Entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad, aerospace engineer Ajay Kothari honored at the organization’s 20th national convention.
The National Federation of Indian-American Associations (NFIA) celebrated its nearly 40 years of existence with a strong and optimistic message by electing a woman as the organization’s first president.
The new president Angela Anand, a resident of Annandale, VA, was elected at the group’s general body meeting held on November 18, the final day of the organization’s 20th national convention.
The three-day convention was held at Sheraton in Tysons, just outside Washington DC. From November 16 to 18.
“It’s a great achievement,” said Dr. Thomas Abraham, the founder and first president of NFIA, beaming with pride, “We are also the first one among major Indian American organizations to do so.”
Besides Anand, the NFIA also elected six other women to its various top positions. They are Rachel Verghese (secretary), Padma Gupta, Pooja Thomre and Aparna Hande (directors at large), Lavanya Reddy (executive vice president) and Vasu Pawar (South Pacific regional vice president) and.
“It’s a history in itself,” said Sohan P. Joshi, a former NFIA chairman.
MORE: NFIA to honor Indian American entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad, 8 others (November 12, 2018)
“I have known [Anand] since late eighties and have been impressed by her sense of being mission oriented,” Subash Razdan, another former president and chair of NFIA, said. “I look forward to her vision, leadership to scale newer heights for NFIA and wish her and the entire team a lot of success.”
While accepting the position, Anand said it was an honor to lead the organization and an also a great responsibility.
“We are really looking forward to seeing many advancements in various field, including technology,” she said. “We want to see participation of new generation and more women in the coming years.”
The theme of this year’s NFIA convention was “We are going place,” and the main focus was on building the next generation of leaders.
Nine members of the Indian American community were honored for their achievements in their respective fields, including Florida entrepreneur Danny Gaekwad and aerospace engineer Ajay Kothari.
“I am humbled to be honored by an organization like the NFIA which has a decades-long history in serving the Indian American community,” Gaekwad, a well-known Republican donor, said after receiving the award.
The businessman received the award in the category “Business & Entrepreneurship.”
Kothari, founder and president of the Washington, DC, area-based Astrox Corporation, received the award in the “Engineering” category.
The other honorees were Shweta Misra (Classical Dance Art, Kathak), Dr. Aman Mann (Health Sciences), Umi Mukherjee (Service to Indian American Seniors), Koshy Thomas (Mass Media, Print Media), Arti Manek (Folk and Classical Dance), Aloke Dasgupta (Performing Arts, Sitar) and Nami Kaur (Service to Nonprofit Institutions)
The awardees were felicitated during the banquet dinner on November17.
The event began on November 16, with a White House briefing on the Trump administration’s “policies on issues of interest to the Indian Americans.” The same day, a reception for the delegates was hosted by the Indian Ambassador Navtej Sarna at the Indian embassy.
Sarna congratulated NFIA for its relentless work toward the upliftment of the community and for bettering India-US relations.
The second day of the convention included panel discussions and entertainment.
The panel on technology discussed, “Did we bite more than what we can chew?” featured Gaekwad and Dr. Satyam Priyadarshy, Chief Data Scientist of Haliburton.
A panel on “Data and Artificial Intelligence” included Kothari, Vijay Lakshman, author and specialist in intellectual property and management of technology; and Rajeev Kumar, customer officer at Appiri.
Speaking on a panel on health, Hande said that Indian American community was facing many health issues, including diabetes. She said the community needed to change its lifestyle, starting with diet and adding exercise in their menu.
One of the highlights of the concluding session was a cultural program, featuring Aloke Dasgupta, who studied under Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and has performed with George Harrison and the Rolling Stones.
The NFIA is an umbrella organization of several Indian American groups. Many of its members came from many different parts of United States.
This year the convention was held under the leadership of NFIA President Sudip Gorakshakar of Artesia, Calif. Thomre, Reddy and four co-conveners — Anand, Y.N. Gupta from Maryland, Pat Patnaik from California and Raj Razdan from Georgia — were part of the convention committee.
NFIA, founded in 1980, meets every two years.