Board of Directors
Neelam Wali, the owner of a successful Printing and Graphic Services in Billerica, was born and brought up in India. Neelam has been a social activist in her community.
In 2006 she was honored as Billerica’s Business Champion of the Year. Past President of The Friends of Council on Aging, Past President of Billerica Chamber of Commerce, Board Member of Billerica Partners for Education, Board Member of Billerica Lions Club International, Member of Billerica Plan, Member of Billerica Access Television, Life Member of India Society of Worcester, Life Member of Indian Association of Greater Boston, Life Member of United India, Member of Hadassah and serves on various Town Committees.
She was nominated as the 1st Chair for the Asian American Commission, a body dedicated to political advocacy on behalf of the Asian American community in the State of Massachusetts.
She was honored as the Women of the Year 2007 by Boys and Girls Club of Greater Billerica.
Neelam’s association with Saheli these past 20 years has taught her the fragility of human beings. To quote her, “Domestic violence affects all sections of society equally, though it is much harder on the new immigrants with no social connections and Saheli services fill the cultural gap.” She has been a constant Saheli supporter and an advocate against domestic violence in the community. She has guided and supported Saheli during the fundraisers since 2010. She is the Chair of the Saheli Advisory Committee and chaired Saheli Biennial Nirbhaya Gala in 2019, providing leadership in the design, build and execution of the program.
Her dedication, passion and commitment are embraced by her husband Anupam and her three daughters who are also long-time Saheli volunteers and advocates.
Aditi Soni is a leader in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry, having executed complex, global projects at every stage of drug development over the past two decades to serve patients in the U.S. and around the world. She is currently head of Program and Alliance Management at Aurion Biotech, focused on biotech innovations to treat diseases of the eye.
She serves on the Board of Advisors for United India Association of New England. She is a mentor with Project Management Institute. As a woman in science, and an immigrant, Aditi cares deeply about inclusion and issues of equity. She has served as co-chair of ‘Cambridge Women Resource Group’ (an ERG with over 500 members) during her scientific tenure at Novartis.
She is committed to the vision of Saheli to create a socially just and violence-free environment for women and families.
Aditi lives in Needham with her husband Rakesh and son Aditya who are actively involved in the Indian community.
Ms. Yadav is a Chartered Accountant (CA) from ICAI (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) and Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) from IIA (Institute of Internal Auditors) has a broad experience as a Finance Business partner in strategic risk mitigation, financial reporting, business controls design and SOX readiness.
Ms. Yadav has served as the Senior Director of internal controls at a public pharmaceuticals company, where she directed corporate finance and functional processes. She also served as a Finance Director leading the finances and financial reporting of the Industrial Business Unit. Her contributions include partnering with leaders of multiple therapeutic areas and cross functional teams to build and enhance oversight on key operational activities, partnering with the CFO on strategic projects with significant financial risks, and strengthening the controls and improving the accuracy of financial monitoring and market analyses.
Ms. Yadav has led IT Audits for SOX and non-SOX engagements, spearheaded the design and implementation of business process controls, implemented business controls for several ERP implementation projects, trained internal audit staff, and performed risk assessments.
Prior to her work in industry, she worked at Deloitte, where she provided risk assurance services for healthcare clients and designed and implemented business process controls for a large ERP project.
Ms. Yadav began her career at KMPG as an auditor in assurance, tax, and regulatory services.
Tanu Debasri Basu
A life-long enthusiast with a go-getter attitude, Tanu strives to “connect” and excel at any position she serves and solemnly aims at nurturing relationships. She has worn multiple professional hats – currently a Director of Leadership Talent Acquisition in the IT Service Management industry, she has also been a licensed educator, mentor/trainer/ curriculum planner. Tanu is a professional orator and hosts various events as an Emcee. Writing is a rewarding hobby she has, and she loves capturing her emotions in the form of poetry. She holds degrees in English, Education and Dance. Discipline, dynamism, integrity, sincerity, loyalty and above all, respect, and love for her work are the ethical beliefs that Tanu takes pride in.
Tanu’s core holds strong in being an ardent community worker, passionate about social causes and service to the community. As a community facilitator, she strives to “connect” and make a difference. In addition to serving in the Saheli board as the Secretary, Tanu also serves as the Executive Director for ace community organizations like IAGB & IAB. She also volunteers at multiple homeless shelters, as an activities coordinator for Alzheimer’s patients at retirement homes & hospice facilities and as an Emotional Support Aide at ERs of multiple hospitals in the Greater Boston area.
Having won life’s battles through hardships of all kinds, Tanu feels personally connected to equity and inclusion for women and stands tall against domestic violence. She strives to address, assist, and achieve the safety, empowerment, and well-being of women through efficiency measures and effectiveness measures within the community at large.
“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud”
Co-founder & Board Member
Usha Vakil co-founded Saheli in 1996. Usha has been a board member since its inception in August 1996 and served as the Chair of the Board of Saheli for 18 years. Under her leadership, Saheli grew from a small volunteer-run community organization into a multiservice agency serving a diverse statewide population.
In 2015 Usha transitioned to the role of a board member and leads the community fundraising efforts. She has taken the Domestic Violence Training program and supports the Domestic Violence team, as needed.
She is a Senior Project Manager at Iron Mountain.
Shweta Agrawal is a serial entrepreneur having founded tech companies with a common theme to help companies across the globe go digital.
She founded her first company more than 15 years back that helped companies with their digital internet presence when companies had little understanding on how to leverage internet for business. Her second company was involved with the digital transformation of companies leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology. Currently she is part of the management team of a company involved with smart technologies for Industry 4.0.
She has been actively involved with many other Indian organizations including IAMV, Hindi Manch and Bitiya. For the last three years she has been helping Saheli with their digital strategy. As a mother of two girls, she is passionate about women empowerment helping women shatter glass ceilings.
Meenakshi Garodia is a member of the Board at Saheli where she has been involved with fundraising and youth programs.
Meenakshi has her MBA from the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore and has worked in manufacturing and finance.
She has always been passionate about women’s empowerment and is an appointed Commissioner with the Brookline Commission of Women.
She is a ceramic artist, who highlights women’s issues through her art. She has also developed a vegetarian cooking show on YouTube which specializes in global cuisines.
Sumathi C Madhure
Sumathi is a single mom and an activist.
She serves as Co-chair of Asian American & Pacific Islander caucus, NH, as well as State Director for South Asians for America in New Hampshire.
She works as a physical therapist. Sumathi earned her BA and MS from University of Lowell, MA.
Dr. Kavitha Chandra
University of Massachusetts Lowell
Associate Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies
Kavitha Chandra is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs in the Francis College of Engineering. In this role, she has designed and implemented programs for broadening the participation of women and underrepresented students in research, industry and community partnerships. As a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Kavitha directs a research program in the Center for Advanced Computation and Telecommunications focusing on network performance, traffic modeling and computational acoustics.
Prior to joining the UMASS Lowell faculty, she was a member of technical staff in the Teletraffic and System Performance Department of AT&T Bell Laboratories and a senior member of the technical staff in the Performance Analysis Department of AT&T Labs. Dr. Chandra is a recipient of the NSF CAREER award and has served as chief scientist and technical consultant, partnering with industry on projects with the Air Force. She is a senior member of IEEE and member of Acoustical Society of America and Sigma XI scientific research society.
N R Nirmala
N R Nirmala has had a career in the pharma industry for over 20 years. She is currently a Principal Investigator at the Tufts Medical Center as well as a co-Founder and CEO of Vindhya Data Science. Nirmala is very interested in contributing to the cause of supporting women.
Shehla has lived in the U.S since 1992. She did her middle school, high school and college in Boston. After marriage, she moved to Chicago where she lived for 17 years and returned to Boston about six years ago.
She has been working as a financial advisor with New York Life. Recently, she took up the position of Executive Council Advisor with New York Life. She has volunteered for several non-profit organizations including serving PAGB as treasurer in 2020. She is now a President of PAGB.
She also volunteers for NAMM and NAMA organisations. She lives with her family in Medfield, MA.