Two Indian Americans were among four people named to Albuquerque, N.M., Mayor-elect Tim Keller's executive team.
Among the appointments announced Nov. 28 include Sarita Nair, who will serve as the mayor's chief administrative officer, and Sanjay Bhakta as the chief financial officer.
Also named were Sunalei Stewart as chief of staff and Justine Freeman as deputy chief of staff.
"One of the most important tasks during this historically short transition period is crafting a leadership team to take over operations on day one, while implementing our vision for a safe, innovative and inclusive city,” Keller said in a statement. “We are building a talented team to tackle Albuquerque’s challenges head on. Each of these appointees brings strong experience and dedication to their work and will serve our city well."
Nair served as the Office of the State Auditor’s chief government accountability officer and general counsel for the past three years, according to her bio in the news release.
She joined the OSA after being a private practice attorney, representing private companies and public entities in business and governance matters since 2004 and was a shareholder at Sutin, Thayer and Browne.
She is AV-rated by Martindale Hubbell, and has been recognized by Best Lawyers, Southwest Super Lawyers, and Chambers & Partners USA, it said.
Before entering private practice, Nair clerked for Judge Lynn Pickard at the New Mexico Court of Appeals. She earned a degree from the University of New Mexico School of Law.
Prior to her law career, Nair worked in the field of international development and consulted on policy initiatives for a number of organizations including the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the New York City Parks and Recreation Department.
She earned a master’s degree from the University of New Mexico School of Community and Regional Planning and earned her bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University.
Bhakta served as deputy state auditor for the past three years. He came to the State Auditor’s Office from the Department of Finance and Administration. While at DFA, he served in various capacities such as chief financial officer, administrative services director and acting local government division director, the bio said.
Prior to joining the DFA, Bhakta worked at the New Mexico State Auditor’s office from 2004-2012. Prior to joining the state government, he had a diverse career in the private sector in India, Nigeria and the U.S., it said.
Bhakta moved to the U.S. in 1988 and worked as the import manager for a women’s wear company in New York from 1988 to 1990. He then became the managing partner of his family’s business of developing hospitality and food services outlets in New Jersey and spent 14 years in that business prior to moving to New Mexico in 2004, it added.
He received his bachelor’s degree in advanced accounting and auditing from SPU in Vidyanagar, India, and master’s degree in managerial accounting and international banking from MSU in Baroda, India.