To commemorate AAPIP’s 25 years of building a more democratic philanthropic sector, we asked you to help us identify 25 leaders who are making a difference in your local community and/or nationally. The 25 Leaders in Action honorees represent a diverse group spanning a wide range of organizations, years of experiences, roles and sectors. We invite you to learn about these outstanding leaders, their inspiring work and what keeps them going in our blog post series.
Neville Vakharia, Assistant Professor and Research Director, Graduate Arts Administration Program at Drexel University, and co-chair of Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle
1. Why are you passionate about advocating for AAPI communities?
I believe that AAPI communities need a voice, and I want to help these communities become civically engaged and empowered.
2. What do you believe are the most critical issues facing AAPI communities today?
I think that the “model minority” image of the AAPI community has unfortunately left many people and organizations behind. Individuals need support with education, access to healthcare, and opportunities to engage in arts and culture. Additionally, organizations that serve these communities are themselves in need of capacity building support opportunities in order to have the biggest impact possible with those they serve.
3. In what ways do you strive to address the unmet needs for AAPI communities?
Through my work with the Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle, I can have a direct impact on support for the AAPI community through our fundraising and grantmaking activities. We are able to leverage funds from a wide donor base to support organizations that provide valuable and critical services to the community. We are also able to provide opportunities for these organizations to receive support to improve their capacity. It’s very rewarding to see the results.
4. What keeps you inspired?
I’m inspired by the work of community and grassroots organizations. They provide important services to their constituents with very limited resources. I’m inspired to do all I can to help these organizations scale their impact.
Neville K. Vakharia is Assistant Professor and Research Director in Drexel's renowned graduate arts administration program, teaching courses in management, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, and related subjects while undertaking research and development projects that seek to strengthen the arts, cultural, and creative sector. His research centers the role that technology, innovation, and knowledge play in building sustainable, resilient, and relevant organizations. A seasoned presenter and educator, Neville is a frequent speaker, moderator, and panelist at a wide range of conferences nationally and internationally.
Prior to Drexel, Neville was the director of the Cultural Data Project (CDP) at The Pew Charitable Trusts, overseeing its strategic direction, operations, and national expansion. The CDP is a growing national initiative created to improve the management and financial capacity of arts and cultural organizations, inform grant-making strategies, and serve as a powerful tool for policy research and analysis.
Neville also has more than 10 years of experience in the corporate sector, working in new product development, marketing and global product management for W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., manufacturer of GORE-TEX products. Neville holds two international patents and has developed several new products and technologies. He earned both his bachelor of science degree in materials engineering and his master of science in arts administration from Drexel University. He serves on the board of directors of CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia and is an advisor to start-up social enterprises and community-based organizations.