2011 Civil & Human Rights Symposium: Surveying the Landscape of Social and Legal Issues Affecting the South Asian LGBTQ Community in the U.S. and in South Asia.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Georgetown University Law Center
600 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
The landscape of social and legal issues faced by the South Asian LGBTQ community is changing. Great strides have been made to promote and advance the interests of the LGBTQ community in the United States and in South Asia, but many challenges still remain. The panelists will provide insight and share their perspective of the social and legal issues currently faced by the South Asian LGBTQ community in the United States and South Asia, as well as on the role of the U.S. Department of State in international LGBTQ issues.
The panelists will include:
Sapna Pandya – Sapna Pandya is Co-Founder of Humsafar International, a collective of trainers on health access and cultural competence, with a particular interest in sexual health and sexual identity issues among LGBTQ communities. One of her current projects includes consulting for the Muslim Youth Project, a sexual & reproductive health empowerment and capacity building project housed at Advocates for Youth. Sapna has experience working with priority populations (queer communities, PLWHA) in India and Pakistan, but also draws from her advocacy work with South Asian queer folks in New York City and the DC area, and health education programs when she directed the South Asian Health Initiative (SAHI) in New York City. These experiences have deepened the passion that Sapna has for being involved in coordinated social justice movements (that bridge methods such as advocacy & organizing, and incorporate a leftist ideology) - a realization which motivated a move “back” to the Nation’s capital just over a year ago. Sapna is the Executive Director of Many Languages One Voice, a DC-based organization that administers the DC Language Access Coalition, and builds community power to ensure that all individuals with limited or no-English proficiency (LEP/NEP) have equitable access to public services, programs, and activities. Sapna lives with her wife in the District and speaks Spanish in addition to her native languages of Hindi/Urdu, Gujarati and Marathi.
Mira D. Patel – Mira Patel joined the Policy Planning staff for the Office of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of State in April 2009. She is responsible for international women’s issues, refugee policy, and LGBT issues. Most recently, she served as Secretary Clinton’s Senate aide for foreign affairs, defense, and finance. She previously worked for the Center for American Progress and for Lehman Brothers in New York analyzing foreign exchange in emerging markets. She holds a B.A. from Wellesley College.
Gautam Raghavan (Moderator) – Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director of Public Engagement at the White House, where he functions as the White House liaison to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Prior to joining the White House, Gautam served as the Deputy White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense (“DoD”) and as the Outreach Lead for DoD’s “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” Working Group. Gautam has previously worked for the Obama campaign, Democratic National Committee, and Progressive Majority, and is a graduate of Stanford University. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his husband Andy and beagle Penny.
Jeff Schimelfenig, Esq. – Jeff Schimelfenig is currently the President-Elect of the National LGBT Bar Association and a member of GAYLAW (the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Attorneys of Washington DC). Jeff works as National Director of Legal Project Management for Kelly Services, providing consulting services to law firms and corporate general counsels on e-discovery project management, staffing alternatives and legal talent resources. Previously, Jeff was a general practice sole practitioner in Northeastern Pennsylvania focusing on small business issues. He is a graduate of the American University Washington College of Law and of the University of Scranton. He is an active member of the Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia Bars.
Vega Subramaniam – Vega Subramaniam has been involved in South Asian LGBT activism since the late 1990s. With her wife, Mala Nagarajan, she co-founded Trikone-NW in 1997, an organization for queer South Asians in the Pacific Northwest. In 2004, she and Mala were one of 8 couples to participate in a marriage equality lawsuit against King County and Washington. She also helped organize the DesiQ conference in San Francisco in 2006 and the NQAPIA national conference in Seattle in 2009. Professionally, her work has revolved around education equity for low-income, first-generation college students and students of color. She has taught sociology and worked in student services at Penn State University, Western Washington University, and the University of Washington. She currently works at ACCT, a national community college association.
This event is free and the entire DC community is encouraged to attend. For more information about this event or SABA-DC, please contact Habib Ilahi at president @ sabadc.org (without spaces). KhushDC contact is Puesh Kumar at president @ khushdc.org (without spaces).