Indian-American organization holds ‘Summit’ of South Asian-Americans in Chicago

Skokie Park District Commissioner Minal Desai, Skokie School District 73.5 Board Member Bushra Amiwala, Oak Park Village Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla, and others on a panel at the July 13, 2019, South Asian American Summit, held in Chicago, hosted by the Indian American Democratic Organization, IADO. (Photo: courtesy IADO)

The Indian American Democratic Organization, IADO, held its first-ever Chicago South Asian American Summit July 13, at the SEIU Healthcare’s union hall in Chicago.

Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Illinois, delivering welcome remarks at Indian American Democratic Organization, IADO’s first-ever Chicago South Asian American Summit on July 13, 2019, held at the SEIU Healthcare’s union hall. (Photo: courtesy IADO)

More than 80 South Asian American elected officials, organizers and community leaders attended the event, according to a tweet from IADO’s secretary of the Board, and the summit’s 2019 convener, who also spoke to Desi Talk about the meeting.

“We had an awesome dialogue about the civic opportunities & challenges within IL’s 290k+ South Asian community,” Kuriakose tweeted.

The Chicago South Asian American Summit featured remarks from Congressmen Jesús G. “Chuy” García, D-Illinois and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois. Garcia recounted his experience fighting for a progressive agenda in immigration reform and other issues.

Chicago-based Indian American Democratic Organization (IADO) Board Secretary Abin Kuriakose, who served as 2019 convener of the Chicago South Asian American Summit held July 13, 2019, speaking at the conference held at the SEIU Healthcare’s union hall. (Photo: courtesy IADO)

“The most important aspect of the meeting was raising awareness about those who are working in the forefront of issues like comprehensive immigration reform such as Congressman Garcia,” Kuriakose told Desi Talk. “There are many organizations fighting for comprehensive and humane immigration reform and therefore, we need to engage more with them and prioritize our support,” Kuriakose added.

Other speakers at the event included Illinois State Senators Ram Villivalam and Cristina Castro; Chicago Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar; Skokie School District 73.5 Board Member Bushra Amiwala; Skokie Park District Commissioner Minal Desai; Illinois-for-All CoFounder Sameena Mustafa; Oak Park Village Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla; and Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition Board President Dr. Dilara Sayeed.

Chicago based Indian American Democratic Organization Vice President Susan Patel delivering remarks at IADO Chicago South Asian American Summit 2019, held July 13 at the SEIU Healthcare union hall in Chicago. (Photo: courtesy IADO)

The ‘Summit’ was meant as an event for a ‘collective dialogue’ within the South Asian community about both the civic opportunities and the challenges that it faces, Kuriakose said. The opportunites are evident from the fact that there are now South Asian elected officials at every level of government, he pointed out. And the challenges are the significant number of undocumented South Asians, the need for more language access, and equitable representation when it comes to public policy and access to government services, he added.

Illinois State Senator Ram Villivalam delivering the keynote address at IADO’s Chicago South Asian American Summit 2019 held July 13. (Photo: courtesy IADO)

The meeting included representatives from non-profit organizations like the Indo-American Center (IAC), the South Asian Bar Association (SABA), Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and the South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), a press release from the organization said.

The Indo American Democratic Organization said it plans to move forward in working with summit participants and ally organizations to better serve Illinois’ growing South Asian American community.

Established in 1980, IADO is one of the oldest South Asian American political action committees in the country. Its aim has been to promote the engagement of  South Asian Americans in the political process, and recruite and endorse candidates “who share our community’s values for public office.” It has also advocated for “progressive policy solutions for Illinois’ 290,000+ South Asian Americans, immigrants & New Americans and working families,” the organization says on its website.




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