Welcome and Opening Remarks

Durga Mallampalli
International Tax Partner
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Durga Mallampalli, an International Tax Partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, has over 20 years of experience assisting US multinational companies with outbound structuring and international tax planning. She has a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin, and is a CPA. She is the past president of the Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter, and has served on numerous boards including Project for Pride in Living and the Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.

Durga is currently a member of the NY Metro Women's Committee at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, which mentors, promotes and provides networking opportunities for women in the firm. She also serves a regional champion promoting diversity on behalf of the firm’s tax line of service.

Congress 2008 Opening Keynote Presentation: Global Executive Roundtable

Shahla Aly
General Manager, Solutions Delivery
Microsoft IT

Shahla Aly leads the Corporate and Business Groups Solutions Delivery (CBG SD) organization for Microsoft IT (MSIT). She has been in this role since April 2006 and has responsibility for creating and improving business processes and IT solutions for Microsoft’s corporate services and business groups, enabling them to realize their strategic goals. In additional to the GM role, Shahla was appointed the interim leader role for MSIT on November 11, 2007.

She joined Microsoft in 2002 as general manager of Worldwide Services, Strategy and Enablement. Subsequent to that, she assumed responsibility as general manager of Cross Company Strategy and Initiatives, for steering key strategies including emerging markets. Prior to her current role, Shahla served as the general manager of Strategic Marketing and Communications for Microsoft’s Servers and Tools Business.

Before joining Microsoft, Shahla spent 18 years at IBM in IT delivery, professional consulting, strategy, and sales focused positions, including vice president of Communications Sector at IBM Canada; vice president of e-business Strategy for IBM Global Services at IBM Corporation in New York; and vice president of e-business and ERP Services for IBM Global Services.

Shahla holds a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Business Administration from the University of Karachi.

She actively participates and holds leadership positions in a number of organizations dedicated to women’s issues and eliminating homelessness. Shahla lives in Redmond, WA with her husband, Hakim and their two children, Nadia and Adam. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and reading.


Sharda Cherwoo
Partner
Ernst & Young

Sharda joined the U.S. practice of Ernst & Young in 1982. In her more than 25 years with the firm, she has held a variety of leadership roles focusing on global entrepreneurial initiatives and strategic, operational, and client serving roles.  Sharda has served as the CEO of Ernst & Young’s Global Shared Service Location in Bangalore, India, a member of Ernst & Young’s Global Tax Operations working group, and most recently served as Ernst & Young’s Americas Director of Tax Operations.  In her current role, Sharda serves as a member of our Transactions Advisory Practice and the Coordinating Tax Partner for the Portfolio investments of several major global Private Equity firms.  Sharda is a member of Ernst & Young’s Americas Tax Advisory Board which is a leadership group which focuses on providing a platform for discussing strategic issues facing the tax practice.

Sharda has served some of the firm’s largest clients as a Tax Account Leader across a variety of industries including financial services, insurance, and real estate assisting them with day-to-day tax planning and operations, full-scale global tax outsourcing, and coordinating major transactions, including mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures.  As Ernst & Young’s Americas Director of Tax Operations, Sharda was responsible for the strategy, growth, and operations of the practice across the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Under Sharda’s leadership, Ernst & Young’s Global Shared Service Location was named one of India’s Best Places to Work in 2002.  She was instrumental in the development and implementation of the India strategy and vision of the location and its service offerings.  Sharda’s involvement ranged from the initial set-up activities (location selection, lease negotiations, infrastructure needs, etc.); the creation of innovative recognition awards, learning and development programs, and community service programs that fostered a positive work environment and people culture unique in the marketplace; to the operational management of the practice to measure and communicate progress to the stakeholders.

Sharda is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Connecticut Society of CPAs. She graduated valedictorian from Sacred Heart University with a B.S. in Accounting, and, among her numerous awards, she received the Gold Medal Award for highest score on the Connecticut CPA Examination in 1982.


Punita Kumar-Sinha
Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group L.P.,
Chief Investment Officer, Blackstone Asia Advisors L.L.C.

Punita Kumar-Sinha is the Senior Portfolio Manager and Chief Investment Officer for Blackstone Asia Advisors L.L.C. which includes The India Fund, Inc., The Asia Tigers Fund, Inc. and The Asia Opportunities Fund L.P., and is a Senior Managing Director of The Blackstone Group L.P. Ms. Kumar-Sinha has managed The India Fund since July 31, 1997, The Asia Tigers Fund since June 30, 1999 and The Asia Opportunities Fund since its inception on December 1, 2006.

Ms. Kumar-Sinha has over nineteen years experience in fund management in international and emerging markets. Prior to joining Blackstone, Ms. Kumar-Sinha was a Managing Director and Senior Portfolio Manager at Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc., and CIBC World Markets, where she was also the Portfolio Manager for The India Fund and The Asia Tigers Fund. Prior to that she was the Portfolio Manager on the emerging markets team at Batterymarch, which she joined after four years at Standish Ayer & Wood. At Standish Ayer she developed country allocation models and strategies as part of the international equity management team as well as researched investments in Southeast Asia and other international markets. While at graduate school, Ms. Kumar-Sinha interned at J.P. Morgan Investment Management and at the IFC's emerging markets index group. She also spent a year with the Latin American Department of the World Bank.

She has been frequently featured in the media, including, The Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Forbes, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, Star News, and The Economic Times. Many of her contributions at seminars and conferences have projected the potential and prospects of India as an investment destination.

Ms. Kumar-Sinha has a Ph.D. and a Masters in Finance from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. She received her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi. She has an MBA and is also a CFA Charter holder. Ms. Kumar-Sinha is a member of the CFA Institute, the Boston Security Analysts Society and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Aru Kulkarni
Most recently, the Chief Customer Officer of the Partnered Brands division responsible for Liz Claiborne, Claiborne, Monet, Licensing and International Alliances

Aru Kulkarni was most recently the Chief Customer Officer of the Partnered Brands division, responsible for Liz Claiborne, Claiborne, Monet, Licensing and International Alliances. She led strategy development and oversaw all customer relationships for the division.

Mrs. Kulkarni joined Liz Claiborne in 2000 as Vice President, General Manager of Casual Sales. Since then she held several positions of increasing responsibility-most recently President and Chief Sales Officer of Department Store Better and Moderate Apparel Brands for Liz Claiborne.

Previously, Mrs. Kulkarni held executive positions in sales and marketing at Warnaco. She began her career in retail at Joseph Horne’s in Pittsburgh.

Born and raised in India, Mrs. Kulkarni moved to the United States to attend the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her Masters of Science in Economics. Mrs. Kulkarni currently lives in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey with her husband and two children, where she serves on the Board for the Jersey Battered Women Shelter (JBWS).


Dr. Mira Kamdar
Author, Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and the Future of Our World, and Bernard Schwartz Fellow, Asia Society

Award-winning author Mira Kamdar's latest book is Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and the Future of Our World (Scribner 2007). The book has been translated and published in Hindi, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, French and Chinese. The French edition, to be published by Actes Sud in January 2008, was translated by Andre Lewin, former French ambassador to India and translator of Pavan Varma's Being Indian. Kamdar's critically acclaimed memoir, Motiba's Tattoos: A Granddaughter's Journey from America into her Indian Family's Past was a 2000 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and won the 2002 Washington Book Award.

Mira Kamdar's work has appeared in publications around the world, including Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, World Policy Journal, Times of India, Daily News & Analysis, Outlook, Tehelka, The Guardian online and Yale Global, the online publication of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. She has provided expert commentary and been interviewed for radio and television outlets as diverse as CNN International, Bloomberg TV, the BBC, National Public Radio, TV Ontario, Public Radio International, Headlines Today, South Asia World, and TV Asia.

Mira Kamdar is a 2008 Bernard Schwartz Fellow at the Asia Society in New York and a Senior Fellow at the World Policy Institute. She is a regular speaker at high-level international gatherings, and has addressed audiences on India and global affairs at venues as diverse as the Asia Society in New York and in Mumbai, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Microsoft, Goldman Sachs, the University of Washington School of Business, Lehman Brothers, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Altria, the Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, and various World Affairs Council chapters.

Mira Kamdar was born in Seattle, Washington. She received her B.A. from Reed College (Phi Beta Kappa), and her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California at Berkeley. She was a Thomas J. Watson Fellow in 1980 and a Danforth Graduate Fellow in 1981-85. She has lived in France, Japan, South Korea and India, and is fluent in French and Hindi. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

The Congress 2008 Distinguished Keynote Presentation

Filmmaker Mira Nair

Film Director Mira Nair was born in Rourkela, India. From India Cabaret to The Laughing Club of India, Nair’s documentaries paved the way for her remarkable debut feature, Salaam Bombay! which was nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA for Best Foreign Language film in 1988.

Subsequent films include Mississippi Masala, The Perez Family, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, My Own Country, Hysterical Blindness, 9’ 11” 01 – September 11 (segment “India”), Monsoon Wedding, Vanity Fair and The Namesake.

In 2003, Mira Nair founded an annual filmmakers’ laboratory, Maisha, dedicated to the support of visionary screenwriters and directors in East Africa and South Asia. She also served as the mentor in film for the prestigious Rolex Protégé Arts Initiative, helping to guide young artists in critical stages of their development.

Nair’s company, Mirabai Films, is currently producing a series of four films to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic in India. Her forthcoming film is Shantaram starring Johnny Depp for Warner Bros. Pictures with Initial Entertainment Group, Infinitum Nihil, and Plan B.
Nair lives in New York City and Kampala, Uganda with her husband and son.

Congress 2008 Special Guest Speakers

Sayu Bhojwani

Ms. Bhojwani is currently a consultant to the Carnegie Corporation of New York. She previously managed the philanthropy program for London , Europe & Asia at Bloomberg LP, overseeing the funding of arts and charity initiatives, totaling approximately ten million dollars.

From 2002 to 2004, Ms. Bhojwani served under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg as the first New York City Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, which she built into a vital resource for City agencies and immigrant communities and through which New York City’s Immigrant History Week was established in 2004. In 1996, she founded South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), the first and only organization of its kind in the United States, and served as its Executive Director for five years. Ms. Bhojwani was a recipient of the Charles H. Revson Fellowship on the Future of the City of New York in 2001 and has been recognized with numerous awards for her leadership in the voluntary sector and on immigrant issues in New York. She serves on the board of the New York Foundation and the New York Women’s Foundation and on the Advisory Committee for the Charles H. Revson Fellowship, a program on the future of New York at Columbia University.

Joya Dass
Businessweek/WABC-TV

Since October 2004, Joya has delivered live business reports for WABC, Channel 7 Eyewitnessnews during the 5 am to 7 am morning drive in New York City. She’s also “live” throughout the morning with other major ABC affiliates in Philadelphia, Denver, and Chicago. She is employed by the TV arm of Businessweek Magazine.

Joya has also worked at the Discovery Channel, CNN, Bloomberg Financial TV, CBS.com and CNBC.com. Her first on-air market was KGWC-TV, a CBS affiliate in Casper, Wyoming---population 50,000.

If you’re up Saturday mornings, you can catch her weekly wrap of all the movie news from Bollywood. It airs at 10 am on WMBC Channel 63 and is syndicated on the Dish Network by Sony.

Joya Dass is a native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. She’s first generation Indian, born to Indian parents who emigrated to the United States from West Bengal and Myanmar.

She went to college at Bucknell University and got her Masters in Journalism at Boston University.

Mallika Dutt
Founder and Executive Director
Breakthrough

Mallika Dutt is the Founder and Executive Director of Breakthrough, an international human rights organization using innovative high impact education, media and popular culture to transform communities and bring about social change. Breakthrough works through offices in India and the United States, the world’s two largest democracies, on several issues including women’s rights, sexuality and HIV/AIDS and racial justice and immigrant rights.

Mallika has been at the cutting-edge of the human rights movement for more than two decades exploring creative ways to incorporate human rights values into people’s daily lives. She has received several awards, is a sought-after public speaker, and has been interviewed by more than a hundred local and global media outlets on a range of human rights issues.

Mallika has authored several articles and essays including the widely referenced "With Liberty and Justice for All: Women's Human Rights in the United States." She was also the co-author of the globally utilized manual, "Local Action Global Change: Learning About the Human Rights of Women and Girls," which has been translated into more than ten languages.

Prior to founding Breakthrough, Mallika was the Program Officer for the Human Rights & Social Justice Program at the Ford Foundation’s New Delhi office. Mallika has also served as the Associate Director of the Center for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University and as the Director of the Norman Foundation. She began her professional career as an Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in NYC.

Mallika is a founder of Sakhi for South Asian Women and has served on several boards and committees, including the Human Rights Watch Women's Rights Project and Asia Watch, The Sister Fund, Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, Lt. Governor Committee on Public Police Relations, Committee on Sex and Law - the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, and the US NGO Coordinating Committee for the UN World Conference Against Racism. She is currently on the Board of WITNESS.

Mallika is a member of the NY State Bar. She has a JD from NYU Law School, a Masters in International Affairs from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College.

Sarita Gupta
Vice President,
Global Resources & Communications

Sarita joined WWB in July 2007 as WWB's first director of development. She is responsible for ensuring that WWB meets its annual fundraising goals, diversifying our funding base, and helping position the organization for strategic growth. Since January 2008 she also heads WWB’s Communications and Publications units.

Sarita has a 25-year career in the non-profit sector, encompassing program development, fundraising, communications, marketing and management. Just prior to joining WWB, she headed the fundraising and communications efforts at Acumen Fund, which seeks entrepreneurial approaches to alleviate global poverty; and before that held various fundraising and management positions at CARE, a leading humanitarian organization. Sarita has also worked for the American Friends Service Committee, the Asia Society, and a U.S. State Department-funded project on refugee resettlement.

Sarita holds a Masters degree from the School of International & Public Affairs at Columbia University. She was born in India, moved with her parents to the US at the age of 10, and completed high school in upstate New York. She returned to India to get a Bachelors degree from Miranda College, Delhi University, and then chose to settle in New York City, her current residence.

Farzana Haque
Head, Retail & CPG Group
TCS

Farzana is the Business Head for Retail & Consumer Products Group at TCS, a leading global information technology company with over US$4.3 Billion in revenues. Retail is a key vertical for TCS with leading global retail clients like Best Buy, Home Depot, and Target. Prior to taking on this role, she was based in New York and was part of the e-business vertical at TCS, where she was an instrumental part of a team that helped grow that business from inception to a US$1 billion vertical in a short span of seven years. Farzana began her career with the TATA Group in Mumbai as a management trainee.

In recognition of her leadership at TCS, Farzana was recently nominated to the World Economic Forum as a "Young Global Leader" 2008. The Young Global Leader, recognizes the top 250 young leaders from around the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world. She was recently profiled by CNBC-TV 18 in the “Young Turks” series which profiles India’s next generation business leaders.

Farzana is a frequent speaker at business schools around the globe and India on topics covering leadership, building global brands, and innovation. She is passionate about social development in India and works with NGO’s and foundations in order to further the cause.

Sheila Hooda
Senior Managing Director, Global Head of Strategy and Development and Senior Leadership Team Member
TIAA-CREF

Sheila is responsible for setting the long-term vision and strategy for TIAA-CREF, a Fortune 100 financial services company, and leads the planning and pursuit of growth and business development opportunities both organically and through mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, partnerships and strategic investments, both in the US and globally.

Sheila is also a member of the Advisory Board of the TIAA-CREF Institute and is Chair of the firm's Leadership Initiative.

Prior to joining TIAA-CREF, Sheila was a Managing Director at Credit Suisse in the Investment Banking Division. Prior to Credit Suisse, Sheila’s work experiences included leadership positions at Bankers Trust and management consulting with McKinsey and Co. In addition to the United States, Sheila has worked and had assignments in Europe and Asia Pacific, in her over twenty years of experience in financial services.

Sheila received an M.B.A with a specialization in Finance from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, a Masters in Management from the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad, India and a Bachelor of Science with a major in Mathematics from Fergusson College, University of Poona, India.

Sheila is a member of the Business Council of the Asia Society and the Global Advisory Board of the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. She is on the Board of SKS Microfinance Foundation (The Ultra Poor Program) and the Tri-State Advisory Board for Pratham-USA which focuses on grass roots literacy in the impoverished urban and rural areas in India. She is also on the Advisory Board for Prerana, an education initiative that provides tuition to deserving underprivileged children, the Corporate Leadership Advisory Board for Asian Women in Business (AWIB), and is a member of the South Asian Women’s Leadership Forum Leadership Circle.

Sheila is married, has ten year old twin daughters and lives in Westchester County, New York.

Mary Ellen Iskenderian
President and CEO
Women’s World Banking

Mary Ellen Iskenderian is President and CEO of Women’s World Banking, the world’s largest network of microfinance institutions and banks. Ms. Iskenderian leads the WWB global team, based in New York, in providing hands-on technical services and strategic support to more than 50 top-performing microfinance institutions and banks in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. WWB’s network members consistently rate among the top three microfinance institutions in their countries and more than 70% of their clients are poor women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Iskenderian, who joined WWB in 2006, brings more than 20 years of experience in building global financial systems throughout the developing world. Ms. Iskenderian has become a leading voice for women’s leadership and participation in microfinance and a strong advocate for the role of capital markets in the sector. She has spoken widely on microfinance at Harvard, Yale, Wharton Business School and at numerous industry and banking forums. More recently, she spoke at the Singapore Conference on Savings, Assets and Financial Inclusion; the Inter-American Development Bank and FELABAN Seminar on Banking Regulation and Supervision in El Salvador and the ResponsAbility Microfinance Conference in Zurich, Switzerland. She is frequently quoted in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, Voice of America, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Dallas Morning News and other major international outlets. She has also written many articles and op-eds, including “Private Banks Find Microfinance,” a feature article which recently appeared in the premier issue of the Americas Quarterly, published by the Americas Society and the Council of the Americas.

Prior to WWB, Ms. Iskenderian worked for 17 years in senior management at the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, where her numerous leadership positions included Director of Partnership Development, Director of the Global Financial Markets Portfolio and Director of the South Asia Regional Department. Previously, she worked for the investment bank, Lehman Brothers.

Ms. Iskenderian currently sits on the advisory boards of the Dignity Fund and Kiva. Before joining WWB, she was a director on many corporate boards, including ShoreCap International, an important equity and loan fund for microfinance. She holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the Yale School of Organization and Management and a Bachelor of Science degree in International Economics from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Monica Issar
Managing Director and Senior Advisor
JPMorgan Private Bank

Monica Issar is a Managing Director at the JPMorgan Private Bank with over ten years of investment experience in both asset management and private banking. As a senior advisor, Ms. Issar works with individuals, families, and charitable organizations to understand their goals, provide strategic advice, and invest across a broad range of long only strategies as well as alternative investments. Ms. Issar is also a member of the Private Bank’s Advisory Council that works to provide strategic advice to the firm on growing the business. She is part of the PB Portfolio Construction team responsible for creating model portfolios for our clients.

Prior to joining the Private Bank, Ms. Issar was an equity portfolio manager at JPMorgan Asset Management. She worked on their Large Cap flagship strategy and their tax aware equity product. Ms. Issar manages assets for high net worth individuals, endowments and foundations with a total assets under her discretion exceeding $2 billion, including $575 million in foundation and endowment assets.

Ms. Issar received a B.S. in Finance and a M.B.A from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Madhur Jaffrey
Actor and Food Writer/Author

The award winning actress and author, has been featured in numerous films including several of Merchant/Ivory finest works. Film credits also include Six Degrees of Separation, Flawless, Vanya on 42nd Street, Chutney Popcorn, ABCD, Prime and Partition.  She appeared on Broadway in Bombay Dreams and has been seen on television in several Law and Order episodes. She is a regular Sony’s improvisational comedy series, The Papdits. Jaffrey has written many bestselling books about Indian and Far Eastern cookery including A Taste of India and Illustrated Indian Cookery.

Shibani Joshi
Reporter
Fox Business Network

Shibani Joshi joined FOX Business Network (FBN) in September 2007 as a reporter. FOX Business Network, available on Time Warner Channel 43 in New York, is a financial news channel delivering real-time information across all platforms that impact both Main Street and Wall Street.

To her role, Joshi brings experience in investment banking, strategy and business development. Joshi began her career as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley, where she worked on merger, acquisition and corporate finance deals in the real estate sector. Her experience includes working on the first privatization of a REIT, a deal which was awarded Institutional Investor’s deal of the year distinction.

From 2004 to 2006, Joshi held the position of Senior Manager in Strategy and Business Development at Disney/ABC Media Networks where she worked on the launch of ABC News Now and helped develop the firm’s global digital media strategy.

Joshi left the corporate world to pursue journalism as a producer in New York at Reuters Television and TIMES NOW, the joint venture news channel with The Times of India, where she was responsible for producing news packages and interviews broadcast all over India. She has also served as the host of ImaginAsian TV’s The Pulse South Asian variety show and contributed to ABCNews.com and ABC News Now covering technology and business stories.

She began her journalism career as a news production assistant at CNNfn where she contributed to Lou Dobbs Moneyline and CNN Money Morning.

Joshi holds an MBA degree from Harvard Business School. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and accounting at the University of Oklahoma. Joshi is a native of Oklahoma City.

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi is known internationally as an actress, food expert, model and award-winning writer. 2007 has been a busy year for Lakshmi with a new cookbook and returning as host of Bravo’s successful series “Top Chef.”

Lakshmi established herself as a food expert early on in her career, having hosted two successful cooking shows and writing a best-selling cookbook. Lakshmi follows this success with the publication of her second cookbook, Tangy, Tart, Hot & Sweet, which was released by Weinstein Books this past October. A follow up to her successful book Easy Exotic, for which she won the International Versailles Event for best cookbook by a first time writer, it will be a larger endeavor filled with over 120 recipes from around the world and intriguing personal memoirs.

For The Food Network, Lakshmi hosted “Padma’s Passport” where she cooked diverse cuisine from around the world. Lakshmi also hosted “Planet Food,” a documentary series broadcast on The Food Network and worldwide on the Discovery Channel. She journeyed to countries such as Spain and India.

Lakshmi received a positive response for her performance as Princess Bithia in ABC's much anticipated mini-series “The Ten Commandments” alongside Naveen Andrews (“Lost”), Omar Sharif and Dougray Scott. The program was the second-highest rated television film of 2006. She also starred in BBC America’s “Sharpe’s Challenge” opposite Sean Bean. This two-part mini-series directed by Tom Clegg is the continuation of the popular BBC series based on Richard Cornwall’s novels aired in September 2006. Lakshmi was seen with Aishwarya Rai and Dylan McDermott in Paul Mayeda Berges' newest film “Mistress of Spices.”

She has appeared in films in the US, Italy, and India. Other television credits include hosting Rai Television's “Dominica In,” Italy’s highest rated program.

Lakshmi is also an accomplished writer. In addition to her food writing, she has contributed to such magazines as American Vogue, Gourmet and British and American Harper's Bazaar.

Originally known as the first internationally successful Indian supermodel, Lakshmi started modeling while an exchange student in Spain with Clark University where she received a B.A. with honors in Theater Arts.

Rehana Mirza

Screenwriter, playwright and director, makes her fiction feature writing and directorial debut with HIDING DIVYA. Mirza, 29, is founder (together with her sister, Rohi Mirza Pandya) and Artistic Director of Desipina & Company, a South Asian and Asian-American arts company promoting cross-pollination in theatre and film.

She has written and directed seven shorts: the award-winning Modern Day Arranged Marriage, (which has played in over thirty festivals Internationally), Love Story, Ode to NYC, Looking Good, Feeling Better, Memory & Dream, Fillum Star: The Peter Patel Story, Sightlines and Dear Santa. Her feature screenwriting credits include There’s Something About Marriage (IFP Emerging Narrative Selection), Tiger Meat, Paradise, Quarter Life Crisis, and Far from Home (Sundance Feature Film Labs Finalist).

Her full-length play, Barriers, premiered at HERE Arts Center in New York City to sold-out audiences before being co-produced by the Asian American Theatre Company in San Francisco/Los Angeles. Other stage plays have been presented in New York (Culture Project, EST, The Flea, Tenement Museum, DR2Lounge), Los Angeles (Artwallah), Toronto (Rasik Arts), Philadelphia (Asian American Centre) and Washington, D.C. (Arth).

Mirza received a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council artist grant for HIDING DIVYA and was a 2002 Independent Feature Project trainee. She was a Leopold Schepp Foundation Scholar, John Golden Award Recipient, and is published via Alexander Street Press. She has been recently selected as a P2 for a Cause Recipient to shoot a PSA regarding Thalassemia in the South Asian and Asian communities and is also currently a member of Ma-Yi Theatre's writer's lab. Mirza graduated with honors from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dramatic Writing and a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies. She has an MFA Candidate in Playwriting from Columbia University.

Sonia Nikore
Former Casting Executive
NBC Entertainment
Traveling from Los Angeles

Sonia Nikore is a former Vice President of Casting for NBC Primetime television. During her 10 years at NBC, she supervised casting on over 50 pilots and Emmy-winning series including ER, West Wing, Law & Order, Third Watch, Seinfeld, Frasier, and Scrubs.  Prior to NBC, she was the head of casting for ABC's daytime soap One Life to Live. For four years before that Ms. Nikore was a casting director at Jay Binder Casting in NY, where her work included all of the East Coast casting for Warner Bros. Television (Friends, The Drew Carey Show, Murphy Brown, Lois & Clark, I'll Fly Away, etc.); numerous Regional theaters (Arena Stage, Old Globe, Alliance Theater, Actors Theater of Louisville, etc.); as well as several Broadway and National Tours (Angels in America, Lost in Yonkers, Beauty and the Beast, Acting Company, etc.).  Ms. Nikore has also cast pilots for HBO and Columbia Tri-Star, including Dawson's Creek, as well as several feature including The Jungle Book, Bombay Boys, and Jerry Maguire.  She is a member of the Casting Society of America, and is a recipient of the Artios Award in casting.

Prior to casting, Ms. Nikore worked at Alan Wasser Associates, general managers for producer Cameron Mackintosh's many Broadway musicals, including Les Miserables, and Miss Saigon. She also did a Fellowship at the Arena Stage in DC, and interned at the Theatre Program at the National Endowment for the Arts in 1990.

She is a recipient of Project Impact's Creating a Voice Award and has been featured in many publications and TV channels including Newsweek, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, India Today International, and the Discovery-NY Times channel.

Ms. Nikore has advised several political forums about diversity in entertainment and it's larger impact. She was selected as a panelist for President Clinton's White House Initiative on Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, and recently spoke at the World Policy Institute's International Policy Task Force on the future of India and India-U.S. Relations.

Sonia Nikore was born in New Delhi, India and moved to the US when she was 13 years old. She now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Roopal Patel
Senior Women's Fashion Director
Bergdorf Goodman

Roopal Patel is the Senior Women's Fashion Director at Bergdorf Goodman. Roopal returned to Bergdorf Goodman in January 2003 as the Fashion Director for Women’s Apparel after a hiatus that took her to Club Monaco as their US Women’s Visual Merchandising Manager. Roopal had previously held the role of Fashion Coordinator, Women’s Apparel at Bergdorf Goodman from June 1996 to September 1999.

Prior to joining Bergdorf Goodman, Roopal had been the Marketing Editor for Conde Nast Publications.

 

Kalpana Raina
Managing Partner, 252 Solutions LLC
Formerly Executive Vice President, The Bank of New York

Kalpana Raina is a senior executive with significant financial experience in the US and internationally. She has lived and worked in Asia, Europe, Canada and the US and has strong expertise in credit, strategic planning, creating alliances and partnerships, extending operations globally and introducing new products to markets. She also has a proven track record in global and cross-cultural management.

Until recently, Ms Raina was an Executive Vice President with The Bank of New York, a global financial services company. Ms Raina joined the Bank in 1989. She was promoted to Senior Vice President in 1995 and Executive Vice President in 1998. During her eighteen-year career with the bank she had responsibility for clients in the Media and Telecommunications industry, Healthcare, Retailing, Hotels and Leisure and Financial services industries in Europe, Asia and the US. She served on numerous committees including the bank’s credit and risk and planning committees. In 1997, Ms Raina started the bank’s European media group and extended lending to Continental and Eastern Europe. In India (2003-2005), Ms Raina worked actively with The Reserve Bank of India and the Ministry of Finance to facilitate the introduction of new financial products and negotiated a strategic marketing joint venture with an Indian financial firm.

In 2005, Ms. Raina moved to London to run the bank’s offices in France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and Germany.

Prior work experience was with Manufacturers Hanover Trust in New York City where she completed the management-training program. Ms Raina also taught undergraduate courses in English and World Literature at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. She has a Master’s degree in English Literature from McMaster University and undergraduate and graduate degrees from Panjab University, India. She has also taken business courses at New York University, New York.

Ms Raina currently serves on the board of RealNetworks, Inc., (NASDAQ- RNWK) a leading Internet Media Company based in Seattle. She was appointed to the board in 2001 and serves on the Audit and Nominating and Corporate Governance committees. From 2001-2004 she was on the board of the Center for Communications in New York. The Center is an independent media forum created to foster dialog between media companies and educational institutions.

Ms Raina is a member of Women Corporate Directors and a past member of The US- India Business Council. She has participated in the Council’s executive missions to India. She has spoken on finance and been a panelist at key industry events globally. She has also spoken on arts and culture at forums co-sponsored by The Asia Society and The Lalit Kala Akademy of India.

Shafi Saxena
Global Brand Vice President
Dove Skin

Born on Waikiki beach; raised in one of the world’s largest cities in India as well as surrounded by rice paddies in the Philippines; educated in Europe and the U.S.; married to a German-American she met in graduate school in Italy – Shafi Saxena truly feels like a citizen of the world. She speaks 5 languages and has lived and worked on 3 continents.

Always involved with a cause, she has been active in Amnesty International, socially responsible investments, aids orphans, gun control and women’s economic empowerment.

Shafi’s work experience runs the gamut from blue chip FMCG companies to her own entrepreneurial venture. She began her career with Procter & Gamble where she gained experience in home, laundry and personal care product marketing. After successfully completing P&G’s “boot camp” in classical marketing, she grew two of their brands to record volumes/shares before moving to PepsiCo in the UK. Here she led the rollout of Pepsi Max – the first ever product launch outside of the U.S. in Pepsi’s history. This was a major and successful salvo in the cola wars.

Always excited by the adventure of new ideas, and identified as an “inspirational optimist” by the book “Spontaneous Optimism,” Shafi left Pepsi to launch her own skin care brand. Based on Ayurveda, Indian medicinal herbs, Better Botanicals combined her skin care background with her Indian heritage and love of all things natural. She built the business from the ground up, establishing a respected natural brand with national and international distribution as well as widespread media coverage. Upon joining the Dove team at Unilever, Shafi sold the brand.

Shafi is now the GBVP for Dove Skin and fired up about Dove’s mission to make more women feel beautiful everyday. She was attracted by Unilever’s global reach, diversity, eclectic energy and corporate idealism.

Key to her vitality and well being are her two sons, aged 7 and 9, and a chocolate lab puppy.

Ami Shah Nagarajan
Internal Medicine Physician
Medical Director
Pfizer

Dr. Ami Shah Nagarajan is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician and is currently Medical Director of Drug Safety and Risk Management at Pfizer Inc. Dr. Nagarajan has been in the pharmaceutical industry for five years and has also worked in Safety and Clinical Development at various other companies including Abbott, Hospira, and Bausch and Lomb. In addition, she practices medicine and provides medical consulting on a part-time basis focusing primarily on acute medical care, disease prevention, women’s health, and corporate health and wellness. She has also been very active in the communities she has lived in throughout the years by volunteering as a physician in free health clinics and providing education to the community as a speaker on a broad range of medical topics at various health seminars and screenings. She is currently an American Medical Association (AMA) delegate for New York State Young Physicians Section and is also the Co-chair of the Women’s Committee for the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI).

Romita Shetty
Managing Director
Lehman Brothers

Romita Shetty is a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers in New York and runs the firm Global Special Opportunities group. The group focuses on making principal investments for the firm in a variety of sectors and across the entire capital structure.

Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, Romita co-ran structured credit markets at RBS Greenwich Capital from 2004 through 2006. Before that Romita worked at JP Morgan Securities from 1997-2004 where she held a number of position including Global Head of Structured Credit and Alternative Investment products. She started her career at Standard and Poor’s where she worked from 1990-1997 where she ran their ABCP and commercial ABS rating businesses.

Romita has a Master of International Affairs (MIA) from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and B.A. (Honours) in History from St. Stephens College in Delhi.

Selina Tobaccowala
SVP European Product & Technology
Ticketmaster

Selina Tobaccowala is the Senior Vice President - European Product and Technology, Ticketmaster. In this position since April 2005, Selina leads the company's online and technology initiatives. Her responsibilities include managing the growth of Ticketmaster’s European web sites, introducing and developing new products and web tools into the European marketplace as well as managing all the due diligence for the technology aspects of all M&A (mergers and acquisitions) activity.

Prior to joining Ticketmaster, Selina founded Evite.com, an online invitation service that currently attracts over six million users a month. As Vice President of engineering for Evite.com, she led the company's development and operations and played a key role in setting the strategic direction with the board of directors. In 2001, Evite.com was sold to Ticketmaster. Selina managed the transition then took on the role of Senior Director of product and technology for CRM (customer relationship management) for Ticketmaster until early 2003. Selina spent the subsequent two years as the VP of product and technology for Entertainment.com, a division of IAC, managing a forty five strong team which was responsible for all online sales through the entertainment.com website.

Selina holds a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from Stanford University. She is primarily based in London, England at Ticketmaster UK’s headquarters.

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