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.
Guilty pleasure: cupcakes and champagne
Founder and President
Prior to joining NALP in July 2013, she worked as Director of Operations for the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition and Program Director for the Latina Initiative. Lynn also spent several years working as the Regional Recruitment Supervisor for the College Assistance Migrant Program at Metro State College of Denver (MSCD). During the 2010 legislative session, Lynn worked as an aide for State Senator Abel Tapia. Additionally, she spent five years as a Lecturer/Tour Guide for the MSCD Language and Culture Institute Study Abroad Program during which she worked in Mexico and Central America.
Lynn holds a Bachelor's Degree in Chicana/o Studies from Metropolitan State College of Denver and a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Colorado Denver.
Favorite comfort food: Ramen
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.
On winning the lottery: After settling finances for my family, I would set up a safe house in the Yucatan for traveling immigrants which would provide mental and physical health facilities and a safe housing. Also, I would buy all my friends hybrid cars and solar plates.
Favorite Quote: "We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to citizens of the United States, be guaranteed to us and our daughters forever." Declaration of Women’s Rights of the United States.
President and Founder, The New American Leaders Project
Chief Financial Officer, Planned Parenthood Federation and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Vice President, Trilogy Interactive
Attorney, Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP
S. Mitra Kalita
Commentary Editor, Quartz
Executive Director, The New York Foundation
Senior Fellow, Community Resource Exchange
Independent Film Producer
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
Immigration and Public Policy Consultant
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.