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naisA Global honors Indian Americans Sid Venkatesan, Hana Mangat, Kavya Kopparapu

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Philanthropist Frank Islam receives the 2017 naisA Global Leadership Award.

Hana Mangat (left) and Kavya Kopparapu.
Hana Mangat (left) and Kavya Kopparapu. Photo credit: naisA

Washington, DC,-based naisA Global, a nonprofit that focuses on building the next generation of great Asian leaders, honored four Indian Americans at an event held in the US capital on November 10.

Sid Venkatesan, Chief IP Counsel at GE Digital, received the organization’s “Leadership Excellence Award,” while teenagers Hana Mangat and Kavya Kopparapu received Global Youth Leadership Award.

The organization also honored prominent Indian American entrepreneur and philanthropist Frank Islam with the 2017 naisA Global Leadership Award.

Kopparapu, a senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, VA, is the founder and CEO of Girls Computing League, a nonprofit that helps young girls succeed in the STEM fields.

Mangat, a resident of Potomac, MD, is the founder of the youth-run organization Sikh Kid 2 Kid, which develops a cultural and religious literacy training program.

The awards were presented at naisA’s NextGen Awards Gala held at The University Club of Washington DC. The event was attended by more than 150 Asian American leaders from various walks of life.

“I was very overwhelmed with gratitude, and before I knew it, the tears hit,” Mangat, a student of Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, MD. “It was a new feeling to be so vulnerable in front of so many well-accomplished people. Afterwards, I met a woman in the bathroom who had also been crying. She gave me a big hug, and told me how moved she was. I was amazed at the impact that my words had on a complete stranger.”

Sid Venkatesan
Sid Venkatesan; photo credit: naisA

Islam, founder of the Frank Islam and Debbie Driesman Foundation, thanked naisA Global for honoring him and congratulated it “on the excellent and important work that naisA is doing,” especially in mentoring youngsters.

The Potomac, MD, resident pointed out that there is a stark contrast between the percentage of Asian American students who graduate from the American universities and the percentage of Asian Americans who actually take top-most ranks in the business industry.

The trend is “disturbing,” he said. “This can only lead me to conclude that when it comes to acknowledgment and advancement in the workplace Asian Americans are being bamboozled. It’s time to end that bamboozling and to give those outstanding Asian American students and young professionals the assistance they need to break through the bamboo ceiling. One of the best ways that can be done is through the naisA mentoring – protégée program.”

Leadership Excellence honoree Venketesan is the head of intellectual property for General Electric’s industrial internet of things software business. Two other leaders honored were David Kim, Vice President of Government Affairs of Hyundai Motors, and Mei Xu, Co-Founder & CEO of Chesapeake Bay Candle.

Among the headliners at the event include Rep. Jamie Raksin, D-MD, who gave the opening remarks; Dr. Sachiko Kuno, founder and  Chair of Halcyon and President of S&R Foundation; and Dr. Wallace Loh, President of the University of Maryland.

Since it was launched in 2013, naisA has provided mentoring opportunities to young Asian leaders around the world.

“I am extremely proud of our accomplishments over the past few years,” Dr. Jamie Sheen, Founder and CEO of naisA Global, which has 2,400 protégés and mentors in 53 countries. “We could not have delivered on our mission without the support of our dedicated sponsors, contributors, and volunteers. Their encouragement and partnerships have been instrumental in moving the needle for Asian leadership representation in our nation.”

The event was sponsored by CBRE, Wells Fargo, Cardinal Health, S&R Foundation, Kirkland & Ellis, Nikkei Asian Review, POSCO America, UBS, and the David and June Trone Family Foundation.