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Ep. 26 – President Obama’s Associate Director of Public Engagement Gautam Raghavan

Today we have Gautam Raghavan, the former Associate Director of Public Engagement for President Barack Obama, in which he served as the liaison for the LGBT and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities.

Prior to his role at the White House, Gautam started off as the Asian American Finance Director for the Obama Campaign in 2008, as well as a stint as the Midwest Finance Director for the Democratic National Committee. He then went on to serve as the White House Liaison and Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense.

Following his time at the White House, he went on to serve as the Vice President of Policy at The Gill Foundation. He now runs his own consulting firm, consulting for organizations such as the Indian American Impact Project. Gautam is releasing a book later in September called “West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House.”

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Ep. 25 – Center for American Progress Senior Organizing Director Anisha Singh

Today we have Anisha Singh with us, who is the Senior Organizing Director for Generation Progress, the youth engagement arm for the Center for American Progress. In this role, she develops national organizing strategies to bring the experiences of 18- to 35-year-olds to on-the-ground actions in target states.

Prior to this role, Anisha served as the Campaign Manager for Legal Progress at the Center for American Progress, shaping the conversation around the nation’s judicial process.

A cool fact about Anisha is that she was chosen for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Law and Policy in 2016. She previously served as a Policy Attorney and Project Manager for United Sikhs, where she focused on human and civil rights advocacy on behalf of minority communities internationally.

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Ep. 24 – Mayoral Aide to Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, Intashan Chowdhury

Today, in honor of the recent primary win by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York’s 14th Congressional Districtand youth empowerment sweeping the country, we are trying something different today with the Politics and Spice Podcast!

We have a special guest host in Anika Madhusudhan. Anika is a New Jersey Leadership Program 2017 Summer Fellowship Alum who interned with State Senator Linda Greenstein and is a rising Senior at the West Windsor Plainsboro High School North.

She will be interviewing a young and rising political rockstar in Prospect Park who recently just graduated from Rutgers University, Instashan Chowdhury. Instashan is the Mayoral Aide to Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah, with whom he has been active with for some time now. A native of New Jersey, he is dedicated to continually improving his Township of Prospect Park, as well as a leader in advocating for the South Asian community in local government.

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Ep. 23 – NJDSC South Asian American Caucus Co-Chair Satish Poondi

Satish Poondi is the Co-chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee’s South Asian American Caucus (SAAC). In conjunction with NJDSC Chairman John Currie, he helped to found SAAC in 2013 to create a statewide platform to discuss issues important to the South Asian community and to support and elevate members of the community interested in pursuing elected office. SAAC was the first caucus of its kind within the state Democratic party, serving as a template to other caucuses such as the LGBTQ Caucus, Progressive Caucus, and many more.

He is also active in the community, serving as the Legal Advisor for the Indian Business Association, an Advisory Board Member for the New Leaders Council and a guest lecturer at the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy. Satish also previously served on the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Community Relations for the Township of Edison.

Satish currently serves as a Partner for the Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer Law Firm based in Woodbridge, New Jersey. In 2018, he was named a New Leader of the Bar by the New Jersey Law Journal and “Attorney of the Year” by Senator Vin Gopal.

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Ep. 22 – South Asian American Digital Archive Executive Director Samip Mallick

Samip Mallick is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA). He founded SAADA in 2008 to give voice to South Asian Americans through documenting, preserving and sharing stories that represent South Asian Americans’ unique and diverse experiences.

SAADA encompasses various themes and projects such as the Road Trips ProjectFirst Days Project and Basement Bhangra. We spoke to Samip about the South Asian American diaspora, challenges faced by first and second generation South Asians in America, the changing media landscape in the United States and more.

Samip was formerly the Director of the Ranganathan Center for Digital Information at the University of Chicago Library. He has been interviewed as an expert on South Asian American history by The New York TimesNBC NewsCityLab and more. You won’t want to miss this episode as we go back in time to the history of South Asians coming to America to the point where we are today as a diaspora.

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Ep. 21 – Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla

Today, we spoke with the recently newly elected Mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla.

He ran for mayor last year and beat out a crowded field of six candidates, including his fellow members of council and a freeholder. Prior to that he served on the Hoboken Council since 2009, first running for an At-large seat on incumbent Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s ticket. He also served as the Chairman of the Hoboken Democratic Party in 2010 and President of City Council in 2011.

We spoke to Mayor Bhalla about his journey being raised in Woodland Park and his ultimate journey to Hoboken. We chatted about the symbolism behind his being the first elected mayor in the United States of Sikh faith who wears his articles of faith, his initial involvement in local politics as a Committeeman for Hoboken, the lessons he learned from his failed bids for Assembly, and his involvement in the County Democratic election for chairman and county executive.

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Ep. 20 – BAPS Temple Spokesperson Ronak Patel

Today, we sat down with the BAPS Temple Organization’s Spokesperson and Volunteer, Ronak Patel.

Originally founded in Gujarat, India in 1907, the BAPS organization follows the Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism. It has over 1,300 temples and 3,300 centers all across the world in five continents, with over a million followers and 55,000 volunteers. It has built and is continuing to expand the largest Hindu temple in the world, located in Robbinsville, New Jersey.

We spoke to Ronak about his journey and the faith that BAPS provides for him and the organization’s followers. We also spoke about the role of BAPS in helping in younger generations get in touch with religion, bridging the divide between first and second generation Indian-Americans, and the importance of its government relations and public affairs divisions. Lastly, we chatted about the place of religious institutions in American politics and impact on the 2016 Presidential Elections.

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Ep. 19 – ROI Managing Editor Anjalee Khemlani

The Managing Editor of ROI New Jersey Anjalee Khemlani goes on the record with us today.

ROI-New Jersey is a media company that delivers real time news that provide New Jersey’s business community with a Return on Information, hence the name ROI. Prior to this role, Anjalee was the Deputy Managing Editor for NJBIZ. She has also reported for The Press of Atlantic City, RT America and 8K Radio, as well as being a guest on CNN-IBN, NJTV and TV Asia.

We spoke to Anjalee about her journey from Jamaica to Miami and to her current stomping grounds in New Jersey. We chatted about the changing landscape of media in the Trump presidency, how being a South Asian and woman impacted her experience in journalism and more.

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Ep. 18 – Sakhi Executive Director Kavita Mehra

Sakhi Executive Director Kavita Mehra joins us today on the Politics and Spice podcast.

Kavita and Sakhi for South Asian Women’s mission is to help to end violence against women. She’s been committed to advocating for justice and building equity for minority communities for most of her career, most recently serving as the Interim Chief Executive Officer for the Boys and Girls Club of Newark.

She has also written powerful and moving experiences for the White House Initiative Act to Change and the Huffington Post. We talked about some of these stories highlighting Kavita’s own background growing up in Carteret, New Jersey in which her family was one of the first South Asian families to settle there, the traumatic experiences that survivors of Domestic Violence or DV that she has helped, and the need for the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have to do a better job of helping women on the grassroots level.

If you know any women who have experienced domestic violence and are seeking help, you can find out more information about Sakhi for South Asian Women by going to their website or by calling (212) 868-6741.

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Ep. 17 – Silicon Valley’s MR Rangaswami

Today we’re joined by one of Silicon Valley’s earliest angel investors and serial entrepreneur, MR Rangaswami.

MR is widely known for his tech know-how and launching the Sand Hill Group, which provides strategic management, investment and marketing services to emerging market leaders. He was also profiled for the Wall Street Journal and has been named on the Forbes’ Midas 100 List as one of the most influential investors in technology.

Most recently, he founded Indiaspora, which helped to host the first ever South Asian Presidential Ball in 2013 and seeks to help more Indian-Americans get elected to public office and to increase the visibility of the Indian diaspora in the United States. We spoke to MR about his journey immigrating from Chennai, India to the United States with only eight dollars in his pocket to how he he found a mentor in Oracle Co-founder Larry Ellison. We also spoke about his recent achievements including the creation of a U.S. Postal Service Diwali stamp and his recent trilateral meeting with the leaders of India, Israel and the United States.

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