The New England Choice Awards, a prestigious event held annually celebrating the achievements and accomplishments of the Indian American community was held on Sunday, November 5th, 2023 in Boston, MA.
Organized by the non-profit INE MultMedia, Inc., in collaboration with INDIA New England News, New England Choice Awards gala was attended by, among others, Chief Guest and Keynote Speaker Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Guest of Honor Pillar VC Founder and CEO Jamie Goldstein.
Over 400 entrepreneurs, corporate executives, philanthropists, educators and community leaders gathered in the packed Grand Ballroom of the Burlington Marriott to honor New England Choice Awards winners of 2023 and be part of the celebration of the fast growing Indian American community.
This year’s NECA award recipients were: Ash Ashutosh, a serial tech entrepreneur and Global Director of Solution Sales at Google; Pranav Ghatraju, a rising Tabla player and New Product Development Engineer at Entegris; Dr. Salil Midha, MD, Cardiology Chief at Melrose-Wakefield Hospital;Priyamvada Natarajan, a Physics Professor and Theoretical Astrophysicist at Yale University, known for her work in mapping dark matter and dark energy; Trupti Patel, an immigration attorney and Saheli Advisory Board Member; Phil Scarff, a Saxophonist, Composer and Founder of world-jazz ensemble Natraj; and the India Society of Worcester, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year as a vibrant non-profit community organization.
Raj Sharma, Managing Director of Wealth Management and Head of The Sharma Group, a high-end boutique within Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group, received the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award.
“For centuries, Boston has been the threshold to New England—our nation’s gateway to and for the rest of the world. And for centuries, we’ve benefited from the hearts and minds—the courage and vision—of those who have made our city home,” said Mayor Wu.
“This room, and the incredible individuals and organizations being honored here tonight, are a testament to the possibilities we unlock when we empower our communities to thrive. And I know that India New England shares that belief and our mission: To ensure that the Indian community here in New England is informed by your thoughtful coverage of global-to-local events; that your stories are centered and celebrated.”
Mayor Wu, congratulated all the winners Sunday night and shared her own story of growing up as a daughter of immigrant parents.
“Growing up as the daughter of immigrants from Taiwan, they always told me to get a stable job, that paid well, and wouldn’t get me into trouble. So you can imagine how they felt when I told them I’d decided to go into politics. But their perspective was colored by their experience as immigrants,” said Mayor Wu. “Never feeling fully welcomed, or valued; and when attention was directed their way it was rarely positive. So the idea that any of us could grow up to be leaders in a community where they didn’t even feel like we belonged wasn’t on their radar. The best thing we could do was keep our heads down and not make waves—blend in.”
Mayor Wu also thanked Dr. Manju Sheth and Upendra Mishra for creating this multimedia platform to empower the community. “I want to thank Upendra, and Dr. Manju, for your leadership here at India New England because standing out was dangerous. We didn’t have examples of leaders in government, the media, or business to look up to—or if we did, we didn’t know about them. Which is why the work that India New England does is so important,” said Mayor Wu.
“Because for every one of our stories that are told—for every event where we are celebrated for holding our heads high and making waves…The more we empower our young people to recognize that they can do and be whatever they want. So I want to take a minute to not only congratulate all of tonight’s awardees, but thank you for opening the door for the next generation: Ash, Pranav, Dr. Salil, Priyamvada, Trupti, Phil, everyone at the India Society of Worcester. And to Raj Sharma—who I am honored to be presented with this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award: Thank you!”
Dr. Manju Sheth congratulated all the winners and thanked attendees and NECA supporters and sponsors. “Our goal at NECA Awards is to always outdo the previous year show and this was no exception,” said Dr. Sheth. “The fun and excitement lies in raising the bar every year. It is only possible due to the support of an incredible team and the love and support that we get from the community . I am so happy and grateful for the incredible success of the show this year.”
Upendra Mishra welcomed everyone in his opening remarks and said that there was only goal of the evening: to share and celebrate success and inspire and get inspired by fellow leaders and pioneers of the community.
“Every year, after winners are selected by an independent committee of judges, we send them a set of questions, and eagerly wait for their answers,” said Mr. Mishra. “This year, my favorite questions were: If life gives you another chance, what will you do? And the second one was: what does success mean to you?”
All the winners had different definitions of success, but the core messages were the same: following their dreams and their passion, Mr. Mishra said. “For some, it is internal happiness, good health, a great family and a complete satisfaction with what one has achieved. Some say success is all about achieving peace of mind and personal fulfillment,” added Mr. Mishra. “And some said success is deeply personal, and everyone needs to craft their own definitions and keep refining them as they learn and grow in life. The definition of success evolves over time.”
The 2023 New England Choice Awards 2023 Committee consisted of Anu Chitrapu, Upendra Mishra, Mandy Pant, Anupendra Sharma, Manju Sheth and Aditi Taylor. The judging committee consisted of: Anu Chitrapu, Senior Vice President, Bank of America; Rohit Mahajan, Managing Partner, BigR.io; Girish Mehta, Founder, Indian Circle for Caring USA; Upendra Mishra, Publisher, INDIA New England News and Co-Founder of IneMultimedia and New England Choice Awards; Zenobia Moochhala, CEO, Sittercity & Co-Founder, Care.com; Deepti Nijhawan, Director, India Initiatives, Boston University Global Programs; Mandy Pant, Lead Technologist, Design Engineering Group at Intel; Jasmine Shah, Founder, Aangikam Dance Academy; Anupendra Sharma, CEO, AXLMED, Dr. Manju Sheth, MD, Co-founder, INE MultiMedia, Women Who Win, NECA and Physician at Harvard Vanguard / Atrius Health; Venkat Srinivasan, Founder and Managing Director of Innospark Ventures; Madhu Sudan, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and Aditi Taylor, Chief Risk Officer, MFS Investment Management.
Mouli Pal, an accomplished Odissi dance artist, choreographer and cultural ambassador, and recording artist Shraddha Agrawal provided the entertainment at the gala. NECA Sponsors included Atrius Health, Leader Bank, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission, IndUS Business Journal, Jay Patel, Women Who Win and Gourmet India. Community sponsors and supporters were, Cocoon Media, TaranOm Creations, SRAVEO, Boston Sound & Light Company, and Fotu Duniya.