Award-Winning World Humanitarian to Speak at UVU
September 29, 2009
For Immediate Release
For more information: Rusty Butler (801) 863-8994
University Marketing & Communications: Erin Spurgeon, (801) 863-6807
Written by: Chelsey Richardson (801) 863-8504
With work spanning the globe, from nonprofit committees to tsunamis, leprosy to entrepreneurship, women and children to impoverished families, Padma Vankatamaran stands among the great world humanitarians. Vankatamaran will be speaking at Utah Valley University, as part of President Matthew S. Holland’s inauguration week, Thursday, Oct. 8, with a lecture entitled “Making a Difference through Service and Humanitarian Outreach: Working with Leper Outcasts in India.” During her time in Utah, she will also be receiving the annual International Humanitarian Award from Enterprise Mentors, an award that has previously been awarded to such public figures as Wendy de Berger and Laura Bush.
Vankatamaran was brought to the University’s attention when UVU national presidential advisory board member and chairman of the Enterprise Mentors Board of Advisors Ron Gunnell met her in India. Gunnell contacted Rusty Butler, UVU associate vice president for international affairs and diplomacy, about Vankatamaran speaking during President Holland’s inaugural week.
“He came to me and said she would be perfect for UVU,” Butler said. “When I presented the idea to the president he said she is an individual that represents the quality and service in leadership that we want to be known for here.”
The daughter of former India President R. Venkataraman, Padma has been most active in grassroots work in leprosy rehabilitation for 15 years, and now heads up microfinance projects in the India leprosy colonies for Rising Star Outreach, a humanitarian organization based in the United States that has championed her cause. She is also a member of the organization’s board of directors and takes an active role in the policy decisions concerning Rising Star Outreach’s subsidiary organization in India.
Additionally, Padma has worked for the livelihood of the fisherfolk in selected sites affected by the tsunami disaster, helping to provide repairs of fishing boats and catamarans. She has lived in Vienna, Austria, where she was, among other things, permanent representative of the All India Women’s Conference to the United Nations. She has also served as vice president of the nonprofit organization Committee on Women, president of the United Nations Women’s Guild, founder of the Women’s Indian Association, and vice president of the Austro-Indian Association.
In addition to her work with Rising Star, Padma is currently the vice president of the Women’s Indian Association, Chennai, a committee member of the Srinivasa Gandhi Nilayam, a trustee of the Global Cancer Concern, Delhi, a patron for the Gandhi Peace Foundation and more. She also advises in an honorary capacity for HOPE Worldwide. An economics graduate, her honors include awards from the Women’s Indian Association, HOPE Worldwide and an honorary doctorate from Emmanuel College, Kota. She is married and has two daughters.