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Ten Indian American Women Newsmakers Who Made Us Proud This Year

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The year 2020 has been a historic year for the Indian American community. While some women have marked a first for the community in many instances, others have achieved exemplary heights in their respective fields. Whether it is Science, Politics, or Entrepreneurship these women have made us all proud of their hard work. So, as the year is coming to an end, let’s have a look at some of these Indian origin women who have made it to the headlines in the US.

Here’s a list of 10 Indian origin women newsmakers in the US:

  1. Kamala Harris: Kamala Devi Harris is an American politician and attorney. Harris who has been in the news for the last couple of months is all set to be the first female Vice President of the US. Not just that, she will also be the first black, South Asian, and Indian American to hold the position. Harris belongs to the democratic party and alongside president-elect Joe Biden she defeated incumbent president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence in the 2020 US elections. In her winning speech she vowed “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities,” as quoted by the Guardian. 
  2. Sonia Syngal: Sonia Syngal is an Indian -American businesswoman. Earlier this year in March she was appointed as the CEO of retail giant GAP Inc. With this appointment she became the highest-ranked Indian-American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company after Indra Nooyi who stepped down as PepsiCo head in 2018. After her appointment, Syngal said, “It’s an honor to build on this company’s rich heritage and lead our nearly 130,000 employees in transforming our business and operations to successfully compete in the future,” as quoted by the Indian Express. Earlier, Syngal had headed the old navy unit of the company since 2016. She is responsible for taking the sales of Old Navy from $7 Billion to $8 Billion in just three years. Read more about her here. 
  3. Mala Adiga: The recently elected 46th President of the US, Joe Biden, chose Indian- American Mala Adiga as the policy director of the soon to be first lady Jill Biden. Adiga who is a lawyer has worked extensively with Jill Biden as a senior advisor, she has also served as the senior policy advisor on the 2020 US election campaign. Earlier, during the former president Barack Obama’s administration, she worked as the deputy assistant secretary of state for Academic Programs at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Mala Adiga has also held the position of Chief of Staff in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and worked as senior advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large. Read more about her here. 
  4. Shruti Puri: A graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, Shruti Puri was named as one of the finalists at the 2020 Blavatnik Regional Awards for Young Scientists. Puri who is a postdoctoral researcher at Yale University was shortlisted as a finalist in the “Physical Sciences and Engineering” category. Shruti Puri is currently an assistant professor at Yale University, she has been recognised for her extraordinary “theoretical discoveries in quantum information storage and quantum computing.” Read more about her here.
  5. Jenifer Rajkumar: Rajkumar is an Indian-American attorney and politician. After winning the 2020 US elections she became the first South Asian woman to be elected to the New York State Assembly. The 38-year-old Indian-American lawyer belongs to the Democratis party and defeated her Republican rival Giovanni Perna in the 2020 elections. In 2011, Rajkumar was elected as the District Leader of the 65th District of the New York State Assembly, which made her the first Indian-American woman to hold the profile. Since then, she has been re-elected to the same position twice in 2013 and 2015.
  6. Dr. Aruna Subramanian: Dr. Aruna Subramanian is a trained doctor in infectious diseases, she was the lead investigator of a potential COVID 19 drug called Remdesivir. She is  part of the lead investigations team at Stanford Medicine along with Gilead Science, the drug company, to reasearch on  the COVID-19 virus. The Indian-American physician is a Chief, Immunocompromised Host Infectious Diseases, Clinical Associate Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Along with being a medical professional she is also a trained South Indian classical dancer and helps organise Indian dance shows around the US. Read more here. 
  7. Pramila Jayapal: Pramila Jayapal is a democrat and she won the 2020 elections by defeating Republican Craig Keller by a massive 70 percentage points in the Seventh Congressional District of Washington State. She received 344,541 votes against just 61,940 for Keller. Pramila Jayapal who is an Indian American Congresswoman and re-elected to the US House of Representatives for the third consecutive term. In 2016, Jayapal became the first Indian-American woman to be elected to the US House of Representatives. Read more about her here. 
  8. Neera Tanden: Neera Tanden is an Indian-American political consultant and former US government advisor. Recently she has been appointed as the director of the Office of Management and Budget by US President-elect Joe Biden making her the first Indian American to head the White House Budget office. Before taking the top post at the White House, Tanden was tasked as chief executive of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in the country. Tanden who is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles and Yale Law School was born to Indian parents in Massachusetts. Read more here. 
  9. Gitanjali Rao: Gitanjali Rao is a 15-year-old teenager who has been chosen as TIME’s first-ever Kid of the Year for her work using ‘technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying’. The genius teenager is from Colorado, US, and was selected from 5,000 nominees, she was interviewed by Academy award-winning Hollywood actor Angelina Jolie for TIME. Rao’s latest discovery is an app called, Kindly, which detects cyberbullying at an early stage and has also developed another application called Tethys, a device that can measure the content of lead contamination in water with the help of carbon nanotubes. At the age of 11, she won the Discovery Education 3M Scientist Challenge and was listed by Forbes in the “30 Under 30” list for her innovations. Read more here. 
  10. Kesha Ram: Kesha Ram is an Indian-American politician and has served the Vermont House of Representatives from 2009 to 2016. In the 2020 elections, Ram who belongs to the Democratic party and was  elected to the Vermont Senate, making her the first woman of colour elected to hold the position. During her early career, she was the youngest member of the House of Representatives and the youngest legislator serving at the time nationally. Ram is still the youngest Indian American to serve in state elected office.

Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV