Dr. Manju Sheth Among 4 South Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission’s Unity Awardees

Featured & Cover Dr Manju Sheth Among 4 South Asian American 2

Three Indian Americans and a person of the Nepalese origin are among this year’s Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission’s annual Unity Dinner awards recipients. The Unity Dinner celebrates the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

The 16th Annual Unity Dinner will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The Unit Dinner will honor and recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions by working tirelessly to promote positive change in the communities they serve.

Guest speakers at this year’s event are: Kim Driscoll, Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; Deborah B. Goldberg, Massachusetts State Treasurer and Receiver General; Diana DiZoglio, Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and Tackey Chan, State Representative for the Second Norfolk District.

Dr. Manju Sheth, MD: Leadership for Diversity and Inclusion Award

She has been a dedicated physician for over 25 years, with experience at Mass General Brigham, Beth Israel Lahey Health, and Harvard Vanguard/Atrius Health. A physician with a passion for media and community service, Dr. Sheth is also the President of India New England Multimedia, where she created the prestigious New England Choice Awards, honoring prominent South Asian leaders in fields such as business, healthcare, nonprofit leadership, and technology.

Dr Manju Sheth Among 4 South Asian AmericanShe is known for her celebrity interview series Chai with Manju, which recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary and has received millions of views and featured esteemed guests including Indra Nooyi, Sadhguru, Elizabeth Warren, and Joe Kennedy to name a few. Her passion for empowering women is reflected in her work as the Director of Woman of the Year Award Gala for the past 12 years, and her previous work as Chair of the Advisory board of Saheli and with Asian Task Force [ATASK] over the years.

She also serves as the Community Ambassador for Akshaya Patra USA, the world’s largest NGO serving mid-day meals in schools across India.

She strives to bring doctors together and advocate for healthcare, having been past president of the Indian Medical Association of New England [IMANE], served on the Patient Care Advisory Committee of Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare and through co-founding the New England Health Expo at India New England. She served on the steering committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Harvard Vanguard/Atrius Health. She served as co-chair of Indian Women’s Physicians Forum.

Most recently, she co-founded Women Who Win, an award-winning nonprofit media platform amplifying the stories of diverse women, which recently published their first book. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work including 150 Women of Influence by YWCA and 50 most influential Indian Americans in New England. She resides in Lynnfield Massachusetts with her husband Dipak and has one daughter Shaleen.

KC Pralhad: Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Lifetime Achievement Award goes to KC Pralhad, of Nepalese-origin and a certified international human rights consultant with over 30 years of specialized management experience. He brings a wealth of expertise in human rights, political affairs, international relations, law, and related fields.

He has played a pivotal role in a project aimed at promoting human rights awareness in collaboration with a prominent international organization, contributing significantly to the protection and promotion of human rights through targeted initiatives. Additionally, he has contributed to fostering a more inclusive and harmonious community environment within the immigrant community of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

His extensive track record includes leadership roles in projects conducted in partnership with prestigious entities such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Furthermore, he has demonstrated proficiency in diagnosing challenges within the private sector and assisting public and semi-public institutions in implementing policy reforms to address these issues.

Mr. Pralhad excels in cultivating strategic alliances with decision-makers at various levels and empowering international personnel to assume comprehensive project management responsibilities. Beyond his professional commitments, he actively engages in social and community development efforts within the Asian American community in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. His involvement extends to initiatives aimed at enhancing the quality of life for immigrant populations.

Mohan Nannapaneni: the Unsung Hero Award

Mr. Nannapaneni, co-Founder and CTO of Sigma Systems Inc., is a remarkable entrepreneur and philanthropist with a profound commitment to both the Indian and American communities. He has achieved extraordinary success in the business world, leading Sigma Systems Inc. to become one of the fastest-growing privately held companies in America. However, Mr. Nannapaneni’s impact extends far beyond the business realm.

In the realm of philanthropy, Ms. Nannapaneni has left an indelible mark. His contributions have led to the rebuilding of government schools in India, transforming them into thriving educational institutions. He has provided financial support to numerous students, enabling them to pursue higher education in medical and engineering colleges, including the prestigious IITs. One of his notable contributions is the establishment of TEAM Aid, (www.teamaid.org) a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing assistance to individuals and families affected by catastrophic incidents such as accidents and sudden deaths.

TEAM Aid has emerged as a vital resource, coordinating the transportation of deceased individuals to their respective hometowns across India and 15 other countries. It has become a leading emergency assistance provider within the immigrant community throughout North America. His advocacy skills came to the forefront when he intervened on behalf of over 2,400 students facing deportation when Tri-Valley University was closed, securing their readmission opportunities and protecting their dreams.

In addition to its role in helping families cope with the sudden loss of their loved ones, TEAM Aid, under Mr. Nannapaneni’s leadership, has also extended its support to individuals facing legal issues, especially those dealing with mental health challenges. This organization has rapidly expanded its reach, with more than 2,500 dedicated volunteers across North America and over 20 countries. On average, TEAM Aid now provides assistance to at least a dozen families per week in the USA, demonstrating its commitment to helping those in distress.

Mr. Nannapaneni’s community service efforts have touched the lives of countless individuals and families affected by disasters and emergencies, making TEAM Aid an indispensable resource in times of crisis. His dedication to community service and humanitarian work has earned him numerous service awards and recognitions from teachers’ unions, educational/cultural organizations, city councils, and NGO entities in both India and America. Through his unwavering commitment to TEAM Aid and other charitable causes, Mr. Nannapaneni continues to make a positive and lasting impact on communities worldwide.

Ramakrishna Penumarthy: the Unsung Hero Award

Mr. Penumarthy epitomizes the values of dedication, compassion, and service, which are deeply ingrained in both his personal and professional life. Born and raised with a strong sense of community responsibility, Ramakrishna has dedicated himself to improving the lives of seniors and contributing to various community organizations.

Mr. Penumarthy, the esteemed founder of Volunteering for Seniors, showcases unwavering dedication not only to the welfare of seniors but also actively engages in uplifting the community through his involvement in esteemed organizations like Lions Club, TAGB (Telugu Association of Greater Boston) and Team Aid. His commitment extends beyond senior care, readily stepping in to support the local community whenever needed.

Mr. Penumarthy’s partnership with his wife, Pratima Penumarthy, in founding a volunteering organization focused on senior citizens underscores their shared commitment to making a difference. Together, they have established a thriving community that not only provides practical assistance but also fosters a sense of belonging and happiness among seniors. Their dedication to ensuring seniors lead fulfilling lives is reflected in the diverse range of activities and support services offered by their organization.

Through his selfless actions and tireless efforts, Mr. Penumarthy has touched the lives of countless individuals, fostering a sense of belonging, happiness, and hope. His collaborative spirit, exemplified by his partnership with his wife in founding a volunteering organization for seniors, underscores the power of collective action in creating positive change.

Mouli Pal

Mouli Pal, an exponent of Odissi, a captivating performer, dedicated teacher, choreographer and cultural ambassador, will perform an Odissi dance at the Unity Dinner. She is a regularly presented by prestigious presenters across United States, India and Austria. Her performances include solo concerts at the prestigious Hopkins Center for Arts at Dartmouth College , Yuwa Bharati California, and Trinetra Boston.

Ms. Paul is the founder and director of Upasana a Non profit for promotion and preservation of Odissi. She has received several awards and grants including the New England Foundation for Arts and Mass Cultural Council.

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