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Board of Directors

SAPHA Board
The Board of Directors are an elected group of professionals representing a diverse set of disciplines, skills and expertise and are committed to furthering SAPHA’s mission. Our Board members serve a two-year term; nominations for new Board members occur every September and elections are held in November. If you are interested in running for the Board or have other general inquiries, please contact us at saphaboard@gmail.com .
Nazeera Dawood

Nazeera Dawood, MBBS, MPH, CCRC

President (2016-2018)
Dr. Dawood is currently the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at the Fulton County Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. She received her medical doctor degree from Bangalore University in India and master’s degree in public health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Nazeera worked as a research project manager at Emory University for over 5 years and was recognized as the 2010-2011 ‘We are Emory, 100 Community Builders’.

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Under her leadership, the collaborative partnerships have grown to over 400 businesses, organization and individuals through the six coalitions and secured $9,000,000 project funding for a period of three years. Oct 1, 2014 was proclaimed as ‘Dr.Nazeera Dawood Appreciation Day’ sponsored by Fulton Board of Commissioners. She is a Johns Creek resident and a recent graduate of Leadership Johns Creek and Johns Creek Community Police Academy.

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Punam Parikh Modha, MPH

Vice President (2014-2016)
Ms. Modha currently serves as a Project Manager in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA School of Medicine. Her research in health services includes issues related to quality of care issues for patients with chronic conditions, improving the collection of race, ethnicity, and language in the all-payer state databases, and evaluating the impact of Medicare policy on hospital readmissions in California.

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Punam previously managed several diabetes prevention and control initiatives at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, including a community-based randomized controlled trial to prevent diabetes among high risk adults in East Harlem. Her prior work also includes evaluation of statewide cancer control efforts in New Jersey and implementation of health promotion programs addressing prostate cancer and asthma in low-income communities of color. She has worked and volunteered with South Asian communities and managed the first comprehensive South Asian health needs assessment in Southern California. Punam obtained her MPH from the University of California, Los Angeles in Community Health Sciences.

Vaibhav Jain

Vaibhav Jain, BDS, MPH

Secretary (2015-2017)
Dr. Jain is a dental surgeon and public health specialist from New Delhi, India and previously practiced as a public health dentist in South India. He currently works as a Research Associate with the Health Policy Research division at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C. where he creates and evaluates new approaches to financing and delivering care, while maintaining healthcare quality and lower costs for consumers. He also conducts research, communication interventions and provides technical advice on policies and processes to bring public and patient perspectives into health care and health policy.

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Vaibhav moved to the U.S. in 2011 to pursue graduate studies in Global Health Policy at the George Washington University. As a graduate student, Vaibhav conducted research in Dhaka, Bangladesh and collaborated with BRAC and the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh to understand diarrheal diseases in the urban slums of Dhaka using Geographic Information System mapping. He is interested in maternal and child health and volunteers with the Global India Fund, which promotes public health and the rights of underserved females in India. Vaibhav also serves on the executive board of Khush DC, a Washington, D.C. based South Asian LGBTQ support and resource group. Vaibhav received a prestigious 2013 fellowship at the World Health Organization’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland where he analyzed health statistics and information dissemination for 194-member countries of the WHO, and was inducted to the Delta Omega Honorary Society in Public Health in May 2015.

Yousra Yusuf

Yousra Yusuf, MPH

Treasurer (2015-2017)
Yousra Yusuf, MPH is currently a PhD student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Prior to that, she was the Project Coordinator at the New York University Center for the Study of Asian American Health. In this position, she was managing the Community Health Resources and Needs Assessment project, a large scale health needs assessment project in diverse, low-income Asian American communities in the metro New York area. In her role, she coordinated partnership building with community-based organizations, organized events in communities to administer surveys and worked on data management and dissemination.

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Ms. Yusuf completed her Masters in Public Health at SUNY Downstate School of Public Health with a specialization in Epidemiology and a research focus in maternal health. She has an extensive background in public health research and teaching in the fields of community health research, health disparities, and health advocacy. Her research interests are in immigrant health, health disparities, and women’s health in underserved, community-based research settings. Ms. Yusuf is involved in various capacities in several community-based, non-profit organizations serving the Asian and South Asian community in New York and abroad.

Memoona Hasnain

Memoona Hasnain, MD, MHPE, PhD

Research Committee Chair (2014-2016)
Dr. Hasnain is a medical educator and researcher. She is an Associate Professor and Director of Research in the Department of Family Medicine, University of Illinois (UIC) College of Medicine and holds adjunct appointments in UIC’s Department of Medical Education, College of Nursing and the School of Public Health.

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The primary focus of Memoona’s work is at the intersection of medicine and public health. She is a nationally recognized expert on health disparities and minority health issues. Her current research endeavors emphasize: a) patient-centered care and social determinants of health, with a special interest in HIV/AIDS, and quality care issues for understudied and at-risk populations, and, b) development and evaluation of educational interventions to ensure that future health care providers can effectively address quality and health disparities issues. Memoona serves as the Director of UIC College of Medicine's longitudinal "Patient-centered Medicine Scholars Program" which includes a service learning program for medical students focusing preparing future physicians to address health needs of vulnerable populations. The program is organized in concentrations including domestic violence, geriatrics, HIV/AIDS, homelessness, and immigrant & refugee health. Memoona is also the Director of the Health Disparities Scholars Program for the Family Medicine Residency at UIC and teaches at the UIC School of Public Health. Memoona received her medical degree from Dow Medical College, Karachi, Pakistan. Her previous experience includes clinical work in Obstetrics & Gynecology in Pakistan and academic work in the Department of Medical Education, WHO Center for Research and Training of Health Professionals, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan. She earned a Masters degree in Health Professions Education and a doctorate in Public Health, both from UIC.

Dhara Thakar Meghani

Dhara Thakar Meghani, PhD

Membership Committee Chair (2014-2016)
Dr. Meghani is a clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in PsyD program at the University of San Francisco School of Nursing and Health Professions. Dhara’s research focuses on the impact of stress, trauma, and cultural context on parenting and child developmental outcomes during life transitions including new parenthood and immigration.

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Dhara received her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and completed her internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California San Francisco. Her dissertation was an original research study tracking the mental health and acculturation changes experienced by Indian students in their first year of graduate school in the United States.

Dhara previously served as a faculty member at the Erikson Institute in Chicago and directed a federally funded project through the Maternal, Infant, Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHVP) to enhance home visitors’ skills in working with disadvantaged infants and families across the state of Illinois.

She contributes regularly to South Asian Parent magazine where she discusses the implications of studies on child development in the context of parenting in the South Asian diaspora. Dhara was named a 2013-14 Leadership Fellow by the Asian American Psychological Association and developed and disseminated culturally appropriate materials for the Asian American community regarding child abuse and domestic violence during her fellowship.

Shipra Singh

Shipra Singh, MBBS, MPH, PhD

Communications Chair (2015-2017)
Dr. Shipra Singh is an Assistant Professor at College of Health Sciences, Department of Health and Recreations Profession, University of Toledo, Ohio. Currently, her research aims to examine the challenges faced by minority population in approaching and utilizing health care services, and specific stressors faced by these groups that may contribute to the disparities, and specifically investigate it through a gender lens that impact mental disorders. She has taught several undergraduate and graduate courses at the University of Michigan School of Public Health on Women’s Health, Psychosocial Aspects of Health, and Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities.

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Shipra attended medical school in India and continued her Medical Externship at SIU School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois. She completed her doctoral training in Public Health at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her dissertation work examined the impact of immigration related factors and acculturative stress on depression and psychological distress among Asian American immigrants.

Shipra joined Chinmaya Organization for Rural Development (CORD) India in 2011, which provides community based rehabilitation for the disabled. She worked with the ‘Women with Disability Program’, where she conducted in-depth interviews with women living in rural communities, and conducted a training workshop for providers and lay community organizers to identify and build strategies for the health concerns of women with disabilities.

Phani Veeranki

Phani Veeranki, MD

Sustainability/Fundraising Committee Chair (2015-2017)
Dr. Veeranki is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB). He received his medical degree from the N.T.R University of Health Sciences, his MPH from the University of Illinois and his DrPH from the East Tennessee State University. Prior to joining UTMB, Phani completed a fellowship in pediatrics health outcomes research at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

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His interest is in understanding “The early origins of disease” with focus on the prevention and control of chronic diseases. His research interests primarily include child and adolescent health, pediatric epidemiology, health outcomes research, pharmacoepidemiology, tobacco use behaviors, and global health. Phani also actively participates in the SAPHA Research committee.

Isha Weerasinghe

Isha Weerasinghe

Board Member (2015-2017)
Ms. Weerasinghe is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Association for Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO). As part of her work, Isha works with local and national partners within and outside the AAPCHO network to help ensure that the needs of AA&NHPI-serving community health centers are a national priority. Isha is the Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B: Focus on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, the Co-Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans' (NCAPA) Health Committee, and advises Hep B United, a national coalition focused on reducing hepatitis B disparities on policy issues.

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Prior to joining AAPCHO, Isha worked at New York University’s B Free CEED: National Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Hepatitis B Disparities. B Free CEED was funded by the CDC to use community-based participatory research to increase hepatitis B screening levels and decrease stigma in Korean and Chinese communities in New York City. Additionally, Isha provided technical assistance to B Free CEED-supported programs addressing hepatitis B in AA&NHOPIs in other geographic areas across the U.S. She has also worked for The Belaku Trust, a small NGO in Bangalore, India focused on women’s empowerment and health research, in comparative effectiveness and outcomes research for Pfizer, Inc., and for the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute.

Monideepa Becerra

Monideepa Becerra, DrPH, MPH

Board Member (2016-2018)
Dr. Becerra is an Assistant Professor at California State University, San Bernardino with research emphasis on health disparities among racial/ethnic minorities and vulnerable populations. Currently she is a research consultant at the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Department of Research, where she works on projects addressing hospital-acquired infections among at-risk patients. She also serves as a board member on the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, a non-profit organization aimed towards improving the social and natural environment through activities such as public policy, community health workers, etc.

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Some of her recent research has highlighted the relationship between acculturation and cardiovascular risk behaviors, comorbid asthma conditions, and premature diabetes risk among vulnerable populations. She was also a Hispanic Serving Health Professions Schools (HSHPS) fellow, as part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs National Diversity Internship Program. Dr. Becerra also spearheaded a needs assessment program for domestic violence survivors in Inland Southern California and served as a Population Health Data Analyst for 23 non-profit hospitals in conducting the Community Health Needs Assessment mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. She continues to serve as a mentor for national programs, including the Network for Public Health Law and HSHPS.

Simran Sabherwal

Simran Sabherwal, Ph.D.

Board Member (2016-2018)
D​r. Sabherwal is currently a Project Manager at the Adult and Child Consortium for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science (ACCORDS) at the University of Colorado Denver.​ Her previous employment included working as a Research Analyst at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests include women's health and empowerment, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, positive youth development, gender-based violence, Asian-American health and well-being, and implementation science.

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She completed her PhD in the Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health and Master of Health Science in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with emphases on community-based participatory research and qualitative methodologies in the areas of maternal and child health, adolescent health, sexual and reproductive health, and gender-based violence. Her dissertation work explored son preference ideology and practices among the North Indian Punjabi community of Northern California. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Raised in the Bay Area, Simran grew up surrounded by a large, vibrant South Asian community and actively participated in community volunteer efforts, religious functions, and cultural events. Simran has since lived in a few other cities throughout the country where she enjoyed continuing her involvement with South Asian communities. She currently resides in Denver, CO with her husband, daughter, and their four-legged canine companion. ​In her spare time, you'll find Simran reading, hiking, traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Sana Hashim

Sana Hashim, MPH, CPH, CHES

Board Member (2016-2018)
Ms. Hashim is Project Coordinator of the Maryland Tobacco Quitline (1-800-QUIT NOW) at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Center for Tobacco Prevention and Control. In this role, Ms. Hashim oversees all aspects of the Quitline including: program planning and implementation, media and promotions, contract, budget, and data management, integration with health systems, and community outreach and training. Ms. Hashim holds her Master of Public Health and Bachelor of the Arts in Anthropology, both from New York University. Additionally, she holds both CPH and CHES certifications, demonstrating her commitment to the advancement of public health practice.

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Prior to this, Ms. Hashim worked in New Jersey, with the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program and with the Edison Township Department of Health on various initiatives, including early elementary substance abuse prevention and older adult osteoporosis prevention.

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Shibani Ray-Mazumder, Sc.D., Ph.D.

Board Member (2016-2018)
Dr. Shibani Ray-Mazumder is a Clinical Health Psychologist at the New York University Langone Medical Center. She has a Ph.D degree in Clinical Psychology from Fielding Graduate Institute as well as a Sc.D degree in Epidemiology/Maternal Fetal Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has earned certification as a Clinical Guided Imagery and Meditation practitioner from the Huntington Institute of Psychosynthesis. Dr. Ray-Mazumder’s research interests include risk assessment of vulnerable populations, identifying predictive factors associated with positive aging and resilience and promoting the assessment and treatment of emotional health among palliative and geriatric care patients. She has presented her findings at national and international conferences.

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Dr. Ray-Mazumder specializes in the management of acute or chronic emotional health issues among individuals with serious and advanced illness. She works with patients to help them better deal with anxiety, depression, fatigue and pain through the use of cognitive behavioral , psychodynamic, interpersonal and mindfulness based therapies. She is interested in working with SAPHA in finding ways to increase awareness of palliative care services as well as to understand health care needs among South Asian elders and their families in the U.S. She is also involved in funding and supporting palliative care programs in India.