Meet the SAAPRI Team

Shobhana Johri Verma

Executive Director

Shobhana brings to South Asian American Policy and Research Institute (SAAPRI) a unique blend of public policy, outreach, advocacy and public relations experience.

Most recently she has built and also leads one of the first and most effective South Asian Voter Engagement Programs at the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners. Thanks to her untiring efforts since 2014, unprecedented numbers of South Asian Americans in the city have begun to exercise their right to vote and participate in local, state and federal level electoral process. Prior to joining the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, Shobhana held numerous roles as a researcher, educator, volunteer and journalist advocating for environmental causes and gender and immigrant interests, including challenging roles supporting victims of sexual exploitation, human trafficking and domestic violence. She has written for and been published in both the digital and print media in both the United States and India. Shobhana holds two Masters Degrees in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from the University of Cincinnati and Lucknow University. She is a certified Sexual Violence Prevention Educator and is trained in Medical and Legal Advocacy. She is a past student board member of the Cincinnati Chapter of Planned Parenthood. Shobhana is also a member of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Equity that advises the Mayor and City Council of Chicago on policy matters regarding civil rights issues.

Shobhana has been an active and trusted leader within the South Asian American community in Greater Chicago Area and as SAAPRI’s Executive Director, she looks forward to continuing her work as a researcher, organizer, and strategist on a wide range of human rights and social justice issues with diverse and collaborative coalitions in Chicago and beyond.

Anil Methipara

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

Research Fellow

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.