Dhara joined SAAPRI as its Executive Director in 2017. She graduated with a B.S. in psychology from Loyola University Chicago, where she served as the coordinator for the first international, interdisciplinary conference on South Asian womanhood and girlhood. Prior to SAAPRI, Dhara completed a contract at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs to help develop their Junior Professional Officer Program. Much of Dhara’s experience lies in community-based research. Dhara conducted research on the impact of peer mentoring on students in Chicago public schools in low income neighborhoods with high rates of violence. She also conducted independent research abroad in Kathmandu, Nepal, where she studied risk factors for suicide among female migrant workers and worked for a nonprofit that provided legal aid and rehabilitation services to displaced Nepali migrants. She is passionate about issues surrounding equity and social justice, workers’ rights, public health, and migration. As SAAPRI’s Executive Director, Dhara looks forward to continuing her work engaging those in Chicago and beyond through social justice initiatives and research that can empower and unite the South Asian community.
Community Research Fellow
Anil has a B.A. in economics from Carleton College and has been involved in research in several public policy areas. His undergraduate thesis developed a model examining the relationship between income inequality and population health outcomes in developing countries and was presented at a 2016 conference held by the World Bank and the Institute for Human Development. As a research intern at the Centre for Public Policy Research in Kerala, India, he examined the infrastructure sector in Kerala from an Ease of Doing Business framework. In college, he served as the chair of the Carleton Responsible Investment Committee where he helped develop corporate social responsibility policies for the college. He has also worked on projects seeking to understand the history and diasporic experiences of St. Thomas Christians in the U.S. As a Community Research Fellow, Anil is focused on using both data and the voices within the South Asian community to advance public policy solutions.
Kangkana Koli has a B.S. in political science and Asian studies. She is currently in a Political Science master’s program at the University of Chicago where she focuses on Race, Ethnicity and Immigration. Kangkana would like to use her experiences as a Bangladeshi Immigrant to close the gap in academia and policy when it comes to South Asians. She has completed several research projects looking at the status of Asian Immigrants in America and would like to continue this work as she pursues a PhD. Her undergraduate thesis addressed the topic of colorism and how it effects the lives of Asians Americans. Her current project is looking at the treatment of South Asian migrant workers in the Middle East. As a research fellow at SAAPRI she is dedicated to bringing awareness to issues that impact the South Asian community in the U.S. but also the South Asian diaspora around the world. She hopes her work with SAAPRI will help her learn how she can best serve her community and use her experiences to advocate for policy changes to accommodate a thriving immigrant community in the U.S.