Sakhi Leads Discussions at Key National Conference

Sakhi for South Asian Women participated in the 3-day South Asian Americans Leading Together Conference, with Executive Director Purvi Shah moderating a government roundtable with representatives from the Office on Violence Against Women as well as a panel on language access, and Communications Coordinator Mohammad Levesque-Alam serving as a panel discussant on media advocacy.

The Washington, D.C., conference afforded more than 30 U.S.-based progressive South Asian organizations and community members the chance to convene, share expertise, build relationships, and make their message clear to lawmakers.

Mohammad’s panel, “Getting Your Message Out through Media,” included two radio journalists—Kavitha Cardoza, of WAMU 88.5 News, and Arun Venugopal of WNYC—and was moderated by SAALT’s Ambreen Ali. Discussion focused on how non-profits can most effectively get the media’s ear while also producing their own media. Kavitha and Arun fielded questions about what kinds of stories their outlets are interested in and how to grab their attention. They noted that it was essential to have an appealing hook, or angle, to the story, along with judicious use of quotes and correct facts and figures in press releases. For its part, Sakhi has a rich history of internal media, including several short films, community magazines (or Bols), online newsletters, and a highly frequented website, that allows us to keep community supporters informed in conjunction with television, radio, and print media coverage.

After an advocacy day, the following two days comprised workshops and panels touching on a wide range of social and policy issues, including domestic violence, education reform, rules for non-profit advocacy, working for the White House, and more.

Arshiah Khan, the Education and Outreach Coordinator with Public Health Solutions in Astoria, New York, observed, “This was my first time at the South Asian Summit, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The whole experience was eye-opening and made me realize how much more work needs to be done. It was also a fantastic opportunity to meet others who are in the everyday trenches like myself, working hard to give those who can’t speak a voice.”

Other attendees echoed this position.

“Six years ago, this space was not possible. We would have small convenings and gatherings,” said Taz Ahmed, a community activist from California, in a SAALT press release. “A space like this helps to put words to issues that were nameless before.”

In the same release, SAALT’s Executive Director Deepa Iyer said, “SAALT is looking forward to being a hub and facilitator of shared spaces in order to strengthen our communities for years to come.”


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