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Saheli Appoints Its First Executive Director And Launches Fresh Initiatives


With 14 years of valuable service to South Asian families in Massachusetts, Saheli is proud to announce the appointment of its Executive Director, Meena Sonea Hewett.  As the South Asian population continues to increase in Massachusetts, so does the need for immigrant based services to address family violence, immigration and legal issues, health education and building women’s economic strength. Our services require a team of commited staff and volunteers.

Meena, who will start as Executive Director on February 1, 2010, has volunteered with Saheli since 1997. She served as Saheli’s first program coordinator in 2002 and assisted the organization to define its mission, programs and goals.

Meena has 12 years of experience in capacity building and program development for grassroots non-profits, with a focus on gender, culture, and immigration issues. Recently, Meena designed and conducted South Asian cultural awareness trainings for police officers in 11 communities, and for the administrative and medical staff at Lahey Clinic in MA.

“My immigrant experience informs my work in the community and I am committed to the cause of equality for immigrant women and their families. Saheli is the catalyst for achieving social and economic justice” said Meena.

She recently graduated with a Masters degree in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.  Her prior experience is in architecture and museum design. Meena also has a Master's in Architecture from Rice University in Houston, TX and a BA in Economics from St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, India. 

Meena will work with our two outstanding staff, Rita Shah, Family Services Coordinator and Seema Shenoy, Administrative Coordinator. Saheli Board of Directors and the Advisory Board will continue to be the foundation on which the organization grows.

"Saheli is entering an exciting period of growth, with younger volunteers, more community service projects, and is in a better financial condition than in 1996 when we started" said Gouri Banerjee, Founder of Saheli.


Saheli’s Programs


In this exciting time of change at Saheli, the organization is pleased to offer a series of new workshops to the community. “Saheli has become a well recognized institution in Greater Boston over the years. The support of dedicated volunteers has made the DV, computer literary and ESL programs and women’s support group a success," said Usha Vakil, Saheli Board Chair. "And now with the added help of staff, Saheli can reach out more into the community, explore additional opportunities, and expand our current services.”

Please see FREE workshop descriptions below for more information.


Computer Literacy Classes in Waltham and Cambridge. Saheli offers computer classes in basic computer usage, internet, e-mail, microsoft word and excel programs. Classes are held at the Waltham and Cambridge Public Library. Volunteer teachers are being sought for computer literacy classes in Waltham (wednesday evenings starting March) and Cambridge (thursday evenings in March). Send email to sahelihelp@gmail.com and specify Computer Classes in the subject line.


Women's Monthly Support Group in Burlington. This is an opportunity for women to come together in a safe environment and learn skills to build confidence and self esteem to lead a pwerful life. Workshops are facilitated by experts and qualified therapists. Support Group Saheli-India Society of Wocester will collaborate and organize new support group in Worcester area in March. If you are interested in participating please send an email to sahelihelp@gmail.com and specify Women’s Support group in the Subject line.


Cultural Awareness Training for Police Officers

Saheli continues to work with its community police departments in Billierica and Burlington to sensitize law enforcement officers on South Asian cultures. The training ensures culturally sensitive services to vicitms of crime in our South Asian community.


Saheli’s Upcoming Events

Saheli launches its 2010 inititatve to improve intergenerational and cross cultural communications.  A 2-part workshop for Parents and Youth is scheduled on March 13 from 2-4 pm at the Burlington Public Library, and March 27 from 10:30-3:30 pm at the Burlington Senior Center. Saheli started its first round of surveys on intergenerational communication habits in Asian homes on Republic Day and received many insights to help identify keys issues in communications between parents and youth. Surveys are continuing; if you would like to participate in our survey and attend the workshops please send an email to sahelihelp@gmail.com and specify IG workshop in the subject line. Space is limited.



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Meena Sonea Hewett

Seema Shenoy

Rita Shah

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