Supporting a Robust and Imaginative Future
Board of Directors
Mridu Sekhar, PhD, President
Retired: Nobel Biocare Russia
Dr. Sekhar ran an international business with customers in the former Soviet Union and India. She sold this business in 2008 and, since retiring, has contributed her time and resources to causes involving children, the arts, and political action. In addition to Kalapriya, Dr. Sekhar serves on the boards of the Bhuvana Foundation, which operates a school for tribes in the mountains of South India, and the Indo-American Democratic Organization. Active in President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, she has remained involved in politics.
Hem Lata Goel, Treasurer
Accounting Manager, HTH Consultants, Libertyville, Illinois
Ms. Goel has a masters degree in accounting and finance and has been working in the field since 1997. She has worked in audit and accounting for several firms and comes with a reputation for integrity. She is joining Kalapriya’s board to lead it during a critical time of opportunity and growth.
General Counsel, Illinois Department of Public Health
Snigdha Acharya is General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH). In this role, she oversees the legal functions of IDPH – including contracting, grantmaking, regulatory actions, litigation, compliance and privacy, employment issues, rulemaking, legal emergency preparedness, and the multitude of other legal issues IDPH encounters.
Snigdha began her legal career at Cook County’s Juvenile Court, where she helped develop and implement a program to address the needs of a growing population of wards who did not achieve permanency, became homeless, or became incarcerated post-emancipation. She transitioned to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, where she represented the agency in both Child Protection and Juvenile Justice matters before circuit courts and in administrative matters. She then joined IDPH and learned about public health through various roles prior to becoming General Counsel.
She received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of
Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and her Juris Doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis.
Charna Epstein, MA, MS
University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, Chief Operating Officer
Charna Epstein is the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and a managing director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute
As COO, Epstein provides day-to-day oversight of operations throughout UEI’s multi-faceted operations and works across domains to improve the function of core operational units to support UEI’s work. Epstein builds, refines, and implements strategy and policy in finance, human resources and technology in all areas of UEI; she supports design and implementation of metrics to measure UEI impact and effectiveness, and spends a significant portion of her time leading operations in the UChicago Charter School.
Prior to joining UEI, Epstein served as the Chief of Staff to Alderman Ameya Pawar in Chicago’s 47th Ward, successfully leading the work on over $250 million in development initiatives and driving core legislative, policy, strategic planning, and external communications projects. Prior to her work with the City, Epstein led emergency work with evacuee, refugee, and immigrant populations for 10 years at the international NGO Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights. For the majority of her time at Heartland Alliance, she served as the Director of Crisis Prevention, Resettlement, and Disaster Recovery; during her tenure in this position she was the recipient of numerous awards. Epstein was selected for a 2011 Red Cross Hero Award for relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake, as well as the National Hazards Center’s 2008 Mary Fran Myers Award, presented to individuals poised to make lasting contributions to reducing disaster vulnerability. In 2013, Epstein traveled to South Central Asia on a U.S. State Department legislative fellowship. Early in her career, Epstein worked as a teacher in both elementary and high school.
Epstein is the author of the book, Emergency Management and Social Intelligence: A Comprehensive All Hazards Approach (December 2014). Epstein holds an M.A. in Social Service Administration and an M.S. in Threat and Response Management, both from the University of Chicago, and B.A. from Brandeis University.
Divya Mohan Little
Program Officer, Polk Bros. Foundation
Divya Mohan Little is a public health and communications specialist with more than 15 years of experience working for nonprofit and public sector agencies. Prior to joining the Polk Bros Foundation, as its Health and Strong Families Program Officer, Divya worked at the Illinois Department of Public Health, EverThrive, IL, and the School-Based Health Alliance. Divya lives in Bronzeville with her husband, Corey, and two daughters, Asha and Jansi. Asha, following in her mother’s footsteps as a Bharatanatyam dancer, is a member of the Kalapriya dance academy. Beyond dance, Divya is passionate about women’s rights, improving and strengthening Chicago, as well as making the world a healthier and more equitable place!
Dr. Veena Raji M.D.MPH
Clinical Assistant Professor of Opthalmology/Director of Uveitis Service, Loyola University Medical Center
Veena Raiji MD, MPH is a board-certified ophthalmologist specializing in retinal disease and ocular inflammatory disease. She has clinical appointments at Loyola university Stritch school of medicine and trains fellows, residents, and medical students at cook county hospital as well as in private practice in the Chicagoland area. Her clinical research interests focus on ocular inflammatory disease as well as retinal disease, for which she serves on a number of advisory boards. She is principal investigator for a large clinical trial at John H. Stroger Hospital. In addition to her clinical and research work, Dr. Raiji trained in Karnatic and Hindustani music for many years and is passionate about South-Asian culture, philanthropy and art.
Web Developer, Motorola Corporation
Chitra Sundaram, MBA
Retired: Senior Executive United Airlines
Chitra Sundaram brings over 20 years of experience in the areas of cross-cultural training and awareness, customer interfacing skills, and business-related soft skills to Kalapriya board. She leads the board’s programs subcommittee.
As an executive in the international airline industry, she created a training department for a major Indian flag carrier, Air Sahara, and served high-profile corporations, educational institutions, and other private clients in the U.S., India, and Middle East. An internationally-known speaker and author on cross culture and behavioral issues in the business and social arenas, Ms. Sundaram is a subject matter expert for the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and an active member of Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research (SIETAR). She is a certified soft skills and cross-culture trainer and has a BA in sociology and an MBA in international business from Loyola University of Chicago. Now retired, Ms. Sunderam pursues her passions for reading, travel, Indian music, dance, and Tanjore painting.
Arnold E. Toole, JD
Principal, Toole Law Office, LLC
Mr. Toole is the founder of the Chicago-based international law firm, Toole Law Office, LLC, where he specializes in corporate law, contracts, commercial transactions, licensing, real estate, and litigation. He has traveled widely in India and South East Asia, including living and working in Thailand, Singapore, and Laos. Mr. Toole also enjoys creative writing and devotes time to social justice and animal rights projects. His daughter is a student, performer, and instructor of Bharatanayam at Kalapriya. A practicing attorney since 1992, Mr. Toole holds a BA from Brandeis University and a JD from the University of Michigan.
Carol W. Evans