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SAJA Board Candidates

Below, you will find the candidate statements for those running for a position on the SAJA board (in first name alphabetical order). There are (5) candidates running for (5) open seats on the board.

Then, log in to your SAJA account (click on the little blue icon on the top right of the web page) and VOTE HERE.

Deena Zaidi
Freelance Data Journalist

Why do you want to run for the board?

I started my writing journey in 2013 after publishing a working paper with the University of Singapore. I started with my own blog and wrote on economics, money and banking. I soon started freelancing for TheStreet.com for about two years or more.

I understand freelance is an uphill battle for those who start fresh and I think SAJA will be a great platform to initiate such conversations for those who are new to journalism or don’t have a degree in journalism but want to have a reporting career.

As someone who doesn’t have a journalism degree, I hope to provide a unique perspective and trigger discussions that allow freelancers to better understand the resources and process of moving from freelance to full time or vice versa.

Since I have worked as a full-time data reporter with a local newspaper and single-handedly compiled a large database for the local newsroom, I am keen to share my learnings, insights and the value of strong data journalism in these most testing times.

What is your journalism experience?

I started my journalism journey with TheStreet.com in 2013 and crafted stories on earnings report, market reactions to IPOs, and the impact of geopolitics on global economies. I've written for Truthout, Seeking Alpha, and VentureBeat. I also wrote for a local non-profit The Borgen Project to alleviate global poverty. I have worked as a fact-checker for a local magazine called Seattle Met.

In 2018, I started working as a full-time data reporter with a local newsroom, The Puget Sound Business Journal in Seattle, where I reported on local businesses and compiled weekly lists for the newspaper. My focus was on data-driven stories that looked beyond the numbers. For the newsroom, I covered different industries in Washington state and the pandemic impacts on small businesses in the region.

I moved from Seattle in October 2020 and currently live in Toronto. I currently work as a freelance data journalist.

Farnoush Amiri
Congressional Reporter, AP

Why do you want to run for the board?

I am currently the vice president of SAJA and it has brought me immense joy and honor to be a part of this organization and represent it. I would like to continue to meet and work with journalists from the South Asia region and help connect them to resources SAJA provides like scholarships, internship grants and mentoring. I believe the representation that organizations like SAJA provide are a necessity to the industry and ensuring it is representative and accurate.

What is your journalism experience?

I am a congressional reporter for AP, based in Washington D.C. Before this role, I was a statehouse reporter in Columbus, Ohio, through the AP-Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Before coming to the AP, I was a national and breaking news reporter for NBC News. My AP career started in New York City in 2019 as a news associate.

John Laxmi
Freelancer

Why do you want to run for the board?

You have elected and re-elected me to serve as a Board member or Advisor to the Board and as Treasurer of SAJA since SAJA’s formal inception in 2001. I bring EXPERIENCE and CONTINUITY to SAJA. In voting for me, you will be endorsing FOCUS, DEDICATION, DISCIPLINE and COMPLIANCE.

FOCUS: As SAJA grows, so do demands and pressures on the organization’s capacity and resources, requiring triage, prioritization and focus on our core mission. My goals are to sharpen SAJA’s focus on core programs: Scholarships, Educational and Training programs and SAJA Reporting Fellowship Program.

DEDICATION: SAJA depends on each of us to devote CONSISTENTLY to its programs. Over the past two decades, I have actively participated in SAJA’s activities, despite significant demands on my time from my personal and business interests.

DISCIPLINE: While many non-profit and journalism groups have suffered severe financial setbacks, SAJA’s financial reserves and donor base have remained stable; SAJA has ZERO debt. This gives SAJA a strong outlook for maintaining its educational and outreach programs. As treasurer and Board Member, I have contributed to SAJA's financial stability and discipline.

COMPLIANCE: For nearly two decades, SAJA has entrusted to me important record-keeping and regulatory reporting obligations. All these responsibilities have been fulfilled consistently and accurately.

Working with members like you, volunteers and other board members, I will continue to help in SAJA’s governance, financial management, fundraising and membership drives. I will champion quality, excellence and controlled growth. If you have any questions, please contact me at johnlaxmisaja@gmail.com. Thanks.

What is your journalism experience?

For the most part, I am a freelance writer, except for one year (2000) during which I worked as a Contributing Writer at Global Finance Magazine. Topics I have written about include economics, arts, finance and politics.

Mythili Sampathkumar
Freelancer

Why do you want to run for the board?

I created and run the current iteration of SAJA's weekly newsletter, sharing members' work, announcements, and other important items. I would love to continue to bring that resource to members and survey all of you to keep improving on it because I think it's a small but important way for all of us to stay connected and know all the amazing things our members do. If I get elected again, I'm most looking forward to helping plan our first in-person event since a few months after I joined the board in 2020! I made such great friends through past SAJA events and it would be wonderful to see that happen for more members. My goals for a second term are to push for more book talks with South Asian writers, help expand our outreach for scholarship applicants across the country and not just well-known j-schools, continue to serve as an informal resource for SAJA freelancers, and keep making sure we have more diverse representation on our panels. I hope to also hold events with freelancers and local journalists from all over North America too, who often don't get the recognition they deserve.

What is your journalism experience?

My reporting has appeared in the LA Times, New York Times, NBC News, Fortune, Vox, Teen Vogue, The Daily Beast, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Digital Trends, Mic, The Hindu, Times of India, and The Independent, where I was a staff reporter in the New York bureau. I have also authored to children's textbooks about social studies and edited two books: a photojournalism book about the pandemic and a guide to public health and climate change written by Yale professors. I have also done a variety of journalism-related copywriting and consulting work with organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Facebook, and Twitter's news curation team.

Sabrina Malhi
Multiplatform Editor, The Washington Post

Why do you want to run for the board?

I never felt represented in my journalism career, and I want to help other young journalists find their representation and help them do good work. As an organization, SAJA has helped thousands of South Asian journalists, and I would like to keep being a part of that.

What is your journalism experience?

I am a multiplatform editor at The Washington Post. Previously, I was an associate editor for The Hill's opinion section and I was a reporter for several years covering healthcare.


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