Advisory Board

Abin Kuriokose

Public Policy Director, Cook County IL Board of Commissioners (10th District)

Born and raised in Chicago, Abin Kuriakose brings a unique perspective through his multiple leadership and strategic roles in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. Abin currently serves as a Public Policy Director for the Cook County, Illinois Board of Commissioners (Tenth District) at Chicago City Hall and Executive Director of the Chicago City Council Asian American Caucus. As a Public Policy Director, Abin is a senior policy and legislative adviser for Cook County’s annual $4 billion budget and a chief strategist for civic engagement and community affairs. In June 2014, Abin was appointed as the first-ever Executive Director of the Chicago City Council Asian American Caucus, a coalition of city legislators dedicated to the well-being of Chicago’s Asian-Americans. A dynamic government affairs advocate for the city’s tech community, he serves a mentor for entrepreneurs at 1871 Chicago and The Impact Engine – an accelerator program for social impact, for-profit startups. Over the years, Abin has become a young professional thought leader in building the next generation South Asian/Asian American political power. He serves as Special Projects Coordinator for Raja Krishnamoorthi’s 2016 congressional campaign (Illinois’ 8th District) and frequently serves on leadership teams for political candidates and initiatives. Abin attended DePaul University where he became a producer and co-host for “Politics 101 on Radio DePaul” – the university’s flagship non-music program.


Anil Harjani

Vice President, Global Innovation, Marketing and Brand Strategy at Hyatt Hotels Corporation

Anil serves as Vice President, Innovation at Hyatt Hotels Corporation, a global hospitality company with a portfolio 600+ properties. At Hyatt, he leads cross-functional teams on initiatives that drive game-changing innovation for the enterprise, including establishing commercial partnerships with start-ups, strategic investments, social innovation and design of new ventures with emerging businesses.  

He also served as a Fellow for World Business Chicago, a public private partnership that engages business and community leaders to advance Chicago’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. During his Fellowship, he worked on initiatives that supported the increase of adoption of digital technology in Chicago and also the proposals for the Obama Presidential Library and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

He received a BA in Management of Information Systems at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also obtained an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Strategic Management, Finance and Economics.


Professor Anuradha Rana

Independent Filmmaker | Professor of Digital Cinema-Depaul

Born in New Delhi, India, Anuradha Rana worked as a journalist and television producer before moving to Chicago to complete her MFA in Film and Video. Her award-winning films have screened internationally and focus on themes of representation, identity, and varied perspectives in a global environment. She has produced, directed, and wielded camera on documentaries filmed in India, Ecuador, Japan, South Africa and the USA.

Her short documentary Ring Laila was used as a tool for empowering girls and young women in rural, underserved villages around India after its successful international festival run.  Her most recent films include Variations, a portrait of three virtuoso artists as they challenge myopic views about disabilities, and Preserves (producer), a poetic journey into one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, the Yasuní rainforest in Ecuador. She is immersed in transmedia storytelling.  Her recent project, For The Records, is an award-winning transmedia documentary created with game designer, Doris Rusch, focused on mental health of young adults. She is currently working on the Language ofOpportunity, a feature documentary which explores the role that English plays in the lives, hopes and dreams of a new generation of Indians.

She currently teaches Cinema Production and Documentary Filmmaking at DePaul University’s School of Cinematic Arts.


Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose

Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art

The Art Institute of Chicago

Dr. Madhuvanti Ghose is the first Alsdorf Associate Curator of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Since joining the Art Institute in 2007, Ghose has launched the Alsdorf Galleries of Indian, Southeast Asian, Himalayan, and Islamic Art (2008) and curated the site-specific Public Notice 3 (2010–11) by Jitish Kallat, which was the first show by a contemporary Indian artist to be held at the Art Institute. In 2012, Ghose presented the first loan exhibition to the museum from the Government of India, The Last Harvest: The Art of Rabindranath Tagore and in 2013, she co-organized the exhibition Zarina: Paper Like Skin, a retrospective of the Indian-born artist Zarina Hashmi, with the Department of Contemporary Art of the Art Institute. Last year, she co-curated the exhibition Nilima Sheikh: Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams, also with the Department of Contemporary Art.

Dr. Ghose leads the Vivekananda Memorial Program for Museum Excellence, a four-year project funded by a grant from the Government of India and designed to foster professional exchanges between the Art Institute and various museums in India. With Gates of the Lord: The Tradition of Krishna Paintings that opened to the public on 13 September 2015, she is curating the Art Institute’s first major international loan exhibition from India, based on the art and aesthetic traditions of the Pushtimarg sect of Hinduism.

After completing her doctoral dissertation at the University of London, Ghose was a Research Fellow at the Department of Eastern Art, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford University. She was previously Lecturer in South Asian Art and Archaeology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK. Additionally, she launched and managed In Focus, a South Asian film society in London with several associates between 1997–2002. In 2013 she was honored by the Chicago Foundation for Women with a Breaking Barriers Award and in 2014, she was presented with the Outstanding Community Service Award by the Vishwa Gujarati Samaj, USA.

Ivan Rana

AVP Programing, at Zee Tv USA

A Media professional and Film Maker, Ivan Rana was transferred  to the US in 1998 as a part of a core member team dispatched to set up operation in the US. To further enhance his skills, Ivan moved to LA to study film making at NYFA (LA). Since then he has worked on independent and feature films in India and the USA. Ivan continues to write, direct, edit and Produce even as he is juggles between his day job and love for Cinema. Ivan is currently based in New York  and continues to work  with one of India’s largest television Networks, Zee TV

Mileen Patel

Programming Director, The Sacred Science

Mileen is no stranger to CSAFF, having co-founded the festival, programming its first 2 years.  A former strategy consultant and entrepreneur, he brings start-up, operational and non-profit experience to the table as an advisor.  While taking a break from the business world in 2009, his creative roots in music led to work in television and film, and to starting a production company to develop non-fiction media including documentaries, online classes, webinars, lectures and internet radio programs.  Now the programming director at The Sacred Science, he curates and manages content and partnerships for an active and growing community of people seeking to learn about natural medicine, healing and wellness.  On the side,Mileen conducts research for Peter Hamilton Consultants, whose clients include top producers and networks in non-fiction television.   He recently served on the Executive Council of Circle of Wisdom, a non-profit initiative to document humanity’s wisdom through short form interviews with the world’s thought leaders and visionaries.  In his spare time, Mileen enjoys writing, live music, ice hockey, history and microbrews.


Narimon Safavi

Analyst the radio program Worldview on WBEZ

Narimon Safavi is a Chicago based Iranian-American entrepreneur who is also a contributor and analyst for the radio program Worldview on WBEZ (Chicago Public Media). Born in Tehran to an Azari-Iranian family, he studied Chemistry & Philosophy at the Illinois State University and is now serving on the Human Rights Watch – Chicago Committee and as an ambassador of the DC based National Iranian-American Council (NIAC, the largest grass roots advocacy organization of Iranian-Americans).

Previously, Narimon has been involved in creating ethical diamond mining projects/business models in several West African countries and has served on the boards or councils of the Gene Siskel Film Center, Latino Cultural Center of Chicago, University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, the DC based Citizens for Global Solutions, a lead NGO for the formation of the International Human Rights Court in Hague, Netherland ; as well as Chicago Public Media.

He regularly appears on Persian, Spanish and English language programs affiliated with media outlets such as NPR, PBS, BBC and Telecinco. His public speaking engagements have covered topics ranging from Iran, to private sector social responsibility and philanthropy, to art and film criticism and cultural policy. His essay on Iran, a contribution to the anthology called “What’s Next?” edited by the economist David Hale was published as a book by Yale University on May 2011.

He is fluent in Persian and English and proficient in the Turkish and Spanish languages. His latest project, COSMOPOLIS will be an incubator for cultural entrepreneurship and institution building projects that create global linkages, with a probable launch in 2013. In his spare time, among other hobbies, he loves to divulge into culinary endeavors. He is the Global Cooking Smackdown Champion of WBEZ with his recipe of Ghormeh Sabzi, borrowed from the tenth century Persian / Moslem renaissance man, Avicenna (Ibn e Sina).


Rochona Majumdar

South Asian Languages and Civilizations; Chair, CSGS Curriculum Committee at University of Chicago

Rochona Majumdar (PhD 2003, University of Chicago) is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth century India. Her Book Marriage and Modernity: Family Values in Colonial Bengal, 1870-1956 (Duke University Press, 2009) analyzes the changing configuration of the “joint family” and patriarchy in the context of shifts in the institution of arranged marriage and the marriage market in Bengal. Her second book Writing Postcolonial History analyzes ways in which postcolonial theory has influenced the historian’s craft globally. She is a co-editor with Dipesh Chakrabarty and Andrew Sartori of From the Colonial to the Postcolonial: India and Pakistan in Transition, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Majumdar is currently engaged in a project on the history of film societies in India. Film societies were critical to the birth of a “new Indian cinema” and also serve as an excellent ground to analyze the relationship between a mass medium and radical politics in the world’s largest democracy. A second project focuses on the history of Indian intellectual thought in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Majumdar teaches courses on Indian cinema, histories of gender, love, and marriage in South Asia, and modern Indian history.


Victoria Lautman

Print and broadcast journalist. Public speaker and writer.

Victoria Lautman is a Chicago-based broadcast journalist, writer, interviewer and lecturer. Her focus is in all forms of art and culture, including architecture, design, and literature, and she frequently writes and speaks about India.

Lautman received an M.A. in art history from George Washington University, and a B.A. in anthropology and art history from the University of New Mexico. She attended Merton College at Oxford University for archaeological field training, and following graduate school was employed by the Smithsonian Institution’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden for four years.

Lautman is also known as an India expert, traveling frequently to the subcontinent where she’s documented over one hundred of the country’s unique, ancient stepwells. These subterranean edifices are largely unknown, and Lautman has lectured frequently on topic around the country. Her additional lectures about an insider’s guide to India have been very popular.

Lautman sits on the board of the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center and the Architecture & Design Society of Chicago’s Art Institute. She is a committee member of Human Rights Watch in Chicago.