Trainers & Speakers
Stay tuned for additional guest speakers!
Rajdeep Singh joined the Sikh Coalition in December 2009 and serves as its Director of Law and Policy. As Director of Law and Policy, he focuses on developing and promoting policy solutions for civil rights issues through an interdisciplinary combination of government affairs, media relations, and interfaith coalition building. In this capacity, he has substantively engaged with the U.S. Congress, White House, and several federal agencies, including the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of State; published articles in the Washington Post and New York Times; appeared on numerous television and radio programs; delivered dozens of presentations at government agencies, law schools, and universities; and designed an advocacy training program for grassroots community volunteers.
In recent years, Rajdeep has spearheaded and managed successful campaigns to expand federal hate crime tracking; repeal an 87-year-old Oregon law that prohibited public school teachers from wearing religious dress; and pass historic equal employment opportunity legislation in California that protects religious observers from workplace segregation.
Rajdeep has a background in bank regulation and is the author of The Application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to Appearance Regulations that Presumptively Prohibit Observant Sikh Lawyers from Joining the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, which was published by the Chapman Law Review in 2007, and How State Photo Identification Standards Can be Used to Undermine Religious Freedom, which was published by the Asian American Law Journal at UC Berkeley Law School in 2012. He received his law degree in 2006 at the College of William & Mary and his undergraduate degree in philosophy in 2003 at the University of Miami. Rajdeep is a member of the Florida Bar.
Simran Kaur, Trainer
Simran joined the Sikh Coalition in September 2011 as the Advocacy Manager and transitioned to Western Region Director in May 2014. She is charged with leading organizational efforts in California. In 2012, Simran led efforts in California to pass the Workplace Religious Freedom Act – the nation’s strongest protection against religious discrimination in the workplace. Simran has been interviewed by NPR affiliate KQED, and has had several op-eds published related to Sikh civil rights issues.
Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition, Simran managed a health program for Children’s Hospital Central California. Simran travels regularly for global health projects and has worked to improve access to health for immigrant and refugee communities. She is an active member of the Sikh community in California – volunteering with Jakara Movement, co-founding The Langar Hall – a progressive Sikh blog, is on the Editorial Board of the Sikh Love Stories Project and is a liaison for Saffron Press – an independent publishing house focused on multicultural literature. She is on the Board of Directors for The Women’s Building, a women-led community space that advocates self-determination, gender equality and social justice and has served as the Affirmative Action Officer on the Board of Directors for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California.
Simran obtained her undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego and her graduate degree from Boston University School of Public Health.
Mark Reading-Smith, Trainer
Mark joined the Sikh Coalition in October 2014 as the Senior Director of Media and Communications. In this role, he is responsible for managing the Sikh Coalition’s daily media work and devising and implementing plans aimed at raising the profile of the Sikh Coalition’s issues. He also supports all program areas in communicating this work directly back to the Sikh community and broader public that the organization serves.
Prior to joining the Sikh Coalition, Mark spent six years as a Managing Director at Rethink Media, driving the media work and strategic planning on an array of national security and human rights issues across a sector of over fifty organizations. During that time he worked to challenge discrimination and hate crimes directed at American Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian communities, and was in charge of providing rapid response support to the Sikh Coalition in the weeks that followed the Oak Creek tragedy in 2012. His proven skills include crisis management, message development, reporter relationships, media training, and strategic planning.
He has facilitated dozens of successful hits in all of the leading national papers, placed leading experts on broadcast outlets ranging from NPR to CNN and MSNBC, and placed op-eds from authors working on issues ranging from Guantanamo, torture, surveillance, targeted killing, and racial profiling in nearly every top 50 print outlet in the country.
Previously, Mark investigated and reported for the Center for Public Integrity and the Fund for Independence in Journalism, co-writing Iraq: The War Card – the most widely viewed investigation in CPI’s twenty-five year history. Mark holds degrees in political philosophy and international relations from Michigan State University.
Speakers from Previous Years:
Jasmeet Ahuja – JD candidate at Stanford Law School (Previously served as a staff member at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs)
Shawn Gaylord – Director of Public Policy, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Gene Kim – Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC)
Michael Lieberman – Washington Counsel, Anti-Defamation League
Priya Murthy – Policy Director at South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Eric Treene – Special Counsel for Religious Discrimination for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
Lexer Quamie – Policy Counsel at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund.
Mark Reading Smith – Managing Communications Director of the Security & Rights Collaborative
Gloria Chan – President of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies
Kiran Ahuja – Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Jeremy Woodrum – Chief of Staff, Congressman Crowley, U.S. Congress
Akhil Vohra – White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Mazen Basrawi – Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice
Whitney Pellegrino – Special Legal Counsel, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice
JJ Singh – Economic Policy Advisor to US Senator Chris Coons
Audrey Buehring – White House AAPI Initiative