In 1996, Sayu started South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), to develop the leadership potential of immigrant youth in Queens. The first and only organization of its kind, SAYA! currently works with over 500 youth each year. Sayu holds a M.Ed. in Comparative Education from Teachers' College, Columbia University, and is a recipient of numerous awards for her community leadership. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate in the Politics and Education program at Columbia University, where she is researching immigrant civic engagement. Sayu serves on the boards of the National Immigration Forum and The AfterSchool Corporation (TASC). She is an immigrant of Indian descent who was raised in Belize, Central America, and is a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Prior to being a consultant, Pakou served as a Senior Trainer with Wellstone Action, the Voter Protection Director for the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and Deputy Vice President of Field Operations for the Children's Defense Fund in Washington D.C. She has also served as the Minnesota Field Director for America Votes, Deputy Political Director for Senator Paul Wellstone's 2002 re-election campaign and Campaign Manager for State Senator Mee Moua's historical 2002 special election.
Pakou graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters in Political Science in 2008 and Yale University in 1999. She has conducted extensive research in political psychology and voting behavior among New Americans and is well versed in statistical and survey data analysis. In 2007, she contributed two essays to the book: Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy. Pakou is a recipient of the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award and the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.
Prior to this, Mario spent several years in the field of community organizing, serving as the National Coordinator of Racial Justice 911: People of Color Against the War, consulting with Listen, Inc. to help bring a delegation of U.S. youth organizers to the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and holding the position of Development Coordinator for CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in the Northwest Bronx. Today, Mario is also board chair of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) in Oakland, a board member of Resource Generation, and is a Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) trainer. He is a graduate of Columbia University.
Previously, Spensley served as the Project Manager for Editors' World, a two-year project funded by The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation that enabled the launch of a web service dedicated to redefining and improving news coverage in mid-sized American media markets. Before moving to Los Angeles in 2004, Spensley was the Director of Communications for the New York City Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs under Mayor Bloomberg. She is the producer of the recently completed feature film Ashes, directed by Ajay Naidu. Nina is a graduate of Oberlin College.
Founding Director, The New American Leaders Project
Vice President, Trilogy Interactive
Attorney, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP
S. Mitra Kalita
Commentary Editor, Quartz
Publisher, El Diario/La Prensa
Executive Director, The New York Foundation
Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, Director of Development and Evaluation
President, Berger Hirschberg Strategies
Partner, Tobiko Strategies
Stephanie Gray Chang
President, APIA Vote - Michigan
Executive Director, New America Media
Executive Director, Promise Arizona
former Executive Director, State Voices
former President, Somos Republicans
Principal, Crossroads Campaigns
Vice President of Organizing,
Executive Director, Asian American Justice Center
Deputy Director of Politics, Center for Community Change/ICIRR
Executive Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Coordinating Director, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote (MIV)
Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program, Brookings
Sujata Sinha Mitra
Communications and Public Relations Professional
Executive Director, OneAmerica
Director, Global Detroit
formerly Vice President of Programs and Communications, The White House Project
The New American Leaders Project recruits recognized individuals with a track record of civic involvement and trains them in the key skills needed for leadership from the community to the Capitol. We provide new American leaders with a non-partisan, safe space in which they can learn about the challenges and opportunities of citizenship commitment and determine how they can best contribute to making our democracy stronger and more vibrant. Our goals are threefold: to expand the number of immigrants in leadership positions, increase voter participation in immigrant communities and allow immigrant voters more opportunities to engage with leaders who reflect their unique experiences.
Carnegie Corporation of New York
The New World Foundation
Ong Family Foundation
The Security & Rights Collaborative, a Proteus Fund initiative
The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation