Staff Spotlight: AALEAD’s Latest Addition!

By Chelsea Iorlano, Development & Communications Associate
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff

Joining us in December 2014, Shobana is the newest member of the AALEAD team.  Already, she has jumped right in to the DC Middle & High School Program, building relationships and making an impact on our youth.  She brings a wonderful and positive energy to our DC office and programs.  Read on below to get to know a bit more about Shobana!

Q: Tell us a little about yourself, Shobana!

A: I was Born and raised in Kentucky. My parents immigrated to the United States from India and have lived in the States now for 30+ years.  I like reading, Netflix, and hanging out with friends and family.  I lived in Kentucky my whole life and went to college at GW here in DC, where I majored in International affairs.  I grew up in a small town all my life, but one of the reasons I went to college in Washington DC was because I wanted to experience being in the center of change and experiencing life in a big city.

Q: Give us some background on what you were doing before you came to AALEAD.

A: Shortly after graduating, I worked in the corporate sector.  I quickly realized that sector was not for me and that I needed to have a job where I was interacting with people on a daily basis and felt the need to make a difference.  That’s when I decided to apply for a fellowship to teach English in China, which was where I discovered how much I loved working with youth.  After two years in China, I came back to America, was perusing for jobs, and stumbled upon AALEAD.  I knew instantly this was the organization I wanted to be a part of because of its strong commitment to youth development, specifically young Asian Americans.

Q: What’s the best part about the DC Middle and High School Program?

A: The best part about it is that it brings together Asian Pacific American youth from all over DC to gather in a safe space where they can be themselves and learn from each other.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a Program Coordinator?

A: Hands down, the individual relationships that I’m building with the youth.  I’ve only been with AALEAD for a little more than two months, but I love that so many of the youth have opened up to me about their passions and dreams.  Additionally, I love having the opportunity to collaborate with my fellow Program Coordinators across Virginia and Maryland.  Since I have started working here, everyone has been more than helpful, kind, and full of energy.

Q: When you’re not in AALEAD Programs, what can we find you doing?

A: Re-discovering DC!  I left DC for two years and came back to a completely different city.  It’s fun to see what’s changed, the new haunts my friends frequent, discovering local DC bands, and of course, eating at tons and tons of new restaurants!

Q: What are you most passionate about?

A: Three things: first, working with youth.  Being a teacher in China and a Program Coordinator at AALEAD have been two of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done with my life.  I can’t stop growing from these experiences!  Number two, my family and friends.  I’ll keep it short and simple; they’ve supported me through everything and I would be nothing without them.  Lastly, cooking—I can’t tell you how relaxed I feel when I’m chopping onions!

Q: If you could invite five people to dinner, dead or alive, real or fictional, who would they be and why?

A: I’ll start with the comedians—Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, because they would be excellent and hilarious company.  Atticus Finch, because he is the wisest and most down-to-earth character in literary fiction.  Robyn, so she can fill us in on her new album.  And lastly, my grandfather, because I miss him every day.  Can you imagine the conversation we’d have?!

Q: What’s your favorite quote and why?

A: “There is power in looking silly and not caring that you do.” –Amy Poehler; people take themselves to seriously!

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