Our Team

 

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Neil Makhija, Executive Director

The son of Indian immigrants who made Pennsylvania’s coal country home, Neil Makhija is a public interest attorney and an educator. He teaches election law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, has advised candidates and philanthropies around the country. In 2016, he was the Democratic Nominee for the 122nd District of the Pennsylvania State House, outperforming the presidential ticket by 14 points. As an attorney, Makhija has represented essential workers and communities impacted by the opioid epidemic. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Sarah Lawrence College, where he serves on the Board of Trustees.

Contact Neil at nmakhija@iaimpact.org.

Linto Thomas, Political Director

Linto is a seasoned political professional who has worked for Democratic campaigns and committees at the federal, state, and local level since 2012. He has extensive experience in political fundraising and has helped candidates raise millions of dollars in high profile races in California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. He now works for IMPACT, a political advocacy group that focuses on increasing political engagement in the South Asian community. Linto was born in India, grew up in Philadelphia, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. 

 Sarah Shah headshot

 Sarah Shah, Director of Community Engagement 

Sarah Shah joined the IMPACT team in March 2021, bringing a wealth of experience in community and electoral organizing, policy analysis, and teaching. Most recently, Sarah served as the Deputy AAPI Director with the Democratic Party of Georgia and helped mobilize Asian American communities in advance of the U.S. Senate runoff. Previously, she worked as the Out-of-State Director with the North Carolina Democratic Party's Coordinated Campaign. Prior to the 2020 campaign cycle, Sarah spent the past decade in the education and nonprofit sectors supporting efforts to close the opportunity gap. Sarah holds a bachelor's degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University, though her heart bleeds Carolina Blue. Sarah lives in Durham, NC with her husband and two dogs.

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Ian Shannon, Finance Director

Ian Shannon is an experienced fundraising professional dedicated to elevating the voices of underrepresented communities. Prior to IMPACT, Ian served as the Finance Director for the North Carolina Democratic Party where he oversaw and executed a historic fundraising effort raising $48 million in the 2020 election cycle. He began his career working for Senator Jay Chaudhuri, North Carolina’s first Indian-American legislator, as both a legislative staffer and fundraising consultant. In 2018, he managed a successful challenger campaign against a three-term incumbent for the North Carolina General Assembly. Ian lives in Cary, North Carolina where you can find him running, baking, and collecting new house plants with his partner, Marjorie.

Nadia Asgari-Tari, Executive Coordinator

Nadia Asgari-Tari is a first generation Iranian and Puerto Rican American. Her experience growing up in a multicultural family spearheaded Nadia's passion for public service and progressive politics. In 2018 and 2020, Nadia served as a senior staffer on Suraj Patel's Congressional campaign while simultaneously completing her undergraduate degree in public policy from New York University. In 2021, Nadia joined IMPACT's team and she is thrilled to support their efforts of emboldening underrepresented communities in politics.  

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Aishika Jennela, Program Manager – Mis/Disinformation

Aishika is a seasoned community organizer and media specialist who has worked extensively with Asian American communities since college at Temple University. She previously served as the Director of Communications for the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia. She helped connect Asian-owned small businesses with resources and services to help maintain and grow their business, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when lockdowns and xenophobia significantly impacted them. Before working at the Chamber, Aishika worked with several nonprofits and startups, including the East Coast Asian American Student Union (ECAASU), where she served as the Special Events Coordinator and Director of Communications. In these roles, she helped develop programming and communications on educating Asian American students across the East Coast to organize and enact change on their campuses. When she's not talking about social justice and empowering communities of color, you can find Aishika watching cat videos on TikTok or cooking with friends in Philly.