Gujarati NRI Sonal Shah appointed Obama’s adviser

Gujarati NRI Sonal Shah appointed Obama’s adviser
Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat, 6 November, 2008

NRI Gujarati Sonal Shah, an eminent economist who heads Google’s philanthropic arm, has been appointed an advisory board member by US President-elect Barack Obama to assist his team in smooth transition of power.

40-year-old Sonal Shah is part of a panel comprising individuals with significant private and public sector experience who will offer their expertise in their respective fields to Obama’s transition team, US media reported on Thursday.

She along with other members of the advisory board will help the transition team headed by former White House chief of staff John Podesta, longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Pete Rouse, the President-elect’s Senate chief of staff.

The sub-group to which Sonal belongs has been asked to focus on an innovation agenda that will implement President Elect Obama’s vision for harnessing the power of technology. Sub group will identify and prepare those that will serve to use technology to help address a broad spectrum of pressing national issues such as energy, health care and education, Civil society as well government cost efficiencies and transparency. Sonal’s specific responsibilities include liaising with experts in the field to ensure their talents, ideas and expertises are maximized.

Shah, who was named the ‘Person of the Year 2003’ by ‘India Abroad’ publication, currently works for on their Global Development team, where she is engaged in defining their global development strategy and promoting the firm’s philanthropy work.

Prior to joining Google, she was Vice President at Goldman, Sachs and Co. and developed and implemented its environmental strategy. She has also served as the Associate Director for Economic and National Security Policy at the Centre for American Progress, where she worked on trade, outsourcing and post-conflict reconstruction issues.

After her coursework at the University of Chicago (B.A.), the London School of Economics, and Duke University (M.A.), Sonal worked with the United States Department of Treasury for over seven years on a variety of issues and regions.

Gujarat connection

Originally from North Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district’s Gabat village, Shah is the co-founder of the US-based non-profit organisation Indicorps which offers one-year fellowships for Indian-origin Americans to work on specific development projects in India. Other co-founders of Indicorps are Sonal’s sister Roopal and brother Anand.

For extensive work in Gujarat, Atal Bihari Vajpayee had awarded Shahs Pride of Gujarat award(Guajarat Garima Award) in Vishwa Gujarati Parivaar Mohatsav 2004, Ahmedabad in presence of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. Sonal’s brother Anand Shah had received an award on behalf of his siblings Sonal and Roopal Shah.

Sonal’s father moved from Gujarat to New York in 1970 and she along with her sister and mother joined him in 1972. Sonal was three and half at that time. Sonal is single and lives in California as she works with Google while Sonal’s parents live in Houston.

(Sonal is the eldest daughter of Shri Ramesh Punamchandra Shah, in-charge of Ekal Vidyalya in USA. Please send your congratulations to Rameshji. His email address: [email protected])