The American India Foundation (AIF) commemorated its 10th Anniversary and its growth from a disaster relief effort (the 2001 Gujarat earthquake) to the premiere development organization focused on catalyzing social and economic change in India by raising more than $1.4 million at its Annual Gala at the City View Room and Terrace at Metreon, San Francisco’s elegant downtown venue with stunning panoramic city views and the city’s best outdoor terrace overlooking Yerba Buena Gardens, SFMOMA, and the San Francisco skyline.
In its theme of “Celebrating a Decade of Impact,” AIF honored several leading philanthropists and social activists committed to creating long-term change and impact in India from both the subcontinent itself and the United States. Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Rubin Museum of Art Shelley Rubin and Dr. Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande, serial entrepreneur and philanthropist, were presented with the AIF Leadership in Philanthropy Award. Both Mrs. Rubin and Dr. Deshpande delivered memorable words reflecting on their roles in catalyzing philanthropy, through such causes as human rights, arts and culture, social entrepreneurship, and education. The AIF Leadership in Social Change Award, to be presented to renowned activist Dr. Kiran Bedi for her singular contributions to advancing numerous social causes including women’s rights, police and prison reforms, education and healthcare, was received by Dr. Bedi’s sister Anu Peshawaria.
NBC News Anchor Raj Mathai led the Gala’s fundraising drive, benefitting rural communities and children of migrant workers across India with access to a high-quality education through the AIF Learning and Migration Program (LAMP), raising more than $250,000. A video recording of 17-year-old Sunita Koli, who has benefited from the LAMP program since 2006, set the stage for the drive with her inspiring and emotional words. Through LAMP, AIF has reached more than 237,000 children across India and its effectiveness and advocacy to the federal and state governments helped enact legislation for migrant children in India’s Right to Education Act.
More than 550 guests enjoyed AIF’s innovative new Gala format, continuing to trailblaze the Gala trend in the South Asia community for which they AIF has long earned a rightful reputation as a trendsetter, combining elegance and modernity with style and invigorating entertainment. Guests were treated to the culinary panache of Amber India’s Vittal Shetty from live chef stations while taking in the stunning city views on the City Terrace, while the City View was transformed into a modern and sophisticated lounge with stylish seating, chocolate tastings from around the world, and a dance floor including pop-up performances by America’s Got Talent performers the Mona Khan Dance Company, and headliners Signature, Britain’s dynamic dance duo combining Michael Jackson with bhangra.
Chaired by Usha and Diaz Nesamoney, Founder of Jivox, Neeru and Vinod Khosla, Founder of Sun Microsystems, and AIF Founding President and Vice Chair Lata Krishnan and Ajay Shah, dozens of leaders from business, politics, and entertainment joined the AIF cause, including U.S. Department of Commerce Deputy Assistant Secretary Ro Khanna, San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra, and other community leaders.
Since its founding in 2001, AIF has raised and deployed more than $70 million to support its programs that have impacted the lives of 1.5 million of India’s most impoverished and marginalized individuals in the areas of education, livelihoods and public health. President Bill Clinton serves as the Honorary Chair of AIF.