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.
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.
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.
Reena Patel is a writer, poet, social justice, DEI, and feminist activist. She advocates for equity in K-12 education through various volunteer roles in her local school district. She also serves as a local Human Rights Commission member and sits on the board of the Hingham Unity Council. Reena is currently obtaining a social justice-centered M.Ed. in Educational Leadership and Policy at Boston College. While pursuing her undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and DeSales University, Reena wrote for several South Asian publications advocating for candid educational conversations for South Asian families around sexual assault and consent.
Anushka is a licensed clinical psychologist doing her postdoctoral training at Harvard. She is also a Global Mental Health fellow for the World Health Organization. Anushka’s interests lie at the intersection of trauma, culture, and psychosocial care. She has conducted original research on the assessment and treatment of Indian women from slums exposed to gender-based violence; additionally, she leads systematic reviews and treatment outcome research. Anushka earned her BA from Carleton College (MN), completed her doctoral studies at The University of Tulsa (OK), and her clinical internship at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to her current position.
Aruna Krishnamurthy is a Professor and Chair of the English Studies Department at Fitchburg State University. She has also served as President of the Faculty and Librarians Union (MSCA) at Fitchburg State for four years. Aruna has volunteered with Saheli at the Shrewsbury and Acton chapters for many years, organizing and running workshops on issues relevant to the South Asian community. As a Board member, she looks forward to using her writing skills and literary background to help further the mission and vision of Saheli and shape new initiatives for the organization.
Luluah Safri is currently the Senior Director of Global Mobility & HR Integrations, at Northeastern University. In her role Luluah oversees the Global Mobility Program, Mergers and Acquisition, and HR programs across all functions to create operational efficiency. Prior to her HR career, Luluah was a Social Worker and headed the Foster Care and Adoption program at Catholic Charities in Chicago. Luluah has her bachelor’s in psychology and Masters in Psychiatric Social Work as well as an MBA. Luluah lives with her husband and son and enjoys spending time with friends and family, reading, being outdoors, and sometimes binge-watching shows.
Sangeet prides herself in building her life in the US in spite of all adversities over the last 20 years. With a B.Sc & B.Ed in Chemistry, she is a passionate chemistry teacher at Newton North High school. Sangeet has been teaching for 30 years out of which 10 have been in a school Mumbai- her hometown. She holds a Masters in Sociology and a Master’s in education from BU. She is also a Scoutmaster for a Girls & Boys BSA troop in Newton and serves on the board for Mayflower council as a Diversity Chair. She strongly believes that empowering girls & women to be strong leaders is the only way to revolutionize a patriarchal society.
Anita holds a bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering from Tufts University, a Masters degree in education for Mathematics from UMass Lowell, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Regis College. She is the Program Director for Computer Science at Boston Public Schools where she manages the district’s computer science curriculum and programming and also supports and inspires teachers, students, and families across the district. Community is extremely important as well for Anita – she is active in the education system in the city of Framingham, where she lives; she actively volunteers for Indian Family Network, with the hope of keeping her children connected to their Indian Heritage; and is a member of the board of directors for Jewish Family Services of Metrowest.
Sowmini Sampath is the senior director of documentation and user experience at MathWorks, a leading developer of mathematical computing software for engineers and scientists. She is grateful to lead and be a part of talented, collaborative, global teams at MathWorks. Her prior board and leadership positions have provided valuable lessons and experience in strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, and consensus building. She is committed to serving as an ambassador and steward of Saheli Boston’s mission and strategic growth.
Ritu has her Masters in occupational therapy from Boston University and has worked as an OT for over 25 years in various healthcare settings. She is currently following the path of yoga, teaching yoga and meditation to people of all ages and abilities. After managing her yoga studio in the Boston Suburbs for seven years, she is teaching online and leading yoga, meditation, and trekking Retreats worldwide.
As the Chief Commercial Officer of State Street Alpha, Swati Verma is responsible for building out Alpha’s B2B platform business. In this role, Swati drives Alpha’s commercials by delivering strategic third-party capabilities to our clients and capturing associated distribution economics. Swati also selectively invests in these third-parties through equity stakes and buyouts. Swati manages the vision, strategy, financials and talent for the business, as well as works with key partners across product, sales, marketing, consultant relations and corporate functions to drive market structure innovation and value realization.
Prior to her current role, Swati was a Managing Director in State Street’s Corporate Strategy team, where she helped set strategic direction on key topics for the Board and the Management Committee, spearheaded M&A opportunities, and advised executives on business-unit strategy. Her primary focus was in the asset management and wealth management industries. Before State Street, Swati worked with Citigroup Global Markets, where she was responsible for defining investment theses and marketing investment opportunities to asset class agnostic clients (e.g., global macro hedge funds, asset allocation at asset managers) across vanilla and structured instruments.