MEET OUR LEADERSHIP
Huda Giddens is a Palestinian American, an educator of long standing, with an MSc in Early Education, and the founder of the Giddens School, a preschool through primary levels. As an educator, Huda is very supportive of the current Sukarya educational effort which makes a very strong statement to parents and children that the school comes to them.
Huda Giddens, a young mother and educator, founded the school in 1972 as a half-day preschool. She named it The Happy Medium School in an effort to capture the spirit of the unique combination of educational philosophies and environment dedicated to educating the whole child. For over 40 years, Giddens School has been dedicated to teaching an academically excellent, developmentally appropriate curriculum that stretches critical thinking, and encourages social responsibility.
Chair of the Advisory Board
As founder and Managing Director of Pearl Advertising Agency, Meera spent many years in Delhi witnessing that people in slums struggled accessing basic health care services. They were denied their basic right to good health because they did not have the means to access it. With the support of a few friends, she set up Sukarya in 1998 to empower the underprivileged people in the slums and villages of Delhi and Haryana so that they could access to health services.
Meera's leadership turned Sukarya from just focusing on health, into an organization dealing with maternal and child health, basic healthcare, and women's empowerment. Her dedication has inspired volunteers, reaching 750,000 people in 504 villages and 34 slums. As Chairperson, Meera guides Sukarya strategically and stays active in the field. She also chairs Sukarya USA's Advisory Committee.
Debadutta Dash has worked with the Departments of Commerce, Agriculture, and Co-operatives for the Government of India. He is the former President of the India Association of Western Washington, and he is an alumnus of the United Way of King County Project LEAD Program and the ACLF Leadership Program. He served two full terms as the Commissioner of the State Commission on Asian and Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA), appointed by both Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee. He also served as the Chair of the Economic Development committee for CAPAA for both the terms. He also co-chairs the Washington State and India Trade Relations Action Committee.
Dash has been honored by the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation, the International Examiner, and former Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott for his dedication and contribution to community service. He is currently a board member of the Asian Counseling Referral Service (ACRS), Tasveer, and the CIBER Advisory Board for the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington.
Dr. Sonja Ronning
Dr. Sonja Ronning is a family physician. After first training and working as a high school science teacher, she went on to the University of Washington school of Medicine, in her father’s footsteps.
She has done medical volunteering in Tanzania and Haiti, and knows the great need and impact of helping women create healthier communities. She lives in Olympia with Her husband, an Indian-American native of Bangalore, and two children. Naturally, then, she feels a kinship to the goals and values of Sukarya - reaching out to Indian women and children for education, health, and empowerment.
Dr. Alexander Panda
Dr. Alexander Panda is an Assistant Professor at Tufts Medical School and a Scientist on the Nutritional Immunology Team at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA), Boston, MA. His research interests involve the age-associated defects of pattern recognition receptors and the role of zinc as a potential nutritional intervention to combat pneumonias in nursing home patients, and challenges of malnutrition in disadvantaged populations.
He is one of the principal investigators for the Zinc intervention in prevention of pneumonia in elderly (ZIPP) study funded by the National Blood Heart and Lung Institute (NHLBI) and a former B. Beeson Clinical Scientist Development Award in Aging Scholar. He is board certified in Infectious diseases, Pulmonary Medicine, and Critical Care Medicine. Dr. Panda received his MD from the Medical Faculty of the Alexander von Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany; PhD from Yale Graduate School of Arts & Sciences; and MPH from The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.