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UIA Celebrates 2018 Women's Day

Rakashi Chand

On Saturday, 10 March 2018, the United India Association of New England hosted its first International Women’s Day Celebration. The event took place at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Boylston Street in Boston, MA, and was free and open to the public. The event, called “Inspiring Our Daughters; Voices from Our Community”, featured a panel of Indian-American women from various fields speaking about their experiences, their success and overcoming obstacles. Almost every seat was full as an energetic audience heard the words, wisdom and stories of ten unique individuals. Each woman shared her special experiences and gave wonderful advice for the next generation of Indian-American women and girls growing up in New England.

The Speakers ranged from Judges, to Community Leaders, to Industry Leaders, to small business owners and Entrepreneurs, to Army officers and everything in between. The audience even enjoyed a few minutes of meditation and breathing exercises midway through the event to cleanse the mind and open our thoughts to let in even more inspirational ideas. We were reminded of a woman’s strength, fortitude and resilience. Each speaker poignantly shared the details of her story and gave the audience a renowned sense of empowerment and desire to accomplish more and contribute more to our world and fellow mankind. Every member of the audience left the room feeling energized, inspired and empowered.

Honorable Judge Sabita Singh began the afternoon by sharing her story of being appointed the first judge in Massachusetts of South Asian origin. Her eloquent and inspirational speech set the tone for the afternoon and left the audience wanting more. Puja Vorah taught us lessons on what we can do to live more environmentally friendly lives, and how we can all contribute to making a greener world. Sangeeta Joshi Rousseau, financial Consultant, took the podium and reminded us of the financial savvy and awareness that every woman- and man- should have, “know what you have and where you stand to prepare for an emergency”. Shikha Talwar, Principal and Senior Vice President of Global Vision Hotels, told us her story of starting a new brand and company, as well as a reminder of unlimited potential for careers in the field of Hospitality. Ranjani Saigal graced us with her story as the only woman in her Engineering class, who went on to be a community leader, founder of Lokvani emagazine,  an advocate for STEM, and the Executive Director of Ekal Vidyala. Ruchika Arora, Producer of Miss India New England, told us that we all deserve to feel “10 out of 10 everyday!” and that every act of kindness counts to making us all better people. Janhavi Wadhwani gave us insightful advice to cleansing the soul and mind and lead us in a quick meditation to reflect on all that we were learning and absorbing. Poonam Ray then told us about her journey of starting a small business from her home. Dr. Chander Kapasi, renowned Doctor and Community leader, inspired us with the stories of her journey to America, establishing herself in the Medical Field, as well as the women who inspired her and the invaluable support of family. Finally, Captain Alpa Ladani brought the crowd to their feet in a loud applause when she shared her experiences as the highest ranking Indian-American in the US army, deployed six times and serving 21 years. Captain Ladani is a true Indian and American hero and her intimate and thoughtful speech left everyone beaming with pride.

Rakashi Chand, President of the United Indian Association of New England, thanked all the speakers and the audience and said “I hope this will be the beginning of many more programs for the Community such as this one.” The Librarian of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Mr. Peter Drummey, prepared a special exhibit of items from the MHS collection that illustrate the long history of Massachusetts and Indian relationships, for the crowd to view. The audience enjoyed a light buffet and refreshments throughout the afternoon.

“We hope to see many more people at upcoming events and value your feedback to improve our programs.’ said Rakashi Chand. Many audience members were so inspired by the event that they did not want the afternoon to end.


Honorable Judge Sabita Singh
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court

The first South Asian appointed to the bench in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and founding member and past president of both the South Asian Bar Association of Greater Boston and the South Asian Bar Association of North America. Ms. Singh is a former civil litigation and state and federal prosecutor. She has also taught legal writing at various educational institutions in the Boston area.

Sonali Lappin
Political Consultant

Graduate of Mount Holyoke College. Ms. Lappin is a former Aide to Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, Director of Constituent Services and Communications and 2014 campaign Press Secretary for State Senator Barry Finegold. She worked to organize the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities for Martha Coakley 2014 Campaign for Governor. She also fostered IAFPE’s flagship political fellowship program which expands opportunities for Indian American youth to get involved in the political process. Lapin is also a certified classical Indian dance instructor.

Puja Vorah

Ms. Vohra has eighteen years of experience in the areas of environmental impacts of buildings, energy efficiency, green buildings and carbon reduction planning. She has a bachelors in architecture and a masters in energy and climate. She is currently working as a consultant.

Sangita Joshi Rousseau
Financial Advisor

Sangita Joshi Rousseau has been a Financial Advisor for the last 20 years, utilizing her specialized knowledge by educating, organizing and helping individuals and business owners with their financial world. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Boston University and her MBA from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College. She currently lives in Sherborn with her husband Mike and sons Jonathan and Dylan.

Shikha Talwar
Principal & Senior Vice President Revenue Development

Ms. Talwar is a partner with a focus on revenue management and sales at Global Vision Hotels (GVH). She has over twenty five years of experience in the hospitality industry, including Director of Revenue and Vice President of Revenue Management for Marriott and Starwood branded hotels. Ms. Talwar was instrumental in creating the vision and branding for GVH’s boutique hotel brand enVision Hotels. Shikha earned a BS from the University of Southern New Hampshire and a MBA in Finance from Baruch College in New York City.

Ranjani Saigal
Executive Director of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA

Ranjani Saigal is the Executive Director of the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA, an organization that runs over 65,000 schools in rural and tribal areas in India, providing education to nearly 1.7 million children. She has worked in the field of Education Technology for over 25 years at MIT and Tufts University. She is the co-founder of Lokvani.com, the first online South Asian E-Magazine in New England. A dance teacher and a priest, Ms. Saigal received the 2012 India New England Woman of the Year award and was honored by Governor Deval Patrick for her contributions to the Arts and Indian Cultural Heritage in Massachusetts.

Ruchika Arora
Producer of Miss India New England and State Director of Miss India USA

Janhavi Wadhwani

Poonam Ray
Founder and Director Sondarya Wellness Brand

Capt. Alpa Ladani
Captain in the U.S. Armed Forces

Captain Ladani has been a member of the armed forces for 21 years. She graduated from the University of Connecticut and currently works as a Program Support Branch Chief for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, VA.

Dr. Chander Kapasi
Physician and Philanthropist

Dr. Kapasi is a physician, and a diplomat of International Understanding from Delhi. She completed her M.D. in Preventive & Social Medicine at the University of Delhi. She and her husband, Onaly Kapasi, also a physician, have two children, Sameera an attorney and Sameer a physician.

Chander taught Social and Preventive Medicine at Lady Harding Medical College until 1972 when she travelled to Nairobi Kenya to join International Planned Parenthood Federation (I.P.P.F.) as a Medical Director in charge of 17 mobile clinics and a clinic at the Kenyatta National Hospital. She completed a Masters in Public Health at Harvard School of Public Health (H.S.P.H.) in 1975. At H.S.P.H. she has served on the Board of Osteoporoses, on the Alumni Council and as a member of Alumni committee & Awards committee, on the Leadership council, as a Fellow, and is a member of the 1913 Society. 

She is American Board certified in General Preventive Medicine. She served as CEO of Prevention Pro Medical Center, a partner of the Merrimack Valley Medical Center, Comprehensive Pain Management and Arthroscopy and Sports Medicine Center. 

Dr. Kapasi was elected as a first woman chair of AAPI Political Action Committee (P.A.C.). She served as a member of AIDS and Substance Abuse Committee and AAPI Women’s Committee in 1995. As Trustee of AAPI Charitable Foundation, Dr. Kapasi’s contribution to the charitable foundation so far have exceeded more than $100,000. Dr. Kapasi visits the AAPI Charitable Mandi Clinic in Himachal almost every year. Dr. Kapasi recently received a prestigious award from Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, in recognition of an inspirational leader who made a difference with her extraordinary contributions and performance as chairperson of the AAPI Board of Trustees.

Dr. Kapasi has been active in the Greater Boston Area for over 40 years. She served on the transition team of Massachusetts Governors and was chair of Women's committee of Governor’s committee on Physical Fitness & Sports. She was elected the first female President of Indian Association of Greater Boston in 1980. Dr. Kapasi is also a cancer survivor who devotes many hours helping others suffering from cancer. She lectures and gives talks educating people about cancer & how to survive adversities of life.

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