Raksha Staff (2018) 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. 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. 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.
Manisha Lance, Director of Programs. Manisha graduated from the University of Denver with a Master of Arts in International Studies focusing on human rights and comparative politics. She has also received a Master of Arts in International Studies and Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Stella Maris College in Chennai, India. Manisha completed internships at the Center for Security Analysis in Chennai, India and at Amnesty International in Atlanta, Georgia. Manisha’s experience in India includes tutoring children with special needs and working with women in rural areas on issues of HIV/AIDS awareness and women’s reproductive health. Manisha has nearly 9 years of experience providing comprehensive case management and advocacy services for immigrant survivors of domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, human trafficking, and other violent crimes. Manisha began her journey at Raksha in 2008 when was hired as a part-time Economic Empowerment Advocate. She continued to work at Raksha as an Advocate until she became the Advocacy Services Coordinator in 2012. Manisha provides support and advocacy to survivors in the areas of housing, education, civil, criminal and immigration legal issues, employment and finances. Manisha was part of a team that created a financial literacy curriculum for survivors and advocates. She supervises, trains and manages volunteers. She has spoken on college campuses, vigils, community meetings and radio shows on issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other human rights concerns. Manisha co-facilitates a support group for children who have experienced or witnessed violence using art, music, and drama. Manisha is passionate about various human rights and environmental issues and is involved with various activist and advocacy groups in Atlanta.
Rita Patel, LCSW, Youth Group Facilitator: Ms. Patel graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kennesaw State University majoring in Public and Social Services and completed her MSW in Family Centered Practice from the University of Georgia. Ms. Patel has been associated with Raksha since 1996 in varied capacities starting as a volunteer and until recently as a Co-chair of the Peer Support Steering Committee. Ms. Patel has worked with HIV/AIDS organizations over an eight-year period. Her experience includes providing individual and group counseling to persons infected with HIV especially those individuals recovering from substance abuse. Ms. Patel has provided services to children with special needs and the elderly. Ms. Patel’s work experience at DeKalb DFCS includes determining eligibility for public assistance programs such as TANF, Food Stamps and Medicaid. Her work experience at Vista Care Hospice and Hospice Atlanta includes working with terminally ill children, adults, and their families. Ms. Patel became a full-time case manager at Raksha in 2000, providing advocacy, referrals, counseling and support services to battered woman and their families.
Fatima Wasim, Ph.D NCC, Clinical Director. Dr Wasim has extensive experience working at different university counseling centers nationally as well as community mental health centers, and non-profit organizations. She returns to Raksha Inc as a Clinical Director, having served in Advocate and Therapist roles previously with the organization. Dr. Wasim earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Masters of Science in Professional Counseling from Georgia State University, Atlanta Ga. She obtained her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from Oklahoma State University, Stillwater OK. She completed her APA accredited internship at Duke University’s Counseling and Psychological Services and pursued her post-doctoral fellowship at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Counseling Center. Dr. Wasim is a licensed psychologist in the states of Georgia and North Carolina. She is also a national certified counselor (NCC). Dr. Wasim is currently a member of American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Wasim’s professional interest involves working with adults including multicultural populations and promoting holistic wellness through counseling, outreach, collaboration, and consultation. She has provided time-effective and culturally sensitive intake assessments, psychological assessments, individual and group therapy, career counseling, crisis assessment, and on-call coverage. She also enjoys conducting psycho-educational/outreach, training, and creating programs targeting common mental health concerns. Dr. Wasim has worked with a variety of clinical presenting concerns, such as depression, anxiety, acculturation issues, adjustment to college, trauma, racial/cultural identity issues, anger management, interpersonal/dating violence, and suicidal/homicidal concerns. Her clinical areas of interest include anxiety and mood disorders. She has also enjoyed providing supervision to practicum students. Dr. Wasim’s approach to therapy is integrative and she incorporates principles of evidence based cognitive-behavioral, mindfulness, and relational-cultural approaches in her work.
Anjali Guntur, M.A., Advocate. Anjali is an Advocate at Raksha. As an advocate, Anjali helps clients with their case management needs. Anjali started at Raksha as a volunteer case manager in September 2015 before becoming a staff member. Anjali graduated with honors from Mother Theresa Women’s University, India with a Master’s degree in Counseling. In addition, she graduated with honors from Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan with a second Master’s degree in Counseling. She has always had a keen interest in helping the South Asian community on mental health and Women’s issues. She underwent various professional and state mandated training to educate herself and to gain great sensitivity and skills in handling Domestic Violence cases. Anjali has had 14 years of experience working for a South Asian organization similar to Raksha in Michigan. In her free time, Anjali likes hiking and listening to Indian classical, Indian film and pop music.
Karimah Dillard, MSW, MA, RDT/BCT., Community Partnerships and Development Coordinator. Karimah is responsible for developing strategic partnerships to address emerging needs of south Asian survivors of domestic violence. Karimah engages other immigrant/refugee organizations as well as ally organizations that work with underserved populations to collectively address the intersectional issues that impact survivors. In addition to her work developing Partnerships, Karimah also serves as an Advocate where she provides housing, legal and economic empowerment advocacy to survivors who need focused support to address complicated needs.Prior to her work with Raksha, Karimah was the Program Lead Therapist and Expressive Therapist for 10 years with Willowbrooke at Tanner’s Partial Hospitalization Program, and was elected two terms as Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the North American Drama Therapy Association in 2013 and 2015. Karimah holds a Master of Social Work from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts from New York University.
Nisha Khan, Therapist. Nisha graduated from Brenau University with a Master of Science in Clinical Counseling Psychology. Her master’s thesis was focused on examining the levels of depression and somatization across ADHD subtypes comprising predominantly inattentive and combined presentations. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Georgia State University with Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Sociology. Prior to joining Raksha, Nisha has had several internship experiences. At MARR Inc. she assisted clients in a gender-specific residential treatment program for drug & alcohol addiction. She provided counseling services and conducted psychological assessments to adolescents and adults in a private practice setting at the Brenau Center for Counseling and Psychological Services. Nisha gained valuable experience at Rape Response where her work involved providing crisis intervention and counseling to sexual assault survivors. She also interned for the Emory/Grady Nia Project which involved working with abused, suicidal women. She worked at Raksha as a Case Manager and Advocate while she was completing her graduate degree. Nisha is currently a therapist at Raksha who is fluent in Urdu and Hindi. Some of the treatment approaches she utilizes include Person-Centered, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing.
Tasnim Mosabber, Community Engagement Manager. Tasnim graduated from Florida Atlantic University with degrees in Psychology and Sociology. She is a Broward Undergraduate Scholar, and her research focused on community perceptions of GM organisms in the local environment. Prior to joining Raksha as a Grants and Outreach coordinator, Tasnim worked in outreach at a women’s reproductive rights organization, and as a campaign organized for presidential and gubernatorial elections. She has direct experience working with low-income and immigrant populations through her work with Planned Parenthood Federation of America in partnership with Get Covered America. For this work she was nominated for the White House ACA Award in 2012. Recently Tasnim was awarded the Ebon Dooley Emerging Leader Award for her art and social activism. As an Outreach Coordinator at Raksha, Tasnim serves as a bridge between Atlanta’s South Asian community and the organization; she represents Raksha at local events, provides resources and information to the community, supervises community liaisons and manages volunteers. In her free time, Tasnim enjoys painting, hiking and watching movies. She particularly enjoys books and movies about the Indian subcontinent during the pre-colonial era.
Nadia Hicks, Communications Outreach Coordinator. Nadia graduated with honors from Georgia State University with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Before Raksha, she obtained research and administration experience from Georgia State University and Emory University, primarily exploring topics of mental illness, domestic violence and suicidality in various populations. Nadia started with Raksha as a Community Liaison and is now part of Raksha staff as a Communications Outreach Coordinator, in which she develops and shares educational content, such as e-newsletters and podcasts, on Raksha’s social network platforms to connect and reach out to supporters of the organization.
Outside of Raksha, Nadia enjoys exploring restaurants with friends, singing and playing the ukulele, and binge-watching her favorite TV shows.
Maksuda B. Matin, BSW, Youth Programs Coordinator. As Raksha’s youth programs coordinator, Maksuda specializes on case management, advocacy, and supporting the South Asian youth. In May 2018, Maksuda graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Georgia State University. During her last year of college, Maksuda interned at Raksha as a case manager and advocate. After a year of interning, Maksuda was hired on. As a first generation Bengali Muslim, she has faced various familiar obstacles as many from the South Asian Community. While growing up, Maksuda broke many glass ceilings and barriers placed on a Bengali Muslim female growing up in America. Maksuda utilizes her personal experiences to connect to the youth population of the South Asian community, and uses her professional knowledge to advocate and make changes for these youths. Maksuda has a passion for the youth and strives to create an open, supporting, and welcoming environment for the youth. Maksuda is very outgoing and loves the being outside. In her spare time, Maksuda spends time with her family and travels to different countries.
Ishita Patel, MFT, Therapist. Ishita graduated from Mercer University and received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She completed in 2017 her Master of Family Therapy at Mercer University, School of Medicine. As a graduate student, she interned as a therapist at Raksha, Inc. After completing her internship, she was hired to continue her work. Ishita specializes in working with trauma, behavioral issues, couple and family issues. Her interests in psychology and helping people have always been a passion of hers. As a bilingual South Asian therapist, she is able to work with people of similar cultural backgrounds by providing care and support for those who struggle with cultural barriers within the family system. Additionally, her professional experience includes working with a variety of presenting problems, such as anxiety, adjustment issues, depression, domestic violence, etc. With the combination of Ishita’s personal and professional experiences, she is a well-rounded competent helping professional.
Tom Liu, Therapist. Tom attended New York University for his undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology and researched immigrant issues under the guidance of Carola Suarez-Orozco, lead researcher of the Harvard Immigration Project. He worked as a licensed broker at Marsh before becoming a life coach in New York City. Tom was certified in Positive Psychology by the University of North Carolina and pursued his masters degree of social work at University of Southern California with a focus in PTSD and trauma-related issues. He graduated with a concentration on mental health. Tom is currently a therapist at Raksha and provides therapy with a focus on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Positive Psychology, Mindfulness and Somatic Experience.
Email Staff at [email protected].
Raksha Board of Directors (2016)
Mansi Anand, President. Mansi 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. Ritu is a realtor at Bershire Hathaway Home Services. Ritu is very active in the community from being involved in her children’s school activities and BalaVihar. She is active in a number of nonprofits and is passionate about addressing human trafficking. 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.
Madhu Deshmukh, Secretary and Treasurer. Madhu is an International Social Development professional with over 23 years of experience in over 40 countries across Africa, South and South East Asia. Madhu’s experience includes leadership, strategy and analysis, innovation, program management, and policy advocacy, with specific emphasis on gender & women’s empowerment, women’s health, HIV/AIDS, social justice & human rights. Madhu has served in leadership positions with several organizations including international NGOs, Government of India, UNDP, UNAIDS/WHO and DFID. Most recently, she was the Director for mHealth, Gender and MNCH for a CARE-UN Foundation’s mHealth Alliance partnership initiative. In her previous capacities, Madhu has served at CARE as the global Director for HIV & AIDS, Chief of Party for a large maternal and child health project in Bihar, India, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Team Leader for policy analysis with CARE’s global Policy and Advocacy Unit. Madhu was born and raised in Delhi, India and holds a Masters Degree (MA) in Social Sciences from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai. Madhu joined the Board in 2015.
Nisha G. Kapil. Nisha 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.
Smita Doshi. Mrs. Smita Doshi is one of Atlanta’s unique talents. Her energy and passion are well known to all. She is a mother of three beautiful, intelligent children while working as an Enterprise Architect at Macy’s. She still finds time to give back to the community, having run the Dhoom Machoo Diwali program over a decade giving our children and adults an opportunity to show off their Bollywood dance skills every year. Beyond that Smita still finds time to devote considerable effort and actively support charities such as Raksha and in Defense of Animals.
Akshat Saxena. Akshat Saxena graduated with Bachelors Degree in Computer Science and technology from India, moved to USA in year 1999. He has over 20 years of experience in field of Information technology and is currently working Oracle Corporation with Federal and commercial customers. Akshat is very passionate about women’s right and education and is equally passionate about the environment. He started working with various non profits in year 2007 and has been associated with Susan G Komen, Sewa International, Care and Share, Shiv Mandir of Atlanta, IDA (In defense of Animal), Care and Share USA, South Bangalore Cultural association and of course, Raksha. Akshat and his family support a non-profit in New Delhi, India, called Earth Saviours, which supports old age homes, mentally challenged people and the environment. Akshat has experience fundraising for various non profits.
Monika Mittal. Monika 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, for some reason 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. She is also actively involved with multiple community organizations and has displayed exemplary leadership and organization skills. One of the memorable events for her is leading the annual play hosted by Shiv Mandir of Atlanta for several years now. 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. Email the Board at [email protected].