with Farooq Mitha
Neha has long been active in both local and national politics. Most recently, she founded and served as the National Director for South Asians for Biden, an organization dedicated to engaging, educating, and mobilizing the South Asian community to elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. In 2016, Neha served as the National Co-Chair for South Asians for Hillary and was appointed by Hillary Clinton to the National AAPI Leadership Council.
Previously, in 2015, Neha was appointed as a guest of honor by the Consulate General of India in New York City where she was selected to speak about gender equality for International Women's Day. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Neha chaired the New York Chapter of South Asians for Obama and also served on the steering committee for Lawyers for Obama in New York. For several years, Neha served as an Officer of the New York Democratic Lawyers Council, an organization affiliated with the National Lawyers Council of the Democratic National Committee and comprised of Democratic lawyers and voting rights activists. Similarly, for many years, Neha served as an advisory board member of New Leaders Council, a national organization focused on training and supporting progressive political entrepreneurs. She has also been active in her local community board and political clubs. Neha served as the President of the South Asian Bar Association of New York in 2012, and now sits on the organization’s Board of Directors.
Mobilizing the South Asian Community & Building Political Power
Murali Balaji, Ph.D., is a journalist, author, and academic with nearly 20 years of experience in diversity leadership. He currently serves in diversity leadership and as a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the founder of Maruthi Education Consulting, consulting several congressional campaigns on cultural competency. Dr. Balaji has also served as the education director for the Hindu American Foundation, where he was recognized as a national leader in cultural competency and religious literacy. He co-founded The Voice of Philadelphia, a non-profit geared to help high school dropouts (or pushouts) develop media literacy and citizen journalism skills.
Dr. Balaji has also been a professor at Temple University and Lincoln University, where he chaired the mass communication department and engaged in multi-method research. His areas of research focus include political economy, critical race theory, and the connections between masculinity and nationalism. He worked as a journalist for nearly a decade, covering politics, sports, and demographic changes. He won an Independent Press Association of New York award for covering racial justice issues and was honored by the St. Paul City Council for his work on covering policy issues. He is the author of The Professor and the Pupil (2007), a political biography of WEB Du Bois and Paul Robeson, the editor of Digital Hinduism (2017) and co-editor of Desi Rap (2008), one of the seminal volumes on South Asian Americans and hip-hop. He is a certified anti-bias trainer through the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), serves on the national advisory board of the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute, and has been featured for his work in publications such as Teaching Tolerance and Religion Dispatches.