Diya Basu-Sen

Executive Director

Diya is a first-generation Bengali American gender and social justice advocate. She has over 15 years of management experience, both in the corporate and non-profit sectors. Before joining Sapna NYC, she worked in the education sector on language and cultural consulting. Prior to that, she also worked with HIV/AIDS awareness in Harlem and managed a Soup Kitchen in Morningside Heights. Her focus is on fostering wellness in vulnerable communities through ensuring culturally competent, linguistically accessible holistic services that address the intersection of empowerment and health. Diya completed her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Premedical Studies from Barnard College of Columbia University. She also holds a Master of Science in Global Health and Population from the Harvard School of Public Health. Diya has been named to the Bronx Power List and honored with a New York State Commendation from the State Senate for her work. She also received the Love Takes Action Award from New York Life Foundation for her community relief and recovery work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Naurin Islam

Deputy Director

Immigrated from Bangladesh at four years old, Naurin Islam grew up to complete her Bachelors in Political Science from Stony Brook University, and her Master’s in Global Affairs from NYU with a concentration in International Law and Human Rights. Naurin gained multiple experiences from various organizations and figures, such as the United Nations, International Center for Transitional Justice, U.S. Senator Gillibrand, and both Queens and Nassau DA. However, just before joining SAPNA NYC, Naurin was a graphics/Twitter consultant for Bengalis of New York and was a Refugee Documentary Researcher for a small production company. She aims to use these experiences and her passion to work for immigrant communities and the South Asian diaspora.

Ameera Rao

REACH Fellow

Ameera was born and raised in Bangalore, India and has a background in Public Policy, Security and Human Rights. She completed her undergraduate studies from King’s College London with a B.A in International Relations and is currently undertaking her Masters in International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where she is majoring in Human Rights and Humanitarian Policy. She has always been passionate about human rights, more specifically women’s rights and after completing her masters in New York, Ameera aims to work in the field of human rights and social justice to help women from all communities along the way!

Arpita Chatterjee

Mental Health Counselor

Arpita brings over 15 years of experience in diverse community based settings in India and the U.S. With a background in clinical psychology and social work, her work has focused on mental health among adults and families and in recent years,  on the South Asian immigrant community and the health disparities they experience . Arpita received a B.A. (Honors) degree and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from University of Delhi (India) & an M.S.W. (Direct Practice) from the School of Social Work at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. Her passion is driven by the direct nature of services and impact seen in community based organizations and the pivotal role they play in bridging mental health gaps for underserved communities. Arpita is fluent in Bangla and Hindi.

Nafisa Subhan

Program Associate

Nafisa graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice with a major in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. Before joining SAPNA NYC, she was an investigative intern at a non-profit housing organization, Housing Rights Initiative. There she focused on gathering evidence on income-based discriminatory practices. She also worked as a peer educator at her college’s wellness center assisting students in regards to their financial, mental, and physical health concerns. She is passionate about minority rights and strives to work towards creating more safe spaces for such issues. Housing rights are particularly important to her as she struggled with sustaining shelter growing up and wants to ensure that others can navigate through such crises.

Nayeema Tashfia

Program Associate

Nayeema was born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Her background is in English Law and Human Rights. She has worked with a national legal aid and human rights organization, that provides legal and social support to the dis empowered, particularly women, working children and workers.  Her journey in legal aid began with a deep conviction that everyone should have equal access to the law, regardless of their circumstances. She is deeply committed to upholding the values of justice, equality, and empowerment. Her mission is to bridge the gap between the legal system and the social services needed to help clients overcome their challenges and build a better future.

Priyanka Bhowmik

Community Health Worker

Priyanka Bhowmik believes that social change is possible by helping others to overcome obstacles to move forward and thrive. She is passionate about helping others. Through Sapna, she is determined to help South Asian immigrant communities to overcome their daily challenges. As a journalist and a writer, she has been reporting many local issues to the local and international media. She immigrated to the US from Bangladesh in 2012 and has been living in NYC since. She is continuously seeking to gain more skills to hone her competencies. Currently, she is pursuing a bachelor’s in childhood education at the City College of New York.

Salma Rashid

Community Health Worker

Salma facilitates healthy lifestyle training for community members including diabetes prevention and also works on the CHALO! project on early childhood health. She is a Dietetic Technician graduate from LaGuardia Community College, where she worked at several facilities providing nutrition education, conducting outreach and healthy cooking demonstration as well as assisting in patient care. Before joining Sapna, Salma was a peer advisor at LaGuardia Community College in the Health Science Department, where she advised and mentored students, helping them with academic plans to ensure their successful futures. She immigrated to the US from Bangladesh in 2011 and is passionate about giving back to the South Asian immigrant communities in New York City through health education.

Shahida Akther

Community Advocate

Shahida found a passion for representing and supporting immigrant communities through protests, rallies, and visits to the Capitol in Albany. She was first introduced to this work just after immigrating from Bangladesh in 2021 through volunteering with DRUM. There she advocated for South Asian immigrants in various areas including worker’s rights, civil rights, and housing rights. After over a year of experience in advocacy work and outreach at DRUM, Shahida first began working at Sapna NYC with the outreach team in 2022.  Shahida is passionate about spreading Sapna’s mission and bringing services to her community by speaking with community members, active engagement with local businesses, and outreach efforts. She has brought many community members to Sapna’s ESOL and Computer classes, worked on voter registration, and continues her efforts in mobilization to advance the South Asian community’s growth.

Shanaz Begum

Community Advocate

Shanaz immigrated from Bangladesh in 2016 and within a year joined Sapna NYC as a community member, attending ESOL and English Conversation Classes. After seeing the impact that Sapna had on herself and her fellow community members, she began volunteering at Sapna, hoping to help other women with similar stories. She worked in the community as an action group member of both Sapna’s Lead Poisoning Prevention program and Census 2020 work. After learning how to use computers and speak English at Sapna, she began working on the Community Outreach Team in 2022. Shanaz also works in community recruitment with the MAP-CH program at UMass which is a community intervention to support young mothers and promote child health. She is driven by her passion for community organizing and social work, and now works to help bring the voices and needs of her community to Sapna and helps connect community members to services and programs at Sapna.

SM Yeakub Ali

Community Organizer

As a journalist and documentary maker Yeakub brings more than a decade of experience in audio-visuals and print media to the realm of organizing and activism. Alongside working with various international organizations like Unicef, Save The Children, UNDP, ActionAid, DRUM Desis Rising Up and Moving, CAAV, Housing Justice for All as both full time and on a contractual basis, he also has worked many years with local television. Before emigrating from Bangladesh, Yeakub completed his Bachelors and Masters in Business Management from the university of Rajshahi, Bangladesh. He has excellent computer efficiency and sound knowledge in both Windows and Mac-based operating environments. He is also an adept of Social media marketing, Adobe Suite, Microsoft Office Suite, WordPress and Java programming. Yeakub wishes to use these acquired skills to bridge the gap between working class communities and the information and rights they deserve. He hopes to promote a platform of communication that can keep people in the loop, and connected with those that can fight with them.

Syntia Misty Hadis

Anti-violence Coordinator

Syntia brings with her a robust history in developmental research working with diverse populations and advocacy for population health, education, and enrichment in less-resourced communities through grassroot efforts. Misty completed her Bachelors in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in Cognitive Science at Columbia University. Here, she extensively delves into how experiences of failure, and more crucially, our responses to them, shape personal and collective trajectories. Passionate about the confluence of research and community upliftment, Misty believes in leveraging science and evidence-based strategies to guide efforts that lead to empowered, thriving communities.