Here's who's on the SAJA Board this year
SAJA President Prerana Thakurdesai is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who has worked in the US and India, in a career spanning 13 years. She has directed, shot and produced short films for non-profits in India and New York and reports for Indian news organizations from the US.
She also consults with Going To School, a non-profit that works kids in low-income communities to create design-driven stories to help develop skills. Prerana has been a trainer at Solutions Journalism Network, training practicing journalists on solutions-oriented reporting.
In India, Prerana was a member of the core creative team that developed the internationally acclaimed TV show, Satyamev Jayate, produced and hosted by actor and filmmaker Aamir Khan. She has also been a prime time news anchor and correspondent for India's biggest news organizations - Times Now, NDTV & India Today magazine.
SAJA Vice-President Zainab Imam is a Program Manager at the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) in Washington, D.C. She is from Karachi, Pakistan, where she worked as a writer and editor for five years. Most recently, she worked at The Express Tribune, the Pakistani publishing partner of The International New York Times.
At ICFJ, she works on multiple programs, particularly in Pakistan. She currently manages the U.S.-Pakistan Professional Partnership in Journalism, an exchange program between journalists from Pakistan and the United States. She is also deeply involved in the establishment of ICFJ’s State Department-funded Center for Excellence in Journalism (CEJ) in Karachi.
She has a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. She tweets as @zainabimam.
Hamdan Azhar is the founder of Prismoji, a former data scientist at Facebook, GraphScience, and Ron Paul 2012. He received a Master’s in Biostatistics from University of Michigan, and completed one year of Ph.D. coursework in neuroscience at the University of Chicago. He has been a freelance journalist for the past seven years, writing on politics, culture, and technology. Some bylines include VICE, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and Forbes. He is also the c0-founder of Muslim Writers Collective, a platform to promote creativity and storytelling among young people of color, holding monthly open mics in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and Chicago, and profiled in NPR, VICE, Huffington Post, and more.
John Laxmi has served as a Board member since 2001, initially as secretary and later as treasurer then most recently as an advisor to the Board. His return to the board will assure SAJA of invaluable experience and continuity. He returns as treasurer for 2018 and tweets from @johnlaxmi
Nina Sen is SAJA secretary and director of digital for New York One and an adjunct professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Previously, she worked as a senior producer at ABC News. She started in mobile and social video, motion graphics and award-winning virtual reality pieces at the NY headquarters of the Associated Press. Prior to the AP, she worked as a broadcast reporter/producer for a local TV channel, News 12, where she learned to lug a 35-pound camera around NYC subways. Her journalism career took off after her first position at the Washington Post. Follow @NinaSen1230
Ankita Rao is a special projects editor at Vice. In the past she reported on health policy at Kaiser Health News, and spent two years as a freelance journalist in India, where she wrote about health, development and the election for The New York Times, The Atlantic, Quartz and other publications. She is a recipient of grants from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Pulitzer Center, the International Center for Journalists, and SAJA. Follow @anrao
Malik Siraj Akbar, based in Washington D.C., is the editor-in-chief of Pakistan's first hyper-local online newspaper, the Baloch Hal and a former Balochistan Bureau Chief of the Daily Times and the Friday Times. He was granted political asylum in the United States in 2011 because of death threats he received in Pakistan for reporting on human rights abuses in his native Balochistan province. He studied journalism at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) in India and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Communication at Arizona State University. He holds a Master's degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and currently serves as the Vice President of the Harvard Kennedy School Washington DC Alumni Council. His work has been published in Foreign Policy, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post, Times of India, the Indian Express, Dawn, Express Tribune and several South Asian publications. Twitter: @MalikSirajAkbar.
Sovy Azhath is the at-large officer for SAJA and a producer for CNN HLN in New York where he produces segments, research stories, prep show’s talking points to the anchor/talent and edit video promos & clips for air and on the web. He also produces & edits special requested assignment documentary shows.
Before working at CNN, Azhath worked as an overnight political and sports producer at MSNBC where he produced, wrote, and edited stories and segments. He also pre-interviewed special show guests such as Magic Johnson, Dennis Hopper & Tommy Hilfiger.
Azhath got his first taste in the news business at the NBC News London Bureau where he helped cover the 2005 London Bombings and London's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.
Outside the newsroom, Azhath is currently in his 5th term (year 9 & 10) on the SAJA board. With SAJA, he has hosted workshops, panel discussions, mixers, and job fairs around the country. He teamed up with CBS News, Dow Jones/The Wall Street Journal, ABC News, The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and Bloomberg News to name a few. He also collaborated media events with TV hosts, anchors, and talent such as ABC News David Muir, NBC News Ann Curry, ESPN's Kevin Negandhi, Emmy Award winning journalist Soledad O'Brien, and 2014 Miss America Nina Davuluri. He also had an exclusive interview with Bollywood actress/model Aishwarya Rai at the United Nations.
You can follow Sovy Azhath on twitter: @SovyProducer
Swati Sharma is deputy digital editor at The Atlantic. She was previously an assignment editor at the Washington Post. She hopes to increase networking opportunities, work with other diversity organizations and inspire younger journalists to become leaders in their newsrooms. Tweets at @swatigauri
Meena Ganesan is a social editor at FiveThirtyEight. She has worked at C-Span, PBS Newshour, The Washington Post and others. She hopes to strengthen SAJA with networking, mentorship and events that aim to inspire. Follow @meenaganesan
Ali has honed his video craft producing digital video stories at ESPN, MTV, and McClatchy. A native of Houston via Islamabad, Ali has also lived in Seattle, Chicago, New England, New York City, and most recently Washington D.C. working in video post production, communications, and journalism. Ali has his master’s in Digital Cinema from DePaul University, and his bachelor’s in Marketing from the University of Houston-Downtown. He can be found on twitter @mcrizvi