Former Congressional candidate and erstwhile Maryland state legislator Aruna Miller has been named the new executive director of the Indian American Impact Fund, which seeks out and endorses and funds Indian-American candidates running for public office at the local, city, county, state and federal levels.
The Hyderabad-born Miller, who immigrated to the U.S. at age eight and is a civil engineer by training, having served in Montgomery County’s Transportation Department for more than two decades, will replace Gautam Raghavan, a former senior Obama administration official, who left Impact in January to serve as Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D.-Wash.) chief of staff.
In June last year, much to the disappointment of the Indian-American community, Miller lost to multimillionaire David Trone in the Democratic primary for the vacant seat in the state’s 6th District, who then went on to win the general on Nov.6.
The Miller-Tronerace, was perhaps the most closely-watched primary by the Indian-American community, who considered her the community’s best bet for another Congressional seat, but Miller failed in her bid to become only the second Indian American woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives after Jayapal, because if she had prevailed over Trone, she would have been a shoo-in in the general election in the heavily Democratic district.
Raj Goyle, co-founder of Impact, a former Kansas state legislator, who also made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress from the state’s 4th District in 2010, losing to Republican Mike Pompeo, now the U.S. Secretary of State, said, “As a former candidate and elected official who has actually campaigned, won votes, and served in office, Aruna is the ideal person to lead Impact. She has the perfect combination of skills and personal experience to take this organization to the next level,” he predicted.
Goyle said, “As an Indian-American woman, immigrant, candidate, and elected official, Aruna has been a pioneer and trailblazer in our community. We know she will not only provide smart guidance and strategic counsel to Indian American candidates running for office at every level from coast to coast, she will also inspire many more to consider running themselves. Anyone who has met, worked with, or voted for Aruna knows her future is bright. We are excited to have her at the helm of Impact,” he added.
Deepak Raj, entrepreneur and philanthropist, also a co-founder of Impact, said, “When we started looking for a new executive director, it was vital that we find someone who understands both politics and public service, has a demonstrated track record of advocating for our community, and brings fresh thinking and vision to the important work ahead.” He added: “We found all of those traits, and more, in Aruna, and we are thrilled she will lead Impact at this critical time for our community.”
Raj, who is also the chairman of Pratham USA, said, “Impact is well positioned to harness the energy, excitement, and success of a historic 2018 election cycle in which an unprecedented number of Indian-Americans ran for office across the country.
“In the coming months, we look forward to recruiting and training candidates, broadening our reach and support, and shaping the 2020 political landscape,” he added. Raj said that “Aruna shares our passion for building political power in the Indian American community so that our voices are heard in the halls of power,” and predicted, “With her leadership, we will continue building Impact into an organization that will be extraordinarily helpful to future generations of our community.”