Staff & Board

SAN’s staff, volunteers, and board include: a majority of women, who are persons of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan and Nepali origin from Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist traditions; first-generation immigrants and American-born; speakers of Hindi, Nepali, Gujarati, Urdu, Bangla, Punjabi and Sinhala; and queer and heterosexual members.

SAN’s diversity reflects the multiple identities within the community, as well as multiple issue areas and methodologies for community building.  Staff come with extensive experience and knowledge of public health, civil rights/ immigrant rights, intimate partner violence and community education.

Staff Members

Faizah Barlas
Civil Rights Advocate
Faizah was born in Pakistan and raised in Los Angeles County. Just recently graduating from UC Berkeley, she received her BA in History. During college, she was a board member of Suitcase Clinic, a student run clinic that works with the homeless population in Berkeley, but specifically focused her energy on Women’s Clinic, the VP of Logistics for the Association of Muslim Professional Development, and an intern for the South & South West Asian North African (SSWANA) Student Affairs. She worked for a year as a research assistant with the UCSF Hope-HOME team, who were researching homelessness in Oakland. During her last semester at Berkeley, Faizah was an intern at the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, narrowing her interests on criminal and juvenile justice. Now working at SAN as a Civil Rights Advocate, she intends to apply to law school in the near future.

Humna Ali
Office Administrator
Humna, born and raised in Los Angeles, has always maintained a strong connection to her Pakistani roots. Her passion lies in aiding victims of domestic violence. She tries her best to educate herself and those around her on how to effect positive change in the South Asian community and erase the attitude of silencing and/or blaming the victim. She is a trained crisis and domestic violence counselor and aspires to pursue a master’s in social work and public policy. Humna is fluent in Urdu.

Manjusha Kulkarni
Executive Director
Manjusha is Executive Director at SAN. Prior to joining SAN, Manju served as Senior Attorney at the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) for eleven years. At NHeLP, Manju worked to improve access to quality health care for low-income individuals. Manju has been awarded the Public Service Award by the South Asian Bar Association of Southern California in 2005. She was also selected for the Women’s Policy Institute Fellowship program in 2006, a project of the Women’s Foundation of California to train women to take on leadership roles in state policy advocacy.

Neeta Sampat
Community Advocate
Neeta was born in the U.S. ​and raised by a father who wanted to save the world​, as such her ​awareness for social inequality started ​at an early age. ​​​In 2012 she joined SAN because she wanted to give back to her own community. As a part of the CHAI and AWAZ units Neeta strives to address the multidimensional needs of her clients, advocate for and empower them. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Social Work. Neeta speaks Gujarati and Hindi.

Nina Sharmin
Community Advocate
Nina has a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Dhaka University, Bangladesh. She worked in SAN’s Health Unit from 2002-2008. Nina also worked as the Resident Care Coordinator and a Cal-Works Case Manager at a domestic violence shelter. Nina is currently a Community Advocate in SAN’s CHAI and AWAZ programs. Nina mostly works with the Bangladeshi community in Koreatown and various other places. Nina can speak Bangla and Hindi.

Rucha Shirsalkar
Mental Health Therapist
Rucha was born in India, raised in Dubai and has resided in the US for over 13 years. She has a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) with a specialization in clinical Art Therapy. She began her work with non-profits through developing and teaching art programs for under-served children in India, Dubai, and San Francisco. Rucha is passionate about utilizing culturally relative expressive arts therapies to better serve her clients and affect social change. Rucha speaks Hindi and Marathi.

Saima Husain
Deputy Director
Saima was born in Pakistan, raised in four countries, and speaks five languages. With a Ph.D in Human Rights, Saima started at SAN in 2007 as community advocate with AWAZ, she later coordinated the AWAZ unit, and is now SAN’s Deputy Director. In 2009, Saima was selected as a Fellow for the Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute, a project that trains women to take on leadership roles in state policy advocacy. She has previously worked on police violence, disability rights, and governance.


Deanna Cherry, Executive Coaching

Katherine Kubarski, Grant Writing

Danyaal Mashedy, Technology

Purvi Shahpatel, Mental Health,

Janis Weir, Fundraising

Holly Witham, Accounting

Board Members

Board Chair – Sayema J. Hameed, Esq., Cabada & Hameed LLP

Board Secretary – Meena Makhijani, Motion Picture & Television Fund/UCLA

Board Treasurer – Neetu Pahal, Pahal, Vora & Associates

Pawan Chaturvedi, UCLA Investments Co.

Sanjay Chhugani, Santa Barbara Applied Research

Firdaus Dordi, Dordi Williams Cohen, LLP

Milan Kapadia, CoreLogic

Vidhya Ragunathan, Crowell & Moring, LLP

Sonia Shah, Kaiser Permanente

Rohit Shendrikar, Yahoo! Inc.

Brinda Vasisht, Whisper

Nisha Vyas, Public Counsel