Divya ChhabraIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Divya Chhabra is an AIF Fellow working with SAFA India, based in Hyderabad, Telangana. She is focused on developing local employment opportunities by incubating micro-entrepreneurs and creating an ecosystem for micro startups. She holds an integrated degree in BCom LLB from Tamil Nadu National Law University, Tiruchirappalli. During her academic pursuits, Divya gained valuable experience interning with various organizations, including the People’s Union of Civil Liberties in Jaipur, Majlis Legal Centre in Mumbai, and Jagori Rural Charitable Trust in Dharamshala. Through these internships, she gained knowledge about litigation and violence investigation while developing her passion for the development sector. Divya believes in effective communication with communities to understand their needs and bring positive change. She is determined to use her Fellowship as a stepping stone toward starting her own social enterprise or NGO. When she is not working, Divya enjoys reading and traveling.
Hamsini BalajiIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Hamsini Balaji is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Fellow for the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society and she will be helping build a social enterprise to brand the products of Self-Help Group (SHG) Members to increase access to larger markets and create sustainable livelihoods. Hamsini values curiosity and community, which has led her to the development sector to apply systems thinking to identify interdisciplinary and cyclical solutions to development challenges. Hamsini’s prior experience has involved serving as a Technical Program Officer and Measurement Advisor for a USAID nutrition, WASH, and women’s empowerment program. She holds a Master’s in Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California and has designed and developed two social enterprises during her graduate career. Personally, Hamsini is exploring what it means to be a woman, the power of women, and their ability to organize for social change. Through the Fellowship, she hopes to co-design a solution with rural women and understand the operational and field realities of the development sector. In her free time, she enjoys exercising, spending time in nature, reading, and dancing.
Nabhas RajIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Nabhas Raj comes from a small town in Kannur district of Kerala, India. He pursued his undergraduate education at Amrita University. He graduated in Electrical and Electronics Engineering in 2017, and later pursued a post-graduate degree in Development Policy and Practice. Irrespective of pursuing engineering, Nabhas always aspired to be a part of the development sector in India. After his graduation, he joined Goonj Fellowship where he served the organization’s Kolkata chapter. At Goonj, he worked on various campaigns on livelihood, education, and menstrual hygiene. During his post-graduation, Nabhas also worked on internships and field projects, touching upon areas such as youth and employment, health, environmental conservation, etc. In his personal space, Nabhas enjoys reading non-fiction, watching cinema, playing football, etc. Currently, he is a Banyan Impact Fellow with the American India Foundation, and is working with Jagori Rural Charitable Trust in Himachal Pradesh on issues of sustainable farming, sustainable development, gender and climate resistance.
Dnyana SIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Dnyana S is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Banyan Impact Fellow with Seba Jagat in Kalahandi, Odisha, in the project of public health. Dnyaneshwar is a first-generation learner. He is a Master’s degree holder in Gender, Culture, and Development. Being critical of the add-and-stir approach to gender, he has written two research papers about media representations of gender, masculinities, and sexualities during his academic career. As an intern, he has worked with adolescent male children from underprivileged communities in Pune on gender sensitization and leadership skills. He has had short-term research experiences with folk artists and young entrepreneurs from Maharashtra. He has worked with men against violence and abuse for a research project on the construction of men and masculinities through different social institutions. He is a former Goonj Urban Fellow, where he worked with different left-out communities in West Bengal and Odisha on various initiatives by Goonj, like health and education. He intends to create safe spaces for people with different gender, sexual, social, and cultural identities. He believes in fluidity and tries to dismantle binaries for the betterment of human rights. He believes in acceptance, awareness, and advocacy for the rights of underprivileged people
Sanaa MunjalIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sanaa Munjal is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Banyan Impact Fellow with Tech Mahindra Foundation (TMF) based out of Delhi-NCR, India, for a period of ten months. Hailing from Jaipur, Rajasthan, she completed her undergraduate degree in Economics from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, in 2022. She is currently working around the area of mental health awareness, skilling, and education, and also a research survey to understand the climate of mental health in the communities TMF caters to, along with working on youth development and mentoring. She has experience working in diverse domains with organizations such as NITI Aayog and United Nations Global Compact Network India, which helped her gain policy and research-driven experience. She has also obtained a diploma from the Indian Institute of Governance and Leadership in International Relations and Diplomacy. She has co-authored a research paper that was further added to the virtual library and literature on COVID-19 by WHO. In the future, Sanaa hopes to work at the intersection of policy and development around education, women’s health, and youth development. She hopes to leverage this opportunity to understand the development sector and expand her learning horizon.
Sidharth HendreIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sidharth Hendre hails from Pune, Maharashtra. He graduated in Political Science (Hons) from MIT-World Peace University, Pune. Holding a nuance in Political Science, he has interests in Public Policy and Human Rights advocacy. During the last year of his graduation, he did his dissertation on ‘Manual Scavenging in India: Caste not Law dictates the fate.’ Being an extremely active person outside of academics, he has completed two years of the National Cadet Corps, which included Army Attachment Camp and Combined Annual Training Camp, and secured an ‘A’ grade in the ‘B Certificate’ exam. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, he has been continuously volunteering for the betterment of sex workers and transgender communities in Pune City, by assisting them in providing appropriate support from the government authorities and by providing relief kits by the means of crowdfunding and raising awareness. Right after his graduation, he went on to do fellowship with Goonj in Delhi, Maharashtra, Chennai, and Chhattisgarh. He worked in various thematic areas of Education, Healthcare and Sanitation, and Urban and Rural Development. He also worked under the initiative of ‘Not Just a Piece of Cloth,’ educating urban and rural masses about safe and hygienic menstrual practices, and worked on the positioning and visibility of the initiative. Apart from that, he also worked on Urban Operations in Goonj, Chennai. Throughout his travels, studies, and experiences in various parts of India, he has developed a diverse perspective on various socio-economic issues.
Sivakami PrasannaIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Sivakami Prasanna is a social science graduate who aspires to understand how gender intersects with different socio-cultural and economic inequities, aiming to work at the intersection of academia, action research, and policy making. She completed her Bachelor’s in Social Sciences from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and later pursued a Post Graduate Diploma in Liberal Arts from Ashoka University as a Young India Fellow. The writings of Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze in advocating for participatory models for development that focus on the reflective participation and agency of people resonate deeply with her. While working in rural Maharashtra and Kerala, her engagement with communities awoke her to the large gap between policymaking, academia, and ground reality. To further explore this, she interned with the Center for Public Policy Research to understand the nuances of policymaking and its implications while also working with women from rural Ernakulam through Goonj and with migrant laborers through Let’s Reach Out Kerala. A firm believer in the might of the pen, she has published articles on the Rights Collective blog, Café Dissensus, Truecopy Think, Countercurrents, Feminism in India, and the CPPR blog on several issues relating to identity, culture, and social justice. Sivakami is currently a Banyan Impact Fellow, working with India Health Action Trust in Shahdol, Madhya Pradesh. She is associated with Project MANCH, which seeks to improve maternal and newborn child healthcare outcomes in Tribal areas of MP.
Urvashi SurajIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Urvashi Suraj hails from Mumbai and is currently serving as a Banyan Impact Fellow in Dewas, India. A Chartered Accountant by profession, her career has been a unique blend of corporate and social sector experiences. Prior to the fellowship, she worked on the partnerships team at a social impact startup, where she built strategic alliances with ecosystem players. She has also previously worked in the statutory audit function at KPMG, reviewing financial statements and testing internal controls of public and private limited companies. Urvashi is passionate about community-driven development and the power of collaboration to achieve impact at scale.
Padma Samhita VadapalliIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Samhita Vadapalli is serving as an American India Foundation (AIF) Fellow with Satya Special School, in Puducherry. She is a Biotechnology and Genomics graduate and has completed both a Bachelor of Science, and a Master of Business and Science in Biotechnology from Rutgers University, New Jersey. Her previous work experience has included bioinformatics research, genetic experimentation, and data analysis, where she worked on a wide range of research projects focusing on the karyotyping of embryos, drug target development, and molecular docking simulations. In addition to this, she has served as a tutor with the Petey Greene Program and worked with incarcerated students to help them fulfill their educational goals in New Jersey’s correctional facilities throughout her undergraduate studies. Her area of interest lies in the utilization of data mining and informatics within the public health and developmental sectors for the establishment of improved healthcare interventions and management practices. She firmly believes that scientific innovation must be accompanied by inclusivity and accessibility in order to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing issues in our world today. Her goal for her career is to partake in the building of healthier societies through innovative biological research and grassroots work.
Silpaa GunabalanIndia (American India Foundation Scholar)
Silpaa Gunabalan is from Pleasantville, NY, and is serving as an American India Foundation Banyan Impact Fellow in Bengaluru, India. She studied at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she majored in Human Biology, Health, and Society with minors in Global Health and Inequality Studies. While at Cornell, she participated in global health research in Moshi, Tanzania where she investigated acute respiratory infection in children under five. Before the fellowship, Silpaa recently worked at a free health clinic in New York City where she spoke with patients to identify the social determinants of health they experience. Silpaa remains passionate about health equity and healthcare promotion through community-based initiatives. She is excited to join the Virtual Leadership Institute to hone her leadership skills and connect with social change professionals around the world.
Shivalika GuptaIndia (AIF Banyan Impact Fellow, Host: International Fertilizer Development Center)
Shivalika Gupta is a rural development specialist committed towards generating quality evidence in development programs and policy. During the past eight years, she has progressively engaged with a variety of stakeholders, including consultants, academics, international donors, and the Government of India across topics including agriculture, financial inclusion, health & nutrition, and energy. It is her conviction that the missing key to the infamous challenge of policy implementation gap is providing access to credible evidence to all stakeholders, especially the communities concerned. As a technical expert for monitoring, evaluation, and policy research, her strengths are research designs (experimental & quasi-experimental), leading evaluation studies, developing logical frameworks, developing indicators for projects and programs, designing monitoring systems, and documentation. In her prior engagement as Welthungerhilfe India’s first M.E.A.L Coordinator (Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, Learning), she led the creation of a new technical support unit for the country program comprising 31 local NGO partners nationwide. The unit supports the partners on planning and implementing M&E functions, accountability initiatives, and capacity building initiatives. Previously, she has worked in various research-oriented capacities with research consulting, J-PAL, and NITI Aayog (Government of India’s policy think tank). As an evaluator, she has singlehandedly led field studies across eight states in India. As a trainer, she is known to deploy a hands-on approach to M&E related topics across all levels of program implementation. Shivalika continues to work on challenges related to agrarian distress and farmer welfare.
Host Organization: International Fertilizer Development Center
Role at Host Organization: As the Global Engagement Programs Fellow, Tabish will play a role in managing global engagement programs at the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs. The Fellow will be working within different fields, including assessment, event planning, program/partnership management and development, marketing and recruitment, curriculum development, and alumni engagement.
Pragati SinghIndia (AIF Banyan Impact Fellow, Host: Girl Up)
Pragati Singh has over nine years of experience in the fields of public health, gender, and sexual and reproductive rights. She earned a MBBS degree from Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi University, in 2012, followed by a diploma in organizational leadership from Swedish Institute, Stockholm, in 2018. For her recent project with The Girl Effect, she developed a series of educational videos on sexual and reproductive health & rights for young Indian girls. As Learning & Training Fellow with Girl Up, Pragati’s responsibilities include identification, adaptation, and development of learning and advocacy resources on sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice (SRHRJ) for Girl Up’s youth members, as well as the building out of Girl Up’s learning and advocacy resources and engagement strategy for LGBTQI+ youth. Pragati also supports a variety of other work that the Girl Up team does, such as outreach to increase and measure the impact of Girl Up’s curriculum, “Let’s Talk About Gender-based Violence: Building Awareness and Solidarity.” Her roles have involved advocating for policy change, liaison and partnership building, data interpretation, capacity building, and program management. Pragati has gained hands-on skills in project management, grant management, business development, conference organizing, partnership building, community building, and communications and marketing. She received a number of awards for her visionary leadership, and was recognized by the BBC as one of the world’s hundred most influential, inspiring, and innovative women in 2019.
Host Organization: Girl Up
Role at Host Organization: As the SRHRJ Global Strategy Fellow, Pragati will work closely with the Training & Learning Team at Girl Up to identify, adapt, and develop learning and advocacy resources on sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice for Girl Up’s youth members. The Fellow will also build out Girl Up’s learning and advocacy resources and engagement strategy for LGBTQI+ youth and support ongoing outreach to increase and measure the impact of Girl Up’s curriculum. Additionally, the Fellow will support the development of Girl Up’s programming on mental health and wellness and support the team with planning for in-person engagement.