COMMITTEE

Executive Committee for 2018

President 

Sowmya Surapaneni

Vice President 

Justin W G A Botejue

Sowmya Surapaneni moved to Spokane in 2002 from Gudivada, situated in south of India. In 2003, she began an unimaginable career and managed Gordons/ Zales jewelry store in Spokane Valley for 3 years. She was nominated “Best manager of the year” for 2 consecutive years. She couldn't trade her special time with her kids and decided to take a break from her career. She turned into a photographer and enjoyed capturing her family's little stories and big adventures. Later she resumed her career as a technical consultant at Itron for the past 8 years now. She makes time to be involved in several community activities. She is currently the Vice-President of Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at Liberty Lake Elementary School, spear heading to bring Invent Washington program to the school for the first time. Sowmya has also been successfully coaching Liberty Lake Elementary students for Math is Cool competition for 5 years now. She enjoys helping kids show case their talents and has been directing kids’ theater Play/drama for Diwali events for last 5 years. She has also been an active  volunteer for liberty lake community theater for the last two years. She served as a Vice President for Spokane India Community (SIC) executive committee from 2016 - 2018. She is looking forward to serving SIC by taking SIC members input and obtain external support to come up with new program activities for the wellness of the community.

Secretary

  Pravita Balijepalli

Justin Ashok Botejue was born and raised in Anaheim, California and moved to Spokane in 2012 to attend Whitworth University. Upon graduation, he had worked for the Mayor of Spokane and is now a senior project manager for the healthcare non-profit, Better Health Together (a subsidiary of the Empire Health Foundation). Under the tutelage of Ustad Rajendar Singh, Justin Ashok was trained in classical and folk Hindustani music, specializing in tabla drum performance. Justin Ashok is involved in several community initiatives and has served as the Community Outreach Coordinator for the Spokane India Community Executive Committee through 2017. He looks forward to supporting ideas and programs that benefit SIC membership.

 

Joint- Secretary

Durai Sellegounder

Durai Sellegounder is a postdoctoral researcher currently working in Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine WSU, Spokane Riverfront Campus. After completing his Ph.D. and a short stint of postdoctoral training in India, Durai joined WSU Spokane in 2015. Durai was awarded competitive research fellowships and awards for his work in India. He is currently a core researcher with additional responsibilities in project coordination and lab management.  Durai is self-motivated, enthusiastic and team player, willing to learn administration skills and he enjoys working with people.     

 

Namaste! This is Pravita Balijepalli. I hail from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India born in a typical education oriented Telugu family. Being born to wonderful parents who had varied interests in life my gene-pool has been split interestingly. My father was a Professor back in India and spent almost 40 years of his life sciencing! My mother on the other hand was a homemaker but an artist with a twist she is a great cook, interior designer, a vocalist and a veena player. So precisely I am a scient-artist, currently pursuing my Ph.D. in Washington State University after working for a significant number of years with a well-known European Pharmaceutical giant. 

 

Although science is what I believe in I never let the artist in me die.I grew up learning Kuchipudi (a classical dance form from Andhra Pradesh) for about 12 years and a proud disciple of Smt. Bala Kondala Rao [vdisciple of Sr. Vempati Chinna Satyam (Pioneer of Kuchipudi) and a proud recipient of the President’s award in 2018] who trained me to perform from a very young age in events such as “Telugu Mahanaadu” and felicitation events of great names such as Sri.Veturi Sundar Ramamurthygaru  to name a few. Singing has been in my genes as I grew up listening to my mother who performed independently. So I was inclined to be  vocalist and a performer in both Carnatic and light music since I was 3 years of age. I went on to have rock band in college where we enjoyed introducing Rock and Metal genre of music to the local community. My horizons kept expanding from time to time so I ventured to become a trained with basics as a theatre artist as well in 2013 from University of Hyderabad, India. Apart from performing arts, event management one mission which is special to my heart is equal education and healthy food.

 

As an individual I also believe in service and contributing towards the society in my own small way which brings me to talk about one organization which was established by group of my friends including me; Aikarthya - a non-governmental organization for helping education of under privileged kids in Hyderabad, India. I was also a volunteer for “Teach for India” (Indian chapter of Teach for America) where I taught for 4-5 grades in schools for underpriviliged children before and during my tenure as a Scientific Writer. 

In my the rare instances of leisure I love reading,cooking and travelling.Thanks to my husband who keeps me motivated to cook and we both travel for food :). Adding to that I am a food enthusiast and experiment a lot in an effort to create urban and healthier versions of many lost recipes and run a personal blog.

 

Lastly it has been almost 2.5 years that I moved to the United States to join my wonderful husband Lalith Damaraju, who is an engineer by profession and a cricketer by heart. Yes, being from a art and education oriented family being married to  a cricket fanatic family!! :) Where all the boys of the family played either for under 19 teams or shared the pitch with celebrity cricketers! It is his wonderful values and understanding nature I have been able to take a decision to move to Spokane alone to pursue my research interests while he continues to live in Seattle, WA.

 

Living and trying to find a niche and a social environment in a foreign land is not new to me  since I have travelled and worked with people from all over the world. But finding an Indian community where people are just like me far away from home it really gives a sense of being with family.So, I decided to be active member with the local Indian community where I can be a part and contribute towards the mission of SIC where we all cherish the roots we belong to and unify as one. During this search I came across the local singing group “Spokane Gaana” and decided to perform in their first concert on June 16th, 2018.

Having said that, I want to grow as a person and with this community. I re-emphasize that I believe in serving and contributing in the most productive manner towards the entire community and be a part of such an enthusiastic team.

Manava seve  Madhava seva!

(Service towards mankind is service to god!) 

 

Treasurer

Vasu Bhuvanagiri

Born in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh and raised in Hyderabad, Telangana, I finished my Pharmacy School in Karnataka before moving to United States in 2002 for Graduate School. I have lived in North Eastern United States Mostly Maine and New Hampshire since 2004 on a Job as Pharmacist after completing M.S in Chemistry at WIU.I have been a practicing Pharmacist with Rite Aid for past 14 years and gradually grew ranks moving to Spokane on next Work assignment. I was actively involved with Indian Student Association at WIU and served as their General Secretary for almost one year. I like to stay active as much as possible and my hobbies are playing Tennis, Hiking, Astronomy and Road trips with Family and Friends.

 

Community Outreach Coordinator

Sunil Kumar Lakkakula

Sunil came from a small town named Chirala from one of the South-Eastern states of India. He came to USA in 2007 to pursue Master of Science in Electrical Engineering at Oklahoma State University. He recently moved to Cheney, WA in September 2015 after completing his Ph.D from Oklahoma State University to work with Eastern Washington University (EWU). During his graduate school, Sunil has been involved in many student and institutional organizations and served as a committee for few as Vice-President, General Secretary and Design Contest Chair. Being inspired from the exceptional work of SIC to bring the community together, Sunil wants to serve as an SIC committee member for the year 2018-2019 given the opportunity and contribute to the continued growth of SIC.

 

Founding Committee 2015

Spokane India Community was conceived in a community meeting involving about 30 individuals who shared a single goal of getting our community organized. The founding committee then took the final steps to make it a reality by forming “Spokane India Community" in September 2015 and formally registering SIC as a non-profit organization with the state of Washington. 

Hrishikesh Joshi

President 2016 -18

Sowmya Surapaneni

Vice President 2016 -18

Hrishikesh (Rishi), is a WSU graduate in Mechanical Engineering, an entrepreneur, an ardent athlete and a community organizer. He migrated to U.S.A. in 1999 for his graduate studies and began his career in Pullman. He moved to Spokane in 2007 and later co-founded Spokane Cricket Club (SPCC) in 2009. Rishi has looked after its operations since and is currently serving as SPCC’s President. Every summer SPCC team participates in competitive cricket through NorthWest Cricket League. After a successful 15 years tenure in his first job, he co-founded Levitek in October 2015. And a month before, in September 2015, he led a small group of highly motivated Spokanites of Indian origin to form Spokane India Community (SIC). Rishi served as a president since SIC’s inception until January 2018. He helped develop and refine the mission, the vision and the by-laws for SIC in its early days. He also inspired the team to build a sustainable organization. Rishi enjoys various outdoors activities such as water rafting, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing and hiking.  

Nishant Puri

Secretary 2016-18

Nishant was born and raised in Chandigarh, India and after training in California, moved to Spokane in 2014 to work as an interventional gastroenterologist at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center. He was really excited to be part of the founding committee of SIC and enjoyed working with the diverse committee to bring the Spokane Indian community together under a formal organization enabling them to enjoy multiple festivals and events. He also headed the Spokane Hindu Society sub-committee which holds the monthly kid-oriented religious meets and was formed to realize the eventual dream of a Hindu temple in Spokane.

Jayesh Modha

Treasurer 2016-18

Jayesh was born and raised in Porbandar- Gujarat. Upon graduating in IT Engineering he started his career in Software Industry in India before moving to Spokane in 2007.  He is currently working as a Technical Architect in a local Healthcare IT company. Jayesh has a deep interest in bringing Indian culture, food and heritage to Spokane. He brought Bal Gokulum to Spokane community that benefited Spokane youth and helped it run successfully. He enjoys connecting with people from India and volunteering in various community activities. He created a Facebook group in 2012 to provide a social platform for the community members to build friendship. It proved beneficial, especially for new families moving into Spokane. It is now an official FB page of Spokane India Community (SIC). Jayesh is one of the founding members of SIC and contributed as a Treasurer since the beginning and until January 2018. He is an amateur photographer, skier and cricketer.

Sowmya Surapaneni moved to Spokane in 2002 from Gudivada, situated in south of India. In 2003, she began an unimaginable career and managed Gordons/ Zales jewelry store in Spokane Valley for 3 years. She was nominated “Best manager of the year” for 2 consecutive years. She couldn't trade her special time with her kids and decided to take a break from her career. She turned into a photographer and enjoyed capturing her family's little stories and big adventures. Later she resumed her career as a technical consultant at Itron for the past 8 years now. She makes time to be involved in several community activities. She is currently the Vice-President of Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) at Liberty Lake Elementary School, spear heading to bring Invent Washington program to the school for the first time. Sowmya has also been successfully coaching Liberty Lake Elementary students for Math is Cool competition for 5 years now. She enjoys helping kids show case their talents and has been directing kids’ theater Play/drama for Diwali events for last 5 years. She has also been an active  volunteer for liberty lake community theater for the last two years. She served as a Vice President for Spokane India Community (SIC) executive committee from 2016 - 2018. She is looking forward to serving SIC by taking SIC members input and obtain external support to come up with new program activities for the wellness of the community.

Rupali Joshi

Community Outreach Coordinator 2016-17

Join-Secretary 2017-18

Rupali graduated from the reputed Sir. J. J College of Architecture in 1999. As a licensed Architect, she professionally evolved in her home town, Mumbai and later co-founded a design firm, Archilogics in 2004. After a successful stint as an entrepreneur, she moved to Pullman, WA in 2006 to join her husband. Despite the lack of local experience, she was able to leverage her extensive professional achievements in architecture to secure a job in Spokane as a Project Manager at Bernardo Wills Architects in fall of 2007. Later her professional path led to Cue2design, an interior design firm she founded in July 2015. Around the same time, Rupali passionately endured her personal undertaking and teamed up with other enthusiasts to establish SIC in September 2015. She helped SIC evolve by introducing various initiatives and by managing SIC operations professionally. Rupali's significant contribution to SIC was its virtual identity that she single-handedly imagined, designed and created. She enhanced SIC's web presence by designing a custom logo, improving branding, and via social media publications and SIC website. In her spare time, she also enjoys imaginative endeavors such as poetry and blogging.