An organization made up of high profile Indian-American philanthropists, community leaders, and political operatives has been launched to follow up on the historic wins at the ballot box this past November 2017.
The Indian American Impact Project (“Impact Project”) and Indian American Impact Fund (“Impact Fund”) was formally launched Jan. 17. It is based in Washington, D.C. and is co-founded by former Kansas Democratic State lawmaker Raj Goyle, currently the CEO of Bodhala, a company that helps the legal community optimize operations, and Deepak Raj, chairman of the well-known non-profit Pratham USA and founder of the Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies at Columbia University.
Both initiatives are led by Gautam Raghavan, who previously served as vice president of policy for the Gill Foundation, as an Advisor in the Obama White House, and in various roles for the 2008 Obama campaign and Democratic National Committee.
“… these bold new initiatives will help talented and patriotic Indian Americans run for office, win, and lead,” the organization said in a press release.
Goyle will chair the Impact Project, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization focused on leadership development and training, while Raj will chair the Impact Fund, a political action committee that will endorse and support viable candidates who reflect the Indian American community’s values, organizers said.
“Despite rapid growth and professional success, for too long Indian Americans have been underrepresented in elected office from state capitols to the U.S. Congress,” Goyle is quoted saying in the press release. “As a result, our needs, concerns, and priorities often go unheard in the halls of power. At a time when our community and our values are under attack by xenophobic rhetoric and regressive policies, it is more critical than ever that Indian Americans build and wield political power to fight back,” he added.
“This is our time,” said Raj. “Across the country, a record number of Indian Americans are running for office. We can’t leave it to chance that they will win on their own. We owe them our support — and we have a plan to help them run, win, and lead.”
As of January 2018, five Indian Americans currently serve in the United States Congress: Senator Kamala Harris, D-California; and Representatives Ami Bera, D-California, Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, Ro Khanna, D-California, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois.
Impact said it is also tracking an additional 60 Indian-Americans currently serving in state and local office as state legislators, mayors, city council members, judges, and other elected positions.
The Impact Project Board of Directors includes Priya Dayananda, managing director of Federal Government Affairs for KPMG LLP, Vinai Thummalapally, former U.S. Ambassador to Belize and former executive director of SelectUSA, and Mini Timmaraju, executive director of External Affairs at Comcast and former National Women’s Vote Director for Hillary for America.
The Impact Fund Board of Directors includes Ravi Akhoury, former chairman and CEO of MacKay Shields LLC, and Raghu Devaguptapu, partner at Left Hook Strategies and former political director for the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC). Vikas Raj, managing director of Accion Venture Lab, will serve as a non-voting observer on both boards.