The University of Chicago's Civic Leadership Academy announced its 2018 Fellows, with at least six Indian and South Asian Americans among the group.
A total of 31 individuals were named CLA fellows, among them Ali Abid, Kulsum Ameji, Seemi Choudry, Avik Das, Abin Kuriakose and Hilesh Patel.
Abid is the program coordinator at the Cook County Justice Advisory Council. Before joining the Justice Advisory Council, he was the senior criminal justice policy analyst for Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and a George N. Leighton Fellow for the Study of Prisoners’ Rights. He has taught and published on topics related to mass incarceration and race, prisoners’ rights, and restorative justice. A Chicago native, Abid is a graduate of the John Marshall Law School.
Ameji is the senior attorney at the Legal Assiatance Foundation in Chicago. She works with a diverse array of communities to provide community legal education and innovative community engagement around issues of law and policy, according to the Fellow bio. She is passionate about civic engagement, inclusive and participatory processes, access to justice, and cultural production as a form of expression and empowerment, it said.
Ameji has been honored by the Community Renewal Society, KANWIN and the Chicago Foundation for Women. She is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and graduated with honors from Smith College in Northampton, Mass.
Choudry is the director of the Office of New Americans at the City of Chicago Office of the Mayor.
Born and raised in Venezuela, Choudry is the child of Pakistani immigrants who moved her family of six to Chicago in the late 1990s, the Fellow bio said. In 2010, she graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a B.A. in political science and Spanish. Since then, she has worked in community development, program management, conflict mediation, and financial technology.
All the while, Choudry has fostered a strong interest in serving Chicago’s immigrant communities. In 2016, she joined the Mayor’s Office, where she works on public policy and programs affecting Chicago’s immigrant and refugee populations, it said.
Das is the acting director and chief probation officer at the Circuit Court of Cook County.
Prior to his current role, he served as a juvenile probation officer. He is a licensed attorney, and an appointed member of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Probation Advisory Committee and Judicial College’s Committee on Probation Education, his Fellow bio said.
Das' work focuses on community-based service and support for court-involved children and young people under the auspices of Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
As department head, Das oversees the work of more than 400 employees. He is responsible for budget, personnel issues, program development, implementation and governance of the agency in order to achieve juvenile justice-related, public safety goals, the bio said.
Kuriakose is the program manager of World Business Chicago's ChicagoNEXT.
As program manager for ChicagoNEXT, he supports World Business Chicago’s dedicated effort to drive inclusive growth and opportunity for Chicago’s technology economy with strategic focus areas in capital, talent, innovation and community, his bio said.
Previously, he worked for Cook County commissioner Bridget Gainer as deputy chief of staff, public policy director, and community affairs director. Kuriakose is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and serves on the Millennial Action Project’s Young Leaders Council, it said.
Patel is the deputy director of the Hyde Park Art Center.
He oversees organization operations and helps guide the vision of the Hyde Park Art Center as a leader in contemporary visual art and arts education in Chicago, his bio said.
Previously the program manager at Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, Patel managed in-school and after-school programming through partnerships between teachers and artists, it said.
Additionally, he is a member of the Chicago Artists Creating Transformation Collective, producing socially and politically engaged art and deepening the impact of creative resistance in local communities.