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Former Obama administration official Vinai Thummalapally launches K Street firm

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Vinai K. Thummalapally
Vinai K. Thummalapally; file photo by Shahi Prabhakaran

Asian American-owned Red Fort Strategies to specialize in connecting companies to Washington.

Former US Ambassador to Belize Vinai Thummalapally has joined hands with four other prominent Asian Americans to launch a government relations and public affairs firm in Washington, DC.

Red Fort Strategies, launched on August 1, will specialize in connecting companies to Washington DC, it said in a press release.

Thummalapally, an Indian American who served as the Executive Director of SelectUSA from 2013 to 2017, is the Executive Chairman of the group.

Other founding members of the K Street firm — which is perhaps the first major lobbying firm in Washington owned wholly by Asian Americans — are former Clinton administration official Varun Nikore, former CEO and co-founder of federal technology contractor INADEV Ferhan Hamid, former Capitol Hill aide Rina Shah and former administration official Nick Rathod.

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Nikore, Hamid, Shah and Rathod are Managing Directors of Red Fort.

“I’m delighted to lead a diverse and impressive team whose deep bipartisan political background exemplifies both Washington, DC, and the United States,” Thummalapally said. “We are looking forward to helping international and multinational companies gain a strong foothold in our nation’s capital.”

The group, which touts five decades of corporate and government experience, said it “is built on the realization that expert advisers and political influencers are necessary to connect and guide companies to Washington, DC.”

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Specifically, the areas it is focusing on are public affairs, government relations, economic development, digital strategy and global corporate advisory services. With their founders’ roots in the Asian American community, Red Fort will also provide diversity counseling and Indian business advisory services as well.

“Red Fort Strategies is not your typical government affairs firm,” Nikore, a former senior vice president for TriPolus, a consulting firm based in London. “We are filling a much needed void in Washington — the nexus of international expertise, political connections, and business understanding, and our commitment is to help companies across the world partner with peers and state and federal governments to achieve their strategic goals.”


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