Meet the SACHI Board

Current Board of Directors

Kalpana Desai,  President
grew up in Mumbai and Delhi. She arrived in the U.S. in 1972 to join her husband in Chicago. An Economics graduate from Miranda House, Delhi, and the Bombay School of Economics, she pursued her early career in financial and economic research at the Tata Consultancy Services, Bombay, the Chicago Board of Trade, and at SRI International in Menlo Park. Following her move to the San Francisco Bay Area, she joined the Asian Art Museum Docent Program in 1991, and has been actively pursuing the Asian arts for nearly 20 years. She chaired the Asian Art Museum Docent Council during the Museum’s move to Civic Center, and served on its Board of Directors for 6 years. Kalpana is a Founding Member of SACHI, inspired by the idea of bringing Indian art and culture to the wider Bay Area community. She has spearheaded a wide range of distinctive SACHI programs geared to enhancing the South Asian cultural presence, and currently serves as the organization’s leader.

Poornima Kimar, Vice-President
is a long time resident of the Bay Area with a keen interest in the cultural and artistic heritage of India. She is a biologist by training and has worked in the biotech industry in the Bay Area for over 20 years. She grew up in the state of Kerala in an academic, literate environment surrounded by books on Indian and Kerala history, archaeology, philosophy, literature and other varied subjects.She trained in Bharata Natyam and Kathakali, the South Indian dance forms since a young age, and participated in youth festivals while in school and in college. She enjoys and appreciates classical and folk dance, music, paintings and other art forms not only from Asia, but from various countries which she has visited. Travel, reading, and gardening include some of her past times. Poornima’s recent affiliation with the SACHI Board builds on the foundation of prior friendship and support for the organization.

Sheila Kothari, Treasurer
has a BA in Psychology from Bangalore University and earned her MA in International Policy Studies from Stanford University. She moved to the Bay Area in 1989. Following her graduate studies, she worked at AlphaSmart Inc (an education technology company) as International Marketing Manager for 7 years. She was first introduced to SACHI in 1998 when she attended an outstanding lecture on the Padshahnama by Milo Beach, the then Director of the Freer-Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution. This resulted in an interest in a more active pursuit of Indian art and culture, and she was invited to join the SACHI Board in 2003. She continues to be an active participant on the Board. Sheila resides in Palo Alto with her family. SACHI has been an important link in keeping her family connected to Indian culture. She enjoys traveling, hiking, reading and music.

Monica-Desai Henderson, Secretary
was born in Jamshedpur, Bihar, grew up in San Francisco in an environment steeped in culture and the arts.  Monica graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in Dramatic Art-Dance. She studied North Indian classical Kathak dance and performed with the Chitresh Das Dance Company for six years.  Also a graduate of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco and its Advanced Studies Teacher Training Program, Monica is a skilled Iyengar Yoga practitioner, teaching in the Bay Area for nearly twelve years.  In addition to her interest in classical Indian dance, yoga, and painting, Monica is a volunteer Storyteller at the Asian Art Museum since 1996.  She has participated in severalart and culture projects in the Bay Area.

Aggie Brenneman 
lived in India, Nepal and Malaysia for 10 years, working with the Peace Corps and as a teacher. She studied Bharata Natyam with the renowned T. Balasaraswati, and the dance has remained her life long interest. In 1991 she received a grant from the NEH to research Indian mythology, and in 2016 she taught dance in Chennai. Aggie has an MA in Education from Michigan State University. She worked as an educator for over 40 years in varied capacities, including the Multicultural Coordinator for the International School of Malaysia for 5 years and as a teacher in Oakland for 30 years. Currently she is a supervisor for the Bay Area Teacher Training Institute. She has been involved with the SF Asian Art Museum for 20 years, serving as curriculum designer for the Afghanistan Exhibition in 2008 and as a volunteer docent since 2011. Aggie brings to SACHI her experience in directing theater and dance, her training in multicultural education, and a strong desire to promote the rich arts and culture of India.

Aarti Johri
grew up in Pune, India and moved to the US in 1989 after graduating from College of Engineering, Pune.  She completed her Masters in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and worked as a chip designer for several years.  More recently, inspired by her interest in the arts, architecture, and Indian history, she completed a Master of Liberal Arts at Stanford University writing several papers on feminist topics in Indian history.  These include her thesis on “Paternalistic Politics and Feminine Fates: The Legacies of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi and Begum Hazrat Mahal of Oudh”.  She co-founded and ran a successful summer camp program on India that introduced young children to Indian history, art, religions, and culture. She has co-hosted thematic Indian music programs on KZSU Stanford 90.1 FM.  Aarti is currently associated with an international educational non-profit, Room to Read. She has published articles and blogged for an online magazine.

Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Special Advisor
holds the Carver Chair in East Asian Studies, and is Chair of the Department of Art and Art History at Mills College. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. Her early work focused on classical Indian and Indonesian art for which she wrote on and curated exhibitions including The Image of Women in Indian Art, and Myths and Symbols in Indonesian Art. Since the mid-90s she has been working with women artists in India. In 1997 she curated Women Artists of India: A Celebration of Independence, an exhibition that was part of the Festival of India that celebrated India’s fifty years of independence from British colonial rule. In 2001 she curated the first retrospective of Zarina Hashmi’s art. She has written extensively on Indian women artists, and written and curated exhibitions of Asian American artists. In 2012 she was an NEH fellow at the Institute for Asian American Art, New York University. She is a founding member of SACHI and serves on the Advisory Committee for the Society for Asian Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. She also serves on national and international art organization boards.

Past Directors

Betty Alberts
Robert Del Bonta
Bobby Chatterjee
Helen Desai
Raj Desai
Sheila Dowell
Margaret Haldeman
Priya Kamani
Sally Kirby
Ketan Kothari
Matra Majmundar
Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker
Louise Russell
Gursharan Sidhu
Shivi Singh
Gita Vaish
Timo Wadhawan

Founding Members

Dorothy Benson
Raj Desai
Helen Desai
Kalpana Desai
Willis Deming
Sally Kirby
Margaret Haldeman
Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker
Gursharan Sidhu

Distinguished Friends:

Milo Beach
Willard Clark
Vishakha Desai
Zakir Husain
Mythili Kumar
G.S. Sachdev
Haku Shah
Kapila Vatsyayan
Joanna Williams