Our Constituency and Leadership
Jahajee Sisters’ constituency is comprised of a diverse group of inter-generational Indo-Caribbean women, ages 15-60, with ancestral roots in South Asia and born in the Caribbean and South American countries: Guyana, Trinidad, Suriname and Jamaica. Our constituency is also comprised of a younger generation of women, ages 15-35 born and raised in New York City, who identify as Indo-Caribbean. An Advisory committee that practices a consensus driven, collective decision-making process currently leads Jahajee Sisters. We embrace reflective practices, team-building and dialogue to establish a strong core group or organizers and leaders who recognize and identify with the challenges women in our community face and share a common vision for change.
Simone Devi Jhingoor, Co-Director is an Indo-Caribbean writer, activist and educator. She entered the world of social justice at the age of 16 as the youngest member of Blackout Arts Collective, a national network of artists, educators and activists. It was through her youth development work with Blackout that she became grounded in an approach that utilizes the arts as an instrumental tool to catalyze social change in disenfranchised and marginalized communities. Adopting this method in all aspects of her work for the past decade, Simone believes in the integral connection of the arts to activism, and also to a transformative process that enables healing from personal trauma. She has led arts-based activism, political education and leadership development programs with youth of color and an inter-generational group of South Asian women city-wide through various community based organizations, including South Asian Youth Action, SAKHI for South Asian Women and Harlem Children's Zone, to name a few. As a spoken word artist, she has performed her poetry extensively in New York and in the Caribbean. In 2007, Simone had a strong desire to bring her arts and activism work back to her Indo-Caribbean community full scale and is proud to be a founding member of Jahajee Sisters.
Shivana Jorawar, Co-Director is a queer second-generation Guyanese American who believes in intersectional feminism and unapologetically speaking truth to power. She currently serves as State Legislative Counsel at the Center for Reproductive Rights, and previously served as Federal Policy Director for the National Abortion Federation. For four years, she directed reproductive justice priorities for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF). Her additional experience includes working with the anti-domestic violence organization Sakhi for South Asian Women, where she led outreach in the Indo-Caribbean neighborhood of Richmond Hill, Queens. She currently sits on the board of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, and her writing and commentary have been featured in The Hill, The American Prospect, Colorlines, the Nation, the Associated Press and the Harvard Asian American Law Journal. Originally from the Bronx, Shivana holds a BA in Political Science from Fordham University and a JD from Emory University School of Law. She is licensed to practice law in New York state. Follow Shivana on Twitter @shivspeaks.
Our Steering Committee
Sonya Abadali is a second generation Guyanese American who was born and raised in Richmond Hill, Queens NY. She is currently a graduate student and researcher focusing on the genetics involved in schizophrenia at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She holds a BS in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University where she served as a sexual assault crisis hotline responder. She is an intersectional feminist who is passionate about teaching and mentoring students in STEM fields. She holds a leadership position as an educator and mentor to high school and middle school students in the Young Eisner Scholars (YES) program. She advocates on issues pertaining to healthcare and gender inequality among underrepresented communities. She is currently the New York Student Free Clinic Conference Coordinator and an Access–to–Care Case Manager at the East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership Clinic. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, scoping out new food places with her sisters, and dabbling in various business ventures.
Nadia Bourne is an Indo-Guyanese artist and educator who graduated from the first Jahajee Sisters Young Women’s Leadership Institute. She was a youth leader and blogger at SPARK Movement, a girl-fueled, intergenerational activist organization working online to ignite an anti-racist gender justice movement. Nadia often collaborates with other Indo-Caribbean community-based organizations by performing poetry and music. She is an Apprentice Engineer at the Rajkumari Cultural Center where she coordinates the audio and video needs of performers and producers, and develops content and strategies for recording. Nadia received her B.A. in English from St. John’s University.
Taij Kumarie Moteelall has blazed successful paths in the arts, activism and philanthropy, consistently increasing opportunity and access for society’s most marginalized. As a co-founder of Blackout Arts Collective, she grew a local NY-based group into a national network, and was recognized with a Union Square Award. As the former Executive Director of Resource Generation, she helped to move millions of dollars to social justice causes. Taij’s work within her Indo-Caribbean community has lead to several awards, including a Proclamation from the City of New York. Much of her scholarly and artistic work reflects both her academic research and field study conducted in India and throughout the Caribbean, especially in Guyana and Trinidad. Taij has completed an extensive body of poetry, a full-length stage play, and a thesis on the history of Indo-Caribbean Women. She was recognized in the Guyana Chronicle as an artist that is "boldly carrying the torch of creative endeavor." She is currently the Director of Strategic Consulting at Media Sutra. Taij received her BA from Hampshire College in History and Cultural Studies, and completed her MA at New York University in Media and Communications.
Lisa Maria Ramadhar is a program evaluator in New York City. With a background in public health, her work focuses on addressing structural barriers to health equity. Recently, she has been evaluating capacity building efforts to address organizational policies and practices that promote health inequities. This work operates on the principle that if we can eliminate inequities in the way we do our work, then we can eliminate inequities in health that are based on social identities and position. Lisa's social justice work began in adolescence when she discovered her passion for serving her community. In various volunteer appointments, she has served as a sexual assault crisis counselor, tutor for disadvantaged high schoolers preparing for the SAT, and counselor for individuals living with severe mental illness. In 2014, when Michael Brown was murdered, Lisa realized that her service to her community could be enhanced by being politically active to call attention to injustice and advocating for change. Service-oriented volunteerism could help individuals, but political activism could change entire communities and society as a whole. This was the beginning of her activism, which has evolved from participating in her first march to a more focused effort to promote the safety of people of all gender identities in the Indo-Caribbean community as a member of the Jahajee Sisters Steering Committee. Lisa is a Guyanese immigrant, who enjoys coffee in the morning, tea at night, and a good game of "trop chal" with her cousins.