Press Release

Indian American Impact hosts annual 2024 Summit and Gala: Desis Decide

Indian American Impact is thrilled to share some of the many incredible highlights from its 2024 Summit and Gala: Desis Decide in Washington, D.C. that brought together nearly 500 community leaders and trailblazers, 50 South-Asian led organizations, and 97 speakers.

The first day of programming kicked off with several fantastic breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and a community table expo. After an incredibly powerful “Youth Who Impact” session, we heard lightning talks from leading healthcare experts such as Dr. Meena Seshamani, Director of the Center for Medicare and Dr. Ashwin Vasan, NYC Health Commissioner during our healthcare plenary.

The afternoon was packed with engaging breakout sessions led by community partners and leaders on topics ranging from AI and tech policy to being better allies to LGTBQ+ families.

Vice President Kamala Harris surprised us at our closing plenary, and we were thrilled to hear her discuss the role our communities can play in determining election outcomes and the future of our country.

We wrapped Day 1 with a Women Who Impact happy hour featuring delicious treats from Malai, Brinda Adhikari, executive producer and journalist, Priya Sundareshan, Arizona State Senator, and Rabia Chaudry, attorney, advocate, and author.

Our second day of the Summit opened with a Congressional Panel moderated by ABC News Correspondent Zohreen Shah featuring U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Shri Thanedar, Ami Bera, and Ro Khanna.

Afterwards, Swati Sharma, Editor-in-Chief at Vox Media, and former Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta hosted a fireside chat and discussed the importance of defending our democracy and safeguarding voting rights. Christina Das with the NAACP LDF provided a “Know Your Rights” training to empower us to protect our communities at the ballot box.

After networking sessions and lunch, we came together for hands-on training with Making the Margin: Community Organizing and Desis Lead: Running for Office trainings. We were honored to hear virtual remarks from Stacey Abrams, and numerous South Asian elected leaders discussed their paths to public service.

Our “Desis Decide: Shaping the Narrative” closing plenary featured movement leaders who discussed how we most effectively talk about the issues our communities prioritize: Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Advisor to President Biden, Monisha Henley, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at Everytown for Gun Safety, Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President & CEO of Global Refuge, and U.S. Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi.

We concluded our Summit with a happy hour networking session for folks interested in working in government and politics, before heading to the Willard Intercontinental for our annual gala. 
Our Impact gala, emceed by Simi Shah of South Asian Trailblazers, celebrated the achievements and contributions of the Indian and South Asian American communities. Keynote speakers included Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Representative Andy Kim.

Virginia State Senator Ghazala Hashmi presented this year’s Dalip Singh Saund Award to Maryland Lt. Governor Aruna Miller. This award recognizes outstanding public service and dedication to civic engagement and involvement at the state and local levels of government.

Arizona State Senator Priya Sundareshan presented the Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris Award to Mini Timmaraju, President and CEO of Reproductive Freedom for All. Named after the Vice President’s late mother, this award recognizes courage, determination, and commitment to allyship and the cause of civil rights for all in the United States.

After an amazing week, we want to extend our deepest gratitude to all who made this possible, including our incredible event sponsors and everyone who uplifts our mission near and far.

Our Summit and Gala is just one of the many ways in which we bring our communities together, and we hope each of you feel connected to a larger movement that is building political power for Indian and South Asian Americans.

As Vice President Kamala Harris shared with us, “…You are going to find yourself invariably in rooms where you are the only one who looks like you, the only one who has had your life experience. What I then say to you each, look around this room and hold onto this image. And remember then when you walk into those rooms, when you walk into those situations, you remember, you are not alone. We are all there with you. You must remember that.”