2017 Summit Agenda

The National South Asian Summit 2017 convenes hundreds of South Asian organizations, advocates, and allies from across the U.S. on April 21-24, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The 2017 Summit marks the 10-year anniversary for this important gathering and provides an opportunity to build skills to deepen organizational impact and individual leadership, connect with government officials and congressional offices, expand networks, and strategize with diverse leaders to claim our power through collective action. The theme of this year’s Summit is United For Action in response to the disturbing rise in hate violence, xenophobic political rhetoric, and anti-immigrant policies targeted at our communities. As the challenges facing our communities continue to grow, so must our unity, our resolve, and our action.

The 2017 National South Asian Summit includes:

  • The 2017 ChangeMakers Awards Reception on April 21, 2017 at The National Press Club. This evening ceremony recognizes the champions among us who hold the line and demand justice for our communities.
  • Dynamic sessions conceived and led by community members on April 22-23 at Trinity Washington University. This is an opportunity for hundreds of activists, organizations, and supporters to explore and discuss the diverse needs and priorities of our communities.
  • Advocacy Day on April 24, which brings our communities to Capitol Hill to interact with policymakers face to face through roundtable talks, briefings, and one-on-one discussions.

Given the current political and social climate, SAALT is sensitive to the possibility that our organizations are more likely to be attacked by organized movements and organizations via a cyber, verbal, and/or physical attack. In response, and to preserve as much safety and security as possible for Summit attendees, SAALT will be asking attendees to present a government-issued, student, or other form of photo ID that links attendees’ names with their photo as part of the check-in and registration process for all ticketed events associated with this year’s National South Asian Summit. As a progressive social justice and immigrant rights organization, we are sensitive to the possibility that some attendees might not be able to present a government issued ID, and we will take that into consideration on a case by case basis. It is our intention and commitment to preserve the safety while ensuring the Summit remains as accessible as possible for all.

Friday, April 21, 2017

NCSO Convening

Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC  20017

The broad goals of the convening include creating space for groups to come together to discuss where our community is at, where it needs to go, how we can further develop the coalition, and evolving the National Action Agenda.

The NCSO Convening is only open to current NCSO members who have pre-registered.

ChangeMakers Awards Reception

The National Press Club – Ballroom
529 14th St NW,
Washington, DC 20045

The ChangeMakers Awards recognizes individuals, programs, and organizations that have advanced social justice among South Asians in the U.S.

2017 ChangeMakers Awards Honorees:

  • Vanita Gupta
  • Equality Labs
  • Jayesh Rathod
  • Daya, Inc.
  • Zahra Billoo
  • Gurbani Kaur
  • Ravi Ragbir

Special performance by Kiran Ahluwalia and Rez Abbasi
Heavy appetizers and beverages provided

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC  20017

Breakfast & Registration

Welcome and Opening Plenary – 9:00AM-10:00AM

Reflections on Uniting for Action

You will hear about SAALT’s new strategic plan and vision for our communities to unite for action going forward. The plenary commemorates the 10th anniversary of the National South Asian Summit and creation of the National Council of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), which has grown to 55 member organizations. Leaders from three NCSO organizations representing various regions of the country will reflect on the shifting political climate over the last decade, the arc of their organization’s work during this time, and aspirations for moving forward. They will describe their work at the intersection of direct services and movement building, building sanctuary and community safety, and forging an immigrant rights movement steeped in gender and racial justice.

  • Suman Raghunathan, Executive Director, SAALT (Welcome and moderator)
  • Nusrat Ameen, Senior Director, Daya, Inc. Houston
  • Sabiha Basrai, Co-coordinator, Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA)
  • Pabitra Benjamin, Executive Director, Adhikaar

Session 1 – 10:10AM-11:25AM

Participants will choose one from the following options

Collective Liberation: Black and South Asian Solidarity
In this session, participants will share their experiences building Black-South Asian solidarity in their local communities. Participants will learn about coalition-building and solidarity models, grounded in the experience of API Resistance, a DC-based collective working in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. Participants will discuss frameworks and points of entry that demonstrate how Black and South Asian liberation is tied together, to identify greater points of collaboration when participants return to their respective cities.

  • Pearl Bhatnagar (API Resistance)
  • Saurav Sarkar (API Resistance)

#OurNeighborhoods: South Asians Organize Against Displacement
As South Asian ethnic enclaves in urban centers grow, #OurNeighborhoods are feeling the effects of gentrification.  From increased police presence, to displacement of small businesses, to tenant harassment, the current issues in South Asian neighborhoods intersect with other immigrant and community of color neighborhoods.  However, South Asians also act as “gentrifiers,” contributing to displacement in predominantly Black and Latinx neighborhoods.  As groups that have not experienced the history of “redlining” and segregation that Black communities have, our role is a complicated one.  Join housing advocates and community organizers for a conversation around displacement, gentrification, and how South Asians fit in.

  • Anj Chaudhry (National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD))
  • Jagpreet Singh (Chhaya CDC)
  • Naved Husain (CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities)

Digital Self Defense for the Savvy Desi Organization
As things become more intense in terms of the mass surveillance and targeting of immigrant and faith based communities, savvy Desi organizers must come together to create networks of community self-defense. This begins with the education our communities about digital security and supporting each other to build protective networks for ourselves. This workshop gives an overview of what digital security is and gives you tips on how to secure your devices, your network access, your identity and your social networking. Please bring your laptops and cell phones!

  • Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Equality Labs) Equality Labs Staff

Reclaiming Our Stories: Using Strategic Visual Communication to Build Membership and Win Campaigns
Sabiha Basrai will share lessons learned and best practices for developing effective visuals and campaign messages from her 10 years of experience with Design Action Collective working with grassroots social justice organizations and nonprofits. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of media makers and tools for creating their own pieces to build their membership and further their campaigns.

  • Sabiha Basrai (Design Action Collective)

Know Your Rights, Know Your People: The South Asian American Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election
During the 2016 election, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) volunteers observed discrimination against female Muslim voters wearing hijabs or niqabs at poll sites in Michigan and New York. As rhetoric on “illegal voting” continues to inspire restrictive voting laws across the country, time is of the essence for voting rights advocacy and know-your-rights voter education. In this session, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund’s voting rights team will provide a detailed overview of the observations and results from AALDEF’s 2016 national exit poll (the largest of its kind for Asian American voters) and election protection work, with a special focus on South Asian American voters. The session will also serve as a discussion space for participants to debrief their civic engagement and voter mobilization work in 2016, and to discuss ideas for moving forward on voting rights advocacy in 2017 and beyond.

  • Iris Zalun (Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund)
  • Shobhana Johri Verma (Chicago Board of Election Commissioners)

The Politics of Location: How a Public Health Lens Can Help us Address anti-Blackness, Casteism, and Feudalism / Classism in our Communities
Anti-oppression work and social justice are intimately tied to health and wellbeing; yet, the root causes and structural drivers of inequity too often go unaddressed when behaviors are theorized, research is done on communities, and interventions are built without community input. For communities to thrive, and not just survive, those invested in social change must critically examine the politics of their location while explicitly analyzing systems of oppression and distributions of power. As members of South Asian communities (immigrants, refugees, visitors, settlers, undocumented), failure to grapple with the shadows of our histories of anti-blackness, casteism, and feudalism / classism can undermine our current efforts against injustice. Using public health as a lens for social justice work, we introduce a modified version of Chandra Ford and colleagues’ Public Health Critical Race Praxis to challenge participants to interrogate their social identities and their work within the context of anti-blackness, casteism, and feudalism / classism.

  • Anushka Aqil, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Poonam Daryani, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

SESSION 2 – 11:35AM-12:50PM

Participants will choose one from the following options

Community Defense Session (description and speakers: TBD)

Trans/gender Justice: Learning Our Histories & Transforming Our Organizations From Within
Are you looking for support to make your organization more transgender inclusive? The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) developed a trans* and gender justice curriculum specifically for Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Come and delve into our API transgender histories, and explore the ways in which it informs the racial and immigrant justice work you do. We will guide a discussion around including transgender community members in your work and brainstorm strategies to take back home.

  • Shabab Ahmed Mirza (Khush DC)
  • Sasha W. (National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance)

A New Paradigm for Engaging Women Against Extremism
Women have a pivotal role to play in how we understand, respond to, and resist the desecration of Islam by extremists, and the rise of right-wing extremism in the U.S. Among the intersectional issues that promote recruitment to extremist organizations and provoke violence are issues of marginality (and privilege). We will explore women’s capacity for empathetic understanding of questions and struggles of the grassroots context as a critical tool in building a new Contextual Theology. The question therefore is urgent. We must demonstrate to our communities at large, and to elected officials that we are serious in addressing extremism within, as we stand against the extremism without. Both extremisms harm us.

  • Soraya Deen (Muslim Women Speakers)

Demystifying Grant Writing
Why should a busy foundation executive and/or high net worth individual include your organization among the many causes competing for their support? Advocacy fundraising, in particular, has perhaps never been more critically needed or more competitive to secure. This workshop emphasizes a K.I.S.S. (Keep It Succinct and Simple) technique that can help secure a larger percentage of successful applications. It will provide: 1) Distinctions between basic terminologies: Mission, Vision, Goal, Objective, Strategy, Tactics, Output, Outcome, and Impact so to better understand funder general expectations and specific directives; 2) Demonstration of the Why, What, Who, How template structure of an organizational or project Case Statement; 3) Some live discussion/practice in preparing a donor ask/application. Participants are encouraged to bring an example of an application that they found difficult to complete, and use that challenging application to ask questions they would like to have discussed with the group.

  • Susan Foulds (Fundraising Consultant)

Sanctuary and Resistance: South Asian Faith-Activists Resist the Hateful Policies of the Trump Administration
Many movements for social justice in the US have long been grounded in religious traditions. The sanctuary movement for undocumented immigrants is one recent and powerful example. As South Asian progressives in the US, how can we bring our faith traditions and political beliefs together? How can our faith communities be sources of resistance, action, and organizing in the Trump era? How can we engage with our community members to take positions as people of faith against injustices? Can our masjids, gurdwaras, mandirs, and churches become sanctuaries for those facing oppression? In this session we’ll explore these questions as South Asians of many faiths called to resist.

  • Sunita Viswanath (Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus), Moderator Panelists:
  • Sapreet Kaur (Sikh Coalition),
  • Ravi Ragbir (New Sanctuary Coalition),
  • Devanie Singhroy (Shaanti Bhavan Mandir),
  • Rev Winni Varghese (Trinity Church),
  • Dr. Debbie Almontaser (Muslim Community Network)

Disrupting Silos: Combating Ageism and Xenophobia
This session will bring together advocates from New York City, the Bay Area, and Texas to discuss how they have organized and advocated to bring programs and services to their older adults. The community groups – spanning different nationalities, ethnicities, faiths, languages, and income levels – will present information about their respective communities and share best practices in fighting xenophobia and ageism. Aging services are even more of a critical and growing need for our communities in a time of potentially overwhelming social safety net cuts. Panelists will discuss how we can work through aging services to address challenges posed by this administration across all issue areas.

  • Vega Subramaniam, Moderator
  • Shubhada Saxena (SAIVA), Asha Chandra (City of Fremont Human Services Department),
  • Kashmir Singh Shahi (Gurdwara Sahib Fremont),
  • Shah Afroditi Panna (India Home, Inc.),
  • Vishnu Mahadeo (Richmond Hill Economic Development Corporation (RHEDC)),
  • Shaista Kazmi (Apna Ghar, LLC)


Racial Justice

This plenary features movement leaders across communities of color who will highlight not just the importance of collaboration in this political moment, but the ways in which our movements for justice are deeply connected. The discussion will include the Movement for Black Lives policy platform, the power of a youth-led immigrant justice movement, and the impact of local organizing to address hate violence and racial profiling. You will also hear about strategies for building transformational rather than transactional unity.

  • Cristina Jimenez (United We Dream)
  • Thenjiwe McHarris (Blackbird)
  • Darakshan Raja (Washington Peace Center/D.C. Justice for Muslims Coalition)

SESSION 3 – 2:40-4:00PM

Participants will choose one from the following options

Beyond Safe Spaces: Creating Physical Communities that Embrace Culture, Immigrants, and Love
Join Priya Living Partners Amit Sarin and Arun Paul in a discussion and activity about strategies to create communities that celebrate culture and identity, while inclusively working to expand exposure to new ideas and people. Priya Living builds physical housing for Senior Desis and focuses on the community building aspect of our properties. As we will be building more communities, we will share our insights, discuss the importance of cultural infrastructure, especially in light of the current administration, and look to the community for additional ideas and approaches.

  • Amit Sarin (Priya Living)
  • Arun Paul (Priya Living)

Coming Out, Coming Home: Desi Family Acceptance of Our LGBTQ Children
LGBTQ children and adults face impossible choices. Coming out to their families about their sexual orientation or gender identity is difficult, raising issues of shame and stigma, but staying in the closet can be even worse, sometimes causing isolation, depression, and even suicide. Parents ignorant about LGBT issues may make wrong decisions about how to respond, believing that they are doing the right thing, only to inflict trauma on themselves and their child. Family acceptance and support can have a profound impact on LGBT health, wellness, and ability to confront discrimination outside the home. This session looks at how we can promote family acceptance to ensure wellness and resilience.

  • Aruna Rao (Desi Rainbow Parents/API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC), Moderator
  • Hima Sathian (Desi Rainbow Parents/API Rainbow Parents of PFLAG NYC), Moderator
  • Joshua Patel,
  • Mona Patel,
  • Parag Mehta,
  • Vaibhav Jain

Podcasts and Digital Storytelling: Using Digital Tools for Re-Centering Narratives
How do you use digital tools to re-center narratives on your community and use that to resist? It is imperative that communities of color use counter narratives to not only empower ethnic communities from within, but also to shift mainstream culture in how they think about communities. But in this day and age of propaganda and alternative truth, it is crucial to develop digital storytelling in resistance tools that will cut through this noise. In this session, we will talk to podcasters and other digital storytellers on how they started and will give you tips on how to create your own storytelling platforms.

  • Tanzila “Taz” Ahmed (18 Million Rising & #GoodMuslimBadMuslim Podcast)
  • Sameer Rao (Facing Race)
  • Ahmed Ali Akbar (Buzzfeed)

Organizational Development Supporting Social Justice
How can you improve your organization’s efficiency and effectiveness during these especially difficult times? This session will help you align the people, processes, and practices of your organization by focusing on the basics of organizational development, specifically helping participants think through how all components (fundraising, program evaluation, communications, etc.) are connected and influence one another. We will explore key elements for organizational sustainability and leadership development on all levels.

  • Kaajal Shah (K Shah Consulting, LLC)

Civil Rights Enforcement at the State Level
This panel will provide an overview of Civil Rights enforcement at the state level, using the case example of the New York State Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau (“NYAG”). The NYAG Civil Rights Bureau is one of the largest in the country, and at the forefront of civil rights enforcement in today’s climate. Issue areas covered on this panel will include an introduction to the structure and jurisdiction of State Attorneys General Offices, and the tools available for State Attorneys General Offices in civil rights enforcement – including litigation, issuing guidance to other State and local agencies, and the critical reliance on the work of advocacy organizations to inform the enforcement. This panel will also identify avenues of collaboration and exchange between advocates, organizers, legal service providers and State Attorneys General.

  • Sania W. Khan (Civil Rights Bureau, New York State Attorney General’s Office)
  • Lourdes Rosado (Chief of Civil Rights Bureau, New York State Attorney General’s Office)
  • Anjana Samant (Civil Rights Bureau, New York State Attorney General’s Office)

The Urgency of Caste in the Diaspora
This session aims to engage South Asians, especially “Savarna” (those holding disproportionate levels of Caste privilege) with the political discourse on Caste. The struggle to end Caste Apartheid in South Asia is easily seen as being divorced from the South Asian American experience, because of blanket normalizing of South Asian culture in America as both, oppressor-Caste and Hindu. We want to bring to light the fact, as South Asian Americans, we have an incredible amount of diversity and much work remains to be done to break the networks of Caste and Hindu Fascism that have found financial bolstering and cultural affirmation in America.

  • Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Dalit American Coalition/Equality Labs)
  • Maari Zwick-Maitreyi (Dalit American Coalition/Equality Labs)
  • Asandhi Mitra (Equality Labs)
  • Savitha Rajamani (University of Massachusetts, Boston/Boston Study Group)
  • Smitha Dandge (Ambedkar Association of North America)

SESSION 4 – 4:10-5:25PM

Participants will choose one from the following options

Storytelling for Resistance: How to Use Our Narratives to Inspire, Teach, and Move People to Action
Learn the storytelling strategies you need to engage people in your movements, based on the award-winning Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour. See what effective (and ineffective) storytelling looks like, based on an excerpt from the walking tour, learn five key effective storytelling strategies, and practice applying them to your own stories or the story of your organization. The workshop will feature a story performance from the tour. Launched in 2012, the Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour has helped recruit dozens of new participants into Bay Area progressive South Asian organizations through storytelling about our movements. The tour has been run over 100 times, and was selected “Best of the East Bay” and received a 2016 national APIA Preservation Award.

  • Anirvan Chatterjee (Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour)
  • Barnali Ghosh (Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour)

See Me for Who I Am: Unveiling Years of Stigma Based on the Color of Your Skin
We want participants to share their initial thoughts when seeing people from different colors and backgrounds. Next, we want to share stories of how Brown Girl writers have felt discriminated against because of the color of their skin. We will then open it up to the participants, by asking them to write a short statement, or letter, to someone who misjudged them for how they look. Finally, we ask participants to choose 1-3 sentences from their written copy and share it on video (our camera will be set up, so everyone can share their experience, in real time, and later publish it via Brown Girl Magazine).

  • Trisha Sakhua (Brown Girl Magazine)
  • Priya Arora (Brown Girl Magazine)
  • Kamini Ramdeen (Brown Girl Magazine)

Weathering the Storm: How to Protect Your Organization Against Opposition Attacks
Is your organization prepared for an attack from the opposition? This session will provide specific information about challenges some groups are facing, and ways to be more pro-active in addressing them. Participants will build awareness of types of opposition attacks and be introduced to some tools/practices to assess vulnerabilities. Organizations that work with or organize vulnerable populations, do advocacy or lobbying work, and/or receive funds from pro-immigrant funders are particularly susceptible.

  • Mala Nagarajan(Vega Mala Consulting/Road Map/Queer South Asian National Network (QSANN))

Messaging Against Hate in the Age of Trump: The Basics of Crafting Oppositional Messages
Organized nativist activists, along with their White House and legislative allies and supporters in the media, use sophisticated messaging platforms to advance their bigoted agenda. When faced with strong, organized opposition, many of us struggle with how to effectively push back, and particularly with how to do so without compromising our values and our vision for the future. The workshop will share lessons drawn from multiple real examples of effective responses to organized nativist movements in the United States, including the president of the United States. Participants will practice developing oppositional messaging on an issue in their work or their lives, and will emerge with a strategy to pivot from the opposition’s message to their own and a set of concrete tactics to help them do so.

  • Anu Joshi (New York State Immigrant Action Fund)
  • Lindsay Schubiner (Center for New Community)

Nepali/South Asian Mental Health in a World of Stress, Stigma, and Political-Cultural Crisis
South Asian/Asian American communities’ need for mental health services are reflected in the statistics.  BWI survey statistics strongly support this critical need in the Nepali diaspora. When it comes to using local or state, private or public mental/behavioral health services, South Asians (as a whole) are a community greatly underserved. A powerful contributing factor: for most South Asian-Americans, depression, substance abuse, and other mental illnesses are culturally taboo subjects, laden with fear and shame – the “silence of stigma.” Not being able to talk about emotional problems often spawns stress and, if chronic, may well lead to mental illness or other destructive coping mechanisms. And the time has never been more critical with cultural-political tensions on the rise, including “hate crimes.” Add to the stress mix, grappling with being a “stranger in a strange land” and the pressures of “pursuing the American Dream”…we are dealing with a potential individual-family-community psychic earthquake!

  • Dr. Damber Kumar “DK” Gurung (Be Well Initiative), Moderator
  • Mark Gorkin (Be Well Initiative), Facilitator
  • Dr. Surendra Bir Adhikari (Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services); Research Lead (Be Well Initiative)
  • Dr. DJ Ida (National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA)),
  • Rupsha Singh (Be Well Initiative),
  • Rita Tiwari (Society of American Nepalese Nurse Association (SANN))

Building Immigrant Justice: Beyond Executive Actions
This workshop will focus on building an immigrant justice movement both with a policy and organizing focus. Get a bird’s eye view of the federal immigration policy landscape, including the most recent executive orders, learn about what people are doing to push back and protect immigrants at the state level (with a focus on the series of model legislation being introduced in the California legislature). Learn how communities are organizing on the ground to address the Muslim Ban, the proposed border wall, and ICE raids by building and defining sanctuary. Just promising sanctuary to undocumented folks won’t be enough. How do we turn to ourselves and to each other to make sure that all of us are safe? Sanctuary can’t just be for immigrants. Sanctuary also needs to exist for black folks, for queer and trans folks, for women, for young folks.

  • Lakshmi Sridaran (South Asian Americans Leading Together), Moderator
  • Saira Hussain (Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus)
  • Desis Rising Up and Moving – South Asian Organizing Center


5:30PM – 8:00PM

SAALT, the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), and other partners and ally organizations will hold South Asian Americans March for Justice, a rally that starts at Freedom Plaza followed by a march to the White House. We envision a world free of policy and rhetoric driven by hate, and we demand civil rights, civil liberties, and immigration justice for all. We march for all those fighting for a socially just United States, and we demand the support of policymakers towards that vision.

*Complimentary one-way bus service from Trinity Washington University to Freedom Plaza will be provided (space limiting) Note: Dinner is not provided

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Trinity Washington University
125 Michigan Avenue, NE, Washington, DC  20017

Breakfast & Registration

SESSION 5 – 9:20AM-10:35PM

Participants will choose one from the following options

Embodying Inclusive Organizing in Today’s Political Moment
Adhikaar is the only women-led worker and community center serving and organizing the Nepali-speaking immigrant and refugee community. Adhikaar is building the power of one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in NYC, and our organization is a home away from home for members. As our organization has expanded, we grapple with how to embody our vision of building solidarity across marginalized communities through our day-to-day work. How do we navigate the current political landscape to fight for collective justice, specifically as a community that isn’t being targeted by name at this moment, but is still experiencing fear and discrimination? Looking back at our 11 years of advocacy experience, we look to staff members who have long professional ties to the organization to explore how identity, memory, and advocacy are connected, and explore how these interconnections can help build a sustained commitment and approach to an inclusive social justice vision.

  • Anupa Gewali (Adhikaar)
  • Megha Lama (Adhikaar)
  • Namrata Pradhan (Adhikaar)
  • Aliya Sabharwal (Adhikaar)

Building an Engaged South Asian Electorate
This conversation will discuss the importance of voter registration, how federal and state governments influence voter registration and participation, how grass roots organizations can conduct voter registration drives, and discuss available tools to become active citizens.

  • Niyati Shah (Project Vote)
  • Archita Taylor (Project Vote)

Effective Decision-Making: Building Your Organizational Capacity to Make Sound, Sustainable, and Strategic Decisions in Crisis and Calm
Movement building activists and organizational leaders must make hundreds of decisions every day ranging from small to large, negligible to impactful. Some decisions need to be made quickly, while others need to be more deliberate. Decisions can have serious impacts and will result in either building trust or creating long-lasting conflict that strengthens or stifles groups, fosters or undermines collaboration, and propels or hampers movement building efforts. In this session, we’ll cover key factors in making effective decisions, strategies to employ decision-making styles appropriate to given contexts, and tools to help facilitate the decision-making process in groups. Participants will learn tools that can facilitate confident decision-making that strengthen and unite teams toward collective action.

  • Mala Nagarajan, Vega Mala Consulting/Road Map/Queer South Asian National Network (QSANN)
  • Vega Subramanian, Vega Mala Consulting

The Revolution will be Potluck: Building Queer Femme-Centered Organizing Spaces in the South Asian Diaspora
Philadelphia South Asian Collective (PSAC) started with a few brown kids looking for space to talk politics, make friends, and share food. Thus a community was born. After all, food knows no borders. We started with potlucks and picnics, and soon it became direct actions with local Black liberation and socialist collectives. PSAC makes space for our South Asian selves in the black-and-white conversation on racial justice in North America. Under the umbrella of identity politics, we provide refuge for the diaspora to reflect inward and look critically at our own oppressive issues. Through skill-building, community organizing, storytelling, and coalition-building, PSAC teaches us to unite in action. This session will engage participants who ask “What can I do?” Session presenters will share successes, failures, and valuable lessons learned while discussing the need to center those most marginalized, build genuine partnerships, and work through conflict together.

  • Prachi Priyam (Philadelphia South Asian Collective)
  • Viraj Patel (Philadelphia South Asian Collective)
  • Preeti Korvadi (Philadelphia South Asian Collective)
  • Sonalee Rashatwar (Philadelphia South Asian Collective)

Building a “Hindu Left” in the United States Are you a leftie Hindu, or know someone who is?
Are you surprised to see the words “leftie” and “Hindu’’ combined like this? Come discuss what it means to build a Hindu-identified political voice that says YES to a radical analysis of caste, class, sexuality, gender and race — and NO to Hindu nationalism, NO to caste violence, and NO to Hindu fundamentalism. Help us envision what an alternative Hindu American political identity could look like.

  • Sapna Pandya (Hindus for Justice)
  • Anirvan Chatterjee (Hindus for Justice)
  • Sweta Vohra (Hindus for Justice)

The Many Forms of Hate Violence – Community Responses and Strategies
In this session, leaders from community organizations working with directly impacted populations will discuss their responses, strategies, and campaigns to address multiple forms of violence against our communities. It includes an overview of data on hate violence and xenophobic political rhetoric aimed at our communities during the 2016 election cycle, lessons learned from the Orlando club shooting, and a young-women led campaign to address street harassment. We will depart from the traditional policy approach to discussing hate violence and help community-based and direct service organizations think about how this connects to their existing work.

  • Lakshmi Sridaran (South Asian Americans Leading Together), Moderator
  • Urooj Arshad (Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity)
  • Sahar Shafqat (Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity)
  • Desis Rising Up and Moving – South Asian Organizing Center

SESSION 6 – 10:45AM-12:00PM

Participants will choose one from the following options

The Resistance Lab: How Creative Spaces Heal, Inspire and Mobilize Our Communities
A workshop that will combine design thinking, empathy, and an exploration of creative spaces to help participants learn innovation principles, envision new futures, and develop tactics to address the need for systemic political and social change. The key understanding for this session or “lab” is that building a resistance in grim political climates requires empathy, active listening, healing, collective input, and innovation. Individuals and communities can work together to envision the future we want if we learn to employ methods that encourage synergy and are mindful of the need to leverage diverse perspectives and skill sets. Led by experienced facilitators who work in program innovations, organizing, counseling, and education, this session will equip participants with resources and refreshing ideas to take back to their own work environments and communities for sustaining change in uncertain times.

  • Nafisa Isa (Subcontinental Drift, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center)
  • Shamyla Tareen (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)

Who’s in the White House? The Organized Anti-Muslim and Anti-Immigrant Roots of Trump’s Administration
The organized anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim movements and leaders have pushed their way into the mainstream, both paving the way for Donald Trump’s win and taking advantage of it. Now nativist leaders at the national, state and local level, like Sen. Jeff Sessions and Frank Gaffney, have begun the process of crafting extremist, racist policies from within the Administration. This workshop will help lift the cloak of anonymity and the ways in which these national, state and local groups influence policy to help our community combat their tactics more actively. This workshop will not only introduce the key players in the organized nativist movement, but will delve into their philosophies, priorities, and strategies, and review how they are likely to influence policy moving forward.

  • Lindsay Schubiner (Center for New Community)
  • Anu Joshi (New York State Immigrant Action Fund)

Resilience and Response in Times of Change
With changes taking place across our nation, state, and city, many in the nonprofit sector are wondering if and how to start pivoting their organization’s programs or operations in response to the changes. To prepare for potential funding, legislative, and structural shifts, and to respond to emerging community needs, Community Resource Exchange (CRE) is offering a risk assessment and planning workshop for nonprofit leaders at the National South Asian Summit 2017. This will help organizations plan for a wide variety of scenarios, including building resiliency in the face of risks, and turning risks into opportunities to advance their missions.

  • Pavitra Menon (Community Resource Exchange)
  • Fiona Kanagasingam (Community Resource Exchange)

Unbroken Glass: A Documentary Screening and Conversation with the Filmmaker
Through screening Unbroken Glass, we hope to raise awareness about mental illnesses and the stigma associated with these illnesses, especially among minority populations. The event will also focus on the power of storytelling and filmmaking, and how these forms of art can serve as tools to discuss and explore difficult topics

  • Dinesh Sabu (Kartemquin Films)

Racial Profiling in a New Era: Lessons Learned and New Ideas
Under the guise of national security, numerous policies have targeted South Asian American communities, particularly those who are Muslim or perceived to be Muslim. These include, but are not limited to, the Patriot Act, National Security Entry Exit Registration System (NSEERS), the Department of Justice Guidance on the use of race by law enforcement, Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program, immigration laws and enforcement, and local law enforcement surveillance, profiling, and stop and frisk policies. Additionally, racial profiling has impacted our communities at the intersection of multiple identities. As such policies continue to expand in this new era, this workshop will focus on best practices for documenting racial profiling and building campaigns to dismantle racial profiling at all levels.

  • Lakshmi Sridaran (South Asian Americans Leading Together), Moderator
  • Radha Modi (Queer South Asian National Network)
  • Zahra Billoo (Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco))
  • Sasha Wijeyratne (National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance)
  • Rajdeep Singh (Sikh Coalition)

Taking on Our Own: How South Asian Communities Built a Winning Mega-Coalition for Inclusive California Textbooks (Despite Attacks from Hindu/Right Lobby Groups)
When California wanted to revise textbook curriculum, South Asian scholars came up with a balanced and inclusive set of improvements—but Hindu lobby groups attacked the academics, launching a campaign to frame all South Asian history through an Indian Hindu upper-caste nationalist narrative, and erasing stories of Sikhs, Dalits, Buddhists, women, and other South Asian nations.

  • Anasuya Sengupta, Moderator
  • Dr. Sana Ahmed,
  • Anirvan Chatterjee (ASATA),
  • Harjit Kaur (Ensaaf),
  • Thenmozhi Soundararajan (Equality Labs, Dalit History Month)


  • CRE’s Talent Management Framework
  • Economic Development Challenges for Immigrant Retail Corridors: Observations from Chicago’s Devon Avenue
  • Empowerment of Immigrant Women, & Connecting Next Generation to Their Roots through Active Participation
  • Health of South Asians in the United States: Key Priorities for Education, Service, Research, Policy, Advocacy, and Action
  • Promoting Youth Education and Participation in Domestic Violence Prevention
  • Ramleela and the Indo-Caribbean American Identity
  • Ripples by Y.E.S.® (Yoga Education in Schools)®
  • South Asian Public Health Association: Connecting People, Ideas, and Resources
  • Systemic Disease: Bringing the Conversation on Bias in Medicine Beyond Closed Doors
  • The Circle-of-Challenge Framework: Five Key Challenges of Nonprofit Leaders
  • The Spice Collective: On Campus Organizing, Pan Asian Identities, and APIDA Women Centered Spaces
  • Where Were You?


Creating Models for Community Defense to Protect our Communities and Strengthen our Movements

This plenary centers on strategies for building community defense looking ahead. You will hear from leaders across a variety of sectors – legal, community, and academic, as they discuss the importance of litigation, base-building, and intra-community solidarity for building strong, inclusive, and expansive community defense strategies to protect our people and strengthen our movements.

  • Sangay Mishra (Drew University and author of Desis Divided)
  • Zahra Billoo (Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco)
  • Fahd Ahmed (Desis Rising Up and Moving – South Asian Organizing Center)

CAUCUSES – 2:55PM-4:05PM

  • Open Space Session Gender Justice
  • Organizational Fundraising
  • Regional Caucus
  • Student Caucus
  • LGBTQ South Asian Caucus*

*This is a closed caucus session for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex (LGBTQI) South Asians.


Learn how to engage in advocacy and effectively raise issues of importance to your community for this year’s Advocacy Day on April 24th! This session will focus on strategy and talking points for our day on the Hill.

  • Lakshmi Sridaran (South Asian Americans Leading Together)
  • Nisha Ramachandran (National Council of Asian Pacific Americans)

Note: This session is mandatory to participate in Advocacy Day. 

Monday, April 24, 2017 – ADVOCACY DAY

Note: Summit registration is mandatory for Advocacy Day, as well as a training for Advocacy Day on April 23.

Registration and Breakfast

Community Briefing at the Capitol
Community leaders will speak on the impact of recent policies on immigration, racial profiling, and hate violence; cover the successes and challenges in these struggles over the last few years; and highlight the changes we need to see moving forward. For this panel, members of Congress, congressional staffers, and trusted civil staff in government agencies have been invited to be in attendance and share remarks.

Briefing by Administration & Government to the Community

Lunch and Delegation Organization

Delegation Meetings
Participants will meet with Congressional offices to advocate around issues of immigration, racial profiling, and hate violence.