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

Susan Ahmed
Administrative Assistant
Susan earned her Bachelor of Science in Global Disease Biology from UC Davis in 2018. She was born and raised in California but her roots go back to Bangladesh, where her parents immigrated from. During her undergraduate career, Susan found her passion for public health and advocating for minority groups in the United States. She is particularly interested in how healthcare systems function and how they can be improved to deliver better services to patients, particularly patients from underrepresented backgrounds. Susan is excited to be working with SAN and contributing to the important work that is done to meet the needs the South Asian community. Susan speaks Bangla.

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.

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 Associate, Gender Based Violence
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 has been working with SAN for the past two year as an Office Administrator, Program Assistant, and now Program Associate. She speaks Nepali and Hindi.

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.

Ravina D. Wadhwani
Mental Health Therapist
Ravina Wadhwani serves as SAN’s mental health therapist. Ravina’s life work is devoted to decolonizing mental health and honoring alternative and culturally relevant forms of healing. Ravina was born to Indian immigrants in the U.S. Virgin Islands & earned a Master’s of Education in Mental Health Counseling in 2018 from Boston University. Ravina has worked predominantly with individuals and families of color & marginalized populations in many settings including hospitals, non-profits, colleges, community mental health agencies, prisons and schools in the US, UK, and US Virgin Islands. Ravina believes that access to culturally responsive mental health care and resources in our communities is essential to holistic well-being.


Deanna Cherry, Executive Coaching

Katherine Kubarski, Grant Writing

Danyaal Mashedy, Technology

Purvi Shahpatel, Mental Health

Janis Weir, Fundraising

Board Members

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

Monisha Coelho, Partner, Kalara Law

Pallavi Dhawan, Deputy District Attorney, County of Los Angeles

Teddy Kapur, Partner, Pachulski Stang Ziehl & Jones LLP

Ashim Kumar, Physician, Western Fertility Institute

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

Rohit Shendrikar, Senior Legal Director, Yahoo! Inc.

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