Vice President Harris swears in White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans

Sonal Shah. Photo: Beekman Center, Georgetown Univerity
Ajay Bhutoria Photo: Twitter

On Thursday, February 3, 2022, the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders was officially sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris. The team includes several Indian-American and South Asian-American members. An inaugural public meeting on February 3 and 4 was scheduled to follow the swearing in. .

The Indian-American and South Asian members of the Commission include Sonal Shah as Chief Commissioner; Ajay Bhutoria; Kamal Kalsi; Smita N. Shah; and Naheed Qureshi.

The 25-member Commission consists of leaders appointed by the President Dec. 20, 2021,  “who reflect the rich diversity” of AA and NHPI communities throughout the United States, The announcement on said. The Commission will work in close coordination with the Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison to advise the President.

The Commission is a follow-up of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI), both established by President Joe Biden under Executive Order 14031 last May.

Sonal Shah, “a social impact and innovation leader” and has been involved in launching and leading social impact efforts in academia, government, and the private and philanthropic sectors for over 25 years. Founding President of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), Shah founded and led Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, for hands-on experience involving students. She served as Deputy Assistant to President Obama and created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, worked on international development at the Department of Treasury, and led social impact efforts at Google and Goldman Sachs. She serves on the boards of TAAF, Oxfam America, the Century Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute.

Ajay Bhutoria is a Silicon Valley technology executive, community leader, speaker, and author that has been recognized for his work. He is a passionate advocate for the South Asian and AAPI communities in the areas of small businesses, educational opportunities, immigration issues, and technological advancement. His expertise in the areas of organizational transformations and change management has supported critical advancements within the AAPI community, and he is committed to the creation of a compassionate and empowering environment for all.

Kamal Kalsi Photo: Twitter

Dr. Kamal Singh Kalsi, LTC, USAR is an emergency medicine physician from New Jersey who has served in the Army for 20 years and was awarded a Bronze Star medal for his work taking care of hundreds of combat casualties on the front lines in Afghanistan. He has transitioned into the Army reserves, and now serves as a senior advisor for Policy Vets and a Fellow of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. He founded the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA) in order to promote diversity, religious freedom, and service.

Naheed Qureshi Photo:

Naheed Qureshi is Head of Policy Partnerships at Instacart. She has an extensive 20-year career in civil rights, including serving as a founding board member and later deputy director of Muslim Advocates and as co-chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Hate Crimes and Bigotry Task Force. Qureshi started her career in the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors Program and has also worked at the Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the City of Los Angeles, and the national legislative office of the ACLU. The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, she was raised in Wisconsin and is an avid Packers fan.

Smita Shah. Photo:

Smita N. Shah is an engineer, entrepreneur, and civic leader serving as President and CEO of Chicago-based SPAAN Tech, Inc, a multi-disciplinary firm with expertise in public and private infrastructure projects including transportation, aviation, and facilities. Shah serves in various roles with the Chicago Plan Commission, M.I.T., the Museum of Science and Industry, After School Matters, Delhi Chicago Sister Cities Program, YPO, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Shah earned her Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University, her Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering from M.I.T., and a Post Graduate Certificate in Management Studies from Oxford University.

The Commission, co-chaired by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, will advise the President on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities.

The swearing-in was scheduled to be broadcast live at



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