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Lokvani Talks To Hanishi Ali

Nirnala Garimella

Hanishi is the founder and managing attorney of Mithras Law Group.  A multi-jurisdictional attorney with over 13 years of experience, Hanishi is a qualified attorney in the United States and in England and Wales, as well as in Scotland.

With a focus on international business law and immigration law, Hanishi provides comprehensive business and immigration advice and counsel to U.S. and foreign clients, including business owners, foreign entrepreneurs, and individuals.

Hanishi’s work experience includes working in-house at Lexis-Nexis and for leading UK law firms, Steedman Ramage and Brodies in the areas of transactional corporate, business, and commercial law.  Hanishi has also taught Taxation and Social Security at the University of Edinburgh, UK, and has represented the International Commission of Jurists at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. 

Actively involved in community issues and with several non-profit organizations, Hanishi also serves on the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration and is the current Women in Profession chair, of the American Bar Association as well as a member of its International Law Committee.

Hanishi has received a Citation from the President of the Massachusetts Senate and a Citation on behalf of the Massachusetts House of Representatives for public service and civic leadership. Hanishi is appointed by Governor Deval Patrick as a Commissioner and serves on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She has been in MA for 10 years and live in the Metrowest area.

  How did the appointment come to you?
Last year, I was selected for a civic leadership initiative in Boston and had the opportunity to meet a state official from the Governor’s office, who encouraged me to apply.  Once the vetting process was over, I received a call from the Governor’s office about my appointment.

What does it mean to you?

It is truly an honor and very humbling. I am thrilled to serve on the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and to have the opportunity to work toward the improvement of the status of women in society with very accomplished and diverse professional women and a very dedicated executive director.

What role do you play in the commission?
The mission of the Commission is to provide a permanent, effective voice for women across Massachusetts. 
As a Commissioner, I take part in ongoing programming and initiative planning efforts to study, review, and report on the status of women in the Commonwealth and to advise the executive and legislative bodies on the effect of proposed legislation on women.  One of my other responsibilities is to facilitate outreach efforts and public interaction with constituents in order to learn their issues and concerns.

Commissioners also serve as ambassadors representing the Commission to various communities and networks.  As a Commissioner, I strive to raise awareness of women’s issues and encourage women to reach out to us and communicate their issues so we in return can do our best to help them.

Are they any specific targets or projects that you will be involved with?

Yes, there several ongoing initiatives that are on the Commission’s agenda and that I am involved in as a Commissioner. As part of the Legislative and Public Policy Committee of the Commission, we develop strategy and advocate for the passage of pending legislation that promotes the equality of women. At present I, along with others on the Committee, am working to close the gender wage gap in Massachusetts by trying to get the Legislature to pass a bill which clarifies the definition of  “comparable work”.  When this definition is clear, it will be possible to hold all employers responsible for paying equal wages to employees who do the same level of work, regardless of gender. 

Also, I will be helping with the Unsung Heroines of Massachusetts celebration, which the Commission’s hosts each year. The celebration will honor 100 extraordinary women of all ages, all economic, political and ethnic backgrounds from communities across the state.

How can South Asian women benefit from the commission?

Good question! Asian women can benefit from the Commission by participating in the Commission’s meeting and/or events held across the state and by voicing their concerns.

For instance, South Asian women can join in the movement to advance women in the Commonwealth by writing or speaking to their State Senator and State Representative and asking them to support the bill “An Act to Further Define Comparable Work, Bill # S689 7 H1880 so that we can close the gender wage gap in Massachusetts.

Also, the Commission is holding its next public hearing in Lowell on March 31st, 2010 (6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.) at the Pollard Memorial Library and I would encourage South Asian women to attend and to let us know about issues that are important to you, your family, and your community, whether it concerns pay equity, stopping domestic violence, quality education and childcare, or another issue of importance to you.

What are the community activities you are involved in locally?

Volunteer works forms an important part both of my legal practice and my life. I believe it is essential to give back to the communities we live and work in. Women and children’s issues, in particular, are of great interest to me and very close to my heart. Locally, I am also involved with non-profits such as Respond, ISW’s crisis committee, and Saheli

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