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

Shikha Bhatnagar
Executive Director
Shikha Bhatnagar has been working in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years, focusing on community organizing, fundraising and communication, program management, and strategic planning. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Wisconsin, and a Masters degree in International Affairs with a concentration on Economic and Political Development from Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, New York, NY. Shikha has served as Executive Director for Akshaya Patra Foundation USA, and Teach for India; and Associate Director, South Asia Center for the Atlantic Council. Additionally, she has experience as an independent consultant providing services to nonprofit organizations and emerging and established leaders. Prior to accepting the role as Executive Director for the South Asian Network, Shikha served as Director of Development for the Minority Corporate Counsel Association in Washington, DC.

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.

Riffat Rahman
Program Coordinator
Riffat Jahan Rahman obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Science with a concentration in International Relations. In Bangladesh, Ms. Rahman was the Program Officer of The Asia Foundation, an international donor organization. In her capacity, she managed several programs involving governance and law, Legal and Economic Rights, Women’s Political Participation and Violence against Women. From 1999 to 2001, Ms. Rahman was employed full time by the Center for Communications Program, an affiliate of Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication, as a Campaign Executive in Bangladesh. At this organization, she successfully conducted a multi media campaign on reproductive health. In 2005, Mr. Rahman became a volunteer with South Asian Network’s (SAN) Koreatown community mapping and housing rights projects, and later in 2006, she was hired as a Community Advocate by SAN. As a result of working for 20 years in social change work, she has dedicated herself to promoting community development and policy advocacy, especially as it impacts women in the private and public sector. Ms. Rahman has completed her second master’s degree in public policy and management from University of Southern California in 2013. Currently she is working as a Program Coordinator at SAN and successfully managing programs in domestic violence and sexual assault, health and other sectors. Riffat speaks Bangla.

Neeta Sampat
Office Administrator
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.

Tami Shaikh
Civil Rights Advocate
Tami Shaikh was born in Santa Monica and moved to Lahore at the age of 9. She moved back to Orange County at 19 and has lived here ever since.Tami also lived in Dubai for 9 years and worked with people from all socio-economic and racial backgrounds. She has a Masters degree in Education and years of experience working with under privileged kids around the world. Tami has always had a passion for Social Justice and Civil Rights. Her work has included organizing fundraisers for UNICEF , making weekly visits to the local prisons and organizing events in the community to raise awareness on issues impacting our communities. She is fluent in spoken and written Urdu. She is also a blogger for the Huffington Post and an author of two books.

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.


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 – Neetu Pahal, Pahal, Vora & Associates

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

Board Treasurer – Pawan Chaturvedi, UCLA Investments Co.

Sanjay Chhugani, Birdi & Associates

Firdaus Dordi, Dordi Williams Cohen, LLP

Sayema J. Hameed, Cabada & Hameed LLP

Milan Kapadia, Boeing, Inc.

Vidhya Ragunathan, Inner City Law Center

Manju Ramareddy, Arodhum

Sonia Shah, Kaiser Permanente

Rohit Shendrikar, Yahoo! Inc.

Brinda Vasisht, Whisper

Nisha Vyas, Public Counsel