With a doctorate in Special Education from Rutgers University, USA, Dr. Shivani Pandit has been working with children with disabilities for over twenty years. She has been trained in Intensive Early Behavioral Therapy techniques for working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (birth-five years of age). She has worked on several professional development initiatives for the Minnesota Department of Education in the USA. When not working, Shivani loves singing and is currently learning Hindustani classical music.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Vivian Milroy Martin
Vivian Milroy Martin spent 35 years at General Mills, focused on Consumer Insights and Marketing Research. She worked in a cross-functional HR role as Corporate Director of Diversity from 1999-2002, where she was responsible for programs to support and advance an inclusive organization. At the time of Vivian's retirement in 2014, she served as Vice President of Consumer Insights, International. Since her retirement, Vivian has taught Marketing and Buyer Behavior at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Vivian's passion for the arts and commitment to her community drives her involvement as a board member and former board president of Illusion Theater and current volunteer and former chair of the Minnesota Stroke Association and Brain Injury Alliance board of directors. Vivian's service over the years has also included the American Cancer Society, Big Sisters, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners, Open Arms, and Second Harvest, to name a few.
Family is a priority in Vivian's life, and she and her husband, Jeff, share a blended family that includes four children and nine grandchildren, all in the Twin Cities. Travel and the arts are additional priorities.
Shiv Nath Tandon
Shiv Nath Tandon has worked with a multinational cosmetic company, Aveda, for 45 years during his stay in the twin cities. The first employee of the company, he started the Research and Development, Marketing, and Procurement, among other departments, and most recently provided his guidance as a company elder. Assisting the education team with the Company story, education marketing, and more. Shiv Nath, a founding member of TheNeedINDeed, shares his wisdom and knowledge about living life Consciously with a lifelong practice of yoga and a passion for gardening, including organic tomato farming.
Regina Hepp, Rejuvi'S Principal, and Founder, is a leadership development, organization development, and business planning expert and influencer.
Widely recognized as an exceptionally creative results-oriented strategist, she effortlessly leads large-scale, enterprise-wide initiatives. Regina has brought her signature brand of transformation and growth to Fortune 500 organizations across four continents for more than 30 years. She has held and served multiple executive positions, has deep and broad expertise in the financial services and healthcare industries, and has advised organizations including Cardiovascular Systems, Inc., Cargill, CH Robinson Worldwide, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, US Bank, and Wells Fargo & Co. Regina has completed both Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees in Business Administration, Marketing and Organization Development.
Priya Premakanthan (Hariharan) is a licensed doctor by profession and has a master's in clinical research. She has been in the medical device industry for 10-plus years.
From a young age, she had a passion and love for treating patients and alleviating their feelings and pain. She is a philanthropist who always thinks of others, gives time, and thinks that helping people is the greatest accomplishment of her life.
She loves teaching and spending time with kids and loves understanding their innocence. She is also a hobby photographer and loves taking senior and family portraits; sings in cultural events in the community; is a nature lover and sustainability initiator wherever possible.
Vidyotham Reddi, is a qualitative and quantitative data and analytics expert and influencer with 25+ years of experience in market research. Renowned for developing top talent and a toolkit that includes predictive modeling, strategic analytics, and technology application development, Vidyotham specializes in building leader and organization quick-to-insight capabilities across enterprise segments and markets. He has held global leadership roles for Mars, Inc., General Mills, Inc., A.C. Nielsen, and AT&T. He has served and advised on Boards for the Domestic Abuse Project & Gender Justice and A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Vidyotham received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from Fordham University in New York and an M.A. in Economics from the University of Mumbai, India. Vidyotham is Vice President at The Rejuvi Venture Inc. and is one of its two founders. He is also the Innovation, Technology, and Quality Director for R&D and Data Science at General Mills Inc. Immediately before these roles, Vidyotham served as Director of Growth Analytics at Mars, Inc.
Erwin de Leone, Ph.D.
Erwin de Leon, Ph.D. is the inaugural chief diversity officer of Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) and a lecturer in SPS' Nonprofit Management Program. He is also a research fellow at Knology, a member of the Empire State Bioethics Consortium, and an adviser to the president of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation. Prior to his current position, Dr. de Leon served in various nonprofit organizations including Urban Institute, Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness, Aspen Institute, Human Rights Campaign, Episcopal Relief and Development, Educators for Social Responsibility, and the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. He received a Ph.D. in public and urban policy and an M.S. in nonprofit management from the New School’s Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment. A native of the Philippines, he earned his B.S. in management engineering from the Ateneo de Manila University.
Camille Catlett is a Senior Technical Assistance Specialist at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina and consultant to multiple states, colleges, and universities. She has held positions in public school, professional association, federal government, and higher education settings that ranged from providing direct service as a speech-language pathologist to directing multiple US Department of Education personnel preparation grants. Her work with talented partners on the Crosswalks project yielded a flexible and evidence-based model for increasing the emphasis on culturally and linguistically responsive practices in higher education courses, field experiences, and programs. That model has been revised to incorporate emphasis on children with disabilities and inclusion and successfully replicated in community colleges in multiple states. Through technical assistance, research, presentations, writing, and product development, Camille is currently working with faculty and leaders in multiple states to incorporate an explicit and intentional emphasis on culture, equity, language, diversity, and inclusion in early childhood and early childhood special education higher education programs.
Mr. GVS Prasad has been the Executive Director of CfBT Education Services since 2002. He is a Chartered Accountant with thirteen years of experience in project finance, financial consulting, promotion of co-operative banks, audits, taxation, and training. He is currently national head of academics at Dream India Schools. He is also Chairman of Rural Development Foundation, which runs 4 schools in remote rural and tribal areas. He was a regular Panel Judge at Indian School of Business for evaluating proposals received for the Global Social Venture Competition. He designed and delivered capacity building programmes for leaders and staff of non-profit organizations during his stint as a guest faculty at the Centre for Social Initiatives and Management. He is involved in heading CfBT’s initiatives in India - School Improvement Programmes, Teacher Training and Leadership Development Programmes, Quality Reviews/School Inspections, and English Language Skills Enhancement Programmes for learners at various levels and from varied backgrounds.
Jessie is the CEO and founder of Better Future Strategies which provides consulting services to improve efficiency by developing operational and organizational structure while building data-driven and innovative culture. She has strong skills and knowledge in technology, data, and risk management to help organizations build their resilience, not just to survive but thrive. She has 25+ years of leadership experience in nonprofit, education, public, and financial sectors. She employs data-driven approaches and builds collaborative and trusted relationships with boards, executive leaders, staff, strategic partners, funders, and sector leaders.
She served multiple nonprofit and pubic organizations: Advocacy Committee of the New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, the Board of the Cameron Kravitt Foundation, the Advisory Board of the City Tutors, the Language Assistance Advisory Committee of New York City Civic Engagement Commission, Grants Advisory Committee of New York Women’s Foundation, Advisory Council of International Education and Resource Network (iEARN) USA, Board Chair of International Human Rights Art Festival. Currently, she is on the board of the Association of Nonprofit Specialists and chairing the membership board committee. Jessie holds a Master’s degree in Enterprise Risk Management from Columbia University where teaches Nonprofit Management and Enterprise Risk Management Master Programs courses.
She lives in Queens where she enjoys exploring many diverse cuisines and cultures. She loves cooking, experimenting with recipes, and creating her own recipes. She believes that food is a universal language that has amazing personal and heartfelt stories
Ed Greene, Ph.D.
Over his fifty- year career, Ed Greene has worked directly with infants, toddlers, preschool children, adolescents and families, as well as in a variety of roles and capacities in the philanthropic, private and public sectors, media and in higher education.
Originally from Inkster, Michigan, Dr Greene completed his B.Mus. Ed at DePauw; an M.A. in Child and Human Development at Pacific Oaks College; and a PhD from the College of Graduate and Professional Studies at Indiana State University.
Chandani Punia is an innovation practitioner with 14+ years of global experience in product, process, and service innovation. She has worked extensively on leveraging human-centered design (HCD) and innovation methodologies to co-design programs for social impact.
Most recently, Chandani served as the Deputy Director of Innovation at the International Rescue Committee where she ran innovation programming in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela to help Venezuelan migrants and internally displaced persons (IDPs) recover and gain control of their future.
Previously, Chandani worked with Plan International to manage girl-centered innovation projects and built the capacity of country offices to retool existing programs through HCD.
At the local level, she worked with City Harvest to develop their program strategy and led efforts to align Monitoring and Evaluation with piloting and testing of new approaches to food security in New York City. Chandani has also worked with Merrill Lynch, the U.N. World Food Programme, Akshaya Patra, Asia Society, and Geller & Company.
Chandani is passionate about inclusive design, uplifting voices, and spurring action.
NAINI INCLUSIVE BOOKS
Shwetal is a social worker and remedial instructor by training, and a copywriter by passion. Currently, as a copywriter for an advertising firm, she writes brand stories. Shwetal is an advocate for inclusion and has authored four books for Saamarthya. When not playing with words, she loves playing with her son.
NAINI INCLUSIVE BOOKS
Parv is a professional illustrator by day and an artist at night. For many years he's been exploring various methods of art. He loves delving into the world of comics and is an avid fan of Batman and his world. Parv has illustrated three titles for Naini Inclusive Books.
NAINI INCLUSIVE BOOKS
Shweta is a creative writer who has been working in the field of media and advertising for the past eight years. She has a postgraduate degree in communications and has always wanted to write for children.
NAINI INCLUSIVE BOOKS
Teesta is a design alumnus from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and California College of the Arts, San Francisco. Her work explores simplicity, playfulness and joy. Teesta illustrated our first two books: Me and My Friends and Let’s Play.
Vanessa Noronha is a special educator and teacher trainer. She uses her expertise in curriculum development and teaching to help with behavior management and bring about novelty in each session. Her passion is to teach children with disabilities and create a nurturing and inclusive environment for them. At Saamarthya, she provides thought leadership to demonstrate the successful implementation & growth of all the initiatives with a focus on direct intervention, community outreach, and team management.
SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER
Aarthi is a mental health counselor, educator & a certified art therapist. She uses art and play based techniques to create fun engaging activities for children with disabilities. Her mission and passion revolves around normalizing & creating mental health awareness and to empower individuals by providing safe space with unparalleled dedication, commitment & determination by being an Inclusion Activist. Apart from that she is a fun loving person and jovial by heart.
Krithikaa is a Special Educator and a certified yoga instructor. She specializes in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disabilities. Her goal is to make this world more inclusive, as Inclusivity means not 'just we're allowed to be there,' but we to be valued. She is a person who is always willing to help others in any possible way. Apart from Special Education, she enjoys playing musical instruments, singing, and sports.
Ambika is an Occupational therapist by profession and passion. She has worked in various settings in Tamil Nadu and loves being around children. She strongly believes in the quote “We rise by lifting others.” Her goal is to make this world an inclusive place for everyone. Apart from being an Occupational therapist she loves Doodling, Creating Art and Volunteering.
Akangkhya is a techie-turned-social worker who discovered her true calling lay in creating an impact on society. An advocate for sustainable development, social justice, and human rights, she champions empathy and inclusivity. Working with special children is her passion, envisioning an inclusive world for a brighter future. At Saamarthya, she leads outreach programs and workshops, engaging directly with communities and potential beneficiaries. Her commitment to amplifying marginalized voices and empowering underprivileged groups exemplifies her mission for a just and equitable world. Beyond the realm of business, Akangkhya's adventurous spirit knows no bounds. She finds solace in exploring diverse cultures. Music and poetry serve as a source of rejuvenation for her.
We are grateful to the Fleishhacker Foundation for their support and generous gift to Saamarthya Foundation’s intervention programming for children with Autism and Intellectual disabilities in India.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our valued sponsor, Appfire Town, for their unwavering support and commitment to our mission. Their generous contributions have played a pivotal role in making Saamarthya scale up and ensuring that we continue to provide valuable services to children with disabilities and their families.