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'As a daughter of Indian immigrants, I'm proud to serve President Obama'

By Aziz Haniffa/Rediff.com
December 17, 2014 19:00 IST
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Aditi Hardikar, associate director of public engagement, White House Office of Public Engagement

Aditi Hardikar, the newly appointed Associate Director of Public Engagement at the White House Office of Public Engagement, says she is proud to honour her parents' sacrifices by giving back to her community and country.

Aditi Hardikar will be the White House's primary liaison to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Hardikar succeeds Gautam Raghavan as Associate Director of Public Engagement at the White House Office of Public Engagement.

Raghavan, till recently, was the senior-most Indian-American openly gay official in the Obama administration. He held his position for three years and left the White House September 5 to join the Gill Foundation.

"I'm honoured to work for President Obama who has tirelessly advocated equality, justice, and opportunity for all Americans, including members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander and LGBT communities," Hardikar told Rediff.com's Aziz Haniffa.

"As a daughter of Indian immigrants, I'm proud to serve President Obama, who, time and again, has shown that inclusion of and more participation from Americans of diverse backgrounds only makes our nation stronger."

The Virginia-born Hardikar, whose parents hail from Mumbai, said, "My parents grew up in India and immigrated to the United States for a better life. I couldn't be prouder to honour my parents' sacrifices by giving back to my community and country."

Raghavan was all praise for Hardikar.

"Aditi has served President Obama for many years -- starting on his 2012 campaign and most recently at the Democratic National Committee -- and she has done so with integrity, diplomacy, and grace," he told Rediff.com

"As the President's liaison to both the LGBT and AAPI, Aditi will work with two communities that have seen unprecedented progress over the last six years; but she also knows there's a lot of work left to be done."

"She is smart, savvy, and committed to public service, and her energy and fresh perspective will be a valuable addition to the Office of Public Engagement," Raghavan added.

Parag Mehta, another long time Democratic Party and gay activist and currently a senior official in the United States Department of Labour, said, "In addition to Aditi being the first woman of colour to be the LGBT liaison at the White House, she is also the first openly gay woman to be the AAPI liaison at the White House."

Hardikar earlier served as director of the LGBT Leadership Council and director of the AAPI Leadership Council for the Democratic National Committee.

She served as the LGBT finance director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2013, and deputy director of LGBT Voter Outreach and LGBT Finance for the 2012 Obama-Biden President Campaign.

Hardikar also served as a White House intern in the Office of Public Engagement, where she worked on LGBT issues.

She holds a BA in economics and political science from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

Image: Aditi Hardikar, Associate Director of Public Engagement, White House Office of Public Engagement.

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Aziz Haniffa/Rediff.com in Washington, DC