Indian Americans Joy Basu, Sunny Patel, Aakash Shah Among Latest White House Fellows
Dr. Aakash Shah. (Hackensack Meridian Health photo)
By GIOVANNI ALBANESE Jr./India-West Staff Reporter
The President’s Commission on White House Fellows Oct. 18 unveiled its 2021-2022 class of White House Fellows, with Indian Americans Joy Basu, Sunny Patel and Aakash Shah among the group, considered the most diverse class in the history of the program.
The prestigious White House Fellowship program embeds professionals from diverse backgrounds for a year of working as a full-time, paid Fellow for White House staff, Cabinet secretaries, and other senior government officials, a news release said.
Basu is from Naperville, Illinois, and is placed at the White House Gender Policy Council.
Basu has served as a senior adviser to innovative businesses seeking authentic, impact-integrated growth. She was the first chief of staff at TPG Growth, where she worked as a key architect and builder of The Rise Fund, a groundbreaking impact investment platform, her bio notes.
She also served as The Rise Fund’s global sector lead for Food and Agriculture. Prior to joining TPG, Basu was a consultant at McKinsey & Company, where she focused on agricultural development, working with businesses, governments, and donors to improve food systems in emerging markets.
Basu also served as project manager to the World Economic Forum’s New Vision for Agriculture, and has supported strategic projects for the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency and Starbucks Coffee Company.
She earned her J.D. and M.B.A. from Stanford University with a certificate in public management and social innovation. While at Stanford, she served as co-president of the Women of Stanford Law, as an Arbuckle Fellow and as a leader of the Afghanistan Legal Education Project.
Basu holds a B.A. in Public Policy and Economics from Duke University. She currently serves as a trustee for the Heifer International Foundation and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Patel is from Burbank, California, and is placed at the United States Department of Homeland Security. He is a child and adolescent psychiatrist and public health physician with interests in building equitable health systems that serve children and families.
He recently completed his fellowship at NYU, where he created a model embedding mental health services in the pediatric oncology clinic. He also launched a comprehensive mental health response for thousands of frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and volunteered as a palliative care physician at Bellevue Hospital, his bio says.
Patel has spearheaded health interventions for vulnerable populations in the United States and abroad, including in India, Thailand and Dominican Republic. He has spent the past decade working with refugee populations and has conducted forensic psychological examinations for asylum seekers with NYU and Physicians for Human Rights.
His research has been published in numerous journals and informed policy initiatives, including work presented at the United Nations General Assembly. He has also served as a resident tutor in medicine at Adams House of Harvard College, according to his bio.
Patel completed his adult psychiatry residency at Cambridge Health Alliance and Harvard Medical School. He has an M.D. from the Mayo Clinic, an M.P.H. from Harvard, and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology and physiology, respectively, from UCLA with college and departmental honors, it said.
Shah is from Cliffside Park, New Jersey, and is placed at the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Shah is a practicing emergency room doctor at Hackensack Meridian Health. He helped treat some of the earliest confirmed cases of COVID-19 during the pandemic, his bio notes.
He also serves as the director of addiction medicine and the medical director of Project HEAL (a hospital-based violence intervention program) at Jersey Shore University Medical Center as well as the Medical Director of New Jersey Reentry Corp.
His work in those roles has resulted in several reforms, including the elimination of prior authorization requirements for medications for opioid use disorder, and he received the bipartisan endorsement of five former New Jersey governors.
Shah previously served as the founder and executive director of Be Jersey Strong, which represented one of the largest and most diverse efforts to connect the uninsured to coverage in the nation, and was honored by President Barack Obama at the White House for its impact, the bio adds.
He has also served as an advisor to several local, state, and federal campaigns and policymakers.
He obtained his M.D. from Harvard Medical School, M.B.A. and M.Sc. in comparative social policy from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and B.A. and B.S. from Ursinus College. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Centenary University.
President Lyndon B. Johnson created the White House Fellows Program in 1964 with the purpose of “give[ing] the Fellows first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal Government and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.”
The Fellowship functions as a non-partisan program maintained throughout both Republican and Democratic administrations. Throughout the year, Fellows actively participate in an education program that expands their knowledge of leadership, policy-making, and contemporary issues. The mission of the White House Fellows Program is to encourage active citizenship and service to the country, the release notes.
Selection into the program is based on a record of professional accomplishment, evidence of leadership skills, the potential for further growth, and a commitment to service.
Applications for the 2022-2023 Fellowship year will be accepted from Nov. 1through Jan. 7, 2022. The application link and additional information is available at: https://www.whitehouse.gov/get-involved/fellows/