Indian Americans Receive Ellis Island Medals of Honor

Source: Indian West Online
May 18, 2015

Meera T. Gandhi (center, looking forward), CEO and founder of the Giving Back Foundation, stands in the reception line to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor May 9 in New York. (snapsindia photo)

At least six Indian Americans were among the nearly 100 individuals who were presented Ellis Island Medals of Honor May 9 in New York.

The medals are given annually by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations “to a group of distinguished American citizens who exemplify a life dedicated to community service.”

The six are: S. Mona Sinha, Dr. Rahul M. Jindal, Meera T. Gandhi, Dr. Chad P. Gehani, KV Kumar and Dr. Rajdeep K. Dhami.

Sinha is a founding member of the Asian Women’s Leadership University, serves on the board of the Social Enterprise Program at Columbia Business School, is a trustee of both Smith College and All Souls School and is on the advisory council of the American Museum of Natural History.

She began her professional career as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley, followed by a marketing career at P&G and Unilever, during which she helped restructure the Asia Pacific operations of Elizabeth Arden.

Sinha has a B.A. in economics, art history from Smith College and an MBA in finance and marketing from Columbia University.

Jindal is currently a transplant surgeon at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a clinical professor at George Washington University.

In the late 1990’s, he performed the world's first operation to link a tube with blood vessels in the damaged liver of a dying six-year-old boy.

Jindal also set up the first comprehensive kidney dialysis and kidney transplant program in Guyana and successfully performed the first living kidney transplant there.

He is a former commissioner in the Maryland governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and served on the Human Rights Commissioner in Montgomery County, Md.

Jindal has M.D. and M.S. degrees from B.J. Medical College, and F.R.C.S. from the Royal College of Edinburgh and received a transplant fellowship at the University of Oxford and clinical fellowships at Boston University and Mt. Sinai Medical Center.

The Indian American physician is also vice chair of the International Partnership for Global Health-Naval Research Institute and director of the National Blood and Bone Marrow Drive Campaign.

Gandhi is the CEO and founder of the Giving Back Foundation. The daughter of an Irish mother, Ellen Mary, and an Indian father, Admiral Perbodh Nath Agarwal, from Uttar Pradesh, she grew up in India, England and Ireland, and was educated in India, Canada and the U.S., where she received an MBA.

A graduate of the executive education program at Harvard Business School, Gandhi has devoted her life to charity and to helping those in need: abused and hungry children, widows, the sick and the deaf and blind.

She recently produced and directed a documentary, musical CD and coffee table book, all titled “Giving Back,” which show how philanthropic endeavors can change the world. All proceeds of the multimedia project go to charity.

Gehani, a dentist practicing in Queens, N.Y., is a trustee of the American Dental Association. He has been a clinical associate professor at New York University College of Dentistry for the past 33 years and is a past president of the New York State Dental Association, the Queens County Dental Society and the Indian Dental Association-USA. 

A trustee of the New York State Dental Foundation, Gehani received a fellowship from the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy. He was also a recipient of the Best Teacher Award by the International College of Dentists.

In a press release about the Ellis Island Medal, the Indian American dentist said, “As I travel around the world teaching dentistry and helping impoverished people, each time I return, I thank God that I am an American, a country that allows us to realize the American dream. I am a very proud American who was made in India. I feel very honored and privileged to receive this award.”

Kumar, managing partner of consulting firm Kumar & Talvadkar Associates, is a board member of several corporations and was recently appointed to the Small Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

A member of the California State Bar Board of Examiner’s Committee and the California District Board of Appeals for the Selective Service, he served as president of U.S. India Foundation and was on the advisory boards of Hispanic 100 and the Latino Coalition.

Kumar was founding president of American Systems International and has worked in the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. He was awarded the Millennium Award by the Brain Injury Association of America for advocacy on behalf of victims of brain injury.

He also received a presidential appointment to the Executive Committee of the SBA’s National Advisory Council on Small Business.

No details were available on Dhami by press deadline. NECO did not return a request by India-West for biographies of the medal recipients.