Meet our organizing team:
Hi! I'm Melissa (she/they), a Philly-based organizer, educator, and writer/researcher. I am a lecturer in the University of Pennsylvania's Critical Writing program, and a workplace researcher, focusing on how academic support staff members write, navigate power, and tell stories in the workplace. I am a founding sister of the Philadelphia Chapter of NAPAWF and an organizer with Philly South Asian Collective. I am deeply interested in using trauma-informed/empathy-centered and femme-centered approaches to organizing. In my free time, I love to read fiction, write, go on food adventures with friends, cook, and spend time with my cats.
Hi I'm Shabana! I'm a Kashmiri from the DC area, who currently lives in Richmond, VA. I am a graduate student working on my masters in sociology. My research is focused on identity formation and racialization of the South Asian diaspora in the US. I also do organizing work with POCollective and Southerns On New Ground (SONG) and serve as the execitive director of the National Association for Ethnic Studies. In my free time I love talking endlessly about my cat and the liberation of Kashmir.
Varun (he, they) is a queer, radical educator and community organizer from Hartford, Connecticut of upper-caste Hindu Punjabi descent. His work primarily focuses on providing training, resources, and support to young people and educators doing grassroots organizing and policy advocacy to achieve racial equity in public schools. He's also actively involved locally and statewide in deportation defense and immigrant rights work. In his free time, he enjoys thrift shopping, cooking, and listening to reggaeton and bachata. As a proud 2015 alum of Bay Area Solidarity Summer, he's excited to build community and power with other young South Asian folks on the East Coast!
I'm Priya (she/her), a 30-yr-old, Baltimore-based, mixed race Indian (Punjabi) & white cultural organizer. Professionally, I work for a restorative justice organization and I aim to bring that mode of collaborating to every space I enter. I'm an organizer with Baltimore Asian Resistance in Solidarity, and co-founder/organizer of the art + music series Bollymore. I'm passionate about exploring multiracial and culturally-specific community building, activism and mental health care practices. I love seeing live music, streaming entirely too much TV, and learning from people's stories.
Ahana (she/her) is an Indian Bengali who grew up in Singapore, and graduated from GW. She has lived in the DMV area for the past 5.5 years. Ahana is currently a Compliance Analyst and is working towards further education, with which she would like to advocate for underrepresented youth and minorities. She aims to contribute to dismantling the notion of white supremacy, rape culture, and anti-blackness in the US and around the world. In her free time, you can catch her Netflixing, cooking South Asian food, or finishing her swear word colouring book (so therapeutic!!!).
Arita (she/her) is an Indo-Caribbean woman from the Bronx who thinks a lot about race, gender, and legacies of colonialism. She spends her days learning about what it means to inhabit and reclaim multiple 'homes'. She is a lover of oceans, coconut oil, and her grandmother.
Jasveen (she/her) is a student studying poetry, race and ethnicity, and gender studies. She is a practicing sikh from a upper-caste background. You can find her either in New Delhi or New York. She's interested in gender justice, religion, diverse art, and class reform. She hopes to some day finally manage being able to live in two places at once and bridge the gap between the diaspora and the subcontinent.
Sonalee (she/they) loves New Jersey so much she often says, "I was born in New Jersey. And I will die in New Jersey." Based in South Jersey, they are paid for their labor as a social worker, sexual assault counselor, sex therapist, and professor of human sexuality. This will be their 4th summer at ECSS, and they are excited to bring ideas on body image, fatness, healthism, colonialism, femme organizing models, and sexuality. In her free time, she also organizes with Philadelphia South Asian Collective. On a sunny afternoon you could find them reading nonfiction, collecting stationary, or eating donuts. She was born in the US and her family is lower caste Indian Hindu from Maharashtra and UP/Bihar. Her next tattoo is a toss up between New Jersey or a donut.
Ishan Bose is an Indian Bengali born and raised in central Virginia. He is currently studying Economics and Statistics at Virginia Commonwealth University. Ishan believes strongly in solidarity between people of color and supports organizations created by PoC meant to uplift PoC and dismantle white supremacy. In his free time, he likes to watch movies on Netflix and think about poetry (occasionally writing as well).
Eshani (she/her) is a Capricorn twenty-something graduate of Rutgers University. By day, she works to help people pay for their abortions, and by night she's usually hanging out at home with her roommate's dog. She participated in ECSS in 2014 and this year marks her fourth (!!!) summer with ECSS. She is incredibly passionate about New Jersey.
Hi, I'm Stanley (he/him) and I'm Indo-Guyanese, born in Queens and currently living in Long Island. I was a participant in ECSS 2017. Most of what I do professionally and otherwise is about serving kids in NYC. The community work that matters to me the most is work that centers coolie communities, so I volunteer as a tutor for the Indo-Caribbean Alliance (ICA) a few times a week and attempt to maintain a blog writing from an Indo-Caribbean perspective called The Coolie. In my free time, I'm probably tweeting or doing something suitably geeky.
Hima is a New Jersey Malayali who marinated a tad bit in Dubai as a child. They are as an aspiring therapist/social worker, they are interested in learning how to transform cycles of abuse, intergenerational & historical trauma into inheritances of love, care, and acceptance within oneself, families, and communities. Their hobbies include laying in bed, watching baby videos, and eating food, preferably all at the same time.
Hi! I'm Bhupali, an introverted Leo and self-appointed defender of New Jersey. I'm Indian (Marathi) and savarna (upper-caste). I care about reproductive justice, especially about creating more comprehensive and accessible sex ed. I owe a lot of my framework for organizing to the prison abolition movement. I participated in ECSS in 2014, and I'm so excited to be back! I'm welcoming 2018 with open arms, and I can't wait to build with you all.
Sarika is from Long Island, NY and of Punjabi, Sikh & Hindu, upper caste and class background. She is committed to working in solidarity with communities of color to disrupt flows of power and privilege. They are a program coordinator advocating with young people to uplift and center the experiences of trans & cis young women and girls of color and gender non-conforming youth of color in NYC. Sarika can be found doodling, coloring, and finding humor in the little things.
Anushka (she/her) is a Pakistani bred-U.S born-came out of the womb aunty. She is deeply invested in good chai, cheap Bollywood dialogue, Urdu poetry, her pet babies, and pakoras. She is honored and humbled to be a part of the 2018 ECSS Organizing Collective and can't wait to connect with, learn from, and grow with other ahmazing Brown folks.
Special thanks to our support organizers!