Immigration lawyer Sheela Murthy receives Woman Leader award

Sheela Murthy
Immigration lawyer Sheela Murthy receiving the Woman Leader of the Year award from Florida entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad in Bethesda, MD, on November 16, 2018. Photo by Saju Varghese/American Bazaar.

Murthy was among eight prominent Indian American women honored at the American Bazaar Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders event.

The American Bazaar has recognized Indian American immigration lawyer Sheela Murthy with the “Woman Leader of the Year” award for her contributions in the fields of immigration law, entrepreneurship, and philanthropy.

The award was presented at the Women Entrepreneurs and Leaders Gala, held at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, MD, on November 16.

The Harvard Law School alumnus is the founder of the Owings Mills, MD, -based Murthy Law Firm, one of the largest immigration practices in the country.

The powerhouse attorney was one of the eight women honored at the event, which was attended by dozens of Indian American women entrepreneurs and leaders from the Washington, DC, area and around the country.

Murthy received the award from prominent Indian American entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad.

In her acceptance speech, Murthy spoke about the genesis of her immigration practice and the factors behind its success. The lawyer said while she was applying for her work visa, she was not satisfied with the service that she received from her immigration attorney, and it was that negative experience that inspired her to launch her own firm in 1994.

RELATED: American Bazaar honors eight prominent Indian American women leaders (November 19, 2018)

During the dotcom revolution of the 1990s, the firm was one of the first to provide information about immigration law and policy on its website. would soon become one of the most popular sources of information on the internet on immigration matters.

“If you never needed immigration, you never heard of,” she said about the website. “Those who have gone through the immigration journey have pretty much used the website as a valuable tool.”

Today, Murthy Law Firm has more than 80 lawyers and professional staff in the United States. It has two satellite offices in India that employ another 20 people.

Sharing her own experience as a woman business owner, who is also a person of color and an immigrant, Murthy exhorted the audience consisting mostly of women to think positively.

“I look at being a woman, being an immigrant and a person of color as the three biggest attributes — rather than looking at them as three strikes against me — looking at them as the three biggest attributes that helped make me unique and special and different,” she said. “Almost everything is in your mind. Life is not where you are and what you are, it’s what you think. If in your mind you are a winner, you are a winner. If you think you are a loser, you are right.”

MORE: Sheela Murthy to those on H-1B: It’s good to be cautious, but don’t panic (March 17, 2017)

Murthy is also the president of the Washington, DC, chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs.

Along with her husband, Vasant Nayak, she also runs a foundation, MurthyNAYAK Foundation, which funds projects that empower women, children, and immigrants in the United States and India.

The other honorees were Democratic fundraiser and art collector Mahinder Tak; Vice Chairwoman of the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) Jagruti Panwala; NASA astrophysicist Madhulika Guhathakurta; Maryland Del. Aruna Miller; Manisha Gaekwad, the co-founder of CFO of NDS Global, based in Ocala, Florida; Ann Ramakumaran, Founder and CEO of the Chantilly, VA, -based tech company Ampcus, Inc; and Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director of the racial justice and civil rights group South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).

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