Deepa Iyer, Executive Director
Deepa has guided SAALT’s direction on policy advocacy, programs and partnerships since 2004. An attorney by training, Ms. Iyer has previously worked at Asian American legal organizations as well as the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where she litigated immigration-related unfair employment practices and addressed the post September 11th backlash facing South Asian, Muslim, Sikh and Arab American communities.
Regarded as an expert on the impact of September 11th on immigrants and minority communities, Deepa is the Executive Producer of a documentary on hate crimes, has written extensively on the post 9/11 backlash, and taught classes at Columbia University, Hunter College and the University of Maryland. Most recently, she served as the guest editor of Race/Ethnicity, a journal on the ten year anniversary of September 11th, in collaboration with the Kirwan Institute for Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. For her work around 9/11 issues, Deepa has received community leadership awards from the Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies, Chhaya CDC, and the Sikh Coalition.
Deepa has been quoted and featured in print and media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, and community press. Deepa is the Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and a member of the Board of Directors of the Applied Research Center.
K’ai Smith, Director of Programs & Operations
As Director of Programs & Operations, K’ai manages community mobilization, leadership development, and partnership programs and coordinates projects to build capacity and infrastructure within SAALT and partner organizations. K’ai brings project and program design, implementation, evaluation, and management; professional development; capacity building experience to the SAALT team through a diverse background which includes: Legal programs and direct services around language access, domestic violence, and human trafficking in the APA community; peer education, civic engagement, music, and athletics programs for youth and young adults, including immigrant students; and individual-, group-, and community-level HIV and substance use harm reduction programs and direct services serving People of Color, immigrant, LGB, transgender, PLWA, serodiscordant couples, migrant worker, LEP, DV survivor, homeless and indigent, IDU, and sex worker populations.
Manar Waheed, Policy Director
Manar joined SAALT as Policy Director in August 2012, where she engages in policy work around immigration, civil rights, and gender equality as they relate to the South Asian community. Prior to working at SAALT, she worked with Legal Services of New York City where she provided direct services to domestic violence survivors who were primarily from immigrant communities. Additionally, Manar co-taught a seminar on domestic violence and legal intervention which included the impact of media and television on violence at Wagner College and, from 2009 to 2012, she served on the board of the Muslim Bar Association of New York. Prior to living in New York, Manar worked with the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women, where she provided technical assistance on cases in which battered women were charged with crimes and participated in national trainings focusing on domestic violence in immigrant communities. Her note on domestic violence in Pakistan was published in the Brooklyn Journal of International Law in 2004. Manar received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in June of 2004 and her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1999.
Manpreet Teji, Program Associate
As Program Associate, Manpreet overlooks and supports leadership development, and civic and political engagement at SAALT. She was born and brought up in Illinois and graduated from Saint Louis University with her Bachelor’s in Economics in 2012. Manpreet has worked very closely with the Sikh community through her internship with the Sikh Coalition as she organized a community hearing dealing with post 9/11 discrimination as well as working on Sikh youth camps in Illinois. She also has vast background in data analysis during her internship with US Senator Dick Durbin. Manpreet has a keen interest and desire in working with the South Asian community and address their needs and concerns through projects and effective policy that can make them leaders in their own communities.
Avani Mody, Maryland Outreach Coordinator
Avani joined as the Americorps fellow for the New Americans of Maryland Citizenship program, this past November. She will be working with the local South Asian community to increase their citizenship knowledge and resources. She has always had an interest in in international and diverse communities, previously living, studying and working in Cuba, Brazil and South Korea. From living abroad and being raised by immigrants, Avani understands the great difficulty and stress being a “foreigner” can be, and is very excited to work with the immigrant community in Maryland and Washington D.C. Avani is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, and has a bachelor’s in International Relations and Comparative Literature from the University of California, Davis.
AuriaJoy Asaria, Social Media/Communications Fellow
Amy Paul, Development
Navneet Bhalla, New Jersey Outreach and Policy Coordinator
Priya Murthy, Strategic Policy Advisor