Telugu Association of Greater Chicago (TAGC) & American Telugu Association (ATA) hosts international women's day

Chicago IL: It was a day to remember for all the women who participated in the International Women’s Day which was organized by enthusiastic volunteers of TACG & ATA on March 23rd, 2013 at the Holiday Inn in Mount Prospect, IL. TAGC is a non-profit organization devoted to the awareness and promotion of Telugu Heritage and Culture in the mid-west region headquartered in Chicago. The Association was originally founded in 1971 and incorporated as a non-profit organization by the year 1978. What was once a brain child of small group of individuals, TAGC has grown to be one of the oldest and largest Indo-American organizations in the United States.

ATA (American Telugu Association) is a non profit national organization and was founded in 1990, head quartertered in Chicago. The main purpose of the organization is to assist and promote literary, cultural, educational, religious, social, economic, health and community activities of the people of Telugu origin as well as to promote exchange programs for students, scientists, and professionals of telugu origin between the United States of America, Canada and India and other countries.

For the first time TAGC together with American Telugu Association (ATA) put together this outstanding event which brought together women from various walks of life to learn, empower, unite and celebrate womanhood. Over 100 women of Telugu origin participated in this unique event which raised awareness about issues such as Women’s Health, cultural identity and parenting issues, challenges facing women in corporate America, Woman as Entrepreneurs and Indian Cooking. A food drive was successfully conducted as a part of this event. Mrs.Malathi Damaraju has performed as Master of Ceremony for the event.

The program began with a team building activity where women were divided into 10 various groups and asked come up with a creative design using colored lentils, which were glued on a poster board. This activity allowed Women to get to know each other as they worked together to create the design and brought out their creative talents to the forefront. The winning poster design was judged by TAGC committee members and announcement of the results were made at the end of the program. Then came the next team building activity called ” Balloon Burst” where teams members were asked to walk in a line by placing the balloon between their stomach and not dropping the balloon. Each team was timed and noted for any mistakes they made. It was a fun activity since it involved working as a team with control and precision.

It was now time to officially kick start the Women’s Day program, when the First Ladies of TAGC and ATA Sirisha Garapaty, Jyothi Madhavaram together with Secretary Sujatha Appalaneni, Preethi Anandula, Malleswari Pedamallu and Rajya Chemarla performed the traditional lamp lighting , which was followed by an invocation song performed by Ms. Jyoti Tippana. This was followed by welcome address given by Mr. Ramesh Garapaty the current President of TAGC. Next came the President of ATA, Mr. Karunakar Medavaram who addressed the audience and mentioned that ATA had arranged similar events in NJ, Phialdelphia and Washingtom DC recently. He remarked the tragic events which unfolded in Delhi and Pakistan causing widespread support to end violence against women. He said this particular event was planned to send a message to the community at large that violence against Women will not be tolerated and needs to be stopped.

The organizers presented a very significant slide show as a tribute to all the women leaders of the world, such as Indira Gandhi, Mother Theresa, Pratibha Patil, Hillary Clinton, Madam Curie, Helen Keller, Indira Nooyi, Serena Williams, Kalpana Chawla, Mamta Baneerjee and Sonia Gandhi.

The workshops followed the slide show. The first speaker was Dr. Meher Medavaram who spoke about “Health is Wealth – Nothing else matters”. She is Graduate of Osmania Medical College in Hyderabad, India. She completed her Residency Training in Chicago, IL. She serves as a Faculty and Assistant Director of Residency Program at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Chicago, IL. and practices Family Medicine in the western suburbs of Chicago. She spoke about physical, emotional and intellectual stimulation which is required to keep us healthy and fit. She emphasized on physical exercise, watching our food intake and finding activities that keep us energized and stimulated. As Women we tend to neglect our health, as we are always taking care of others. Nurturing yourself as well as loved ones in your lives is the key to good health and wellness.

The next topic was ” Both Sides of the Coin – Parenting Then and Now” presented by Dr. Rama Devi Gourineni, who is an Assistant Professor of Neurology at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine and currently the Director of Neurology, Medical Student Education.

She grew up in Chicago from 1970 to 1982 after which time she moved back to India to study medicine. Her father Ramachandara Naidu garu was the President of TAGC in 1975. Rama Devi was active in TAGC activities when she was growing up.

She returned to the US in 1991 and has been living here since that time with her husband and two sons. Dr.RamaDevi shared her experiences of growing up as a NRI daughter in the 70’s and the differences, similarities & challenges which exist in raising her own 2 children here in the United States since the 90’s.

This was followed by a very interesting workshop titled, “Climbing the Corporate Ladder” which was presented by Ranjani Iyengar and Indira Kousik and moderated by Kiran Mattey. Ms. Ranjani Iyengar is the Managing Director of Bridge, North America. She is recognized as a thought leader, entrepreneur and high-impact executive with multi-national experience. She has been in the field of organizational learning, leadership development and talent management for over 20 years.

Ranjani has worked in a variety of roles: internal, consulting, outsourcing and academia. Before joining Bridge she was the Senior Director Learning and Development at Kraft Foods. Prior to that she was with Hewitt Associates, and built up the Learning and Talent Management outsourcing practice, helping organizations
transform and optimize their systems, processes and operations.

Ranjani also has several years of experience in leadership roles in the IT and Management Consulting industries. She spent eight years at Accenture and was a member of the senior leadership team for training. She has also run a consultancy providing services in the areas of performance consulting, executive and leadership development.

Ranjani has served as adjunct faculty at Northwestern’s Center for Learning & Organizational Change in Chicago. She was a member of the Board of the American Society of Training & Development from 2008-2011 and has been cited in several industry publications. She is active in several professional organizations and enjoys the support of a wide network of relationships.

Ms. Indira Kousik is a Director in the IT department of CVS/Caremark in Chicago. Her role includes managing multi-million dollar IT projects that are strategically aligned with the Company’s growth strategy. Indira is on her 20th year of service at CVS/Caremark. She started out as a developer in a mission critical application and enhanced her career path to become an IT leader. She has managed several roles during her tenure in the company. She leads a large development team with multiple managers and teams located in several company locations. She was the Program Manager for IT sourcing strategy. In addition, she was also the lead for Change Management, and Organization development which entailed enhancing effective engagement of IT leaders within the company through team building sessions, and other interactions. She has been recognized for her contributions and is currently part of a leadership program for Leaders of tomorrow.

When time permits, Indira volunteers with service organizations like Chicago cares, Innovations for Learning and other activities that align with serving the community.

Both women spoke about the innate strength each woman has and we need to leverage on that for self-development and growth. They warned women to not take on too much responsibilities and set oneself up for failure. Being realistic with your goals and expectations lead to growth in your chosen career. Passion and excellence is the key to success.

The next panel of speakers spoke about ” Women as Entrepreneurs” where small business owners Ms. Rama Bhagavatula, Lakshmi Gadde and Sirisha Garapati participated in a panel discussion conducted by Dr.Bhargavi Nettem.

The last workshop was presented by Anupy Singla who is an award-winning journalist turned cookbook author. Her two books, The Indian Slow Cooker and Vegan Indian Cooking, are already the best-selling Indian cookbooks in North America. Anupy was driven to give up her job as the morning reporter for CLTV News when she noticed that her young children were losing their connection with their Indian roots and opting for quick, processed foods rather than homemade Indian dishes. Anupy was born in India and raised in the United States with an appreciation for real, wholesome home style Indian cooking. Her first cooking lesson was with her grandfather at the age of ten. Anupy spoke about the importance of not only maintaining our culture through our cooking and cuisine, but the importance in the South Asian community of making healthy food choices. She will gave useful tips on getting home cooked Indian food on the table nightly and how to reduce the reliance on processed foods for you and your family.

Mementos were presented to all the organizers of this event to recognize their hardwork and effort in putting together this memorable event. Sirisha Garapaty and Jyothi Madhavaram recognized the organizers Malathi Damaraju, Kiran Mattey, Padma Madireddy, Sujatha Appaleneni, Vandana Reddy, Bhargavi Nettem, Sunitha Matta, Kiran Nuthulapati, and Nadini Kondapalli.

The organizers of the event also did a food drive for charity initiated by Padma Madireddy, collected about 20 boxes of food and donated to charity.

A scrumptious Andhra dinner was served to all the women in attendance and beautifully complimented the spirit of womanhood. The evening ended with music and dancing which was enjoyed by all.