About Me

First, greetings! A warm welcome, and thank you for visiting this page to learn more about me. My name is Sapna (pronounced suP-naa) and I use the pronouns she, her and hers. I identify as a queer South Asian organizer, advocate, strategist and mother. Over the past 20 years, I have worked at various non-profit organizations in the US and abroad, primarily focused on immigrant justice and public health.

Since my childhood, I’ve been a bit of a polymath – finding my spark in a myriad of things, perhaps owing in part to my gemini nature. As an adult, I’ve learned to really lean into this trait and develop multiple areas of expertise which I can utilize to serve myself and others.

One of the first sparks I experienced was in the world of dance and performance art. I began training in Kathak, followed soon by Bharatanatyam, when I was just 5 years old. Learning these movement forms gave me not only the gift of acquiring an additional language that can transcend societal borders, but a deep appreciation for the ability to use different languages for different purposes.

As far as spoken languages go, I learned Gujarati as my first spoken language and was introduced to English next, gaining Spanish and Hindi/Urdu along the way. Like dance, learning each of these languages was like unlocking a new code — a code that gives me access to different spaces and affords me varying privileges. Perhaps my greatest joy from being a multilingual person comes from being able to build bridges to so many different communities, and serve as a constant reminder to always look beyond the dominant language spoken — and include those that are being “unheard,” to use a term coined by Arundhati Roy.

At a South Asian community health outreach event in New York City

One way I’ve used my language abilities is as a public health professional. My sparks have all come from leading community based action research in Bombay and Karachi, designing Hindi/Urdu health education when I ran programming for the South Asian Health Initiative in New York City, Spanish/English health assessments in Washington, DC, and more.

I also incorporate the ability to “code switch” or use the appropriate language for a particular purpose into my expertise in grant writing and fundraising for community and non-profit organizations. I have a passion for identifying the spark that sets off the passion behind a community-based initiative and matching that initiative’s impact to aligned resources. Besides building and maintaining a diverse funding portfolio for a 501c3 organization that I incorporated and led for 10 years, I have successfully raised funds for other organizations, particularly those that prevent continued harm to communities of color and marginalized populations..

At an immigrant rights rally in Washington, DC.

Similarly, I’m skilled at translating community-led sparks into action as an activist and community organizer. My activism began in earnest following the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, after which I’ve been engaged in building spaces where myself and other Hindus can stand against anti-Muslim violence and learn how to be anti-caste allies. As a child of Indian immigrants to the US, the core of my work is in supporting all immigrants’ and their families’ right to claim this country as their home; to live and thrive here with dignity. This includes having our sexual orientation and gender identity affirmed, being afforded the right to vote and fully participate in local and federal level democracy, and receive all public benefits in one’s preferred language(s),

Serving as a Commissioner on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs for DC Government

Through workshop design and implementation, I support organizations (including schools, hospitals and health services providers) in learning how to provide effective solutions for culturally and linguistically diverse populations, how to be anti-racist and actively interrupt bias, Through my direct engagement with local government as an advocate and resident, as well as my role as an officiant for LGBTQ+ and feminist Hindu weddings , I aim to spark systematic change that can expand safe spaces not just for now, but for generations to come.

Finally, as a parent, I am keenly aware of the magic that is possible when even the tiniest of sparks is noticed, validated, nurtured and celebrated. I’ve worked on collecting resources for parents, particularly queer parents and parents of color who are keen to raise their child with social justice values.

I’d love to work with you to see more sparks through to their ultimate potential!


What People Say

“La sesión ha sido realmente beneficiosa para crear mas conciencia de esta situación de la discriminación que se da no solamente en los Estados Unidos sino en nuestros paises tambien. Me gusta mucho el formato con las diferentes opciones de trabajar de manera independiente y/o en grupos, y de haber tenido la oportunidad de explorar la información con anterioridad…”

[“The session has been really beneficial to create more awareness of this situation of discrimination that occurs not only in the United States but in our countries as well. I really like the format with the different options to work independently and/or in groups, and having had the opportunity to explore the information beforehand…”]

– Anti-Bias workshop participant from Adult Learning / Early Childhood center in Washington, DC.
from rally for fair housing in Chinatown, DC

“Being very honest with you, I did not know that there were progressive priestesses and priests until I learned about you. Every time I talked about wanting to get rid of kanyadaan, the priests have been so defensive and hard to talk to which is why I am so happy to have found you!”

– From a person whose Nepali Hindu wedding I conducted.

Let’s spark change together.