The Chicago, Illinois-based Indo-American Democratic Organization Jan. 27 announced its new leadership team, with Indian American Susan Patel taking the helm as president.

“IADO will continue to be an effective champion for Illinois’ South Asian Americans,” said new IADO board president Patel. “We’ll continue to be the leading voice for our many South Asian American communities on the issues and values that matter most to us, especially with the upcoming presidential election in 2020.”

The news of the new team was announced after a successful 2018 midterm election where IADO said it played a pivotal role in electing Illinois’s first South Asian American state legislator, it said in a news release.

In addition to Patel, Abin Kuriakose was named vice president, and Shajan Kuriakose was named treasurer.

The board of directors includes Bushra Amiwallah, Samay Gheewala, Nazneen Hashmi, Tom Kalayil, Al Khalfan, Sam Kukadia, Maneesh Limaye, Dr. Dilara Sayeed and Vivek Yeldandi. 

Patel succeeds state Senator Ram Villivalam, who represents Illinois’ eighth state senate district and recently became Acting Democratic Committeeman for Chicago’s 39th Ward.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the work we have done at IADO to educate as well as support Democratic candidates and increase civic engagement within our community,” said Villivalam in a statement. “I’m excited for Susie and her vision to engage South Asian Americans in the upcoming presidential election.”

Added new treasurer Kuriakose: “As our IADO board president for the past five years, Ram has transformed IADO. His vision and leadership brought the organization to new heights, especially when it came to representing our community with Chicagoland elected officials.” 

According to the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, there are approximately 290,000 South Asians in the state of Illinois. From 2000 to 2010, South Asians were the fastest-growing ethnic group in Illinois, growing at 55.6 percent, the release notes. 

Established in 1980 and as one of the oldest South Asian American political advocacy organizations in the United States, IADO strives to engage South Asian Americans in the political process, recruit and endorse candidates for public office who share the values of the South Asian community and advocate a progressive agenda that benefit working and immigrant families. 

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