NEW YORK – Three Indian Americans, Ankur Jain, the Founder and CEO of Kairos, Jamal Madni, Managing Director, Enterprise Technology Strategy, Boeing, and Dr. Farah Alani, a foot and ankle surgeon, were among the recipients of the first annual Beacon Awards, organized by the Ellis Island Honors Society and American Immigrant Society, at Battery Gardens, in New York City, on January 10, 2019.
Hosted by Dr. Mehmet Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon, Columbia University professor, and television personality, the awards honored first and second generation Americans who have disrupted business as usual and have changed the way public perceive their industries and professions.
Nasser Kazeminy, the chairman of the Ellis Island Honors Society, set the tone for the night, stating, “America is a country built on immigrants that brought courage, ambition, strong work ethics, appreciation for family, and peace with them as they embarked on a new journey.”
A philanthropist, the Iranian-born Kazeminy founded NJK Holding and is also the Chairman of the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations- NECO, and The Nowruz Commission.
“Our honorees are the brightest minds in science, medicine, law, entertainment, and technology,” said Kazeminy, speaking at the Battery Gardens, located at Battery Park, and from which the Statue of Liberty is visible. “They all have different skills but they have one thing in common: they use their extraordinary skills to give back to America and that’s why we thank them. Since the founding of Ellis Island, and even further back, immigrants have brought their courage, ambition, a strong work ethic, an appreciation of family and community, and most importantly, a deeply felt desire for peace and freedom. These ideals, built into the foundations of this country by our founders, are what attracted the brave and determined for generations.”
The Ellis Island Honors Society was created on the conviction of its founders that the diversity of the American people is what makes the nation great. They are ‘committed to preserving and honoring the cultural and historical significance of Ellis Island as a symbol of hope for past and present immigrants’, according to their mission statement. Every year, the organization recognizes dedicated members in the community at the Ellis Island Medals of Honors Gala.
The American Immigrant Society’s mission is to humanize, protect, celebrate, empower, promote, and inform over 45 million immigrants, together with their 36 million first generation offspring, comprising 1/4 of the population of America.
At the awards meet, honorees shared stories about coming from a family of immigrants and how that inspired them to take action and help others.
In her speech, Daphne Oz, Emmy Award-winning television host, and New York Times best-selling author, and one of the award recipients, talked about what that meant to her and how it taught her two things—fearlessness and faith, “fearlessness in taking risks and faith that it will all pan out.”
The guests at the awards meet included the former Governor of New York, George Pataki, who accompanied his daughter Allison Pataki, one of the honorees.
Kairos, founded by Jain, is a venture fund building and investing in companies to tackle the world’s greatest challenges. Over the years, Kairos has helped launch and grow over $6.5 billion worth of companies tackling problems in healthcare, housing costs, transportation networks, and more.
Before rejoining Kairos in May 2017, Jain was the VP of Product at Tinder, the world’s largest social network for meeting people. He joined Tinder after it acquired his previous company, Humin, where he served as Founder and CEO.
Over the years Jain has been recognized for a variety of achievements. In 2017, he was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2011, Inc. magazine named him the “Best Connected 21-Year-Old in the World” and awarded Jain “30 Under 30”.
In 2012, Jain, an alum of Wharton School of Business, was named “30 under 30: Solution Broker” by the Christian Science Monitor. And in 2015, Forbes also named Jain to their “30 under 30” list. Jain also currently serves on the innovation board of the X-Prize foundation and as a member of the Pacific Council on Foreign Relations.
Madni is Managing Director of Enterprise Technology Strategy for The Boeing company, the world’s largest aerospace and defense company and largest US exporter. He is responsible for architecting the integrated technology strategy and roadmaps for the $93 billion company, shaping boutique disruptive technology assessments and leading the company’s merger and acquisition due diligence activities, including Boeing’s 2018 acquisition of Millennium Space Systems representing one of the largest acquisitions in satellite industry history.
Madni founded the da Vinci Summit, a Boeing career development and ideation conference that was named North America’s 2017 Employee Engagement Project of the Year.
Devoted to STEM outreach, Madni, while a faculty member at Long Beach State University, founded the Upward Bound Math Science college application preparatory program, which in a two-year period sent over 50 low income, underrepresented, first generation, minority students to college in STEM majors, including Harvard, MIT and Caltech. He also serves as honorary teacher at John Muir Middle School.
Madni has been nationally and internationally recognized for technical and leadership excellence by societies such as IEEE, IET, SSPI, SAE, and ASEI.
Dr. Farah Alani, whose roots are from Gujarat, received her degree from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Illinois in 2011 where she was awarded a Health Service Award for her professional contributions to rural clinics in Mexico.
Dr. Alani completed her residency training in New York City and in Newport Beach, California. She also completed a fellowship in dermato-pathology in Atlanta, Georgia. Her diverse training allows her to provide evidence-based cutting-edge care of the foot and ankle.
She specializes in reconstructive surgeries of the foot, such as bunion and hammertoe corrections, ligament reconstruction, and arthritic and sports-related injuries. Dr. Alani has a particular passion for diagnosing and treating sports injuries, such as those commonly experienced by runners, skiers, and dancers.
Dr. Alani is certified by the American Board of Podiatric Medicine, and she is a member of the New York State Podiatric Medical Association and the American College of Foot and Ankle Orthopedics and Medicine.
Apart from Jain, Madni, Dr. Alani and Daphne Oz, the other honorees are:
- Jennifer Fleiss, Co-founder and CEO of Jetblack, and Co-Founder, Rent the Runway
- Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author
- Rebecca Acuna, Director of Government Affairs, PepsiCo Inc.
- Keith Agoada, Co-Founder & CEO, Producers Market
- Hakki Akdeniz, Owner, Champion Pizza
- Sarah Aliabadi, Assistant United States Attorney, District of New Jersey
- Nicholas Bijan, Vice Chairman &Co-Owner, House of Bijan
- Steven Choi, Executive Director, New York Immigrant Coalition
- Alyssa Cooper, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Citizenship Counts
- Zecki Dossal, Senior Director, Henry Schein
- Justin Freeh, Esq., Chief Operating Officer, Ncyber Founder & President, Custodes Libertatis Memorial Foundation
- Rachel Gerrol, Co-Founder and CEO, Nexus
- Matt Goetz, Co-Founder & CEO, BlockTower Capital
- Shay Khatiri, Student, Strategic Studies Program, John Hopkins University
- John Kluge, Founder, Refugee Investment Network
- Brooke Milstein, Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer, Milstein Capital Partners
- Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, New York City
- Tobi Petrocelli, Executive Partner, LLEX Partners
- Goli Samimi, Program Director, National Cancer Institute
- Lauren Weiniger, Co-Founder and President, The SAFE Group.
(This post was revised, in headline and copy, and a photo added, on January 14, 2019).