governance, risk and regulatory services practices and focuses primarily in the life sciences sector. She is also president of the New England Marathi Mandal.

INDIA New England will honor the top 20 finalists and the 2013 Woman of the Year winner at the 2013 Woman of the Year Banquet & Awards Ceremony on June 7 at the Marriott Newton in Newton, Mass. Out of this select list of 20 leading women, an independent panel of judges will choose Woman of the Year 2013 on June 7. The winners will be chosen based on their contributions to their community, culture, organizations, business and their personal achievements. For more information and to register for the event, go to



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