Meet the SACHI Board

Current Board of Directors

Aarti Johri,  President 
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 has published articles on Indian history, and blogged for an online magazine. She has worked with Room to Read, an educational non-profit, and has served on the board of SACHI since 2014. 

Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Vice-President and Advisor
holds the Carver Chair in East Asian Studies, and was 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.

Monica-Desai Henderson, Vice-President and 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 several art and culture projects in the Bay Area.

Edward Baer, Treasurer
has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for most of his life.  He was educated at Contra Costa College and S F State, majoring in Finance. He retired as a Senior Vice President for Bank of America after 46 years of assignments in Operations, Commercial and Retail Credit, Risk Management and Merchant Services. He spent 15 years in Asia expanding the footprint for the Bank of America in The Philippines, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan along with 5 years in Sri Lanka as the Country Manager. Ed has been the treasurer for the Society for Asian Art and is a Story Teller at the Asian Art Museum. He and his wife, Neaera, have been long-time active supporters of SACHI. Besides his interest in the art of Asia, he makes time for golf, pottery, gardening and reading.

Annette Abbott 
is a long-time resident of the Bay Area, and has also lived in Hong Kong and Australia for 20 years . Annette has worn many hats in the book industry –as store book buyer, a regional publisher’s rep and marketing manager for the international science journal, Nature.  She received her BA from UC Berkeley in Anthropology and History of Art. Her interest in Asian art and mythology led her to become a volunteer docent at the Asian Art Museum – and she has served in this capacity since 2011.  In her spare time she enjoys gardening, traveling, reading and doing ikebana.

Michelle Baird
received her MA in South Asian History from the University of California, Berkeley in 2003. Michelle is a high school history teacher teaching a range of honors seminars that include:  South Asian History, A Political History of Buddhism, Textual and Material Culture in Asia, Gender and the British Empire, and Postcolonial Literature. During the summer of 2016 she trained in the history of Muslim art and poetry at New York University and the Metropolitan Museum of Art with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Michelle is also a principal dancer in Dholrhythms, an all-female bhangra troupe. Previously, Michelle worked as a grants coordinator at Narika and wrote about the Bay Area arts scene for India Currents Magazine.

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.

Priyanka Rana
received an MBA from LBS, Delhi and a BA in Economics & Mathematics from Punjab University, India. Priyanka’s passion for all things design started early in her life in Delhi. It followed her to France, and finally to the San Francisco Bay Area where she has been associated with art and cultural events for the last 10 years. She founded and ran EventStylists, a successful events and marketing firm. This was followed by a tenure as Vice President at 3D Exhibits. She has been a longtime supporter of the South Asian Heart Center, a healthcare non-profit, including chairing their annual gala. These days Priyanka is focusing on sculpting. When she is not in her studio, she is most likely exploring the world with her family.

Recent Board Members

Kalpana Desai
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 since. 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 served as the organization’s leader until November 2018. Needless to say, Kalpana remains actively involved with SACHI.

Poornima Kumar
grew up 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 was raised 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. She recently moved to Mumbai, India where she heads a biotech start-up.