Board Chair & Independent Consultant
Simran Noor (she/her) currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for South Asian Americans Leading Together. Simran comes to racial, economic and social justice work as a survivor of violence; experienced personally and systemically. Born into a Punjabi Sikh, Hindu and Parsi family in New Delhi, raised outside of Baltimore and based in New York, Simran’s latest endeavor is co-creating a NYC based BIPOC Consulting Cooperative set to launch in mid 2021 and reflective of her interest in community building and solidarity economies. Simran is currently an interdependent consultant and coach focused on personal power and resilience, strategy and organizational development and movement building with a focus on developing processes and setting clear outcomes to achieve racial justice and healing as a means to shift the ways in which systems dehumanize, separate and harm all people, with a particular focus on women and communities of color.
She brings over ten years of experience working in and with directly with impacted communities, developing policy and strategy, leading organizational change processes and serving as staff within the philanthropic sector. Since starting NOOR Consulting in February of 2018, she has worked with numerous clients in various capacities including the American Medical Association, Career Rise, Community Change, Detroit People’s Platform, EMPLOY Youth Collaborative, Enterprise Community Partners, International Panel of Experts on Sustainability (IPES-Food), It Takes Roots, SPARCC, as well as a number of philanthropic organizations including Annie E. Casey, Chorus, Community Food Funders, Doris Duke, Jessie Smith Noyes, Kresge, MS, Nathan Cummings, Neighborhood Funders’ Group and the Surdna Foundation. She has facilitated events for business social impact programs including Sir Kensington’s and Adidas. Previously, Simran served as a Senior Fellow at Race Forward and (premerger) was Vice President of Policy and Programs at the Center for Social Inclusion and Deputy Director of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE). Prior to joining CSI, Simran held various roles including as staff at the W.K. Kellogg and Annie E. Casey Foundations and as a middle school teacher and nonprofit leader in Baltimore City. Simran has written and commented for a variety of media including the Detroit Free Press, The Times-Picayune, The Hill, Aljazeera America and City Limits Magazine. She also has been a featured panelist on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry. Simran holds a dual bachelor’s degree in American Studies and Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and a dual master’s degree in Public Administration and Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. She also serves as a Project Team member of Building Movement Project and a Board member of Borealis Philanthropy. She is a proud member of Warriors for Embodied Liberation, a program of Universal Partnership (UP).
Writer, and Co-Founder, TakeTwo Services
Bix (she/her) started her career as a copywriter in advertising, but found that selling toothpaste didn’t quite measure up to the thrill of telling stories about transforming people’s lives. For more than seventeen years, Bix has been helping nonprofits tell their stories, and persuading people to care, give, and act. Her expertise is in developing memorable brands, creating and executing communications campaigns and strategies, storytelling, writing, and staff and board trainings. From her roots in college anti-caste activism, she remains committed to taking down structures and systems that perpetuate caste‑, race‑, gender‑, and immigration-based oppression, and building up people, communities, and narratives that uplift equity and justice. She has three Masters degrees: Communications, Media Studies, and an MFA in Creative Writing. She’s best at ‘using her words’, and after a cup — or seven — of tea.
Founder and Co-Director, Justice for Muslims Collective
Ms. Raja is a Pakistani Muslim immigrant woman from the Bronx who moved to Washington DC in order to impact social policies. She has worked on a range of issues that includes organizing against anti-Muslim racism and state violence, gender-based violence, human rights abuses and the national security system, and the criminal justice system. She currently serves as the Founder/Co-Director of Justice For Muslims Collective, a Muslim-led space organizing against Islamophobia in the DC metro area. She formerly served as the Interim Executive Director of the Washington Peace Center, a local grassroots organization focused on providing political education, strategic resources, and support for actions and mobilizations locally. At the Washington Peace Center, she has managed the DC Trainers Network, a monthly training for local grassroots activists. Prior to joining the Washington Peace Center, Ms. Raja worked at the Urban Institute on a range of criminal justice evaluations for state and federal government agencies. She currently serves as a board of trustee for the Consumer Health Foundation. Ms. Raja holds an MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Deepa is a nurse practitioner living in New Orleans. She began her career in international health and human rights, working to hold humanitarian aid mechanisms accountable and uplift grassroots voices. In 2014, she returned to school to study nursing, and now works as a Family Nurse Practitioner at a community clinic, focusing on LBGTQ+ issues, sexual health, and harm reduction. She has been active in racial, health, and birth justice issues in the New Orleans community over the past decade. Coming from an upper-caste Indian family with roots in Maharashtra and Karnataka, she has been studying and unpacking the role of caste in her life and in the US context. She is passionate about building with other South Asian diasporic folks and across race lines towards a queer, anti-caste, anti-racist transformative justice vision.
Artist, Cultural Organizer, Facilitator
Jayeesha (she/her/ella) is a tri-coastal, tri-lingual Bengali interdisciplinary artist, cultural organizer, pop-ed facilitator, and healing justice practitioner with 25 years of movement building experience. She was born in Mobile, raised in New York, aged in Oakland, and is deeply grateful to call New Orleans home. She is a co-founding member of Another Gulf Is Possible Collaborative, catalyzing the use of art, culture, media, direct action, and transformative justice from across the Gulf South to the Global South towards a just transition for our people and the planet. Jayeesha is also a trainer and coordinator for the Staying Power Healing Justice Program at Windcall Institute. In addition to SAALT, she serves on the boards of directors for Eyewitness Palestine, Alternate Roots, and the Climate Justice Alliance. Jayeesha is an avid traveler, home chef, live music lover, dancing queen, and adores being near (preferably swimming in) any body of clean, life giving water.
Maheen Kaleem, Esq.
Maheen Kaleem, Esq., is a first generation Pakistani and human rights attorney who has dedicated her life to creating a world where girls of color are safe and free. She has almost twenty years of experience supporting youth and families impacted by personal and state violence, and making way for those traditionally marginalized from formal sites of power to lead efforts to advance racial and gender justice. In the various roles she has held in direct service, advocacy, and philanthropy, she has always grounded her work in the wisdom of women and girls who have survived the carceral system, sexual exploitation and abuse, and sex trafficking. Maheen currently serves as the Deputy Director of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, an organization committed to amplifying and resourcing transformative organizing work led by girls and gender expansive youth of color. She has advocated for the successful passage of numerous laws and policies at the federal, state, and local levels that protect the rights of survivors of child sex trafficking, as well as girls in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Maheen currently resides on unceded Piscataway land in Washington, D.C., also known as Chocolate City. She is from the Bay Area in California, and loves poetry, music, the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Potomac, and the Golden State Warriors.
Co-Founder and Leadership Coach, Reflecting Justice
Moneek Bhanot (she/her) is a systems-level strategist, coach, and leader. Being a Punjabi Sikh woman has taught Moneek the importance of honoring the humanity in ourselves and others, showing up in service to her community, and truth-telling. She is the Co-Founder of Reflecting Justice, a DEI coaching and consulting firm that works with individuals and organizations to dismantle white supremacy and create equitable systems. Moneek has fifteen years of experience in K‑12, higher education, and non-profit settings, where she has guided students, educators, and leaders to more deeply understand their role in challenging systems of oppression. She has also led organizations to examine policies and practices to ensure they are equitable at all levels, from performance management to strategic planning. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego, and her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and best friend, Ravi, and their two wonderful children.
Naji’a Tameez is a Pakistani-American lawyer in New York City. She became a lawyer in the hopes of using her career to give back to the immigrant communities she was raised in. She has devoted her legal career to working with, and for, marginalized communities, specifically in housing rights, immigration, and access to health care. Naji’a has a BA from Rutgers University, is also an alumna of Douglas Residential College, and has her JD from Syracuse University College of Law.
Artist, Activist, Educator
Nikita (she/hers) is a Punjabi/Indian American artist, activist, and educator currently based in Los Angeles. A graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, with a major in Drama, minor in Performance Studies, and honors certificate in Theatre Studies, her projects have extended from stage to screen. She is most passionate about pushing for intersectional representation in media and entertainment, as well as creative work that uplifts underrepresented narratives and directly gives back to the community. Alongside her performance career, she consults with social justice organizations, most notably having partnered with the Women’s March National Team for the Women’s Convention in Detroit in 2017, and campaigning with Nithya Raman for LA City Council and Chalo Vote for the 2020 election. As an educator, she has taught fitness, dance/movement, and musical theater, and serves as a facilitator specializing in identity politics and performance.
Consultant, UNICEF Regional Office in South Asia
Pushkar has worked with the United Nations in Kosovo, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Colombia, and Myanmar. His writing has been featured in a variety of publications, including Al Jazeera English, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Asian American Literary Review, and Inkstick Media. He co-founded the performance-poetry duo, BROWNSTAR, and from 2009 to 2012 produced UNIFICATION, a demonstration for peace in South Asia benefiting SAALT. Pushkar holds an MPA in Human Rights and International Conflict Resolution from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, as well as a BA in International Studies and Drama from Washington University in St. Louis.
Attorney, Latham & Watkins, LLP
Born and raised in Kathmandu Nepal, Sabrina came to the United States for her undergraduate education and law school. Sabrina served on the board of Nepal Rising, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that mobilizes the Nepali diaspora in the United States for development efforts back home. A recent graduate of Harvard Law School, Sabrina served as a student attorney in the International Human Rights Clinic and the Immigration & Refugee Clinic. She has worked in the field of human rights, with Human Rights Watch and EarthRights International. In Nepal, Sabrina did business acceleration and community organizing with farmers and entrepreneurs in rural Nepal and conducted policy research on women’s economic empowerment at a non-profit called Daayitwa.
Sasha Neha Ahuja
Change Lead, August Public Inc.
Sasha Neha Ahuja is a social worker, community organizer and advocate from New York City. Sasha got her start in movement building work at the NY Taxi Workers Alliance over a decade ago. Since then, Sasha has built her career anchoring racial and gender justice and facilitating community-driven policy change. Alongside years of work in South Asian-serving organizations in New York City, Sasha also spent six years as an organizer of DC Desi Summer (now East Coast Solidarity Summer), a radical political education program for South Asian youth that built on the legacy of Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS). Sasha currently is a Change Lead at August Public Inc. where she helps teams build capacity for the future of work. Prior to this, Sasha served as Deputy Director of the Policy & Innovation Division, within the Speaker’s Office at the NYC Council where she most notably drove Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s Young Women’s Initiative, the first-in-the-nation initiative dedicated to lifting up young cis and trans women and girls of color. Sasha is an Adjunct Professor at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College and Touro Graduate School of Social Work, and trainer with a range of progressive political training organizations working with folks interested in deepening their racial justice analyses to engage in the work that drives them. Sasha holds a BA from Hunter College of the City University of New York (free CUNY!) and a MS in Social Work from Columbia University.
Senior Associate, Nonprofit Finance Fund
Shruti Garg is a seasoned social justice advocate, having worked both domestically and internationally. She currently serves as a Senior Associate at the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), where she works to strengthen the financial health of nonprofit organizations across the US. Before joining NFF, Shruti spent 6 years working in the philanthropic sector. She served as Membership Engagement Director for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), where she partnered with over 50 foundation and 400 individual members to oversee national programs that increased investments to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Shruti has worked for major philanthropic institutions including the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Foundations (OSF). At OSF, she managed the investment of more than $45 million over 3 years to immigrant rights, racial justice, and low-wage worker rights organizations. In international work, she worked at the New Delhi-based gender justice organization CREA, where she coordinated a national human rights training institute and collaborated with funders and advocates on international dialogues. Based in Los Angeles, Shruti graduated from Smith College and received her Master of Public Policy from the University of Southern California.
Writer, Organizer, Herbalist
sumi dutta (she/her) is a writer, organizer, and herbalist from Durham, North Carolina. She is an upper caste/savarna, second generation queer Bengali cis woman who joins the SAALT board with much love and rigor for collective transformation through the annihilation of caste — in ourselves and in our communities. sumi carries over ten years of community organizing experience across the U.S. South, working most recently with Southerners on New Ground and PowerUp NC. Currently, sumi is a digital campaigner at 18 Million Rising, a national Asian American organization, where she organizes Asian America towards abolition and healing justice through radical media projects. In her hometown, she is a co-creator NC Mutual Herb, an herbal mutual aid network for BIPOC.