Meet Kavita Khandekar! As of this week in May 2013, Kavita is our new Marketing & Development Director here at Human Rights Initiative. Here is a little bit from a conversation about her and what makes her tick.
Kavita, what excites you most about working with HRI?
The people – those who work for and with HRI and the clients we serve every day. HRI clients are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met! They’ve endured torture, persecution, domestic violence, assault, and other heinous crimes – not to mention, travelling from another country often in very creative ways, having to leave their families behind, living out of status – and they still find it in themselves to fight! It makes the traffic I fight on my drive home seem very frivolous.
What attracted you to working with asylum seekers and immigration law?
As an undergraduate, I spent a year and half working as a legal assistant for an Immigration Lawyer. This experience gave me insight into the ins and outs of immigration law; how difficult it can be to navigate. As a young Social Worker, I worked for a community-based domestic violence shelter in California, working with many victims without any legal status in the United States. As I completed my Masters of Science in Social Work from UT Austin, I came across HRI and knew it was the perfect fit for my skill set. As a macro-level social worker, concentrating in community and administrative leadership, creating systematic change is my true passion and HRI’s work providing legal services and engaging in advocacy for victims of human rights abuses was the perfect platform to do what I wanted to do!
Tell us about a favorite client story from your work in this field.
Hmmm… that’s a tough one! I think my favorite story right now would have to be about an asylum client I was working with in the Social Services Department. She is one fierce lady! Our client was a longtime registered nurse in her home country for almost 20 years. Despite her years of experience and education, her credentials did not translate to a full-fledged Registered Nurse here in Texas. That didn’t get her down– she went to school, became a CNA and is studying to sit for her RN exam by the end of this year! She is determined to get her life back, despite having to leave her children and husband back home. Look out for a profile of her in one of our upcoming newsletters!
What is your favorite slurpee flavor?
I hardly every drink slurpees, but when I do it’s always at the movie theatre and it’s always a Coke ICEE. I guess that’s an ICEE – does that count?
Kavita has worked in both social services and immigration law fields for over six years. She holds a B.A. in Social Work from the University of California, Berkeley (2009) and an M.S. in Social Work from UT Austin (2013). She is passionate about International Human Rights and is devoted to enhancing systems that enforce and enhance those human rights. She has worked with numerous groups, communities, individuals, and policy makers throughout her career by promoting the protection of survivors of abuse and torture while also impacting the cultural norms and understandings that encompass these issues. Through her work as the new Marketing & Development Director, she hopes to engage the passionate Human Rights community in Dallas and surrounding areas in the lives of HRI clients, in order for them to lead better, safer, and more fulfilling lives here in the United States.