The Raksha team is a vibrant and diverse group of professionals, united by a common mission and guided by organizational values. We are deeply committed to the healing, empowerment and justice of survivors and strives to empower and serve the South Asian community.
Raksha’s Board of Directors are accomplished professionals and leaders, who deeply care about our mission. Each one of our Board members brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise that augments the impact of our work.
*Keeping up with our promise of providing confidentiality, some staff and board members might not be represented on this page.
Aparna Bhattacharyya, Executive Director
Aparna has served as Executive Director of Raksha since 1998.
Aparna graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice. She has volunteered and worked as a Victim Advocate for 5 years for the city of Atlanta’s Victim Witness Assistance Program (VWAP). She also worked as a Project coordinator/Employment Specialist for the Newcomers’ Network’s Refugee Family Violence Prevention Project (where she developed and implemented the License to Freedom Project).
As a representative of Raksha, Ms. Bhattacharyya has served as founding Task Force member and Board Secretary for the International Women’s House and a founding member of Tapestri, the Immigrant and Refugee organization that addresses domestic violence and human trafficking. She has served as a member of the Georgia Advisory Committee for the U.S Commission on Civil Rights, Board Vice President for Tapestri, Inc, an Advisory Board member for the National Network to End Violence against Immigrant Women and Advisory Board member for Georgia State’s School of Social Work. Aparna served as a Board member for the Dekalb County Domestic Violence Task Force (2006-2012, Chair in 2012) and Vice President for the Cross Keys Foundation in 2011-2012.
Awards & Recognition: She was awarded the Indian Professionals Network (IPN) award in 1997 and 1998 for her service to the community. Ms. Bhattacharyya was awarded the Director’s Eagle Award from the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in 2006, the Georgia Commission on Family Violence Gender Justice Award, and the Dekalb County Domestic Violence Task Force’s Deborah C. McDorman Award in 2008. She was recognized by the Indian American Cultural Association for Excellent and Continued Contribution to the Community in 2010. She was the Chair of VIDA legal Assistance until June 2013 and is on the Board of National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project and the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Awards and recognition: She was a White House Champion of Change in May 2013 with a number of other Asian American Women leaders and named by Georgia Asian Times as one of the 25 Most Influential Asian Americans in Georgia in July 2013. In April 2014, Aparna was recognized by the Georgia State University with The Distinguished Alumni Service Award by the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies and by Desi Express Magazine for her Community Services. In 2016, Aparna was recognized by the Jeanette Rankin Foundation as “Smart Woman” honoree. In 2017, Ms. Bhattacharyya was named as Glorious Indian during the Glorious Indian Expo for exemplary work in the community and in 2018 she received the Hope for Tomorrow Award from International Women’s House for her advocacy work.
The Advocates Team
Raksha advocates work towards helping individuals and families cope with life's problems by providing confidential support services. Specifically, our advocates work with survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse. Our advocates are particularly concerned for those who are vulnerable or are unable to speak up for themselves.
Education: Raksha’s advocate team consists of staff members with Masters degree in counseling, international studies, psychology, social work and english literature. Advocates participate in continuing education, training and workshops to increase their knowledge and capacity to serve clients.
Experience: Raksha advocates have a combined total of 55+ years of professional experience. Our advocates have worked in different settings including, out-patient clinics, non-profit organizations, schools and hospitals. Our advocates have trauma-related and conflict management experience and work with both adults and children.
Specialities: Raksha advocates complete intakes and assess client needs, which includes safety planning and developing personalized case management plans specific to each client. Our advocates are non-judgemental and never tell clients what to do. Instead, advocates empower clients to make their own, informed decisions. Specifically, our advocates provide support and referrals for legal (family law and immigration), housing, career, medical, transportation and other services as needed. In addition, advocates coordinate outreach activities such as training, workshops and support groups. Advocates engage with other immigrant/refugee organizations as well as ally organizations that work with underserved populations to collectively address the intersectional issues that impact survivors.
Languages: Raksha advocates can speak English, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada and Tulu.
The Counselors Team
Education: Our therapists’ education and degrees range from Masters in clinical counseling psychology, clinical mental health counseling, to masters in social work to masters in professional counseling and a doctorate in counseling psychology.
Licensure: The therapists’ practicing licenses range from associate professional counselor (APC) to Licensed professional counselor (LPC) to licensed psychologist (LP) in the state of Georgia. Some are on track to become licensed masters social workers.
Experiences and Interests: Our therapists have worked in a variety of settings including different university counseling centers nationally as well as community mental health centers, hospitals, non-profit organizations as well as private practice. Our therapists also well-experienced in working with adult victims of sexual abuse/domestic violence/victims of crimes; ptsd; anxiety, depression, immigrants, families and children.
Training: We at Raksha value the importance of ongoing learning and training and thus engage in continuing education to stay well informed about the latest most effective ways to serve our clients’ needs. Majority of therapists are trained in providing crisis assessment, safety planning, counseling assessment and treatment planning in addition to providing competent therapy services based on their specialized approaches. Some of the training our staff has undergone include: mandated reported training, suicide assessment, cultural competency, Diversity and Multiculturalism, EMDR, Leadership, Communication, Domestic Violence, Telemental Heath, Advocacy services, psychological assessment and intervention, and support for sexual assault survivors.
Certifications: Additionally, some of our therapists are nationally board certified counselors (NCC) as well as certified in QPR (an approach to risk assessment).
Approaches to Counseling: All our therapists are trained to be integrative in their approach to counseling. Some of the approaches include: Person-Centered, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), Solution Focused, Family systems, Motivational Interviewing and Mindfulness based approaches.
Specialties: Collectively, the therapists at Raksha specialize in working successfully both as advocate and counselor with survivors of domestic violence, trafficking, victims of crime, mood disorders, anxiety, adjustment issues, ptsd, self-care, safety planning, and providing substantial support for immigration relief letters of support through mental health evaluations. The therapists are well engaged with the referring sources in order to provide the best care for the clients we serve.
Languages: Our therapists are equipped to provide therapy in multiple languages including: Urdu, Hindi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Arabic, and English.
Professional Affiliations: The counselors at Raksha have professional memberships with American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, and National Board of Certified Counselors.
Community Engagement, Communications, Events
The Raksha Outreach staff has a Masters degree in public administration and a background in print journalism from India, research and coordination roles at environmental nonprofit organizations in the United States.
Raksha outreach staff undertake diverse yet overlapping roles as community connectors, communicators and coordinators.
The Raksha outreach functions range from organizing events, identifying and engaging in community awareness and education opportunities, coordinating volunteer recruitment and community liaisons and strategic communications to advance the mission and goals of Raksha.
Raksha Board of Directors
Mansi Anand, President, is a talented graphic designer lead with 16 years experience in print design. She is a highly motivated, creative and versatile individual, is especially skilled in creating and directing corporate and new business design. Since 2004, she is the owner and operator for Action Designs & Promotions. Mansi is accomplished at incorporating the desires of the client with a superior design and print solution. She graduated from with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in English Literature with certifications in film production, HTML, Advanced Quark Express, Adobe Photoshop, etc. Outside of her work as a graphic designer, she is also a dedicated mother with two children. Mansi joined the board in 2012.
Ritu Patel, Vice President, is a realtor at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. The focus of her practice is based on areas known for great schools from East Cobb to N Fulton, and then central locations to office hubs/downtown/airport, so Sandy Springs/Dunwoody, Smyrna/Vinings, Buckhead, and Roswell. The general question at a party or a gathering “How is the market?” is very broad, so rather meet with her to get a precise answer relating to your situation. She works with her clients with the same care as for a family member. She can help you to refer another Realtor outside of her areas. Ritu is very active in the community and made sure to get her children involved in volunteering from a very young age at several charities all over the Atlanta area. She is involved in a number of nonprofits and is passionate about addressing youth issues. One belief she reiterated with her children is not to be just sympathetic but really be empathetic. Be a positive source! Ritu is a graduate of Georgia State University in Marketing. Ritu was involved with the Ramp it Up for Raksha event prior to coming on the board in 2015.
Madhuvanti (Madhu) Deshmukh, is currently the Sr. Director with CARE USA responsible for Programs and partnerships with CARE International. She has been working in the area of social development, public health and girls’ & women’s empowerment for over 27 years. She has field experience in over 40 countries globally, working on issues related to HIV, Sexual & Reproductive health, Gender Equality, Women’s Empowerment.
Madhu has served at leadership & senior management positions with several organizations - national and international NGOs including CARE & ICRW, Government of India, DFID, UNDP, UNAIDS/WHO. Most recently, Madhu was the CEO for CARE in India where she successfully led organizational turn-around that included working closely with the Board to diagnose and address organizational challenges by reiterating mission driven approach, building teams, initiating dialogue for organizational strategy and change management, establishing systems and processes for good governance, collaboration and compliance, and building donor confidence and establishing partnerships.
Prior to this role, Madhu served as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) for ICRW (International Centre for Research on Women & Girls) Asia Regional Office providing leadership and support to action research on issues related to gender, sexual and reproductive health, adolescent girls, gender-based violence, HIV/AIDS, girls’ education and skilling. Madhu has also served as the Director for mHealth, Gender and MNCH at the UN Foundation, where she led a global program partnering with WHO and several global NGOs focusing on innovations and use of technology for maternal and newborn health with a gender and women’s empowerment lens. Madhu’s experience includes leadership, strategy and analysis, program design & management, research and policy advocacy. She was recently featured in “Phenomenal She – 100 inspiring women leaders in India". Madhu holds a Masters Degree (MA) in Social Sciences from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and loves music, travel and reading.
Nisha G. Kapil, is a public health analyst, employed through Total Solutions, Inc., with the Office of Environmental Health Emergency Management within the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) National Center for Environmental Health/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (NCEH/ATSDR). She began her work with CDC after working as an ORISE Fellow in the Division of Toxicology’s Emergency Response section. For the past 14 years, Nisha has been working at CDC/NCEH/ATSDR in emergency preparedness and response. Her responsibilities currently include project management, fiscal allocation process and performance measurement/evaluation lead, strategic alignment, and course coordinator for the Agents of Opportunity: Medical Management of Chemical and Radiological Emergencies course. She has traveled in the United States to deliver the course to vulnerable cities and most recently to New Delhi and Mumbai in conjunction with the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). Nisha holds a BSE in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science from Duke University and a Master’s in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Michigan. She was raised in Massachusetts and North Carolina, then lived in Michigan and Ohio for 12 years before moving to Georgia in 2002. One of the first NGO events that the Kapil family attended after moving to Atlanta was Ek Shaam RAKSHA ke Naam! Nisha’s involvement with Raksha has grown from regularly attending the Ek Shaam events to helping coordinate the Ramp it Up for RAKSHA event and to now proudly serving as a Board Member. She enjoys volunteering with schools and service organizations, traveling, supporting the arts and especially spending time with family. Though having grown up in the United States, Nisha is strongly connected to her Indian heritage and is passionate about encouraging RAKSHA’s work in supporting healing, empowerment and justice in the community.
Monika Mittal, drives all her initiatives with a true passion for making it successful. She is an artist with some shows in the Atlanta city galleries along with some shows at non-profit fundraising events. She brings the same passion to Raksha as its board member. As a child growing up in India, she would always feel compelled to speak up for women in need. When she found that Raksha here aligns with her values to protect and nurture women around her, she felt at home. She has been involved with Raksha for quite a few years now with Ek Shaam and other fundraising ventures and is proud to become a board member and create awareness for Raksha. Monika has a Masters in Information Technology. Her career path started in the corporate world as an IT Professional, in New York, at various financial firms like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. After a few years of success in IT field, she wanted to explore her passion in the field of education. She spearheaded childcare education business alongside her husband and has been successfully managing it for over a decade. In that role, she got an opportunity to lead marketing initiatives and design effective curriculums for early education.
Bhavya Chaudhary, is the Founder and Managing Attorney at Bhavya Chaudhary and Associates Law Firm, located in Atlanta, GA with satellite offices in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Macon, Georgia. She practices U.S. Immigration and Nationality Law. Bhavya graduated from Delhi University School of Law with an L.L.B degree, and from Emory University, Atlanta, GA with Master of Laws degree. She is licensed to practice law in Tennessee, USA and in India. Ms. Chaudhary practices U.S. Immigration Law specializing in investment and employment-based immigration including National Interest Waivers, EB-1/EB-2 petitions, and EB-5 visas, family-based immigration, removal defense, federal and appellate court litigation, and represents clients in Immigration Courts throughout the country to obtain relief from removal. She has expertise with representing victims of violence and abuse in VAWA, U, and T cases. Ms. Chaudhary does active pro bono work as well. She is a speaker and an active member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves as a member of Liaison Committees of AILA Georgia-Alabama Chapter. Bhavya Chaudhary is fluent in English, Hindi, Urdu and several other Indian languages. Bhavya Chaudhary began her career in U.S. Immigration Law in 1997 when she consulted with owners of small Software Consulting Companies in filing H-1B Petitions, L-1s and TN filings, extensions, transfers, change of status, dependents’ filings and related matters. In 2004, she moved to Romania and joined the Law Firm of Musat and Associates in Bucharest, Romania. At Musat and Associates, Bhavya worked in the areas of Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions, Corporate law and Business Transactions. At the time Romania was undergoing the process of privatization of government-owned industries, where the Romanian Government was giving up control of many sectors so as to join the European Union as scheduled for 2007. This corporate law experience provided her with valuable experience with multinational companies. Mrs. Chaudhary was admitted to Tennessee Bar in 2008. Bhavya worked as an Immigration Lawyer at The Chugh Firm, with offices in the United States and affiliates in India. Mrs. Chaudhary started and established its immigration practice in Atlanta, GA. She wrote articles on current news topics for the firm’s monthly newsletters. Mrs. Chaudhary also authored a chapter on ‘Transfer Pricing’ for companies planning to conduct business in India. Mrs. Chaudhary has written for local Atlanta publications such as Atlanta Dunia and Khabar. Bhavya Chaudhary is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association. She serves on Atlanta Chapter of the AILA Liaison Committees. She volunteers her services for charitable organizations such as RAKSHA and GAIN, and other organizations. She contributes to small ethnic community organizations. She uses her personal experience as an immigrant to advise individuals and companies.
Bidisha Sinha, MPH, is the Director of Tobacco Control Initiatives for the Center for Tobacco Control at the American Cancer Society. In this role, Ms. Sinha coordinates internal initiatives of the Center for Tobacco Control and is directly involved in planning, implementing, evaluating and monitoring these efforts. She also represents the Society externally through collaborative initiatives; coalitions; and national, state and local presentations. Currently, among other things, she is leading the Tobacco-Free Generation Campus Initiative, an ACS program dedicated to increasing the adoption and implementation of 100% smoke- and tobacco-free policies on colleges and universities, nationwide, and globally.
Prior to joining ACS, Ms. Sinha served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, in Region V, where she oversaw programs related to tobacco control and childhood obesity prevention. In support of HHS’s leadership role in the national Tobacco-Free College Campus Initiative, she served for three years as a regional and national point person and coordinator responsible for developing and executing strategies to engage colleges and universities in the adoption and implementation of 100% tobacco-free campus policies. As the Regional Advisor for the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties Initiative, she engaged in partnerships with local elected officials to help lower childhood obesity rates in their communities and was recognized for her work with an invitation to the White House to meet, then, first lady, Michelle Obama.
Ms. Sinha’s interests include global development and poverty, social justice and human rights, health disparities and policy. She is especially passionate about working with/for women and girls and on issues that disproportionately affect the poor. Ms. Sinha received her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from Columbia University, in New York. Bidisha resides in Atlanta, with her husband, and her fur babies, Zoe and Zander. A “foodie” and travel enthusiast, when she’s not at a new restaurant or jet-setting, Bidisha can be seen around town, planning and/or performing music and dance at various events.
Sangeeta Sheth , has worked for over 20 years in the financial industry most recently in the areas of Regulatory Compliance and Audit. She has also spent a good part of her career as a wedding coordinator, decorator and designer. Sangeeta has a passion for the Arts and her Indian culture and heritage and has had several years of training in Bharatnatyam and Indian Folk Dance. She has been a dance instructor for over twenty years for children ages 5-18 and has taken her dance groups to several national folk dance competitions. Sangeeta grew up in North Carolina and attended North Carolina State University for her Bachelor’s Degree. She moved to Atlanta in 2012 and has been an active part of the Atlanta community.
In North Carolina Sangeeta served as an elected member of the United Arts Council of Wake County NC, a charitable organization focused on enhancing arts education in schools and the community. As a member she was involved in organizing annual events, fundraisers, galas and formal dinners. She has served as Youth Group Advisor / Mentor for a period of over 10 years for the Triangle Gujarati Association of NC. There she organized efforts to involve pre-teen and teens in activities to serve the community locally and internationally. The organization also held annual fundraisers to benefit CARE organization. Sangeeta was involved with the Helping Hand Mission and spearheaded efforts which involved getting together large groups of individuals in assisting families who needed food, clothing, furniture and shelter. She has also spearheaded efforts at the Food Bank of North Carolina assisting with providing food for the underprivileged.
Sangeeta has always been passionate about serving the community, especially activities centered around helping children and the elderly. She believes that it is her moral obligation to support and empower the people of the community in every way she can.
Email the Board at [email protected]