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

Hina Ahmad
Program Assistant – Civil Rights Unit
Hina graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Public Administration and Political Science, and a Minor in Religious Studies. She organized the Social Justice Summit at CSUF for two years and was very involved in advocacy efforts on and off campus. Hina interned with LA Human Relations Commission and worked on the initial research for the Los Angeles Indigenous Peoples Day Report. She also worked for the County of Orange, Registrar of Voters during the 2016 General election. She is now the Civil Rights Unit-Program Assistant and is extremely excited to be working with the South Asian Community and a part of the SAN team!

Shikha Bhatnagar
Executive Director
Shikha Bhatnagar has over 20 years of experience working with global stakeholders across all sectors, and has held a number of executive leadership roles with innovative non-profit organizations in the U.S. and India, such as Teach For India and Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest NGO run school lunch program. As a nonprofit leader, Shikha has raised crucial support and built strategic partnerships for the important causes she represented in fields such as education, civic engagement, and sustainable development. In addition to her NGO work, she spent five years at the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Presidential Management Fellow in the International Trade Administration, where she represented U.S. companies in bilateral trade agreements and market access cases across the Middle East/North Africa, Australia, and Asia.

Shikha received her Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she focused on economic and political development. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she double-majored in International Relations and Political Science, with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and global security.

Asha Gandhi
Community Advocate – AWAZ – Voices Against Violence
Asha has a Bachelor Degree in Arts from Bombay University, India. Asha has been working with non-profit organizations for 10 years. She worked in SAN’s Health Unit from 2008-2013 as Health Coordinator. Asha also worked as the Resident Care Coordinator at a domestic violence shelter. Asha is currently a Community Advocate in SAN’s AWAZ – Voices Against Violence Unit. Asha’s focus is working with survivors of gender-based violence. Asha speaks, reads and writes Hindi and Gujarati.

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.

Nutan Kafle
Program Assistant
Nutan is a Health Care Graduate from Nepal. Upon graduation she worked as faculty for the National Open College for 4 years and as a Program Manager at Vinayak Hospital and Maternity Home Pvt. Ltd. During her work at the hospital she realized her interest in community health. Upon moving to the United States she volunteered at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital. Due to her interest in Community Health and Well-Being she joined the degree program in Community Health Education at California State University, Long Beach and graduated with a degree in Master’s in Public Health. She is working with SAN for the past year as an Office Administrator and now Program Assistant. She speaks Nepali and Hindi.

Bilal H. Kazmi
Community Outreach & Volunteer Coordinator
Bilal H. Kazmi was born in Chicago, Illinois to South Asian immigrants. He moved to Southern California in pursuit of his undergraduate degree in Business from California State University, Fullerton. After graduating from college, Bilal worked with various local nonprofit organizations. He then went on to serve as a volunteer for two years in the Kyrgyz Republic for the United States Peace Corps. Upon completion of his volunteer service, Bilal worked as a program manager for Save the Children in Central Asia and as an income generation consultant in Uttar Pradesh, India. After returning to the United States, he became involved in activism for the LGBTQ community. Bilal now coordinates outreach and volunteers at SAN. He speaks Urdu.

Nina Sharmin
Senior Program Associate, CHAI
Nina serves as the program manager for the Community Health unit (CHAI) at SAN. She has over a decade of experience working with the South Asian community in Southern California. She previously worked as the Resident Care Coordinator and a Cal-Works Case Manager at a domestic violence shelter and has managed portions of the Voices Against Violence program at SAN. Nina largely works with the Bangladeshi community across the greater Los Angeles area. She speaks Bangla and Hindi, and has a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Dhaka University, Bangladesh.


Deanna Cherry, Executive Coaching

Katherine Kubarski, Grant Writing

Danyaal Mashedy, Technology

Purvi Shahpatel, Mental Health

Janis Weir, Fundraising

Board Members

Smita Bagla, Managing Partner, Amritt Ventures, Inc.

Sanjay Chhugani, Director-Support Services, Santa Barbara Applied Research

Monisha Coelho, Partner, Kalara Law

Ashim Kumar, Physician, Western Fertility Institute

Meena Makhijani, Physician, Motion Picture & Television Fund/UCLA

Vidhya Ragunathan, Pro Bono Coordinator, Inner City Law Center

Sonia Shah (Board Chair), Lead Improvement Advisor, Kaiser Permanente Medical Center

Rohit Shendrikar, Senior Legal Director, Yahoo! Inc.

Brinda Vasisht (Board Secretary), Mobile QA Engineer, Whisper