Ann Lata Kalayil
SAAPRI Co-Founder, Board Chair
Ann Lata Kalayil has a Ph.D. in History from University of Wisconsin at Madison. As a Board member of several organizations, both community service and advocacy based, she has been active in Chicago’s Indian American and Asian American community. She has conducted diversity trainings and spent decades advocating in the areas of economic development for target communities, reforms in immigration, and political empowerment.
Padma Rangaswamy has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Illinois at Chicago and is an historian and author. Among her major publications are Namasté America: Indian Immigrants in an American Metropolis (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000), a comprehensive study of Asian Indian immigration, Indian Americans (The New Immigrant Series, Chelsea House, 2007), Asian Indians of Chicago (Arcadia Publishing, 2003), and several entries to Asian American encyclopedias and professional journals.
K. Sujata has a Ph.D. from Northwestern University, Illinois. She moved into management of non-profits after several years experience in manufacturing industries. She has developed collaborations with universities in Chicago to add to the knowledge and information about South Asian victims of domestic violence. She has been invited to speak locally and nationally on issues affecting immigrant battered women. She volunteers her time on boards of several non-profits working on social justice issues.
SAAPRI Board Member
Tejas Shah is immigration counsel at Franczek Radelet P.C., leading the firm’s immigration practice and serving as a member of the Labor & Employment and Higher Education Practice Groups. Tejas is actively involved with and has been appointed to leadership positions in many community associations. He served as the 2014 president of the Indian American Bar Association of Chicago. He is currently the co-chair of the South Asian Bar Association (SABA) of North America’s immigration committee, and served as chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s International and Immigration Law Section Council in 2015-16. He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the SABA Foundation and the Associate Board of the Indo-American Center of Chicago. He volunteers with pro bono agencies and chaired the “Cyriac Kappil” Indo-American Clinic for three years. He was also a fellow with the Chicago Chapter of the New Leaders Council in 2015. Tejas is proud to support SAAPRI’s mission of arming the South Asian community with the policy tools and data it needs to further its impact on civic engagement, hate crimes, access to health care, economic development, and immigration.
SAAPRI Board Member
Mita N. Shewakramani is a licensed attorney for her firm Regal Law Group LLC. She received her bachelors in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her Juris Doctor from Penn State Law. In addition to her legal work specializing in commercial transactions and real estate, Mita is a managing real estate broker and the resident GIA Certified Diamond Specialist at Regal Jewels, which has served the South Asian community for generations.
Deeply involved in the Rogers Park/West Ridge community, Mita also serves on the board of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce and Regal Foundation, the charitable organization that founded Little India’s own Shree Ganesh Temple of Chicago. Mita is thrilled to be a member of the SAAPRI Board and continue working with and for the South Asian community.
SAAPRI Board Member
Anita Banerji is currently a consultant to the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Education Fund, a national nonprofit organization. Formerly, as Forefront’s Democracy Initiative Director, Anita created and led the Illinois Count Me In 2020 program composed of an IL funders’ collaborative and a nonprofit advocacy coalition. She worked closely with the City of Chicago, Cook County, the State of Illinois and nonprofit organizations for 2020 Census outreach efforts. She also served as a City of Chicago Complete Count Committee Member and was an appointed member to the Cook County Complete Count Census Commission.
Over the course of two decades, Anita has worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. and the Illinois State Government, as well as the larger nonprofit sector. Anita has lobbied on the sugary sweetened beverage campaign through the American Heart Association and also served as Legislative Director for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Print Journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. She is a 2010 Illinois Women’s Institute in Leadership (IWIL) alum, a 2019 Edgar Fellows Alum, and in spring of 2021 was appointed to the State’s Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes.
SAAPRI Board Member
Susan Patel is a first-generation South Asian [Indian] American. She was born and raised in the Chicago area. Save for a brief period in India, she grew up in the Skokie neighborhood. She owns “Patel Bros. Handicrafts & Utensils,” an Indian handicraft and utensils store on Devon Avenue. She is a fashion and interior designer, the youngest woman to own a boutique on Devon Avenue, and a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Susan Patel is the owner of Urban Convene, an event space in the West ridge neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois.
Susan Patel is also the founder and curator of Suuprah, a tactical lifestyle brand, product line, and methodology that is designed to tap into intentional self-realization, love, healing, and alignment— and what it means for each individual. Susan believes in the power of redefining what’s possible, developing new habits, and celebrating our imperfections along the way.