Desi Talk - page 4

February 13, 2015
– that’s all you need to know
From News Dispatches
ewYork City Mayor Bill de
Blasio’s commissioner for
international affairs is
reportedly using her contacts from
her earlier job with Hillary Clinton
to raise the mayor’s international
standing. According to a Feb. 8
Daily News report, Penny
Abeywardena, was hired four
months ago from the Clinton
Global Initiative, where she
worked closely with the former
secretary of state around Clinton’s
core issue of women’s rights.
The mayor was aware of her
connection to Hillary Clinton and
extensive list of contacts at her fin-
gertips, but most of all he felt they
shared the same values, a political
operative who knows
Abeywardena told the Daily News.
“She has a massive Rolodex – she
has contacts that even de Blasio
doesn’t have, “the contact said,
adding, “This advantage raises the
mayor’s international standing.”
Abeywardena has used some of
those contacts to the mayor’s
advantage.When the Duke and
Duchess of Cambridge came to
NewYork City last December,
Abeywardena organized their
events with de Blasio and his wife;
after the Charlie Hebdo attack in
Paris last month, the 37-year-old
had Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo on
the phone and secured de Blasio’s
24-hour solidarity trip to France.
Similarly she also organized a
meeting between Israeli President
Reuven Rivlin and de Blasio on
Feb. 4 at the Park Lane Hotel on
Central Park South. In addition,
when the pope comes to visit later
this year, Abeywardena will be the
city’s liaison, the Daily News
report said.
“Secretary Clinton could not
have been a bigger supporter or
happier for me to be in this post,”
Abeywardena told The Daily
News, adding that the mayor and
Clinton had “a good laugh about
As the head of the Mayor’s
Office for International Affairs,
Abeywardena is charged with
leading the office’s mission to
serve as the primary liaison
between the City of NewYork and
the diplomatic community, for-
eign governments, the United
Nations, and the U.S. Department
of State. Additionally, the Mayor’s
Office for International Affairs
works work with city agencies and
the diplomatic community to
ensure safety and security through
adherence to city codes.
In addition to the important
formal function of the office,
Abeywardena has been charged
with building a global platform
through which the city can pro-
mote its equity agenda and share
policies and best practices global-
ly. “The vision the mayor and I
have for this is to create a global
platform fromwhich to promote
what’s working in NewYork City,
but also engage this diplomatic
community with its local immi-
grant communities,” she said,
adding that she has bigger plans
for the job. Among the many
ideas, she is looking to create a 14-
person office.
Abeywardena was born in Sri
Lanka and grew up in Los Angeles.
She attended graduate school for
international studies at Columbia
University and has stayed in New
York City ever since, claiming she
felt reborn once she came to the
city. She advocates for women’s
rights because every day the odds
are against them. She comes from
a background of abuse and since
then she has striven to fight for
equality for woman and prevent-
ing domestic violence, the Daily
News reported.
Before joining the mayor
Abeywardena worked as the direc-
tor of Girls andWomen
Integration at the Clinton Global
Before joining the Clinton
Global Initiative, Abeywardena
worked as the director of Strategic
Relations at The DrumMajor
Institute and as the Funding
Exchange’s development program
officer prior to that. She is a mem-
ber of theWorld Bank’s Advisory
Council on Gender and
Development, a TermMember of
the Council on Foreign Relations,
and a contributing author in the
book “Women in the Global
Economy: Leading Social
Former Clinton Aide to Help Raise de Blasio’s International Standing
By a Staff Writer
ore than 300 people
attended a reception
hosted in honor of
Laxman Kova, MLA
and Bharatiya Janata Party nation-
al secretary at Royal Albert’s Palace
here Feb. 6. The event was organ-
ized by Kommidi Balvanth Reddy,
executive director of the American
Telugu Association.
Among attendees were Dr.
Sudhir M. Parikh, publisher of
Desi Talk and recipient of India’s
Padma Shri award, Upendra
Chivukula, commissioner on the
New Jersey Board of Public
Utilities, FIA President Ankur
Vaidya, Albert Jasani, Raj Maan,
Sridhar Uttara, Krishna Reddy,
Govind Raj, Srinivas Dargula,
Sudhakar Perikari ATA president,
Suresh Jilla, joint treasurer ATA,
Rajeshwar Gangasani, president
elect, of the North American
Telugu Association, Murali
Chintalpani, past president of the
U.S. chapter of the Telangana
Development Forum, among oth-
Balvanth Kommidi welcomed
the visiting MLA and invited him
and other dignitaries including Dr.
Parikh, Chivukula andVaidya on
the podium. In his welcome
speech, Balvanth Kommidi talked
about the creation of an inde-
pendent state of Telangana, and
briefed the audience about the
work undertaken by the new gov-
ernment under the leadership of
Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
NRIs are eager see better India
under Modi leadership, he said.
In his address, Kova shared his
thoughts on the Modi govern-
ment’s progress and initiatives it
has undertaken, and how BJP is
shaping India’s future. Prime
Minister Modi is working his best
to focus on certain areas, especial-
ly domestic issues, he told the
Dr. Parikh narrated his experi-
ences with the Atal Bihari
Vajpayee government and with
Narendra Modi. He expressed his
full support for the newTelangana
government and said he looked
forward to their progress.
Chivukula congratulated all the
people who worked hard to for the
creation of Telangana state and
hoped that the newTelangana
government will solve fluoride and
other important public issues. He
also advised the government to
take help from the NRIs in areas of
technology transfer.
Community Members Host Reception for BJP National Secretary
Above, Laxman Kova, MLA from
Musheerabad, and Bharatiya Janata Party
national secretary, center, with guests at a
reception hosted in his honor at Royal
Alberts Palace in Fords, New Jersey, Feb.
6. Left, Kova with, from left, Kommidi
Balvanth Reddy, executive director of the
American Telugu Association, Upendra
Chivukula, commissioner on the New
Jersey Board of Public Utilities, FIA
President Ankur Vaidya, and Dr.
Sudhir Parikh, publisher of Desi Talk and
recipient of India's Padma Shri award.
Penny Abeywardena
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