Position / Job Title - University Innovation Fellow, Co-Founder of 10-4 Good City, BLK SHP Social Entrepreneur in Residence
BLK SHP origin story - Soft pretzels and cheese sticks shouldn’t be considered a “vegetarian option”. As a fourteen year old, I told my friends that we should do something to change school food. They told me it wasn’t possible, so I started a blog to channel my frustrations. Inspired by Jamie Oliver, I cast my own vision for a better system. Somehow, the lunch ladies found it and called the District Office. On the last day of class my freshman year, I got a tap on the shoulder while passing through the lunch line. The manager said: “We read your blog, and want to work with you. Let’s meet with the Culinary Director of the school food program.” Soon thereafter, we were on our way to creating healthy menu options for kids across the county. This was a small beginning, but it was the first time that I tuned out the world and listed to the voice that encouraged me to take a risk. It is this voice that guides me on each day.
BLK SHP traits - I’m like a circus tent and a ring leader, all in one. I create inclusive spaces for people to share insights, find inspiration and harness the imagination to solve wicked problems.
BLK SHP skills - My superpower is connecting others. I work like mycelium to bridge divides between disparate places and create value at the intersection of networks.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Pursue the still, small voice that leads you on. Along the way, stay humble, be curious and be bold enough to get out of the boat in the middle of a storm. Most of all, be true to yourself and the place that you call home.
Position / Job Title - Director of Provider Solutions, AVIA Health Innovation; Alumnus/Former Chief of Staff and Special Advisor, Health Leads
BLK SHP origin story - As a Bengali-American born in the Bay Area, raised in Austin, transformed in Baltimore, and activated in Boston, I grew up between goat meat curry and breakfast tacos, Tagore and Plath, Bollywood and Bmore club, data and instinct, social justice and entrepreneurial excellence. I love living inside the overlap of various Venn diagrams, and believe fervently that finding commonalities in unlikely places is crucial to achieving systems change.
BLK SHP mission statement - All people deserve to be healthy -- in every sense of the word. Together, we can build both a society and a healthcare system that address the root causes of poor health, by ensuring that everyone has access to the resources and support they need to achieve health.
BLK SHP traits - Taking abstract concepts and making them accessible, refusing to see the glass as half empty, toggling between real talk and poetry, deploying a healthy dose of irreverence and humor to self, others, and work
BLK SHP skills - I love occupying the sweet space between big, brave ideas and tangible action. I'm also passionate about taking something good or promising and making it awesome.
What advice do you have for other BLK SHP? Learn as hard and fast as you possibly can — and extend yourself the grace to be okay with re-learning it all over again!