Houston: Two Indian-origin experts in public service have been appointed by the Biden administration to key positions at AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteering and service.
Sonali Nijhawan has been named Director of AmeriCorps State and National, and Sri Preston Kulkarni, 42, was appointed the new Chief of External Affairs.
Though having run for Congress twice unsuccessfully in Texas, Kulkarni was certainly noticed by the leadership in Washington.
Kulkarni's appointment, along with Nijhawan and Dan Kohl, reflects "the Biden administration's commitment to diverse leadership," according to the release by AmeriCorps.
In their roles, these leaders will use service to support the administration's agenda, focusing on four of the most urgent challenges of our time: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity, and climate change, the AmeriCorps said. Kulkarni lost his race for the Texas District 22 seat in the US House of Representatives to former Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls in November as the Democratic nominee in a deeply Republican district.
Kulkarni brings a variety of experience in service and public affairs to AmeriCorps, including 14 years as a foreign service officer with the State Department where he specialised in public diplomacy and worked in public affairs and international information programmes, completing tours in Taiwan, Russia, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica and Washington, the statement said.
Nijhawan has committed her career to developing leaders and growing national service. Most recently, she developed and served as the executive director of Stockton Service Corps, a six-year, USD 12 million initiative to address local needs through AmeriCorps.
Her professional background also includes extensive experience in education, AmeriCorps said in a press release.
Inspired by the students, families, and AmeriCorps community she met, she went on to help found City Year Sacramento and launch the organisation's 22nd site with 50 new AmeriCorps members.
Nijhawan also served as the California director of Education Pioneers where she recruited, placed, and supported managers in urban school systems and education nonprofits, empowering people to challenge the status quo of our public education system.
She earned a bachelor's in education and psychology from Marquette University and a master's in social work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore.