Three Indian-Americans appointed White House Fellows for 2021-2022

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Three Indian-Americans are among the prestigious crop of White House Fellows announced Oct. 18, 2021.

Joy Basu and Sunny Patel from California, and Aakash Shah from New Jersey are among 19 selected for the 2021-2022 White House Fellows program, through a tough selection process which is based on a record of professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills, the potential for further growth, and a commitment to service.

Considered among the most prestigious appointments in Washington, White House Fellows are embedded professionals from diverse backgrounds who get to work for a year as full-time, paid fellows for White House staff, Cabinet Secretaries, and other senior government officials.
As in other years, the latest crop went through a highly competitive selection process, and the resumes of the three Indian-Americans provided by the White House attests to that.

Dr. Aakash Shah. Photo: Linkedin.com @aakash-shah

Aakash Shah is from Cliffside Park, New Jersey and is placed at the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

A practicing emergency room doctor at Hackensack Meridian Health, Shah helped treat some of the earliest confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic.

He also serves as the Director of Addiction Medicine and the Medical Director of Project HEAL (a hospital-based violence intervention program) at Jersey Shore University Medical Center as well as the Medical Director of New Jersey Reentry Corp.

His work in those roles has resulted in several reforms, including the elimination of prior authorization requirements for medications for opioid use disorder, and he received the bipartisan endorsement of five former New Jersey governors.

Shah previously served as the Founder and Executive Director of Be Jersey Strong, which represented one of the largest and most diverse efforts to connect the uninsured to coverage in the nation, and was honored by President Barack Obama at the White House for its impact.

He has also served as an advisor to several local, state, and federal campaigns and policymakers.

Shah has his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, M.B.A. and M.Sc. in Comparative Social Policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and B.A. and B.S. from Ursinus College. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Centenary University.

Joy Basu. Photo:LInkedin.com @jbasu

Joy Basu is from San Francisco, California and is placed at the White House Gender Policy Council.

Basu has served as a senior advisor to innovative businesses seeking authentic, impact-integrated growth.

She was the first Chief of Staff at TPG Growth, an investment company, where she worked as a key architect and builder of The Rise Fund, a “groundbreaking” impact investment platform, according to the White House.

Basu also served as The Rise Fund’s global Sector Lead for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining TPG, Basu was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she focused on agricultural development, working with businesses, governments, and donors to improve food systems in emerging markets.

She also served as project manager to the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, and has supported strategic projects for the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency and Starbucks Coffee Company.

Basu earned her J.D. and M.B.A. from Stanford University with a certificate in public management and social innovation. While at Stanford, she served as Co-President of the Women of Stanford Law, as an Arbuckle Fellow and as a leader of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project.

She holds a B.A.  in Public Policy and Economics from Duke University. She currently serves as a Trustee for the Heifer International Foundation and a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sunny Patel. Photo: LInkedin.com @sunnyapatel

Sunny Patel is from Burbank, California and is placed at the United States Department of Homeland Security.

A child and adolescent psychiatrist and public health physician with interests in building equitable health systems that serve children and families, Patel recently completed his fellowship at New York University, where he created a model embedding mental health services in the pediatric oncology clinic.

He also launched a comprehensive mental health response for thousands of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and volunteered as a palliative care physician at Bellevue Hospital.

Patel has spearheaded health interventions for vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad, including in India, Thailand, and Dominican Republic.

He has spent the past decade working with refugee populations and has conducted forensic psychological examinations for asylum seekers with NYU and Physicians for Human Rights.

Patel’s research has been published in numerous journals and informed policy initiatives, including work presented at the United Nations General Assembly. He has also served as a resident tutor in medicine at Adams House of Harvard College. Sunny completed his adult psychiatry residency at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. He has an M.D. from the Mayo Clinic, an M.P.H. from Harvard, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and physiology, respectively, from UCLA with college and departmental honors.

The White House described the 2021-2022 class of White House Fellows, as “the most diverse class in the history of the program.”

The prestigious White House Fellowship program was created by President Lyndon B. in 1964, to “give the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal Government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”

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