Join us at an upcoming SAAPS event! Whether it's an interactive workshop, a small-group lunch or dinner conversation, or a larger group discussion, SAAPS events promise to be inspiring and fulfilling beyond their duration.
Since our initiative's inception, we've hosted several successful events on Harvard's campus. Descriptions for each events are below. We'd love to see you at a future SAAPS event!
Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the ACLU-NJ
While the South Asian community is one of the fastest-growing major ethnic groups in the United States, the views of its diaspora continue to be underrepresented across the nation. With the support of the Dean of Harvard College, the Division of Social Science Regan Fund, the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, and the Institute of Politics, SAAPS aspires to encourage more undergraduates to meaningfully contribute to their communities through the avenues of government, politics, and the judiciary, promoting cultural and intellectual diversity at a critical juncture in our nation’s history.
Sayu Bhojwani, Founder and President of New American Leaders
SAAPS, along with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, co-hosted a discussion with Sayu Bhojwani, the founder and president of New American Leaders on Thursday, April 18th. Bhojwani discussed what it means to empower immigrant leaders to run for office, her experience doing organizing work as a South Asian American woman, and her new book, People Like Us. She also took audience questions about her thoughts on the 2020 presidential election and the new generation of progressive congresswomen elected to office.
Ganesh Sitaraman '04, Longtime Advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren
SAAPS and the Harvard Political Union co-hosted a Pizza and Politics discussion on Tuesday, April 2nd with Ganesh Sitaraman, a longtime advisor to Senator Elizabeth Warren and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. Sitaraman discussed his new book, The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution, the rise of the modern granger movement, the impact of progressive economic policies on the American body politic, and the future of Social Security. He also discussed his identity as a South Asian American in public service, and its associated challenges and rewards.
Farah Pandith, Former U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities
On Wednesday, March 27th, SAAPS hosted a lunch discussion with Farah Pandith, the first-ever U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities, with the support of the Institute of Politics and the International Relations Council. Pandith discussed her new book, How We Win, her experiences working in both Republican and Democratic administrations, addressing the global threat of ISIS, and combating domestic terrorism and white nationalism in the context of the New Zealand mass shooting. She encouraged aspiring woman leaders to "take the gremlins off their backs" and believe in themselves as capable of anything.
Vivek Murthy '97, Former U.S. Surgeon General
Alice Chen, Former Executive Director of Doctors for America
SAAPS kicked off the semester with a dinner discussion with former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy '97 and former Executive Director of Doctors for America Alice Chen, which we co-hosted with the Asian American Association on Monday, March 11th. Over dinner with around 50 undergraduate students, Drs. Murthy and Chen discussed their experiences at the intersection of health and public service, the importance of mental health in young people, and their advice to students hoping to pursue similar career paths. They also took audience questions and spoke of their experiences breaking barriers as Asian Americans in public service.
Ro Khanna, U.S. Representative from California's 17th Congressional District
SAAPS was honored to host Congressman Ro Khanna for a dinner discussion on Thursday, November 8th – just two days after Khanna won a landslide re-election during the 2018 midterm elections. Khanna discussed the Yemeni civil war and his efforts to end the ongoing Yemeni humanitarian crisis and arm sales to Saudi Arabia, his experiences representing a tech-heavy congressional district and the intersection between technology and social reform. He also took audience questions about his controversial endorsement of Fremont City Council candidate Yang Shao and what it's like to serve on the federal level as a South Asian American – mentioning the "Samosa and Chai Caucus" of South Asian American elected officials in Congress.
Arun Venugopal, WNYC Race and Identity Reporter and NPR Contributor
SAAPS and the Harvard South Asian Association co-hosted a dinner discussion with NPR journalist Arun Venugopal on Thursday, October 25th. Venugopal discussed his experiences reporting on race, gender, and identity in the context of the 2016 presidential election, and spoke to students about what it's like being a South Asian American political journalist and what it means to engage politically with South Asian American communities in meaningful and empowering ways, in addition to taking audience questions about burgeoning South Asian American political identity in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.
Ajit Pai '94, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission
For our largest event of the semester, we hosted Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai '94 in a captivating, forum-style discussion attended by around 100 undergraduate students on Thursday, October 18th. At this event, Pai discussed his experiences as a Harvard undergraduate, during which he said he was politically liberal, in addition to discussing his regulatory philosophy and controversial decision to repeal net neutrality protections, the impact of natural disasters on data speeds, and 5G wireless connectivity. He also took audience questions and offered a poignant answer about how his South Asian American identity has shaped his experiences in government.
Aneesh Raman '01, President Obama's Former Speechwriter
Rumana Ahmed '19, Obama Administration's Muslim American Community Liaison
SAAPS was honored to host Aneesh Raman '01 and Rumana Ahmed, two of the authors of the new book, West Wingers: Stories from the Dream Chasers, Change Makers, and Hope Creators Inside the Obama White House, for a lunch discussion on Monday, October 15th with the support of the Institute of Politics. Raman, President Obama's former speechwriter, and Ahmed, the Obama administration's Muslim American community liaison, spoke of their experiences serving in the Obama administration as South Asian Americans and how their experiences were shaped by aspects of their identities. They also discussed the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the impact of foreign disinformation campaigns on U.S. election integrity, in addition to taking audience questions.
Asha Rangappa, Former FBI Special Agent and CNN Legal Analyst
Our inaugural SAAPS event was a compelling lunch discussion with former FBI Special Agent Asha Rangappa on Monday, October 1st. Over pizza and drinks with undergraduate students in an intimate setting, Rangappa discussed her experiences as a South Asian American woman in national security and overcoming the challenges of being a pioneer in her field. She also shared her thoughts on the FBI investigation of Brett Kavanaugh, the Mueller investigation, and major national security threats to the United States, in addition to sharing her thoughts on being the potential inspiration for the television show Quantico, speaking about her experiences serving as the former associate dean of Yale Law School, and taking audience questions.