JAMES JONES, M.B.M.
James J. Jones is the newest permanent Executive Director of SAHARA. James is a seasoned executive, who provides expertise in fundraising, strategic communications, trend analysis, change management, organizational behavior and strategic and tactical planning. He comes to SAHARA from a strong background from three distinct career experiences. First, he spent 10 years in State and National politics culminating in a two-year stint as a Senior Analyst for President George H.W. Bush, Sr. in the fields of strategy, communications and fundraising. James then spent the next 12 years in executive leadership of large NPO’s, and as a consultant for small to mid-size NPO’s with a concentration of fundraising, strategic communications and strategic and tactical planning. Finally, he was a small business owner – owning/operating one of the top boutique talent agencies in Hollywood – where he was named SAG (Screen Actors Guild) Agent of the Year. James holds a B.A. in Political Economy from Whitworth University, a Master of Arts in Theology (MAT) from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Master of Business Management (MBM) from Azusa Pacific University.
BHASKER SHAH, M.A. ACCOUNTING
Bhaskar has worked in the non-profit sector for the past 12 years and joined SAHARA in 2012. He enjoys working at SAHARA as he believes in its mission and brings a lot of experience, energy and expertise to the table. Being at SAHARA allows Bhaskar to meet and network with community leaders. Email Bhaskar
FARHANA SHAHID, B.A. POLITICAL SCIENCE
COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SERVICES SPECIALIST
Farhana has worked for South Asian Organizations as a Lead Community Advocate for over 16 years. Farhana is passionate about serving anyone who walks into SAHARA. Growing up in a family that was always helping others, taught her the importance and value of uplifting the community. Today, she has dedicated her life to helping others. The accomplishments, the courage and success of her clients remain her strongest motivation to continue her work in the fields of social service. Email Farhana: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEETA DAYAL, B.S. LVN
DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS
Neeta brings 16 years of dedicated services at SAHARA in a multitude of roles from serving as our first staff administrative manager and currently as Program Director. Attention to detail and sound judgement she continues to provide executive assistance to the administrative team. As a Program Director and senior team member she plays an active role in strengthening the impact and long-term sustainability of SAHARA. Providing oversight of all programs she follows compliance regulations manages federal, state and county grants and contracts, and assist in all organizational policies and practices. She is very passionate about helping society at large and her motivation and enthusiasm in meeting and supporting SAHARA in all challenges and demands has been unprecedented.
MARKETING COORDINATOR & COMMUNITY ADVOCATE
Yusra’s passion for digital marketing shines through her dedicated role as a marketing coordinator with nearly 6 years of experience under her belt. Her profound expertise in this dynamic field has propelled her career forward, positioning her as a valuable asset to her team. Not content with just her remarkable professional journey so far, Yusra’s relentless pursuit of knowledge and growth is evident as she currently pursues her bachelor’s degree, demonstrating her commitment to advancing not only her own career but also the organization she serves. One of Yusra’s remarkable qualities is her collaborative spirit. She actively embraces the responsibilities that come with being part of a team, eagerly taking on caseloads and collaborating seamlessly with her colleagues. Her approach to problem-solving is a true embodiment of SAHARA’s ideology, as she consistently contributes fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to overcome challenges and drive the organization forward.
OUTREACH & TRAINING COORDINATOR
Johna is a current undergraduate student that is obtaining her Bachelors in Science for Public Health with a minor in Public Administration. She also has earned her Associates in Science in Biological Sciences from Long Beach City College. She has worked in the nonprofit sector for 3 years and specializes in doing outreach for organizations. Her prior experience consisted of working with homeless individuals and helping them to access resources to help them become stable. Johna wants to one day be a part of creating better policies that can help low income and homeless individuals get connected to housing. At SAHARA, she is our Communications and Training Outreach Coordinator, and her role is to connect with local law enforcement, teach and inform students at high schools and colleges, work with and train volunteers/interns on violence prevention methods, as well as partnering with other organizations to advocate and teach communities. Johna looks forward to growing and continuing to implement her creative and innovative ideas here at SAHARA.
MEHNAZ KHAN, B.A. BUSINESS ADMINSTRATION
ABUSE PROGRAM SPCIALIST
Mehnaz has been well involved within the community for over 8 years and has great ties to her roots and deep connection to her background in Pakistan. Born and raised in Kuwait she takes pride in continued efforts in promoting culture and history that ties her to her deep family roots. Working with many people from all around the world and seeing them grow and change over the years is what motivates her to continue to work with people. Seeing a smile and relief on her clients’ face helps her to move forward and bring about a better change within the community. A proud immigrant and American at heart Mehnaz values her work by helping clients apply for their citizenship and full fill their American dream with SAHARA.
POOJA BHATTACHARYA, M.P.H.
Pooja is a recent graduate from California State University, Los Angeles, with a master’s degree in public health specialization in Urban Community Health. She worked as a research assistant on the Marine Debris Project and her narrative was published online. Prior to her MPH enrollment she worked as a dental surgeon in India for 3 years. She participated in the various health education and awareness programs where she worked with underserved communities to help raise awareness about oral, mental and nutritional health, including providing health education and services like screening and counseling and providing treatment plans. She was selected as Highly Commended under the category of Indian Dental Talent Of The Year (Famdent Excellence in dentistry Award) in 2016. She is also passionate about fine arts and Indian Classical Dance and completed her graduation in Bharatanatyam and diploma in singing (vocal) and fine arts. At SAHARA she provides direct client services by conducting civic classes, support groups, individual counseling, Cal-work and shelter case management under various grants. She also assisted clients with obtaining housing, jobs and legal services and provided legal advocacy and court support to victims.
EKTA SINGH, M.B.A
Domestic Violence Counselor
Ekta Singh; holds an MBA and Business Analyst Certification from UCI. She is 40 hours DV trained and very dedicated to work for people suffering with issues connected to immigration and marginalization. She has an extensive experience of working in operations management and business support. Ekta is a Domestic Violence and Housing Specialist at SAHARA, she works with DV survivors closely and support them with their housing needs with dedicated case management.
SIDRA KHAN B.A. BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
Sidra shines as a talented and community-driven individual. Holding a bachelor’s degree in business administration and over 5 years of experience, she aspires to strengthen her roots into Social Work, showcasing her dedication to positive change. As a robust communicator, she employs a distinct and gentle style to connect deeply with clients at SAHARA. This unique approach fosters trust and empathy, nurturing profound interactions. Her natural traits make her a remarkable relationship builder, revitalizing the organization’s mission through impactful connections. Sidra’s journey embodies versatility, commitment, and a desire to make a genuine impact. She uses her talents to help clients as a Victim Advocate empowering survivors in the next steps of their journey.
SEJAL DAFTARY Bsc. MICROBIOLOGY
PAULOMI PANDIT, BSc. MA FINE ARTS
CITIZENSHIP COORDINATOR & ABUSE ADVOCATE
She is often the first face/voice that community members encounter when they are seeking services. Aside from managing our office operations, she connects community members with the appropriate SAHARA team member to facilitate optimal support. Paulomi brings her expertise in multilingual communication and event management to the team. Additionally, she is a renowned dancer and teacher, trained in Indian classical dance. She is passionate about her art to bring about social reform. She inspires youth to use their artistic talents to catalyze positive social change in our communities. Paulomi enjoys being at Sahara where she can extend her experience and knowledge furthering the mission of SAHARA.
THERAPIST & DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE MANAGER
Aruna is on our team of Victims’ Advocates as a Case Manager. She has worked as Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with underprivileged and marginalized communities for the past 3 years. She has compassion towards her profession and say’s “Helping clients to move forward on their journey in life is her reward”. She went to school to study Psychotherapy with the motive to help and make a difference in the lives of the Community. She is passionate about developing plans to increase the health, safety and self-sufficiency of clients in need of support.
SENIOR SOCIAL WORKER, M.A.
The Senior Social Worker has 20 years of experience working as a social worker. She first volunteered with SAHARA during its infancy and eventually became a full-time employee in 2008. She finds it very rewarding when she sees the growth of SAHARA from its inception till now- 24 years later. The Senior Social Worker is passionate about helping her clients achieve their goals and to see them take steps every day to better themselves, is the most fulfilling part of her job.
DIRECTOR OF SHELTER
She has worked with nonprofit organizations for over 16 years. She has been a Health Care Coordinator since 2003 and a Shelter Coordinator since 2013. She is currently working as the Shelter Director for SAHARA’s TLH (Transitional Living Home). Her focus is working with survivors of domestic violence within the South Asian community. She can speak, read and write Hindi and Gujarati. She feels fortunate and satisfied to help people in need and bring a smile on their face.
If you would like to know more about SAHARA or help us continue to provide these services, please give us a call at 562-402-4132 or contact us.
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