Ep. 15 – BONUS: Law Panel – Genova Burns Partner Rajiv Parikh, Murphy for Governor Senior Policy Advisor Parimal Garg, Vinay Limbachia

We have a special episode this week, which is actually a panel discussion for those interested in pursuing a legal career. We have an amazing panel of accomplished leaders in their field who have a background in the law, including our very own New Jersey Leadership Program Director of Programming, Vinay Limbachia. Vinay has served as a Legal Extern in the White House Counsel’s Office, worked as a Litigation Associate for Akin Gump and most recently served as a Judicial Law Clerk for the U.S. District Court in Connecticut.

The panel also includes Rajiv Parikh, a litigation Partner at the Genova Burns law firm. Rajiv also serves as general counsel to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, as well as the campaigns of Senator Cory Booker and others. Last but not least, we have Parimal Garg, a Senior Policy Advisory for the Phil Murphy for Governor campaign, focusing on a variety of issues involving the state government. He previously served as a clerk for Chief Justice Stuart Rabner of the New Jersey Supreme Court and worked as a litigation associate at Washington, D.C. office of Paul, Weiss.

Ep. 14 – Brown Girl Magazine Founder Aditi Mehta

Many of you have probably heard of Brown Girl Magazine, the online publication that focuses on the South Asian youth diaspora in the United States. The all volunteer staff write about everything from Culture to Beauty and Style to Entertainment, and now even have a “Brown Boy” section. They feature articles such as “Bollywood’s Unfair and Ugly Obsession with Dark Skin Color,” to “Challenging Taboos: Muslim and Tattooed.”

All of this is thanks to our guest today, Aditi Mehta. She is the Founder and CEO of Brown Girl Magazine, and she talks to us about how her idea of starting the site came to her during a business class in college at the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. Since then, her small idea in class has transformed to have a huge impact on hundreds and thousands of young South Asian girls across the country.

Check out Brown Girl Magazine here.


Ep. 12 – WNYC Reporter Arun Venugopal

We turn the tables and interview Arun Venugopal, a reporter at WNYC. He’s also a host of Micropolis, in which he helps to examine race, sexuality, and identity.

Arun is also a regular contributor to NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and has previously been published in The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian. His commentary on Indian-American issues has appeared in the New York Times, the New York Post, and the Associated Press.

We spoke to Arun about the current state of South Asians in the media, evolution of the community in Hollywood with stars such as Aziz Ansari, Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra, and the South Asian community’s place in America.

Ep. 11 – Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Kalsi

We sat down with a true American hero—Lieutenant Colonel Kamal Singh Kalsi, who made history to become the first Sikh in more than a generation to serve in the United States military with his articles of faith intact, including with his beard and dastar (or turban).

He began his active duty in June of 2010 shortly after completing medical school, specializing in emergency and disaster medicine. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, and was awarded a Bronze Star Medal upon his return for his “expert” emergency care of over 750 service members and civilians. Lieutenant Colonel Kalsi paved the way for other Sikhs to serve in the military with their religious articles of faith intact, and ultimately for other communities as well, including that of the Muslim community and others.

We spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Kalsi about his experience serving as a Sikh American in the U.S. Army, what is feels like being a Sikh in the United States and what his deployment to Afghanistan was like.

Ep. 10 – Freeholder Assad Akhter

We traveled to the streets of Paterson, New Jersey to chat with Passaic County’s newest Freeholder, Assad Akhter. He made history as the first Muslim-American Freeholder in the county, and as only the second South Asian American freeholder in the state.

Assad spoke about how events such as September 11, 2001 motivated him to enter politics and government, and how he worked his way up from being a lowly intern to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr., to his current role as an elected official. We also spoke about the anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric of the Trump Campaign and the effects that it has had on the Muslim American community today. Lastly, we touch upon the feature article that the New York Times wrote on Freeholder Akhter’s dating life and how he ultimately met his wife, Saira.


Ep. 9 – Miss New Jersey USA Chhavi Verg

Today we hit the runway with Miss New Jersey USA and runner-up to the 2017 Miss USA Beauty Pageant, Chhavi Verg. The young Edison native and Rutgers University sophomore became only the second Indian-American Miss New Jersey USA and the first to make runner up.

Chhavi talks about her journey moving from India as a toddler and what the American Dream meant for her. We also spoke about what it feels like being on stage competing on prime time television, the physical and mental training she endured a year and a half leading up to the pageant, the trend of more South Asian women competing in beauty pageants, and the issues of cyberbullying that she faced and overcame.

Tune in to see who will be crowned the Miss Politics and Spice on this week’s episode.

Ep. 8 – Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton (West Windsor)

West Windsor Councilwoman Ayesha Hamilton joined us today on the Politics and Spice podcast. Councilwoman Hamilton began serving on the West Windsor Township Council in 2016 and has been active in this role since then. She also has her own law practice, Hamilton Law Firm, P.C., which specializes in employment and business law.

The Councilwoman speaks about her journey traveling from India to the United States for college and then law school in Ohio, to her current hometown of West Windsor. She explains her unexpected entrance into politics and local government, what issues she is most passionate about in serving the residents of West Windsor, and plans for seeking higher office in the future.

Ep. 7 – Hillary Clinton National AAPI Director Jason Tengco

We chatted with Hillary Clinton’s former National Asian American Pacific Islander Outreach Director Jason Tengco. Jason has served in multiple senior roles in the non-profit sector, government and politics — including serving as the Deputy Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under President Barack Obama, and as a Congressional Aide for former Congressman Mike Honda. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the National Federation of Filipino American Associations.

Jason breaks down what happened in the 2016 Presidential Elections, what went wrong in the Hillary for America campaign and lessons to keep in mind for 2020. He also speaks about his experiences at the White House, traveling the country helping AAPIs and the challenges that affect this increasingly growing community in the United States. Check it out!

Ep. 6 – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr.

We caught up with Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. in his New Jersey District Office. Congressman Pallone is one of the most senior members of New Jersey’s Congressional Delegation and serves in the Democratic Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives as the Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He is also one of the original drafters of the Affordable Care Act, now most commonly known as “Obamacare.”

Congressman Pallone guides us through his journey being elected as Fourth Grade Class Representative to serving as the highest ranking Democrat on one of the most powerful committees in the United States Congress. We also talk about the future of the Affordable Care Act, the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and national redistricting reform.

Ep. 5 – Dick Cheney Chief Policy Advisor and Founder of the Daily Caller Neil Patel

We sat down with Vice-President Dick Cheney’s former Chief Policy Advisor to chat about his journey as a junior staffer in Washington, D.C. to working for one of the most powerful Vice-Presidents in modern history and then founding and currently serving as the Daily Caller’s Publisher and Managing Director for Bluebird Asset Management.

Neil talks about the current state and future of politics in the United States, media in the age of Trump and what it was like serving under one of his closest mentors in the White House, Scooter Libby during his indictment for the CIA Leaks of Valerie Plame. You won’t want to miss this one!