Women of Dharma Leadership Conference

DHARMA: Life Paths and Choices for Women on April 24th, 2021

Dharma can be understood as following a virtuous path to promote goodness in the world for others and not limited to self interests. It takes different forms emphasizing various virtues such as honesty, non-violence, compassion and equity.

DhIA Foundation's Inaugural event will also launch initiatives to support Women of Dharma in their professional and life choices. Examples include: Mentorship programs, Networking events, and Professional development workshops.

Please donate generously!

Inaugural message: Equity for Women of Dharma

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal is an Indian-American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington's 7th congressional district since 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, she represents most of Seattle, as well as suburban areas of King County. She previously represented the 37th legislative district in the Washington State Senate from 2015 to 2017. She is the first Indian-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the district's first female member of Congress, and is also the first Asian American to represent the State of Washington at the federal level.

Keynote Address

An economist by training, Sonal has focused her career on actionable innovation in the public and private sectors and is currently a Professor at Georgetown University. Her work spans such prestigious institutions as the US White House, The Case Foundation, and The Center for American Progress. Recently, Sonal served as National Policy Director for Pete Buttigieg during the 2020 Presidential Election. In 2001, she co-founded Indicorps, a non-profit organization that provides service fellowships for people of Indian descent to work on community solutions in India.

Schedule of Events

Breakout 1: Career Choices and Growth Panel

Anya is a professor of Speech Communication at De Anza College in Cupertino, CA and a Lecturer in Oral Communications at San Jose State University. Through her own experiments in writing articles to share her personal experiences, she discovered her passion for communications, and works to help students use media to create more influential roles for themselves in society.

After many years in the field of international tax law, working for prestigious consulting firms and for major corporations, Suma redirected her focus to being a wellness entrepreneur and a landscape designer, running businesses in both of those fields. She also serves as Counsel for Aim For Seva, which serves the educational needs of children in rural parts of India.

Srilekha is a healthcare leader in a major healthcare organization in northern Virginia and serves as Vice President of National Capital Healthcare Executives. Her commitment to healthcare extends to her volunteer activities as well, including her time spent in Haiti for earthquake recovery and her involvement with the Rural Development Trust/ Vicente Ferrer Foundation USA to provide rehabilitation care in rural community hospitals in India. Srilekha is an active community leader within the Hindu community in NOVA and served as President of Durga Temple of Virginia.

Rohini is an Environmental Scientist with Stantec, a global firm that focuses on engineering, architecture, and design; and she focuses on supporting sustainable building practices. She previously worked for the Ohio Department of Transportation doing field research related to the environment. Her commitment to this field began with youth volunteer activities in 4-H and fundraising for Charity: Water.

Breakout 2: Values-Based Entrepreneurship

Amita has been practicing Ayurveda, Yoga and Hypnotherapy for over 20 years. She founded Vedic Health Inc (nonprofit) in 2017 to offer affordable alternative health care to the community. In addition to practicing, she teaches students and gives seminars at corporations, conferences and faith organizations.

As the founder and owner of C2 Technologies, a leader in education and online learning, for the past 30+ years, Dolly is an experienced and successful entrepreneur and CEO. Her company is the recipient of more than 150 awards and serves 120 clients from 22 locations globally. She also served as a Trustee for George Mason University Foundation for 13 years and as President of TiE-DC for 9 years, fostering entrepreneurship in the DC-Metro area.

Panel Presentations: Maintaining Support Systems

Holistic recognition of problem areas and challenges without guilt

Women, often do not recognize the inequities in their life and further, are reluctant to ask for support fearing judgment of inadequacies and deficits. A sense of guilt and shame in needing more support interferes with an accurate and holistic discernment of necessary support systems.

Speaker: Sheela practices Obstetrics and Gynecology in her hospital in Ooty, Tamil Nadu, having graduated as a Gold medalist from Kasturba Medical College. Her learning and consulting practice extends further, focusing on fostering long-term, holistic wellness for women through comprehensive fitness and balanced, nutritious diet.

Integration of nutritional, emotional, physical and social wellness

Women as caretakers tend to give to others without prioritizing self-care and their own wellness across nutritional, emotional, physical and social realms. Information and resources combined with a dedication to self-care empower women to make informed choices in meeting their own needs.

Speaker: Thu has been in private practice for Obstetrics and Gynecology in Rockville, MD since 1991 and has repeatedly been in the Washingtonian’s “Top Docs” and in the Washington Consumer’s Checkbook. She was selected to be the 2015 recipient of the Outstanding Physician Award by Montgomery County Medical Society in Maryland.

Importance of spiritual connections and altruistic purpose

Women frequently search for meaning and purpose in their life choices beyond the practical and mundane. When altruistic practices of caring for others (family and community) are viewed through a lens of spiritual connections in service of others, it validates and highlights the importance of making time to nurture personal connections and relationships.

Speaker: Wangmo’s career has been dedicated to creating an understanding of Dharma and promoting its practice. She is the Executive Director of Dharma College in Berkeley, CA and also serves as the President of International Buddhist Association of America and the CEO of Light of Buddhadharma Foundation.

Queer Ragas: Support systems for Women and LGBTQ

The inequities faced by women (and their families) who identify as LGBTQ remains largely invisible. The trauma of facing ignorance, discriminations, harsh words and marginalizations add to other existing inequities that women, in general, face. Awareness of available resources combined with a commitment to action and equity is essential for LGBTQ Women of Dharma.

Speaker: Shiva serves as Emeritus: Executive Director, LGBTQ and Women’s Centers, Georgetown and previously held positions in Human Relations and LGBTQ Equity at the University of Maryland. During her career she has studied a broad range of diversity issues including gender, race, faith/religion, sexual orientation, class, and disability and has developed specialized expertise in intergroup dialogue methods, including conflict resolution and mediation.

Creating essential support networks at home, work and community

Recognizing inequities, asking for support and practicing self-care can seem like a full-time job! Irrespective of where individual needs lie, a commitment to actively seek and foster professional and personal support network bolster a woman's pursuit of success, as defined by each person.

Speaker: Ophelia Yeung has more than 20 years of experience leading research and consulting assignments for business, government, universities and nonprofit organizations around the world. Her recent work has focused on the wellness industry. She co-authored numerous Global Wellness Institute studies, including "Future of Wellness at Work 2016," "Build Well to Live Well 2018," "Move to be Well: The Global Economy of Physical Activity 2019," and "Defining the Mental Wellness Economy 2020."

Moderator for Support Panel:

Dr Aruna Nathan is board-certified Internal Medicine and Lifestyle Medicine physician with over 20 years of experience. Recognizing that many of today’s chronic diseases are closely connected to our lifestyle and food choices, Dr. Nathan began studying Lifestyle Medicine, a specialty that uses evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches to prevent, treat and often reverse chronic diseases through better nutrition, physical activity, practical exercise, sleep hygiene and reduction of stress and addictions.

Dr. Nathan became one of the first physicians in the country to be board certified in Lifestyle Medicine and uses its philosophies in her practice of Internal Medicine. She has also been voted repeatedly by her peers as a Washingtonian Top Doc. She prefers to treat the root cause, not just the symptoms of a disease, with nutrition education, exercise and mindfulness while reducing unnecessary medications and prescription drugs.

DhIA Women's Team:

Nithya has established herself as a leading attorney in the field of international trade, having worked at the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the US Court of International Trade, and in private practice as a partner at Husch Blackwell. For eight years, she ran her own business in international trade law, and worked with clients across the globe.

During her career in the retail, consumer goods, and technology sectors, both in industry and as a consultant, Nirupama has been committed to fostering diversity and inclusion and to helping women take charge of their careers. She served on the Board of Directors of the Hindu Association of Northwest Arkansas and helped construct the temple there and co-founded Ready for Success, a program designed to help South Asian women (re)entering the workforce. She is currently an Associate Partner for Strategy Consulting at IBM.

Dr. Aparna Ramaswamy is an Indian dance educator, professional counselor and a senior lecturer at Johns Hopkins University - School of Education. She holds a PhD on the connections between Yoga, meditation and Indian dance; and a EdD on cultivating humility and multicultural competence through meditation and mindfulness. As a counselor and educator, Aparna utilizes yoga and meditation in counseling people with depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. As a volunteer, Aparna teaches Dharma education at Sri Siva Vishnu Temple and serves on the Board of DhIA Foundation.