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Who are the 3 Indian-Americans to join the White House Fellowship?

The White House on October 18th named 19 young emerging leaders as its fellows for 2021-22, three of whom are Indian-American

In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson established the White House Fellows Program to “give fellows with first-hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and their sense of involvement in national affairs.” The White House Fellows Program’s mission is to promote active citizenship and service to the nation.

The Presidential Commission on White House Fellows announced the appointment of the 2021-2022 class of White House Fellows, the most diverse class in the program’s history. The prestigious White House Fellowship program enlists professionals from diverse backgrounds to work as full-time, paid fellows for one year as White House staff, cabinet secretaries, and other senior government officials.

Selection to the programme is based on a track record of professional accomplishment: Evidence of leadership skills, ability to lead, and a commitment to service. This year’s White House Fellows were chosen through a highly competitive process, and they are a remarkable group of talented, passionate, and accomplished individuals. More than half of the fellows are women, reflecting the diversity of America as a whole.

White House Fellows
L-R: Joy Basu, Sunny Patel, Aakash Shah

Joy Basu and Sunny Patel from California, and Aakash Shah from New Jersey are the three newest Indian-American White House fellows among the 19 emerging leaders appointed.

Joy Basu

Joy Basu, a San Francisco resident, has been placed at the White House Gender Policy Council. She graduated from Duke University with a BA in Public Policy and Economics. Stanford University awarded her a JD and an MBA, as well as a certificate in public management and social innovation. She was co-president of the Women of Stanford Law, an Arbuckle Fellow, and a leader of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project while at Stanford.

Previously, she worked as a senior adviser to forward-thinking companies seeking authentic and impact-integrated growth. She was TPG Growth’s first chief of staff, and she was a key architect and builder of The Rise Fund, a ground-breaking impact investment platform. She was also the global sector lead for food and agriculture at The Rise Fund. Basu worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company before joining the TPG, where she focussed on agricultural development, collaborating with businesses, governments, and donors to improve food systems in emerging markets.

Ms Basu also served as a project manager to the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture and has supported strategic projects for the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency and Starbucks Coffee Company. She currently serves as a trustee for the Heifer International Foundation and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sunny Patel

Sunny Patel, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and public health physician at the Department of Homeland Security, is interested in developing equitable health systems that serve children and families. He holds a Mayo Clinic MD, a Harvard MPH, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and physiology, both with college and departmental honours, from UCLA.

He has worked as a resident tutor in medicine at Harvard College’s Adams House. Sunny completed his residency in adult psychiatry at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. He recently finished his fellowship at NYU, where he developed a model for integrating mental health services in paediatric oncology clinics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he also launched a comprehensive mental health response for thousands of frontline workers and volunteered as a palliative care physician at Bellevue Hospital. Moreover, Mr Patel has led health interventions for vulnerable populations in the United States and around the world, including in India, Thailand, and the Dominican Republic. He has spent the last ten years working with refugee populations and has performed forensic psychological examinations for asylum seekers with NYU and Physicians for Human Rights.

Patel’s research has been published in a variety of journals and has influenced policy initiatives, including work presented at the United Nations General Assembly.

Aakash Shah

Aakash Shah has been placed at the Department of Health and Human Services. As an emergency room physician at Hackensack Meridian Health, he helped in the treatment of some of the pandemic’s earliest confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Mr Shah also serves as the Director of Addiction Medicine at Jersey Shore University Medical Center, as well as the Medical Director of Project HEAL (a hospital-based violence intervention program) and the Medical Director of New Jersey Reentry Corp. His work in those areas has resulted in several reforms, including the elimination of prior authorization requirements for opioid use disorder medications, and he received the bipartisan endorsement of five former New Jersey governors.

He previously served as the Founder and Executive Director of Be Jersey Strong, which was honoured by President Barack Obama at the White House for its impact as one of the nation’s largest and most diverse efforts to connect the uninsured to coverage. Moreover, he has also served as an adviser to several local, state and federal campaigns and policymakers.

Hero and featured images: Courtesy Shutterstock

Anushka Narula
Anushka Narula likes to write about fashion, culture, and other nice things. When not bound to her keyboard, she likes to make her Pinterest boards come to life.