The SAYHU team

  • Samira Ali

    Dr. Samira Ali is an assistant professor at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston She earned a Ph.D. in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ali’s research, teaching, and service understanding the role of culture, policy, and community on sexual health. She is invested in being a part of social justice movements in Houston that aim to create widespread change.

  • Gayatri Joshi

    Gayatri Joshi (Genny) is a master’s in social work candidate at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She completed a BA in Public Health with a minor in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from UH. She currently works UH as a graduate assistant in the M.D Anderson library, Carey C. Shuart Women’s Archive & Research Collection. Previously, Gayatri interned at the Baylor College of Medicine Community program, where she applied social work skills, mentoring, and facilitating activities with adjudicated youth in the Juvenile Justice Alternative Education program. She has a passion for women’s issues, juvenile justice, and trauma and has been an active volunteer for Daya, Inc since 2012.

  • Rachna Khare

    Rachna Khare is the Executive Director of Daya, a Houston nonprofit that supports the South Asian community in breaking the cycle of domestic and sexual violence. Daya empowers clients by offering cultural and language specific counseling and advocacy, promoting community awareness, and by advocating at the policy level. Prior to Daya, Rachna held leadership positions at Rice University and Mount Sinai Medical School in programs related to domestic and international women’s health and empowerment.

  • Praveena Lakshmanan

    Praveena was born in Trivandrum, Kerala and raised in Mumbai, India. She now calls Houston,Texas her home away from home. She earned a BA in Political Science and MA in Sociology from University of Houston and is now a doctoral student in the Sociology at Michigan State University. At UH, Praveena was awarded the Distinguished Service to Women Award for her work in advancing gender equality. She has been involved in social justice work and advocacy in Houston and transnationally for over 10 years, working specifically on gender-based violence and issues relating to women and children. Her research has focused on South Asian women’s transition from working life in India to being unemployed in the US as immigrants and the emotional and mental health of South Asian immigrant men.

  • Eesha Pandit

    Eesha Pandit is a queer, South Asian immigrant, based in Houston, Texas. She co-founder of the Center for Advancing Innovative Policy (CAIP). She is a writer and activist and brings over a decade of thought leadership, policy and strategic communications expertise to the SAYHU team. Eesha has worked in the fields of reproductive justice, ending violence against women, and international human rights. Currently, she serves as Co-Chair of the Board of the National Network of Abortion Funds, and is a member of the Crunk Feminist Collective. She has studied at Mount Holyoke College and the University of Chicago.

  • Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn

    Dr. Rachel Afi Quinn is an assistant professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies and Comparative Cultural Studies at University of Houston. She earned a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan and a B.A from Wesleyan University. Dr. Quinn’s research and teaching focuses on globalization, race, gender, and identity. She is passionate about building community and mentoring young Houstonians from all walks of life.

  • Saneea Sakhyani

    Saneea Sakhyani is a Pakistani-American history Ph.D. student at the University of Houston, studying twentieth-century U.S. immigration, migrations, race, ethnicity, and global foodways. She is working towards a graduate certificate in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, and her dissertation on the Pakistani Diaspora in the U.S.