The First Annual TRIBUTE24IW (a Tribute to 24 Incredible Women) Event, is brought to you by Step2StepUp Inc, a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization geared at uplifting & guiding young entrepreneurs around the nation. This event aims at a Platform created to bringing 24 Masterminds together to communicate, collaborate and celebrate their individual wins. It will be held on Sat., July 17th at 6:00pm in Riverside, CA.
TRIBUTE24IW is part of Step2StepUp Inc’s Bridge to Unity campaign which seeks to unite women of different backgrounds, industries, skill sets, motivations, nationalities, goals, and interests, all over our great nation, by way of education, encouragement, and networking so we can all learn and grow exponentially.
Each of the 24 dynamic women chosen, have positively impacted their communities, industries, and our nation, in a profound way. If you are looking to collaborate with some of the strongest business leaders in the USA, you won’t want to miss this event.
In this Inspiring Lives Magazine Issue, we present the 24 incredible women who will be honored and the message they impart to the world. Plus, details on how you can take part in this unique and fabulous event.
- SMITA VASANT
Smita Vasant, a former Miss Asia USA, is the founder of Neemo’s Exotic Ice Cream and Saffron Spot, which features her exotic ice cream creations. Smita’s ice cream business has been featured in numerous newspapers and magazines such as Bon Apetit, Los Angeles Times, Orange Coast Magazine, and the LA Weekly. She participates in many community activities and mentors other women business owners. An avid fashion blogger, she is also the founder of LA India Fashion Week, an annual event that promotes and celebrates Indian fashion. Smita has a Master’s Degree in Industrial Psychology.
“The next generation should take care of the earth and environment – being more mindful of what they do and how they do to take care of the earth – recycle, reuse, waste less and make it a safe and less toxic for future generations”.
- AISHVARYAA NIDHI
Aishveryaa Nidhi is an actress, an artistic director, a filmmaker and conservationist of both Indian culture and the Hindi language, but most significantly, she is an unwavering community activist. Aish’s award-winning works reflect the incredible diversity and beauty of Indian culture. She dedicated her life to keeping the Indian culture thriving in Sydney and brought the same passion and undying spirit to LA. Aish has created opportunities for fellow Indians to creatively develop and represent their talents at her nonprofit organization, Abhinay School of Performing Arts.
Abhinay School of Performing Arts was conceived with a holistic aim to encourage the next generation to catch their rich cultural roots through theatre art and learning the Hindi language to be one with great Indian heritage.
- MONALISA KHANDKE
Monalisa Khandke is a makeup artist, dance choreographer, model and community activist. She was born in a small village and came to the United States with her husband approximately 5 years ago. She was honored as the first youngest woman president of Shivaji Maharaj America Parivar, Georgia (SMAP Foundation) and started the first-ever historical Shivaji Maharaj Jayanti celebration in the state of Georgia. She also received the “2018 Women of Distinction, USA” award and the Mrs. India World Worldwide 2017 as titleholder for the “Most Beautiful Eyes”. She was also nominated for Atlanta’s Hottest Model Award 3 years in a row.
My mission is to promote the teachings of Veermata Jijabai, which dictates that “If we can teach self-confidence to our children they can achieve anything in this world”.
- RADHIKA SHAH
Radhika Shah is currently a pre-medical student at Stanford University. At 16, she founded Real Autism Difference 501c3 and has raised over $100,000 for her initiative to benefit kids with autism in the S. Nevada Community. In 2018, she was appointed by Governor Sandoval to serve as the youngest Youth Commissioner for the state of NV on the Nevada Volunteers Board. Most recently, she was crowned Miss World Nevada 2020 and competed in the National Miss World America competition. Radhika has been featured on the front cover of My Vegas Magazine as a Top 100 Women of Influence, has received numerous national service recognitions including the George H.W. Bush Daily Points of Light Award, and is an avid public speaker.
- ARTI MANEK
Arti Manek has a passion for training amateurs of any age, to perform like a professional on stage in the form of folk and Kathak dances. She was recipient of numerous 1st place awards in Raas/Garba Folk Dance Competitions. Upon attaining her personal training in the U.K. under Guru Abhay Shankar Mishra, Arti established Shankara Dance Academy (SDA). After moving to L.A., she organized and produced several Folk-Dance Dramas. SDA’s first student’s Rang Manch Pravesh, was gracefully attended by legendary Padma Bhushan Pundit Birju Maharaj! She is also the recipient of the National Federation of Indian Associations award for performing and promoting classical art form.
The skill of turning “Rough Diamonds” into Precious Gems is my unique talent that should be applied to American-born Youth to bring out the best in them.
- CHARU SHIVAKUMARAN
Charu Shivakumar has worked for over twenty years for humanitarian causes including, community-based rehabilitation disability issues, women’s empowerment, youth leadership and other projects. She has a Masters in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology and a Masters, in Organizational Leadership from Woodbury University in California. She is the founder of Excel Foundation, a non-profit organization to enhance education, eradicate poverty, conserve nature and give aid to seniors. She is also the founder of ELIKE, a youth leadership project and ELIGHT, an adult-focused project. She is the Vice President of Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, Los Angeles chapter, and a Member of the Governing Council of the World Hindu Council of America. She resides in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.
Equip future generation with knowledge and skills, educate them to understand the challenges that global society faces today, and have them participate in discussions to brainstorm ideas to solve these issues.
- HENNA NOOR
Henna Noor is a 22-year-old student and dental assistant that is currently working towards becoming a dentist. She founded the ‘Random Acts of Kindness Club’ at her college and when the pandemic began, she created a singing YouTube channel and the “You Are Not Alone podcast”. She enjoys reading, playing the guitar, singing and public speaking. She is passionate about vulnerability and starting discussions about the real world of mental health. Her motto is: “Life is a team sport!”
In order for the next generation to have a purposeful future she states, “Follow your gut and put yourself first. Only then will you have the strength and tools to move mountains for others.”
- DR. MANORAMA GUPTA
Manorama Gupta is a retired, board certified OB/GYN and cosmetic surgeon. She has served her community by volunteering in many different organizations. She has been the Chairwoman and President of the Indian Medical Assn. of Southern California as well as an Advisory Board Member of outpatient surgery center of Fountain Valley Hospital and the founder and president of Global Peace Foundation, Inc., among numerous other awards and accolades.
Her message to the younger generation is to, “Work hard and you can achieve anything in life and give back to the community.”
- RANI KUUSTO
Soruba Rani Kuusto is a retired Nurse Consultant from the State of California Dept. of Corrections. She has over 35 years of nursing experience. She received her B.Sc. in Nursing from the S.N.D.T. College of Nursing in Mumbai, India and her MPH from Cal-State Long Beach, California. Since retiring, she volunteers her time in the community with helping the homeless and educating the community about diabetes, heart disease and other topics. She is currently Co-Chairperson for the Health and Wellness Council of GOPIO-International and Secretary of GOPIO-Los Angeles. She also serves as Club Services Chairperson for the Fullerton Host Lions Club.
I will empower the next generation of today to work as powerful creators and advocates for unity with purpose so they can strive together to achieve success in their goals; shape the systems of the environment and educational future and make a difference in being a mentor to the next generation of youth.
- Dr. SINDURI JAISINGHE
Dr. Kalaimamani Sinduri started her dance career as a child prodigy and quickly became an internationally acclaimed Indian classical dancer who is now based in Los Angeles. She carries a Doctorate in Bharathanatyam and Kuchipudi and is also very well-versed in all the folk dances of India. She has done over 2500 performances across the globe. She has been running Savithri Arts Academy in L.A. since 1997. She has also sponsored many cultural events for the community for the last 23 years.
The future generation should work hard with full confidence and success will be yours.
- ROSE MURLIKRISHNAN
Dr. Rose Muralikrishnan, a classical Carnatic music singer, voice trainer, composer, conductor, and songwriter, was born in Chennai, India . Her father was a lawyer and her mother was a teacher. She received her Master’s degree in Carnatic Music from the University of Madras. She received her Doctorate in Music from Madurai.
She has performed numerous concerts around the world. She had performed in the Australian, Los Angeles and New York International Music festivals to name a few. she has taken Carnatic music to the finest venues around the world such as Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Shrine Auditorium and many more.
Always strive to challenge yourself. Recognizing your inborn talents and developing those into skills will lead you to a successful path in accomplishing your goals.
- DOLLY OZA
Dolly Oza is the President and Founder of Pre-Paid USA, a division of USA Connect. Her success with Pre-Paid USA led to many conversations with other women in various fields of work who grapple with finding the right balance between their work and their personal life.
Ms. Oza created her own talk show titled, The Inspirational Woman, a platform to showcase the professional accomplishments of women, from the famous to the household success, and create a space where women can discuss their shared experiences and provide insight and advice to other women in their respective industries. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters and their adorable dog.
I would like to encourage our next generation to explore the opportunities that brings out the best version of themselves, advise them not to be afraid to take risk, or to have fear of being judged by others. I would like to create a networking platform where they are guided to make the important decisions of their career and life.
- RUHI (ROHINI) HAK
Ruhi (Rohini) Hak is the founder of Hope B-lit (Holistic Opportunities and Purpose of Education Be Lit), a volunteer-driven LA-based non-profit organization championing children’s and women’s causes across the globe. She is an engineer by profession and an award-winning director, writer, musician, and producer of films highlighting global issues and raising awareness via fictional stories and documentaries under her production “A Voices Unheard Films” that inspire positive change.
Ruhi holds a Master’s in Business Administration, majoring in International Business Strategy, from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia and is certified in Education in Human Values from ISSE-USA at UC Santa Barbara. She has spearheaded ground initiatives & programs under the umbrella of “HOPE BEYOND BORDERS” & “Wish Upon A Smile” globally and has conducted over 3000 workshops in varied subjects for children and parents in USA, India, Mexico, Africa and other parts of the world and been invited to do workshops at UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) conferences.
“I believe being your authentic self, realizing we are all unique and living with empathy is essential to empower the new generation. One global world – Knowing we are all connected and caring unconditionally for others beyond your own backyard will lead to a progressive & thriving future.”
- SUMA HAREESH
Suma Hareesh grew up in a small village in Southern India and was strongly influenced by her grandparents, who developed her helping nature. After coming to America, she became a volunteer at several well-known organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Feeding America. She became President of the Riverside, CA, mandir and also became President of the India Association of the Inland Empire. She is currently the Vice President of the Veerashaiva Samaja of North America (VSNA) and Secretary of the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin – Inland Empire (GOPIO – IE). She says that “Giving back to the community is my passion. It gives me purpose and allows me to help those who are less fortunate. Doing community service enables me to become a better person to society and to my family.”
Life is full of challenges. When life gives you a difficult situation, you can always find something positive from the experience. Making mistakes is part of life, as long as we learn from them. What’s important is learning about where you came from and your culture. Being culturally aware is a valuable thing you can use throughout your life to better connect with others.
- SHRINA KURANI
Shrina is Vice President, Business, at Republic and the Executive Director for Republic Cities and Communities. She is a mechanical engineer by training and loves building the entrepreneurial tech community the same way she builds machines: with a robust foundation and strong purpose. She completed her senior design project with NASA and has worked with government projects and startups from London to the Himalayas, and prior to Republic she helped start three companies with one recent exit. Most recently, Shrina was on the investment team at Better Ventures, focused on deal sourcing and raising their third fund. She is a fierce believer in the power of innovation to solve the world’s most pressing problems, and enthusiastic about seeking out and supporting ideas to make them successful.
Never be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone, that is where the most amount of growth happens.
- MICHELLE MEHTA
Michelle Mehta is an alumna of Cal State Fullerton. “She has overcome unthinkable obstacles and is one of the most successful teen coaches in 2020”, according to ABC Television. Yahoo Finance named her as one of the “Top 11 Female Coaches to Follow” in 2021. Ms. Mehta speaks to teens all over the country about overcoming peer pressure, bullying and low self-worth by increasing their confidence to live a life they fully love and admire every single day. James Haven (Angelina Jolie’s brother) states, “What we see in our world are coaches who train themselves based on old or new ways, but still in a formulaic way. Michelle does not do this. Michelle listens and then coaches. There is no greater way, and that is the most important compliment I can give her.” She is also a Teen Confidence Expert, TEDx Speaker, 2 times international best-selling author and a celebrity coach.
I would contribute towards a purposeful future by creating systems to improve mental and emotional health in teenagers. The ideas that trigger my mind are focused around reducing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts in our future generation.
- HARSHI GILL
Harshi Syal Gill was born and raised in Kenya, Africa.
She completed her graduate and post-graduate studies in Literature at the University of Nairobi. Over the years, she has contributed to a multitude of book reviews, critical essays for broadcast, print and digital Medias, also edits manuscripts of different genres. Her poetry has been published in several anthologies and literary magazines and in her book, Reflections. She has co-written a book titled, “African Quilt-Stories of the Asian Indian Experience in Kenya”, and a play, “God Minus: Buddha – The Light of Asia”. She also collaborated with Indian actor, Parikshat Sahni, on a book, “The Non-Conformist”, on the life of his iconic actor father, Balraj Sahni.
“Amidst all the challenges that our youth face, we need to remind them to stay in touch with their spiritual core; to take a moment to look inwards; to find a moment of silence and nothingness; to reach that vast, open space of peace and tranquility within which will inspire and rejuvenate.”
- KAMLESH CHAUHAN
Kamlesh Chauhan (Gauri) was born in India. After her marriage in 1970, she came to USA. She is the mother of two beautiful children. She attended Long Beach University. She is a Novelist, Poetess, and has authored many books dealing with domestic violence and reincarnation.
She is the founder of Jagriti (Awakening) dealing with Domestic Violence. She produced a short movie “MA” and received an award at the film festivals. Kashmir is an integral part of India where women were harassed and kidnapped by terrorists. She has been speaking on terrorism in Kashmir for past many years.
Kamlesh Chauhan (Gauri) was awarded an Elite Woman Award; Her Hindi novels brought her recognition in India and USA which won her the “Woman of the Year” award.
Through my Jagriti organization, I want to bring awareness to the domestic violence issue which still exists even in the 21st Century.
- PARVATHI KOTA
Parvathi Kota, Ph.D., J.D. was born in a small town in Andhra Pradesh, India, and was the first woman in her family to graduate from college. Against all odds and with her parents and teachers’ support, she went on to receive her doctorate degree in Life Sciences from the University of Hyderabad. Twenty years ago, she came to the United States for post-doctoral research and worked with the Nobel Laureate Professor, Har Gobind Khoran, at MIT as a research scientist. She later received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in New York. She is now a Partner at Parlatore Law Group and practices patent law.
“The next generation will tremendously benefit from empowering women and youth through education, encouragement, mentoring, and increasing diversity in the STEM fields.”
- BALJIT KAUR TOOR
Baljit Toor is a Southern Californian resident and community activist. Baljit received her master’s degree from Punjab University, Chandigarh. She has worked at the Edward-Dean Museum for over 30 years and is currently the curator of the Museum. She has worked as an educator both in India and the United States to assist children with disabilities. Currently she is the executive Vice president of GOPIO – IE. She has served as the President of Indian Association of Inland Empire. She is a board member of Vishwa Hindu Parishad Redlands, Norco-Corona Area Interfaith, Redlands Cultural Art Commission and the Museum of Redlands. Baljit has the ability to promote positive change in communities and individuals through advocacy.
Stay connected to nature. Money will come and go, we need to save and protect this earth for future generations. Humanity is the key for life. “Be a good citizen of the world.”
- DR. VARSHINI MURLIKRISHNAN
Dr. Varshini Muralikrishnan more popularly known as “THE MUSICAL DOC” curates an exceptional genre of music by fueling inspiration and innovation to amplify diversity, soul and higher consciousness through her artistic philosophy. This sensational singer songwriter is on the rise to stardom; with multiple features in world class entities like Rolling Stone Magazine, India, featured track of the week on BBC Radio, gaining popularity in both Local and International Media, the possibilities for how far this artist can go is endless. Born and bred into a family of musical connoisseurs, The Musical Doc’s identity and upbringing was defined through Classical Indian music and the gospel church choir. The Musical Doc – a powerhouse talent, singer, songwriter, performer and producer, genuinely strives to make an impact globally through artistic expression, awareness and education. She has achieved prestigious accomplishments as a soloist and a featured performer, utilizing the respectable platforms of Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House, Walt Disney Concert Hall, The United Nations Headquarters and much more to mesmerize audiences.
- JAYA HEMNANI
Jaya was born in India, and lives in Los Angeles since the past 20 years. She has a degree in Graphic Design and an established career of 25 years as an Art director.
Jaya has learned Bharatanatyam and her passion for dance lives in her paintings. The vibrant colors, detailed ornaments, expressions, stunning use of light and shade, transparency and reflection, and the surreal photo-like quality make each painting come to life.
Although oil is her favorite medium, she also uses acrylics, watercolor, pastels, pencils and even mixed media. She has held various exhibitions of her work in California.
As an Art Director and has worked in companies like TCS, Sony Studios, CMM, and is currently working for United Scope.
As life is getting more and more hectic, it becomes difficult to balance between work and your passion. Somehow, I have managed. I would advise the next generation to follow their passion, no matter how difficult it gets, because at the end of the day it will let you live a happy life.
- PAYAL SAWHNEY
Payal is a licensed Mental Health practitioner and social worker with over 20 years of experience. She worked in India and various cities across the U.S., including New York, Chicago, Cincinnati, and most recently Los Angeles.
Payal’s current responsibility is that of being the founder President of SAAHAS (Courage) for Cause, a nonprofit dedicated to educating, empower, and enable South Asian immigrants to uplift their quality of life. SAAHAS is run collectively by a group of volunteers. She works on issues related to older adults, women, youth, and community health. In her clinical role within SAAHAS she personally provides pro-bono services to immigrants of South Asian origin that are victims of DV or SA. Payal uses a trauma informed Cognitive Behavioral therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing therapy, for her clients battling trauma.
- SATTIE PERSAUD
Sattie is the Award-winning founder of World Heritage Cultural Center (WHCC). She is the Senior Foreign Exchange Manager at Otis Elevator. As the Global Goodwill Ambassador, she is connected to 217 countries and territories and is focused on building bridges.
“Each generation adds to the legacy of its ancestors. When people lose sight of their cultural roots, ancestry, and personal heritage, they lose sight of their True Identity. I believe culture is the gateway into our humanity, as it emphasizes the unity of our diversity.”
Step2StepUp Inc has chosen the Ashoka Chakra as their powerhouse symbol of optimal success. The Ashoka Chakra is a wheel with 24 spokes around it. Each spoke represents one of the 24 most important factors in living a meaningful life. The 24 factors include chastity, health, peace, sacrifice, morality, service, forgiveness, love, friendship, fraternity, organization, welfare, prosperity, industry, safety, awareness, equality, purpose, policy, justice, co-operation, duties, rights, and wisdom. Tickets for TRIBUTE24IW can be purchased at Event Brite for $50 each. All attendees will receive a complimentary e-book entitled, The 14 Steps Forward, a collaboration contact list for all business leaders in attendance, a post event invite to 3 Mastermind zoom calls focused on growing your business and a healthy lifestyle guide to improve your overall mental & physical performance as a leader. We encourage you to bring your business cards and a thirst for adventure. Join us for dinner, inspiration, and entertainment. Collaborate with us at TRIBUTE24IW.