Meet the Speakers: South Asians Aging in America

Keynote Speaker

Paula A. Basta

Director, Illinois Department on Aging

Paula A. Basta was appointed as the Director of the Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) in March 2019, becoming the 13th director, and 7th woman to lead the agency. With an extensive career dedicated to improving the lives of senior citizens under her belt, Basta brings a profound amount of knowledge and experience in senior services, policy, and social justice to lead the agency. IDoA serves and advocates for our 2.7 million older Illinoisans and their caregivers by administering programs and promoting partnerships that encourage independence, dignity and quality of life. IDoA strives for efficient and effective access to services that prevents or delays nursing facility placement and maximizes an individual’s ability to remain as independent as possible within their community. Director Basta is proud to be putting her experience, integrity, and passion to work for the people of Illinois. She is honored to be able to bring her standards of hard work, plain talk, and hands on approach to Springfield.


Dr. Syed Mohsin


Dr. Syed Mohsin is a geriatrician in Evergreen Park, Illinois and is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the area, including Advocate Christ Medical Center and Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers. Geriatricians specialize in the unique health needs of the elderly, including chronic diseases, nutritional problems, skin ailments, cognitive loss, memory impairment, adverse affects of medications, immobility and balances issues. He received his medical degree from Bangalore Medical College and has been in practice for more than 20 years.

Sumithra Murthy, MBBS, MPH

UIC Department of Human Development and Disability

Sumithra Murthy works as the Senior Research Associate for Partners of Refugees in Illinois Disability
Employment (PRIDE) in the Department of Disability and Human Development at University of Illinois at Chicago. Sumithra holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Mumbai, a Master of Public Health from Northwestern University, and is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Disability Studies at UIC. As a physician in India, she has had clinical experience as well as a background in working on public health programs in primary health centers. Her main research interests are policies and practices on family support and cultural competence in caregiving for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Specifically, she is interested in looking at the issues, needs and challenges of Indian and Indian-American family caregivers of people with IDD who are discriminated against and marginalized in society.

Dr. Anuja Gupta

Managing Partner, Verandah Retirement Community 

Dr. Anuja Gupta is a physician, entrepreneur, and real estate developer. She currently serves as the Managing Partner of Verandah Retirement Community, a $43 Million senior living facility in Schaumburg township designed to uniquely serve both Indian and American lifestyles. She was awarded the Influential Women in Business 2018 award by the Daily Herald Newspaper in recognition of her work at Verandah. Dr. Gupta is also passionate about serving the community through women empowerment and civic engagement. She is the co-founder of the Women’s Empowerment Campaign Chicago (WE), a networking and empowerment platform for Indian and Southeast Asian women in Chicagoland with over 1700 members. She is also the co-founder of the Voice of Indian American Voters (VIA), a non-partisan platform for the civic engagement of Indian Americans. Dr. Gupta also serves as a member of the Will County Economic Development Board and advisory board of the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) Chicago.

Santosh Kumar

Executive Director, Metropolitan Asian Family Services  

Santosh Kumar is the Founder and Executive Director of Metropolitan Asian Family Services (MAFS), which has served the Chicago community for over 25 years. The mission of MAFS is to provide comprehensive and integrated services to immigrant populations from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lankan and East European communities facing linguistic and cultural barriers. Ms. Kumar has also has served as an advisor to the Community Care Program of Illinois since 2008, a member of the Planning Committee of CCPAC of Illinois to make recommendations on the policies on aging, and has addressed the White House Council on Aging. She has also served as President of the national Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly (CLESE).

Dr. Talat Khan

Executive Director, American Association of Retired Asians 

Talat Khan, Ph.D., is the Founder and Executive Director of the American Association of Retired Asians (AARA). AARA is dedicated to addressing the logistical, cultural, linguistic and advocacy needs of the aging South Asian American community. Dr. Khan also serves on the Illinois Council on Aging, an advisory body to the Illinois Department on Aging. Previously, she served as a Research Scientist at Hines VA Hospital and held a faculty appointment in the Department of Neurology and the Departments of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy at Loyola University Medical Center.

Caregiving Discussion Facilitator 

Dr. Rooshey Hasnain

Clinical Assistant Professor, UIC Department of Human Development and Disability

Rooshey Hasnain, Ed.D., M.A., is a clinical assistant professor with the Department of Disability and Human Development and the Rehabilitation Sciences Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Her primary professional interest is understanding the lives, challenges, and strengths of people with disabilities and mental health conditions through a cross-cultural lens, especially those from refugee, immigrant, and limited English proficiency backgrounds. She has a long history of participating in community—university initiatives that focus on multicultural and multilingual disability and quality-of-life issues in partnership with key stakeholders and community groups. She is the founder and principal investigator of the Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank (ADOPT), a systems-change initiative that seeks to address productive living for Asians, immigrants, and refugees with disabilities through multisector outreach and innovative strategies. She is also the PI for a NIDILRR initiative called Partners of Disabilities in Illinois Disability Employment (PRIDE), which aims to support Illinois-based job-seeking refugees with disabilities in accessing employment and reaching their career goals.