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Statements of Candidacy

SABA-DC 2020 Board of Directors

Priya Bhanu - President-Elect

My name is Priya Bhanu, and after two years serving on the SABA-DC Board, I’m running for President-Elect.  A Michigan Law grad and former clerk to Judge Paul Grewal, I moved to DC four years ago to work at Cleary Gottlieb.  I am now an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State.

While SABA-DC serves many functions, its primary purpose is to connect and support the members of our bar.  We do this in many ways:  through our mentorship program, our high-quality programming, and our social events.  SABA-DC shines in this regard, but we can still do more.  We can grow our community by engaging with law schools and private- and public- sector employers to bring even more attorneys into the fold.  This will enhance our network, foster connections, and strengthen the foundational support SABA-DC seeks to provide its members.  This is my vision for SABA-DC, and I have already gotten started.

·       Revamping the Public Interest Fellowship Program:  As Public Interest Committee Chair for the past two years, I revamped our Public Interest Fellowship program, which provides funding for law students doing public interest work.  I overhauled our application process by expanding outreach to law schools from coast to coast, yielding a record number of applications.  During my tenure, SABA-DC awarded over $25,000 to nine outstanding law students.  I also reinvigorated our mentorship program, resulting in increased and continuing engagement of and with our fellows.  I believe these changes will foster a pipeline of new, engaged members in the coming years. 

·       Engaging Young Lawyers:  Though our community is strong, many young and newly-arrived lawyers are not familiar with SABA-DC.  In conjunction with area affinity bar associations, I have been engaging with major law firms, government agencies, and corporations to present SABA-DC as an extension of their diversity offerings.  These partnerships serve to market SABA-DC as a resource to a broader array of attorneys, thereby allowing our community to continue to flourish. 

·       Reengaging Senior Lawyers:  SABA-DC is fortunate to boast a number of extremely talented senior lawyers who are phenomenal resources and mentors.  I am working with them to understand how best to keep them engaged with SABA-DC.  This renewed engagement will strengthen our mentoring program and allow us to feature more stellar talent, bolstering our already-outstanding programming.  As part of this effort, I organized three events this past year:  Mobile Phone Data Collection in a Post-Carpenter World, A Conversation About DC Statehood, and A Fireside Chat with Paul Grewal.  These events featured senior lawyers offering thoughtful and compelling insights on unique and timely topics.

I first joined SABA-DC because I was looking for a new community to help me navigate the DC legal landscape.  Four years later, I have developed strong professional bonds, compelling mentoring relationships, and gained amazing friends.  It’s how I met many of you, and it is this potential for an even stronger community on which I will continue to build for SABA-DC’s future, as your President-Elect.   

Avani Patel - President-Elect

I am happy to announce my candidacy as your President-Elect and seek your support for the road ahead. In one word, “connections” is my vision as your President-Elect. Building connections to create a stronger community, making connections to increase our resources, and most importantly, using connections to positively impact the lives of our members. We have the ability to support our members and our community in ever expanding ways; I invite you to take this journey with me.

It has been an absolute honor to serve as a SABA-DC General Director for the past three years and be a SABA member since 2010. Collectively from my work, bar association, and volunteer experience I have developed skills to help our members build connections, gain brand recognition, and provide opportunities to give back to our community.  This is what I have experience in, am passionate about, and excel at. My accomplishments include:

  • Being the 2019 Women in eDiscovery-DC Chapter Director (leading an association with over 300 members)
  • Successfully organizing over 20 panels, 15 networking events, and 2 large group volunteer events
  • Fundraising for 4 marque bar association events
  • Spearheading a pro bono program and implementing diversity and inclusion standards

I have spent many hours meeting with our members, bar association leaders, and attorneys who support diversity in the legal industry.  By incorporating everything I have learned, my vision as President-Elect is to continue to provide excellent programing and to implement the following:

  • Promote our members through social media (create a “speaking at an upcoming SABA-DC event” graphic, actively share publications, and celebrate professional accomplishments)
  • Welcome new members by connecting them with an experienced member
  • Establish a board retreat to facilitate a smooth transition from outgoing board to incoming board
  • Exchange resources with other bar associations to help secure highly sought-after speakers
  • Offer events in Maryland and Virginia by collaborating with diverse bar associations
  • Provide greater networking for in-house counsel by co-hosting events with other diverse bar associations’ in-house counsel sections
  • Organize more family-oriented events which includes events on weekends
  • Create a monthly breakfast networking series with keynote speakers for partners and in-house counsel
  • Connect LLM students with attorneys practicing in the students’ areas of interest
  • Create a mentoring plan with activity ideas and discussion topics for the mentorship program
  • Expand the mentorship program to match experienced attorneys with mentors
  • Organize dinner series events for government attorneys to meet attorneys practicing in different agencies
  • Provide additional speaking opportunities for our members and inviting their colleagues to attend
  • Organize volunteer events
  • Create more networking opportunities and panels for both nonprofit attorneys and those that hold policy positions
  • Use our collective voice to lobby for issues that affect our members and our community

I want to continue to strengthen our community, by having our members connect with other members that practice in their industry and practice in different industries.  Let’s grow, expand, and get stronger together.  Thank you for your time and consideration.  I hope I can count on your vote for SABA-DC President Elect.

Devika Persaud - Vice President of Programming

My name is Devika Persaud, and after serving as a General Director on the SABA-DC Board this year, I am running for the position of Vice President of Programming. I previously served as Vice President of Public Relations and Chair of the Women’s Committee for two years on the board of the South Asian Bar Association of New York. Upon moving to DC three years ago, I immediately started meeting SABA-DC members at events, and I am now thrilled to be considered for this position. I have several ideas on how to ensure continued success in the organization’s programming, with my main goal being to listen to our members on what they wish to see over the next year.

  • Broad Range of Events: SABA-DC’s programming is vital to both its success and its growth. Having attended many events over the past three years, the programming has been unrivaled, and I plan to ensure we continue to cover a broad range of topics. I would also like to hear from our members on whether they would like to see more events in different areas or by particular speakers. For example, a member recently asked if we could provide more events on transactional law. I am open to hearing more ideas to ensure that all of our members (and potential members) are finding value in attending SABA-DC events.
  • Large Pool of Speakers: Each year SABA-DC builds a larger base of speakers and participants in our programming and I want to continue that trend. We pull from an impressive (and growing) group of attorneys and South Asians. As more South Asians enter the legal field and gain prominence, we should be finding them and featuring them as part of our premier programming. I enjoy seeing people I’ve known for years alongside new faces at SABA-DC events.
  • Variety of Formats: We already host events in a variety of formats – multi-speaker panels, individual interviews, happy hours, book clubs, and more – yet we can always explore new ideas. I once planned a networking event for women to mingle over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. We prepared color-coded name tags in advance indicating levels and practice areas to make mingling easier and more effective. I have also been to events featuring silent auctions or held in art galleries, which fostered mingling around specific focal points. I am open to thoughts on new formats for next year and welcome your ideas.
  • Organizational Detail: Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not address the organizational aspects of this role. As I suspect is true of many of us, I am fully reliant on my calendar and look forward to ensuring that SABA-DC’s events are calendared in advance. I also look forward to working with the programming committee to provide all the support they need – from securing speakers and finding great spaces to promoting events and having help at the venue.

Thank you for your time! I am excited for a new year with SABA-DC.

Anu Sharma - Vice President of Communications

My name is Anu Sharma, and I am seeking your support for Vice President of Communications for the 2020 SABA-DC Board. I am an associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP.

Last year, I joined SABA-DC as a General Director and transitioned (via unanimous Board approval) to Vice President of Communications about midway through the year. Some of you may recall that Priyanka Sundareshan previously served this role. Before her departure, Priya and I had collaborated on SABA-DC website updates, including event creation and communications. During my transition, she provided me invaluable guidance regarding SABA-DC Communications, something which I was barely familiar with. In this manner, I stepped up to the task to sustain the momentum and at least keep status quo to how it was when she was serving. This was certainly a significant learning curve for me, but I was grateful for all of her feedback and I was up for the challenge and still enjoy it because of my passion. Initially, I made some mistakes while trying to replicate her approach, but I then used those as learning opportunities to correct them.

I also took an active lead in maintaining our social media platforms. Even now, I try to attend many of our events so as to better improve relations with our SABA-DC community. To understand where our community is, I believe it is crucial to be where our community is. This provides me with yet another learning opportunity to pulse how our community perceives marketing and communications of our events.

I did not fully appreciate the impact that my work would achieve and how it would benefit SABA-DC. For example, members would approach me after events and they would comment (sometimes critically as well) on their perspectives, inquire about membership, or request introductions. Further, many of our speakers and event hosts were glad and humbled to be included in our social media activities, yet again strengthening numerous SABA-DC relationships.

In addition to the above, I have coordinated event planning, handled registration for events including our Gala, disseminated event and social media reminders, and kept fairly current on our social media platforms. I encourage you to visit our SABA-DC Facebook and Twitter accounts to get a sampling of my work products. Although I can speak about what I have done, I find that these visual deliverables better illustrate my strengths regarding this position.

My vision of SABA-DC for the next year is having the ability to sustain my momentum from last year, and integrate events, registrations, and social media communications while simultaneously incorporating dynamic input from our incredibly talented Board. By having SABA-DC’s Communications as the go-to spot for marketing and social media matters, I believe SABA-DC’s core image is highlighted, and we can accomplish consequential impact, such as increased SABA-DC membership, enhanced SABA-DC relationships and branding, and more high-quality SABA-DC events.

Thank you in advance for your consideration.

Rukku Singla - Vice President of Gala

My name is Rukku Singla and I am running for the position of Vice President of Gala for the 2020 SABA-DC Board. I have been a member of SABA-DC since 2012 and am grateful to have benefitted from SABA-DC’s high-quality programming and community building opportunities. As Vice President of Gala, I will continue the excellent record of fundraising and community building that galas in years past have achieved, as well as expanding the reach of the event to a broader audience in the South Asian legal community.

I first moved to DC following a district court clerkship in Ohio and became a junior associate at Jenner and Block. SABA-DC was one of the first organizations I joined to get to know the DC legal community. Since that time, I have been committed to the organization in a non-Board capacity, and am now excited at the opportunity to contribute even more as Board member.  SABA-DC was critical for me to stay in touch with the DC South Asian legal community, particularly when I clerked in Baltimore for the Fourth Circuit from 2013 to 2014. In 2014, I served on SABA-DC’s Endorsements Committee, which vets candidates for judicial and appointed positions seeking SABA-DC’s public support. In 2016, while I was Deputy Associate Counsel for Presidential Personnel, I moderated a panel for SABA-DC featuring a number of other South Asian Americans who served in the Obama White House, speaking about their path to the White House and experience working as political appointees. I continue to regularly attend SABA-DC’s stellar programming and have seen it develop over the years.

Over the years I have also gained valuable experience that will aid in my ability to serve SABA-DC. From 2014 to 2015, I served as Vice President of the Board of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association Education Fund (AEF).  There, I helped develop career development programming for law students, coordinated a student-attorney mentoring program, and fundraised for public interest fellowships. One of my primary responsibilities in that role was to help plan AEF’s annual gala, assisting on myriad tasks ranging from selecting a venue and meals, arranging for speakers, securing in-kind donations for a silent auction, and fundraising from area law firms.

At my current job at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, I coordinate a lecture series, bringing in speakers to share their expertise on the history of civil rights, including former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, who spoke about the mass internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. This practical experience in coordinating programs, in addition to the substantive exposure I have had to various civil rights issues impacting South Asian Americans including voting rights, employment discrimination, criminal justice reform, and disability rights, makes me well-suited to lift up the ways that we as attorneys can help serve the South Asian American community. I look forward to the opportunity to strengthen one of SABA-DC’s signature events.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Adam Motiwala - Secretary

My name is Adam Motiwala and I am running for the position of Secretary for the 2020 SABA -DC Board of Directors.  A California native, I moved to DC two years ago and have been an active member of SABA-DC over the last year.  The SABA-DC community has been a source of friendship and knowledge, and I hope to start getting more involved.

I am currently a third-year associate at Cleary Gottlieb, where I practice litigation and enforcement.  During my two years at Cleary, I have perfected one skill:  taking notes.  I have taken notes in rain, sleet, and snow.  I have taken notes for hours on end and on the same topic over many months.  I have even taken notes when I didn’t have to.

As SABA-DC Secretary, I pledge to take detailed notes and distribute them with regularity and accuracy.  Thank you for your support.

Sameer Jayawant - Treasurer

My name is Sameer Jaywant, and I am running for Treasurer of the 2020 SABA-DC Board of Directors.  I am a second-year associate at Cleary Gottlieb, and I have been a member of SABA-DC since I moved to DC in 2018.  I have found this community to be open and welcoming, and I am looking forward to getting more involved by serving as an officer on the Board.

As Treasurer, my primary focus would be to responsibly manage our existing funds and facilitate timely payments to vendors and other third parties.  I would also ensure that the organization complies with its reporting and other financial obligations, in part by keeping the Board apprised of our funding capacity and commitments.  These responsibilities are not new to me; as co-President of the South Asian Law Students Association in law school, I helped oversee our budget and issue payments in connection with programming, sponsorship obligations, and other commitments.  Looking ahead to the next year, once elected, I would engage with other Board members to ensure continuity of the role, preserve existing practices that are effective, and propose new practices to enhance efficiency. 

Overall, as Treasurer, I would commit to being a responsible manager of SABA-DC’s financial responsibilities and an active member of the Board.  Thank you for your consideration.

Avni J. Amin - General Director

My name is Avni Amin and I am running for a General Director position with SABA-DC in the hopes that I can increase SABA-DC’s public profile in the local community and thereby enrich the community. Currently, I am an associate with Kalijarvi, Chuzi, Newman & Fitch, P.C., helping employees with a variety of complex employment issues, including discrimination, retaliation, and in whistleblower cases. I formerly served as the Community Relations Chair of SABA Greater Boston (SABA GB). In that role, I had the opportunity to spearhead and support numerous pro bono and community outreach programs. I was proud to facilitate SABA GB’s award-winning Know Your Rights program. The program’s mission is to educate community members on their rights under federal and state law, focusing on topics that are especially pertinent to the South Asian community, such as civil rights, immigration and criminal law. I also organized numerous networking events, panel events, as well as a voter registration drive.

I am also deeply committed to pro bono work and hope to facilitate more events surrounding pro bono if I am selected for a General Director position. For several years, I served on the Department of Labor’s pro bono committee. During my time on the committee, the Department was honored with the John C. Cruden Federal Agency Pro Bono Leadership Award. This award is designed to recognize the federal agency that has demonstrated the most significant growth and commitment to encouraging and facilitating pro bono work among its employees. I am privileged to have been a part of the team that brought such recognition to the agency. I am excited to share the ideas I have for the upcoming year that I believe will increase SABA-DC’s public service profile and strengthen the organization’s relations with the local community.

I would also like to work with the new board to find ways to increase membership and attendance at SABA-DC events. My prior experience with SABA GB, combined with my professional experience, makes me an ideal candidate for the General Director position. With your support, I would be honored to serve in this role.

Abhishek Dube - General Director

My name is Abhishek Dube and I am seeking a General Director position on the SABA-DC Board of Directors.

I am an associate at DLA Piper (based in the firm’s Reston, VA office), where I focus my practice on international and corporate matters involving large and small, developed and start-up, franchised brands. 

I was born in India, grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and have lived in Northern VA since 2012.  I joined SABA-DC a couple of years ago, and would like to contribute to the organization in a more meaningful way. 

Specifically, if elected as a General Director, I hope to work closely with the Board, notably, the VPs of Programming and Communications to foster engagement by existing and prospective SABA-DC members in the DC Metro area (including, within Northern VA).  While I am very aligned with focusing engagement in DC, I think there are opportunities to further grow the organization by reaching (and utilizing) the many South Asian legal resources in Northern VA (e.g., in Arlington, Reston, Tyson’s Corner, Ashburn, and surrounding areas).  Through my practice, I have worked closely with diverse in-house, private and public legal practitioners in various industries in the region, and hope to encourage those practitioners to become involved with SABA-DC (whether as members, speakers, partners, participants in SABA-DC programs, etc.)  Also, I think I could provide value to the SABA-DC Board by helping the organization seek out ways to partner (or perhaps co-host) with more organizations and companies in the DC and Northern VA areas (e.g., local law schools and colleges, law firms, local chambers of commerce, private and public companies, technology-focused organizations that promote South Asian efforts, etc.)

Finally, I am a strong proponent for promoting minority (notably, South Asian) representation in the legal community.  In the past, I have served as Legal Counsel for the Network of Indian Professionals (NetIP) – North America, on DLA Piper’s Executive Committee of the Firmwide Associates Committee, and have been recognized by the Indiana Lawyer for a “Diversity in Practice” Award and by DLA Piper for my contributions to pro bono. 

I hope to continue furthering opportunities for the South Asian legal community by working closely with the SABA-DC Board as a General Director.

Thank you for your consideration.

Neaha Raol - General Director

After having served on SABA-DC’s executive board as Secretary for the past two years, I am seeking your support for my candidacy as General Director of SABA-DC in 2020.  Over the past two years, I have worked with other executive board members, general directors, and our members to ensure the smooth operation and continued success of SABA-DC.  I have enjoyed contributing to SABA-DC as an executive board member over the past two years – a period during which SABA-DC has continued to have extraordinary success and growth – in many ways, including: planning a workshop series on professional development for our members; serving as a panelist to discuss the importance of providing pro bono services to the South Asian community; helping with the planning, fundraising, and various other aspects of SABA-DC’s annual public interest gala; serving on our mentorship committee; and regularly preparing board meeting agendas and minutes.

I am a senior associate at Morgan Lewis, where I am a member of the firm’s litigation practice.  I also maintain an active pro bono practice, which currently includes representing immigrant U.S. Army soldiers in four federal court cases (including two class actions).

I look forward to utilizing my knowledge of the organization, building on my relationship with our membership and community leaders, and strengthening our partnerships with various law firms and companies in the DMV area.  I would be honored to serve as General Director and carry on the great work that our organization does for members and the South Asian community and advance SABA-DC mission.  Thank you for your time and consideration.

Shashi Khiani - General Director

I would be honored to continue serving as a member of the Board of Directors of SABA – DC (the “Board”).  For the past two (2) years I have served as the organization’s Treasurer and member of the Board.  SABA-DC did great work over the past year in addressing the needs and concerns, as well as promoting the interests, of South Asian lawyers in the DC area.  I enjoyed serving on the Board in furthering the goals of the organization and playing an integral role in the organization’s efforts.  Based on my experience serving as Treasurer and Director last year, I believe I am well positioned to continue serving as Director and helping the organization.  Having my institutional knowledge of the organization and passion for its mission, I strongly believe I will be a strong asset to SABA-DC in the coming year.  I thank you for your time and consideration in reviewing my candidacy to serve as a member of the Board.

Archith Ramkumar - General Director

My name is Archith Ramkumar and I am running for the position of General Director to be part of the 2020 SABA Board.  Currently, I am a Trial Attorney at the Department of Justice in the Office of Immigration Litigation.  I previously worked as an associate at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan for four years, and also clerked in the Eastern District of Virginia and on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

Having been part of both the private sector and the Government, I am keenly aware of the myriad of challenges that lawyers, in particular young lawyers, face.  I have been continually impressed by the robust programming that SABA organizes for its members to address a number of these issues, events that facilitate the advancement of South Asian lawyers in the legal profession by leveraging existing connections and ensuring that members have opportunities to interact with some of the highest-profile South Asian lawyers and entrepreneurs in the country.  As a General Director, my goal would be to build on these existing efforts by focusing even more acutely on assisting members in achieving their diverse array of professional goals.  This would include, but not be limited to, helping young South Asian lawyers at large, traditional law firms develop concrete ideas for business generation—the sole prerequisite for becoming a partner at many large law firms—and/or assisting in efforts for young lawyers to find law firms with a more conducive work-life balance, while still being able to enjoy a high quality of work.  Similarly, for those South Asian lawyers looking to switch from the private sector to the Government, targeted programming on how to make that jump will undoubtedly be beneficial, especially because the Government hiring process is so opaque, and as a result, can leave individuals in a disadvantageous position as they pursue Government jobs.  Likewise, focusing on the nuts and bolts of how to transition into a role at an in-house company will help ensure that South Asian lawyers occupy more in-house lawyer positions, as these positions are extremely competitive and the hiring process is largely shrouded in mystery.

For each of the initiatives described above, I believe the best way to help members achieve their various day-to-day goals is to not only continue holding panel discussions on each of these topics, which are certainly helpful, but to also continue organizing smaller networking events that can match individual members with other, more senior members within the organization who have positions and relevant expertise that they can use to offer advice on a more concrete, granular basis.  Additionally, given the number of law students that attend SABA events, I also believe it is worthwhile to expand the organization’s presence at local law schools and help interested law students develop a career path that suits them.

If elected Director, I would work diligently to achieve the objectives outlined above and to help our members achieve their professional goals.  Thank you for your consideration.

Senal Ranatunga - General Director

My name is Senal Ranatunga and I am running for the position of General Director on the 2020 SABA-DC Board of Directors.

Currently, I am an associate in the Project Finance practice group at Hogan Lovells. In this role, I advise multilateral institutions, financial institutions and sponsors in domestic and cross-border transactions related to infrastructure and energy projects.

As an attorney admitted to the New York and Washington, D.C. Bar Associations in 2017 and 2018, respectively, one of my goals is to bring to the Board of Directors of SABA-DC the perspective of new attorneys as well as awareness of the challenges faced by new attorneys, whether in the job market or in the workplace. One idea I propose to accomplish this goal is to schedule regular small group meetings designed around specific topics (ex. work/life balance, job search tools, sole practitioners, challenges transitioning from a student to employee, etc.). I expect small group meeting such as this would create an open dialogue and provide the opportunity for mentorship and networking.  

Prior to attending Georgetown University Law Center, I served as an intern at the Embassy of Sri Lanka, Washington D.C. During my tenure at the embassy, I witnessed the hardships and challenges faced by South Asian immigrants. Additionally, I got first-hand experience of the challenges a child would face when I emigrated from Sri Lanka to the United States at the age of nine. Based on these experiences, I would like to assist SABA-DC in having more programs for those that have recently immigrated to the United States, whether that is language training for adults and children or assisting in finding jobs. More importantly, to counteract the feelings of isolation that most immigrants feel when they first relocate, I would like to propose informal gatherings so that a sense of community and trust can be built.  

SABA-DC has the unique advantage of serving the Washington, D.C. region. It is important to open lines of communication and build strong relationships between SABA-DC and South Asian embassies in order to capitalize on this advantage and to further serve the South Asian community.

My time at the Sri Lankan embassy has provided me with the experience and network necessary to reach out and build these relationships with the South Asian embassies. 

The above is only a preliminary list of my goals for 2020. In conclusion, based on my professional and personal experiences, I believe that I can add value and a unique perspective to the Board of Directors of SABA-DC. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Deb Sengupta- General Director

My name is Deb Sengupta, and I’m running for the position of General Director of the 2020 SABA-DC Board. While I have been in D.C. for over 12 years, I have only recently become involved with SABA-DC, and I am impressed with the level of programming and community involvement of the organization. My experience serving various organizations in the D.C. community will help me to further SABA-DC’s goals to address the needs, concerns, and interests of the South Asian American legal community in the Washington, D.C. area.

From 2010-2017, I served in various leadership positions of the American Intellectual Property Law Association (AIPLA). During my years in leadership at AIPLA, I organized a number of panels, coordinated programing at the various meetings, and oversaw the mentoring program, including introducing new mentoring initiatives. Since 2016, I have served as the President of the Board of Directors of Constellation Theatre Company (CTC) here in D.C. As President, I have spearheaded a venue-search project, overseen the preparation and approval of the annual budget, collaborated with staff to ensure timeliness of tasks, revamped the by-laws to address emerging needs of the company, and negotiated with our landlord to ensure the company’s needs were adequately accommodated during a reorganization of the landlord’s business.

My term as President of the CTC Board ends in 2020, and I am looking to utilize the invaluable experience I have gained during my tenure at CTC, and previously at AIPLA, in service to other organizations. I am a current Board Member of the George Washington Law Alumni Association (GWLAA), and I envision organizing programs in collaboration with SABA-DC to foster interorganizational growth. I would also organize programming that focuses on retention and growth of SABA-DC professionals in the workforce. While things are changing for the better, there is a dearth of South Asian partners, especially in Big Law. One area of programming that would benefit members is Business Development. I plan to organize programs that provide guidance to South Asian lawyers so that they can take control of their careers and develop into rain makers.

Thank you for considering my candidacy for General Director of the 2020 SABA-DC Board. I look forward to serving the community in the coming years.

Nina R. Tandon - General Director

My name is Nina R. Tandon and I am running for the position of General Director on SABA-DC’s 2020 Board. I am currently in-house as the Associate General Counsel for the American Psychological Association (APA), where I manage all intellectual property and privacy-related legal risk, contracts and litigation. Prior to my current role, I served as an associate for Hogan Lovells LLP in New York City for over three years, a law clerk in the Southern District of Ohio, and an associate for a boutique law firm for just over a year here in Washington D.C.

Over the last eight years, I have not only been an enthusiastic member of geographically applicable SABA chapters but also served these chapters and SABA North America in various Board roles. Specifically, I served on the SABANY Board in 2013 and 2014 and as a Trustee of the SABA North America Foundation from 2015-2017. For SABANY in 2013 I was the VP of Sponsorship and Gala Chair, where I planned and executed SABANY’s annual flagship awards gala, including spearheading committees to select four awardees, and raised over $40,000 in net sponsorship funds. In 2014, I served as SABANY’s VP of Membership, charged with maintaining and increasing membership in addition to organizing panels, networking, and mentoring-focused events. As a SABA North America Foundation Trustee, I assisted with the Foundation’s mission to develop and fund programs supporting legal education, legal research, and public interest employment benefiting the South Asian legal community of North America and the South Asian community as a whole.

As a born and raised Washingtonian, I now wish to serve SABA and the South Asian legal community by joining the SABA-DC Board as a General Director. If elected, in particular, I will focus on reinvigorating the in-house membership numbers, programming and member engagement. I know I am well positioned to do so as I work in a relatively non-traditional in-house role. The APA is a large nonprofit member association that promotes the application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives. However, the APA is still a large corporation and I handle the revenue-driven business legal work. As such, I have firsthand knowledge of in-house practice and professional concerns within nonprofits, associations, and revenue-driven corporations. I hope to capitalize on and utilize this skillset, as well as my professional network, to breathe new life to SABA-DC’s in-house membership engagement and events. I plan to collaborate with our in-house members to create well-attended events and to foster relationship building between our in-house and non-in-house members.

Thank you for your consideration of my candidacy. Please support me with your vote!

Avani Uppalapati - General Director

My name is Avani Uppalapati and I am running for the position of General Director on the 2020 SABA DC Board of Directors. I am a second year in the Litigation and the International Trade practice groups at Fried Frank.

I joined SABA DC a little over a year ago, just as I began my career as a lawyer. In this time, I have found SABA DC to be an invaluable community. I have appreciated the breadth of activities that we have access to – whether it’s a panel on civil rights in partnership with other organizations, a speaking event with Maulik Pancholy, or subject matter specific events. Especially as a young lawyer, going to these events and meeting people in a variety of positions in the legal field has been a helpful learning experience. I want to continue to provide such opportunities for SABA DC members, both new and experienced, as the legal field continues to evolve.

As a General Director of SABA DC, I would aim to create a welcoming space for individuals to discuss relevant issues, attend interesting events, and build strong networks. I would continue to partner with other organizations such as SAALT and Desis for Progress to bring unique events to members. I would like to host practice-group specific happy hours and panels to allow new lawyers to connect with experienced practitioners, and help them think about their future career opportunities.

In my time as Co-President as the South Asian Law Students Association at Georgetown Law, I was focused on ensuring a sense of community and opportunities for South Asian students to engage with pertinent issues. Over the course of the year, I organized various events with my board, sometimes in partnership with other student organizations, and coordinated with University administration on diversity efforts. I would use that experience to successfully serve in my role as General Director and work with other Board members in a collaborative manner.

At Georgetown Law, serving as a mentor for two 1Ls helped me appreciate how overwhelming a new endeavor can feel (which we may sometimes forget despite having gone through the same experience). With that in mind, I think it is important to provide resources for young lawyers and those contemplating career transitions to reduce those feelings of uncertainty. This would be accomplished through a strong mentorship program, and relevant programming such as a panel with recruiters and individuals who have navigated various career changes.

As someone who has always been active in her communities, I would continue to do the same as a SABA DC General Director. I would seek out and listen to members’ feedback and work with the Board to ensure a positive experience for the SABA DC community.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Our goal is to address the needs and concerns of the South Asian American legal community in Washington, D.C. while providing our members with the knowledge and support necessary to reach their personal and professional goals.

You can find us here:

South Asian Bar Association of Washington, D.C.

P.O. Box 65349
Washington, D.C. 20035

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