Indian American Democratic Organization Mesmerizes

Skokie, IL: On Sunday, September 25th, the Indo American Democratic Organization hosted its 32nd Annual Banquet at the Holiday Inn Chicago North Shore located at 5300 Touhy Avenue, Skokie, IL 60077. Doors opened at 5:30pm with dinner beginning at 6:30pm. Tickets were $100 per person and included annual membership in the organization. Students with a valid ID could buy tickets for $40.

IADO was incorporated in March of 1980. Its mission is to lobby on behalf of the Indian American community on issues of immigration, affirmative action, education, social security, healthcare reform and hate crimes. Additionally, they strive to get Indian Americans to participate in the political process from voting to running for office. In 2011 IADO was given the opportunity to endorse Rahm Emmanuel with the election of a new mayor in Chicago. Also IADO is proud to have fundraised for the first ever Indian American and first ever Asian American Alderman for the city of Chicago, Ameya Pawar.

The evening began with singing of the national anthems. Ms. Hema Sathia sang the American National Anthem and Ms. Monica Sharma of Kalapriya Dance School sang the Indian National Anthem.

IADO President Harendra Mangrola welcomed everyone and thanked guests for their immense support over the years. Mr. Mangrola is an entrepreneur and community leader and has been a very strong advocate of fair treatment of minority contractors for the government. He gladly introduced the 2011-2012 Board of Directors: Vice President Dr. Ashish Sen, Secretary Gladson Varghese, Joint Secretary Jawahar Reddy, Treasurer Sean Chaudhuri, Joint Treasurer Dr. Mridu Sekhar, Jitendra Diganvker, Ranjit Ganguly, Tom Kalayil, Shajan Kuriakose, Lakshmi Lakshmanan, Paras Parekh, Radha Patel, and Pramod Shah. Esteemed guests in attendance included: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (IL), U.S. Congressman Mike Quigley (IL), US Congressman Danny Davis, Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon, , Alderman Ameya Pawar (Chicago 47th Ward), Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown and others.

Keynote speaker, Lt. Governor of Illinois, Sheila Simon was introduced by the Joint Treasurer of IADO, Dr. Mridu Sekhar. Simon told the story of how the Indian American community became so special to her. Simon’s daughter’s best friend was an Indian American girl and led to her understanding and appreciation for the Indian American culture

The chief guest of honor, Senator Dick Durbin was introduced by Dr.Ashish Sen the Vice Presenident of IADO. Durbin serves as the Assistant Majority Leader, the second highest ranking position in the Senate, also known as the Majority WhipConnect him to IADO, easily accessible, interns to his office, we meet him few times a year, supporter of immigration, longtime friend, 2nd most powerful person in the US Senate.

The Indo American Democratic Organization and Indian community at large thanked Sen. Dick Durbin for introducing and writing the Dream Act. If passed, the act will provide many children including Indian Americans came here unbeknownst to them a path to legalization so that they can fulfill their dream to become our future teachers, doctors, scientists, artists – talent we need for innovation America. Sen Durbin’s dream act was influenced from his very own parents whom came as immigrants 100 years ago to this country. The senator to this day keeps the naturalization papers of his mother in his office as a reminder he too came from an immigrant background.

IADO awarded without any hesitation, Alderman Ameya Pawar with the annual honorary membership. On February 22nd, Chicago got its first Indian American elected to the city council. Ald Ameya Pawar represents Chicago’s 47th Ward located primarily in the Ravenswood neighborhood. Prior to his election, Ameya was on staff at Northwestern University in the Office of Emergency Management. Ameya holds a M.S. in Threat and Response Management from the University of Chicago and a M.P.A. in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Ameya is currently enrolled in a third master’s degree program at the University of Chicago in the school of Social Service Administration

The Lifetime Achievement award was given to Ann Kalayil. Ann Lata Kalayil was appointed by the President in January 2011 as the Regional Administrator for General Services Administration (GSA) in the Great Lakes Region. Prior to that she worked eighteen years in management for Networking Services and Information Technologies at the University of Chicago. Ann is co-director of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute. She has taught Asian American Studies at DePaul University, Loyola University and the University of Illinois-Chicago for seven years. Ann received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. As co-founder of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, a research and advocacy based organization, Ann focused on research projects of the South Asian American community. Ann is currently on the Board of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Ann served on the Advisory Board of the South Asian American Leadership for Tomorrow, the Illinois Governor’s Taskforce on Immigration and Hate Crimes Commission.

Selma D’Souza received award for Indo American community for last 15 years. Selma D’Souza is the Chief of the Office of Legislative Affairs at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (IDHFS. She is currently an honorary board member of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago, and serves on its Judicial Development Committee. Recently, she served as a member of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s transition team, and a member of its Intergovernmental Affairs committee. Selma.

Lastly, the Student Leadership awarded to Abin Kuriakose. Born and raised in Northside Chicago, Abin joined DePaul University as a recipient of the DePaul Scholar’s Award. Within weeks of starting classes, he became an intern for 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly exposed to a diverse mix of macro and micro level policy issues. Abin currently produces and hosts his own politically based talk show on DePaul University’s radio network.

In 2003, Tammy Duckworth was leading a project for Rotary International to buy sturdy, low-tech wheelchairs made in India and ship them to people who needed them in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. She was deployed to Iraq with her National Guard unit in 2004, and that November her Black Hawk helicopter was hit by a rocket propelled grenade. Tammy lost both legs and part of the use of her right arm in the explosion. Since recovering from her wounds, Tammy was appointed Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs by President Obama, and recently gave up that job to run for Congress in Illinois’ new 8th District. She is a resident of Hoffman Estates, and continues to serve in the National Guard.

After the remarks and awards, a lovely buffet dinner was served and there was a comedy act by Khaleel Farooqie. Other comediens in his entourage included John Ming and Sydney Adeney.

A vote of thanks was given by Gladson Varghese, the Secretary of IADO. He thanked the honorable guests Lt. Governor Shiela Simon, Senator Dick Durbin, Congressman Danny Davis, Congressman Mike Quiegly, and respected elected officials. IADO is very grateful to Shiela Simon from coming and attending the event. The Quinn and Simon team has implemented a lot of good things for the people of Illinois. A special thanks was given to Senator Durbin for his inspiring words.

Mr. Varghese thanked Congressman Danny Davis, Mike Quiggle for attending the event. Also, the elected officials honorably Senators: Lou Tang, Jeff Schoenberg, Ira Silverstein, and Don Kotowski. Representatives: Robyn Gable, Michelle Mussman, Fred Crespo, and Daniel Bliss. A special thanks was given to all the sponsors especially attorney Steve Crifase, IADO’s mega sponsor. Lastly, a thanks to all media people for all the support and helping the organization grow.

Overall, the night was inspiring, motivational, entertaining, and a great way for the community to intimately bond with each other and with the prominent political figures in attendance. Organizers were very happy with the turnout and the immense success of the evening.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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