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south asian women's leadership forum
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SAVE-THE-DATE! Congress 2006 will be held on Saturday, February 25, 2006

Two dynamic business leaders will be the principal speakers at Congress 2006 presented by the South Asian Women’s Leadership Forum on Saturday, February 25, 2006 in Manhattan. SAWLF is pleased to announce that Ms. Indra Nooyi, president and CFO for PepsiCo., Inc. will participate in an interactive segment with Ms. Meena Mansharamani, vice president for strategic initiatives at Pepsi-Cola North America.

This special segment will bring together two, leading-edge professionals for an engaging discussion that will highlight winning business strategies and practices as well as their individual experiences of challenge and achievement at one of the world’s best known and established consumer brands.

SAWLF Second Annual Congress 2006
Saturday, February 25, 2006
10:00 AM to 7:30 PM
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
300 Madison Avenue (SW Corner of 42nd Street)
New York, NY 10017

Anita Itty joins South Asian Women's Leadership Forum as contributing essayist. Each quarter, Ms. Itty will write on topics of leadership, identity, business & culture.

SAWLF is committed to the advancement of South Asian women in the workplace. In the June 2004 issue of Working Mother magazine, SAWLF's National Director is featured in Can We Talk? A candid conversation about race and career by Caroline Howard

Recent SAWLF Events:
JoinSAWLFat the Working Mother Best Companies for Women of Color Multicultural Conference, July 20-21, 2005 in New York City. SAWLF will host an interactive session for conference attendees from 5 - 6 PM on July 20. in Central Park West, Sheraton New York & Towers.

Asia Society & SAWLF present a season of special events highlighting Asian and Asian-American women business leaders, including:"Trailblazers: Asian Women Entrepreneurs" on May 4, 2005.

Special guest speakers include Shoba Purushothaman, CEO and Co-Founder, The NewsMarket and Geeta Anand, Senior Special Writer, Wall Street Journal.

Geeta Anand, Senior Special Writer, Wall Street Journal

Additional speakers to be announced. To register on-line, click here

SAWLF presents its inaugural Congress 2005 on Saturday, February 26, 2005 in Manhattan. Sara Mathew, Senior Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation and Zeyba Rahman, Chairperson, World Music Institute and Producing Partner, Jungli Billi Productions will deliver the keynote address. Additional special guests and participants to be announced. To register on-line, click here

In December 2004, SAWLF presents Behind the Scenes:Women In Film Series at the South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) December 1 - 5, 2004 in New York City. SAWLF is proud to sponsor a selection of films: Meenaxi (2004); What r We Doin' Here & Ladies Special. For additional information, visit SAIFF

"Getting Real Success", Join SAWLF on October 19, 2004 as we explore the complexity of defining and achieving success amid converging personal and professional goals and demands with Subha Barry, First Vice President of Multicultural and Diversified Business Development for Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.; Jeanine Prime, Director of Research for Catalyst; and Jyoti Chopra, head of South Asian business in Merrill Lynch Global Private Client’s Multicultural and Diversified Business Development Group. Additional speakers to be confirmed. To register, click here

Join the SAWLF table on Saturday, October 16, 2004 for Celebrating Women's Lives, the annual SAKHI Benefit Gala at Chelsea Piers. This special event features actress Nandita Das & the Vagina Monologues' Eve Ensler. For ticket information, please contact SAWLF

Join SAWLF on Sunday, September 19, 2004 for a special performance and reception with the UK comedy sensation, Shazia Mirza and THE LAST TEMPTATION OF SHAZIA. Click here to register. This event is made possible by the generous support of Western Union.

Join SAWLF at the Working Mother Best Companies for Women of Color Multicultural Conference, July 20-21, 2004 in New York City.

South Asian Women's Leadership Forum (SAWLF) Speaker Biographies

Ms. Ayla Hussain Farnos, Co-founder and Former CEO, SUNDARI Skincare


Ms. Farnos is the co-founder and former CEO of SUNDARI Skincare, a collection of facial and body products currently sold in the US, Europe and Asia through luxury specialty stores, exclusive spas and online. After having launched SUNDARI in 1999 with her partners and expanded the brand globally, Ms. Farnos implemented a restructuring plan that resulted in sale of company to a major Indian consumer goods company in February 2003. She and her partners have received several awards for the creation of the successful SUNDARI brand, including being a 2001 recipient of the Women's Venture Fund's Award, 2001 Fashion Group International Rising Star Award and 2002 Lux Style Award for Best Emerging Talent.

Prior to launching SUNDARI, Ms. Farnos had experience in both mass and luxury consumer brands having worked at Revlon and Cartier International. She also worked in investment banking for 3 years at Morgan Stanley. Ms. Farnos has a B.S.F.S from Georgetown University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


Mahnaz Fancy, Executive Director, Arts of the Islamic World


Mahnaz Fancy did her graduate work in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago where she concentrated on the influence of Islamic and Indian aesthetics on modern European arts. In the last six years, she has applied this knowledge to develop a career in building and marketing young arts institutions that educate a wide public through the arts. From early 2001 through late 2002, Ms. Fancy ran the IndoCenter of Art & Culture. She was responsible for developing & implementing exhibitions, public programs, educational programs and directing institutional fund-raising, strategic development & marketing/PR. She has since consulted for a variety of organizations developing cultural programming and exhibitions in the areas of South Asian, Middle Eastern and Islamic arts. She has also curated exhibitions of contemporary Pakistani art in New York, advised on several major exhibitions of South Asian art, and writes and speaks as a freelance cultural critic and South Asian art expert.

Anuradha Ghosh-Mazumdar, Senior Cataloguer, Indian and Southeast Asian Art, New York

Anuradha Ghosh-Mazumdar joined Sotheby’s in October 2003. Based in New York, she catalogues and manages all aspects of Sotheby’s sales of Indian and Southeast Asian Art. Prior to joining Sotheby’s, Ms. Ghosh-Mazumdar worked at The Asia Society in New York. In 2001, she completed her masters in Museum Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and also holds a masters degree in Ancient Indian Art History & Archaeology from the University of Calcutta.

Anita Jain, Writer and Journalist

Anita Jain was born in New Delhi and grew up in the U.S., mostly in northern California. She received a bachelor's degree from Harvard University. She's worked and lived as a journalist in Mexico City, New Delhi, Singapore, London, Madrid, and New York City. She currently lives in New Delhi where she works for the Financial Times and is writing a book.

Bina Kalola, Esq., Director, Senior Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary at Merrill Lynch & Co.

Bina Kalola is a Director, Senior Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary at Merrill Lynch & Co. She has been with Merrill Lynch for 5 years in the Corporate Law group. She is responsible for execution and deal management of Merrill Lynch’s international and domestic proprietary acquisitions and divestitures across business areas (e.g., Global Markets & Investment Banking and Global Private Client), including participation in strategy, structuring and negotiations. She is also the lead attorney on structuring and negotiating domestic and international joint ventures and strategic alliances, for example in Japan, China, India, Thailand and the MBNA credit card alliance.

A few of the transactions, Bina has most recently worked on are:

  • Merrill Lynch's Japan joint venture with Mitsubishi Tokyo Financial Group to provide wealth management and banking services to high net worth clients.

  • Merrill Lynch's China joint venture with Huann Securities to provide investment banking and global markets services to institutions.

  • Several mid-cap acquisitions in the retirement, mortgage origination and servicing space.

In addition, her responsibilities in the past have included matters related to the Audit Committee and Finance Committee of the Board of Directors, including working with Corporate Audit on auditor independence oversight, analysis of rules and authoring policies and procedures related to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.

She was one of three attorneys globally selected to participate in the 2004 Global Management Development Program and was also selected to participate in the Management 2005 Laureate Program.

Prior to going in-house at Merrill Lynch, Bina joined a start-up company called NetProphets. The company incubated proprietary and client business plans in Australia and India. She was involved in all aspects of start-up business development, including capital raising, structuring and developing business strategy.

Prior to NetProphets, Bina practiced Corporate Law at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. She graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 1997 and Barnard College, Columbia University, in 1991.

Bina’s run on Wall Street began after college as a financial analyst at Salomon Brothers. After 3 years on Wall Street she decided to pursue her law degree.


Sukanya Krishnan, Co-Anchor, WB11 Morning News


Sukanya Krishnan actually joined the Emmy award winning WB11 Morning News in August 2001 as news reporter, then in 2003 she left to start the show Home Delivery. Now she's back home.

Before joining the WB11 news team, Krishnan worked at WCBS in New York. Prior to that, Krishnan anchored and reported the morning news for a CBS affiliate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1995, she worked at WUTR-TV, an ABC affiliate in Utica, New York as an anchor, reporter and producer for its 6:00 and 11:00 pm weekday newscasts. 

Krishnan, started in TV news at WLIG Channel 55 (now WLNY) in Long Island, New York. During her year at Channel 55, Krishnan did a variety of jobs from shooting, writing, and editing news stories behind the camera to reporting on the air in front of the camera. It was during her internship at Channel 55 that Krishnan first began her pursuit of a career in broadcasting.

Krishnan has won numerous community service awards, as well as many others from Indian American organizations for representing South Asians in the media.


Yamini Mehta, Specialist and Head of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, Christie's


Yamini Mehta was appointed as Specialist and Head of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art at Christie's in June (2005). She previously worked as a specialist in Christie's New York department of Indian and Southeast Asian Art which she helped to form in 1998. 

Prior to joining Christie's, she worked in the Trusts and Estates department at Sotheby's. In 1996, she served as the Assistant Director for the New York State Independent College Consortium for Semester Study in India, comprising students from Bard, Hobart and William Smith, Vassar, Hartwick, Skidmore Colleges, and St. Lawrence University.

Laurie Nicole Robinson, Esq., Assistant General Counsel (Labor and Employment), CBS Broadcasting, Inc.

Prior to joining CBS, Ms. Robinson worked at two New York City law firms, Seyfarth Shaw LLP and Epstein, Becker and Green, P.C., where she represented management in labor and employment matters.

Ms. Robinson is the founder and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women, a non profit organization of over 1000 women attorneys of color who work for Fortune 1000 and Forbes 2000 legal departments. She also is the founder of the tenants' association in the building where she resides and a legal ministry at her church in Manhattan. Ms. Robinson was appointed by Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields to serve as a political appointee on Community Board 10 (Harlem) from 1999-2000, and currently serves on the Alumni Board of Directors for Indiana University School of Law-Bloomington. She has received awards and accolades for her promotion of diversity in the legal profession, including being a May, 2005 recipient of the Women's Venture Fund's Highest Leaf Award.

Vibhuti Patel, Editor, Newsweek International

Vibhuti Patel is an editor at Newsweek International writing on arts, culture and India-related topics. She was a special consultant on the magazine's commemorative issue on the 50th anniversary of Indian independence. She generated the cover story on Deepak Chopra and was a special correspondent for the cover story on Mother Teresa's death. Ms. Patel has produced and co-anchored the weekly radio show, Newsweek On Air, and was Letters Editor and Contributing Correspondent for Newsweek on Campus.

A columnist for Earth Times, a newspaper with a large United Nations readership, she wrote My World, a column that offered a professional woman's perspective on life in New York. Over the years, Ms. Patel has reported extensively on the arts, from the United States, for The Times of India, Outlook, India Today and The Sunday Observer and, she covered Indira Gandhi's 1982 visit to the United States for India Today's cover story. In the course of her work for these magazines and for Newsweek, she has won exclusive interviews with numerous cultural icons--among them, Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen and conductor Zubin Mehta.

In 1998, Ms. Patel was invited to write the text for “Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad”, a book on the collection of French paintings on First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's legendary visits to India, Pakistan, and Europe. She teaches Contemporary Indian Fiction at the New School University in New York.


Porie Saikia-Eapen, Chief Architect, MTA New York City Transit


At NYC Transit, Ms. Saikia-Eapen leads a team of in-house architects and oversees the design effort by both in- house and consulting architects. She joined the MTA New York City Transit in May 2003, taking charge of the Architecture discipline that designs, oversees and impacts all of New York City Transit’s structures including NYCT’s lower Manhattan redevelopment the newest subway line, the eight mile long Second Avenue Subway along the east side of Manhattan. 

Ms. Saikia-Eapen has been a part of the New York City design and construction industry for the past 20 years. She has worked on architectural design, project development, program management & construction management of public facilities from both public and private sectors. Ms. Saikia-Eapen is a New York State licensed architect, holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from M. S. University in India and a Master of Public Administration majoring in Management from New York University in New York. 

Prior to her appointment to NYC Transit, she was a Program and Construction Manager, positioned as a Senior Associate with a private sector Design and Construction Management Company in New York, managing its high profile public sector programs. Her extensive public sector career includes her tenure at New York City’s Department of Design and Construction as Program Manager and at New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection as architectural designer. 

Ms. Saikia-Eapen is the current President of Construction Management Association of America NY/NJ Chapter, a position she has held for two years bringing construction management excellence in the Metro New York New Jersey area to the forefront of its design and construction industry. Working with the CMAA International Task Force, she has been promoting international affiliation efforts in various countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Korea and India in the past few years. Ms. Saikia-Eapen is also an active member of the American Institute of Architects. On the educational front, Ms. Saikia-Eapen is a long standing mentor for the NYC ACE Mentor Program, NYU Alumni Career Advisement Program and is advisor at the Architectural Foundation at the American Institute of Architects. 

Ms. Saikia-Eapen is a frequently invited speaker at the American Institute of Architects NY forum on Architecture, Transportation Design, Lower Manhattan Redevelopment and transit related Post 9/11 Projects, New York Building Congress and various design and construction forums. Most recently, she was the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series Speaker at the University of Notre Dame; Keynote Speaker at the Society of Women Engineers- Regional Conference, South Bend, Indiana; Guest Speaker at New York University Construction Management Masters Program; Interviewed by the Tech Club/National Science Foundation for as one of 54 women nationwide in science and technology and Special Guest Speaker at the 4th International Construction Project Management Union Conference in Seoul, Korea.














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