Apr 2019
Apr 2019

Pratham Houston raises a record $4.5 million at 20th-anniversary gala

Photo: From left, Pankaj Dhume; Pratham Houston president Asha Dhume; Marie Goradia; honoree Vijay Goradia; Bollywood actor Anil Kapoor and Pratham USA CFO Swatantra Jain and Bimla Jain.

More than 900 guests attended the Pratham Houston gala, celebrating its 20th anniversary in the US and raising a record $4.5 million in donations.

Pratham aims to improve the quality of education for underserved children and youth in India and has reached over 60 million individuals since its inception.

The elegant Hilton America’s ballroom played host to an insightful and engaging evening kicked off by a touching video tribute to gala honoree Vijay Goradia – local businessman and humanitarian, who established Pratham USA in 1999 after visiting a small preschool in the slums of Mumbai. One of the highlights of the night was a lively conversation between Goradia and Pratham co-founder and president Dr Madhav Chavan, former University of Houston professor.

“Like I would bet on an established company over a startup, by investing in an NGO like Pratham, I am investing in the future of tens of millions of children,” explained Goradia, who pledged $1 million at the benefit. “It has a proven track record, continues to be well managed and grow.”

Local luminaries and gala underwriters Bimla and Swatantra Jain, who were also recognized for their longstanding commitment to education, made a commitment of $1 million to support the construction of a vocational training center in North India.

“This is our city’s 20th annual gala, and every year we see an increase in participation and enthusiasm for Pratham’s innovative programs,” said chapter president Asha Dhume. “Many people are astounded when they learn that of the 26 million Indian children who enter first grade each year, nearly half will reach fifth grade unable to read or write. Pratham is working to solve this learning crisis.”

Celebrity guest actor Anil Kapoor was visibly moved by the tremendous show of support: “It’s a privilege, it’s an honor, it’s an emotional moment for me to be here listening, observing, absorbing emotionally the kind of work Pratham has done for 20 years!” exclaimed the Bollywood superstar. “I’m feeling really very small compared to all of you and all the people who have done so much for such a noble cause and for such a great organization. It proves that Pratham is one of the world’s best organizations.”

Prominent attendees included Consul General Dr Anupam Ray, Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Andrea and Bill White, Anne and Albert Chao as well as many other community leaders and philanthropists, according to a media release.

Apr 2019

Rajiv Rimal named Chair of Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health

Dr Rajiv Rimal, Ph.D., a leading expert on health behavior change and on social norms, has been named the chair of the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, MD.

Rimal will assume his new role at the Bloomberg School on August 1.

Rimal's research focuses on the use of social and behavioral theory for disease prevention and harm reduction. Since 2013, Rimal has served as a professor and chair of the Department of Prevention and Community Health at Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Previously, he was a faculty member in the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society from its inception in 2005 until 2013. Prior to joining the Bloomberg School faculty, Rimal was an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

At the Bloomberg School, Rimal will lead the Department’s faculty and educational programs and broaden its vision for public health impact. The Department’s master’s and doctoral programs offer a wide spectrum of study emphasizing social factors in health, behavioral interventions, health education and communication, and genetic counseling. The Department is home to multiple centers, including the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion, the Institute for Global Tobacco Control and the Center for Communication Programs, among others.

“The time is ripe for thinking about health as not an absence of disease, but as a basic human right that emphasizes wellness and prevention of diseases. Social and behavior change is central in that effort, requiring the input from all sectors in society, and I am looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Department and across the School,” Rimal said in a media release.

Rimal has more than 25 years of experience in the conceptualization, implementation and evaluation of health promotion interventions throughout the world. He is the author of the Theory of Normative Social Behavior, which has informed his work to reduce violence against women in public transportation systems in Mexico, improve driver safety among adolescents in Serbia, reduce anemia among women in India and study alcohol consumption among college students in the United States. This theory is also being used in numerous interventions to bring about social change.

Rimal received a Ph.D. in communication from Stanford University in 1995 and a Master of Arts in journalism and mass communication at Southern Illinois University in 1991.

Rimal’s current research includes a project in India, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, that uses a social norms-based approach to design, implement and evaluate an intervention to reduce anemia among women of reproductive age. He is also leading studies that aim to understand how people with different political orientations process information about climate change and how mass media and social media can influence people’s attitudes and behaviors related to climate change.

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