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CANDIDATES FOR 2023-2024 TERM

Vote here (You MUST be a full member)

Voting closes on December 19 at 6pm

Jia Wertz (New York, NY) 

Bio: I have been a contributor for Forbes since 2016 and have published over 280 articles for the publication to date. In addition, I have published pieces for Huffington Post, Business.com, American Kahani, among other publications.

I also have experience researching and writing two seasons of an episodic true crime podcast, Speaking of Crime – which involves extensive research, interviewing guests, and editing. I select cases where the justice system has failed in one way or another, and covering the story can provide some assistance to the families of victims.

Statement: I am interested in running for the SAJA board for many reasons. First, because I would like to support the South Asian community in any way I can. As a minority, I have often witnessed and experienced the lack of opportunities and attention we can receive, and I would like to do my part to change that by not only supporting South Asian journalists, but also by introducing any opportunities I can bring, and by amplifying their voices/work. Secondly, I serve on the board for The Center for Justice and Post-Exoneration Assistance at Purdue University Northwest and have found that position to be very fulfilling – I think I will find it to be the same at SAJA. Lastly, I think this will be a great opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and leaders.

Hanaa' Tameez (Boston, MA) 

Bio: I'm a writer and editor based in Boston, Massachusetts.I'm currently a staff writer for the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University where I cover innovation in the news media industry.

I was previously the newsletters editor for local media startup WhereBy.Us and the diversity reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in Texas where I covered race, identity and social equity in one of the country’s most conservative counties. My work has appeared in The Juggernaut, Animal Político, The Wall Street Journal, Americas Quarterly, and other publications.

I have an M.A. from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a concentration in bilingual journalism. I graduated from Stony Brook University with a B.A. in journalism and Spanish Language & Literature.

Statement: As a reporter who covers journalism innovation, I know firsthand that our industry's future depends on how we invest in it today for future generations. I would love to serve as a SAJA board member to help create resources, guides, and programming, for current and potential members at all stages in their careers as they navigate the ever-changing news landscape. I'm particularly interested in finding ways to engage and support early career journalists so they know they can access plenty of journalists with similar lived experiences whenever they need to.

Priyanka Vora (New York, NY) 

Bio: Priyanka Vora is an award-winning multimedia journalist working at the intersection of editorial, product, and technology. Vora has reported from India, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States. Vora is the Director of Audience at Axios, where she leads a team of editors and devises social media, editorial partnerships, and SEO strategies. She has earned a master's degree from New York University and has reported for Quartz, the Financial Times, Business Insider, Scroll, and Hindustan Times. She has used her journalism experience and earned technical know-how to help newsrooms improve audience engagement efforts, reporting standards, and diversity initiatives in sourcing, storytelling, and hiring practices. Through her 15 years in the profession, Vora has worked extensively in India, reporting on public health in rural and urban regions. She has traveled to various parts of the subcontinent to tell stories of those marginalized and largely voiceless. The International Centre for Journalists has recognized her reporting and awarded her excellence in health reporting in India. Along with the United Nations Population Fund, Laadli Media Awards recognized Vora's work in gender-sensitivity reporting.

Statement: SAJA has been instrumental in shaping my journalism journey in the US. In 2018, I won a SAJA scholarship to study at NYU and later received an award to attend Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists. Now, it's my turn to support and advance SAJA's mission of growing the network and uplifting standards for reporting on South Asia and its diaspora. Journalism's first loyalty is to its audience, and as a SAJA board member, I want to offer my audience journalism expertise to support the organization and its members.

Through my work in the United States, I have created strategies that have helped newsrooms improve reporting standards and diversity sourcing that help include diverse voices that resonate with minority audiences. I want to use my unique reporting experience in India and the US to change the lens for reporting on South Asia and its global diaspora. My unique experience as an immigrant, international student, and media professional in a leadership role places me in a unique position to serve the SAJA community well.

My thirst for learning is immense. A place on the board also provides an opportunity to interact with more varied voices and recreate an even more nuanced roadmap to improve coverage of South Asia and South Asians.

As an immigrant working in the US, I am passionate about creating awareness about the subcontinent and the change-makers that live on those shores. I am a member of several journalism organizations, and I deeply respect their role in advocating for the profession and its people.
I recognize the good that SAJA does and want to lend more time and effort in furthering its mission as it aligns so well with mine.

Angeli Kakade (Seattle, WA) 

Bio: I currently live in Seattle where I’m a morning reporter at the NBC affiliate KING 5.

Even though the alarm goes off at 2:30am, I love the energy of morning TV and the opportunity to tell a mix of stories from breaking news to politics and longer, investigative stories I have sourced through maintaining an active role in the community.

Prior to Seattle, I spent my career developing a diverse skill set that has provided me with a unique perspective, spanning both broadcast and digital news. This included two years in Indianapolis as a multimedia journalist for WISH-TV and a decade in New York City working in a variety of digital roles, as well as obtaining my Masters Degree in Media Studies from the New School. My time in digital news included working as a producer for brands like Weight Watchers, working at Zazoom Media group producing videos for syndication on USA Today, AOL and MSN, working as a video producer and host at the New York Post, and freelancing as an entertainment reporter covering red carpet events like Tribeca Film Festival and NY Fashion Week.

I’ve always had a passion for telling stories and helping people have their voices heard. When I’m not looking for stories, I like to travel, sing, go to museums, watch shark documentaries, try new wines, cook, and run. In fact, I have run in all six world major marathons. A virtual high five for anyone who knows what they are!

Statement: I am a news reporter at King 5 in Seattle and the daughter of immigrants from India.

The importance of highlighting South Asian issues in news has always been an essential part of my career. I believe that stories have the power to inform people and shape their perspectives. As an example, I recently had the opportunity to highlight diversity within the Washington wine
industry by featuring a South Asian winemaker. He is the son of immigrant parents, who were at first unhappy with his decision to leave his career in technology. He spoke with me about how he broke through barriers to become an award-winning winemaker and gain the support of his parents.

While editing, the photojournalist decided at the last minute to add Indian sitar music underneath. I, however, thought that the story was only on the surface about an “Indian” winemaker. The story was actually about a winemaker who broke down stereotypes. As a result, I made the decision to take out the music. After the piece aired, I had some people tell me I made the wrong decision. I found myself having to explain the goal of the story was to highlight diversity and break down stereotypes, not reinforce them.

As a member of the SAJA Board, I would hope to continue such dialogues about diversity and stereotypes in the South Asian context. I would also hope to motivate and mentor young storytellers who work to be a voice for South Asians in the journalism community.

 Jennifer Chowdhury (Current Board Member) (New York, NY)

Bio: Jennifer Chowdhury has been a human rights storyteller for over a decade, reporting on the South Asian diaspora and gender rights as a journalist for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, Elle magazine and more.

She spent two years in Bangladesh covering the Rohingya refugee crisis and translating her passion for advocacy storytelling and human rights reporting into digital content for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) as an Editorial Manager. She is currently acting digital communications director at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

As a non-fiction author, Jennifer writes about her lived experiences as a Bangladeshi-American working-class child of immigrants. 

Statement: I have served on SAJA's Board for the last two years and am eager to continue in my position. I have helped organize several virtual events to help our membership through the pandemic, including talks on parenting and book discussions with journalist-authors. My goal for my next term is to continue to push for diversity in: SAJA's Board, the scholarship fund, programming, and events in order to include more people representative of our whole diaspora, in all aspects. I hope to also organize some more book talks, film screenings, and to connect with other journalist-parents in our membership.  

Pia Sarkar (Current Board Member) (Philadelphia, PA) 

Bio: In October, I stepped into the role of Deputy Business Editor for Enterprise at The Associated Press. Before that, I served as a business news editor overseeing coverage of retail, transportation and workplace issues. I am also an editor on the National Race and Ethnicity team, helping steer coverage on issues of race as they intersect with business, politics, education, law enforcement, entertainment, and sports. I am a member of the AP's Stylebook committee. I previously served as an editor for legal trade publications, including The American Lawyer. Before that, I was a reporter for TheStreet.com, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bergen Record and the Providence Journal. I received my master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Statement: I have served on SAJA's board for the last two years and I am eager to keep going. There is still so much work to do in terms of elevating SAJA's profile among other journalism organizations but also among our own members and those thinking about joining SAJA. We are a diverse group and can learn so much from each other as well as shine a light for others who may otherwise see us as monolithic. I want us to not only participate in the conversation, but also lead it, especially when it comes to issues affecting the South Asian community.

Mihir Zaveri (Current Board Member) (New York, NY) 

Bio: In college, I worked at my student newspaper, The Daily Californian, while interning at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Oregonian, and the Washington Post. I then got a master's degree in journalism from UC Berkeley, and started as a reporter at The Houston Chronicle. I now work on the Metro desk at The New York Times, covering housing.

Statement: I have been on the SAJA board for more than three years, including two years as president in 2020 and 2021. I care about SAJA and its mission, and if I'm elected, I would bring much-needed continuity and institutional knowledge. There are few other opportunities to influence the journalism industry for the better, and I would commit myself to using my journalism and SAJA experience to energizing momentum for new and old programs alike.

Karen Mahabir (Current Board Member) (New York) 

Bio: I am the Director of Standards and Talent Development at The Associated Press in New York, and have been in journalism for 25 years. Until February, I served as the company’s first fact check and misinformation editor, a position I held for five years.. I joined the AP in Mexico City as an editor on the Latin America Desk in 2005, and later worked as a reporter, breaking news supervisor and acting news editor in the Mid-Atlantic bureau in Washington, and then as a producer at the Nerve Center, the AP’s global all-formats coordination desk. Before joining the AP, I spent many years working as a local reporter covering government and crime, and as a weekly immigration columnist, at newspapers in New York and New Jersey. I also spent two years serving as Managing Editor of News at the HuffPost. I have a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, with a concentration in African, Asian and Caribbean Studies, from the University of Sussex in England, and a master’s degree in International Journalism from City University of London. I have been on the board of the South Asian Journalists Association for two years, and I am a frequent panelist and guest speaker on issues pertaining to online harassment, mis-/disinformation, verification and trust in the media.

Statement: I am seeking another term as a SAJA board member because there is so much more I would like to accomplish with the organization. I would like to help host more events tied to newer and aspiring journalists, particularly those in more under-represented areas. Throughout my career, I have served as a mentor to dozens of young journalists and been committed to boosting and supporting diversity and inclusion in newsrooms at all levels. In my current role as Director of Standards and Talent Development, I now focus on this challenge and regularly attend conferences and career fairs to advise and attract diverse journalists. I believe my current professional experiences could help with many of SAJA’s priorities, including gaining greater membership and attention in the news industry. As someone who is biracial -- I am half Trinidadian, half Salvadoran -- and worked her way up the newsroom ladder, I also believe I offer a unique perspective on the board, and am especially interested in being involved in discussions around the standards and language that will be used to define how stories of diversity, including our own, are told. With increased efforts to raise diversity and inclusion at many outlets, this is an exciting time to become part of a community dedicated to lifting our individual and collective voices, and I want to be an authoritative part of those conversations on behalf of SAJA.

Ritu Marwah (Silicon Valley, CA)

Bio: 2020 Fellow of USC Annenberg's Center for Heath Journalism prepared me to report on Covid. The Ethnic News Media grant funded an article every week. I have since won California Journalism awards for my pieces in 2020,2021 and 2022. The San Francisco Press Club 2022 award is to be awarded this week. I am eager to learn and also put to use my experience of industry.

Statement: I feel I will learn from my peers. In return I can use my experience of organizing events to SAJA’s benefit. I recently curated and moderated two panels for the South Asian Literature And Art Festival 2022 as I have done for them in the past.

Mike Ghouse (Washington, DC)

Bio: I was the publisher and editor of a newspaper called Asian News from 1993-2001 in Dallas, TX. I also had a talk show radio and a TV show in the same period, and Sree [Sreenivasan] was my guest once. I plan to start "Pluralism Gazette" in 2023; it's been in the works for the last two years. My articles have been published in Religion News, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News (over 250 pieces), Huffington Post (over 125), The Wire, Indian Panorama (over 50), and several other newspapers. Over 300 Newspapers have written about me. I write on Pluralism in religion, politics, society, and the workplace and Islam, India, Israel-Palestine, and American Politics. I was a commentator on Fox News for seven years with Sean Hannity, Stuart Varney, Laura Ingram, Bill O'Reilly, and others. I speak and write boldly. I run a non-profit called Center for Pluralism and officiate interfaith marriages throughout the United States. I have been a Member of SAJA from the beginning, and we can make it active by bringing in donations and membership. I will make SAJA a more vibrant community.

Statement: SAJA was a very vibrant community, we had a regular news items and discussions. We are seeing a very low activity. I hope to put in the time to make is more active now. Bring in new members and pull some donations.


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