Board of Directors
Gita Vaish, President
was born and raised in Delhi, India. She majored in History from Miranda House, Delhi University. She started her career with Japan Airlines as a sales and advertising executive for its Delhi office. Following her move to the U.S. in 1977, she continued work in the travel industry for over 25 years. Gita has traveled extensively through Asia and Europe and has a keen appreciation for the art, history and culture of India, Southeast Asia and Europe. She enjoys working with people and has assumed leadership roles in her professional and volunteer work. Gita welcomes the opportunity to utilize her passions for art, culture and leadership in serving SACHI.
Mary-Ann Milford-Lutzker, Vice-President
is a Professor of Asian Art History, holds the Carver chair in East Asian Studies at Mills College where she is also Provost and Dean of the Fine Arts Faculty. She received her Ph.D. in 1984, from the University of California, Berkeley.
Mary-Ann has done extensive research work in South and Southeast Asian art and architecture, and has curated several exhibitions featuring Indian, Indonesian and other South Asian artists. One of her pioneering shows on contemporary Indian art, “Women Artists of India: A Celebration of Independence” coincided with India’s 50th anniversary of independence in 1997. She has published articles and reviews in numerous prestigious journals and has written exhibition catalogues. She serves on the Board of Directors of several art and culture related organizations and sits on the Advisory Committee for the Society for Asian Art of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.Mary-Ann is a Founding Member of SACHI.
Her current interests are in the role of artists as observers and critics of contemporary Indian society, who through the narrative of their visual interpretations give insights into a culture that is seeking to redefine itself in the postcolonial era.
Nazneen Spliedt, Secretary
and her husband arrived in the U.S. in 1998 from Hong Kong to spend their retirement years in San Francisco. In Hong Kong, Nazneen was involved with many art organizations. She served on the Board of the Art Museum at the University of Hong Kong for 6 years, and as its President for 3 years.
In San Francisco, Nazneen became involved with the Asian Art Museum and the Society for Asian Art. She served on the Society for Asian Art Board for 8 years, and as its President for the last two years. Nazeene was introduced to SACHI through her Asian Art Museum activities, and became associated with it a few years ago.
Ketan Kothari, Treasurer
is a co-founder and CEO of Aspen Learning, Inc., an education technology company. He also was CEO and co-founder of AlphaSmart, Inc, a public company in the education technology field. Prior to co-founding AlphaSmar,t Ketan worked at Apple Computer, Inc. where he contributed to the success of several key products and services. He also contributed to strategic business planning for companies, including Packeteer, Inc. (NASDAQ: PKTR). Ketan has participated in panels and other speaking engagements including the Stanford Business of Education conference in 2003. Additionally, he is a charter member of TiE - Silicon Valley, and, a member of the Advancement Council for the School of Engineering & Technology at Brigham Young University. Ketan Kothari received an MBA degree in 1989 and a BSEE degree in 1987 from Brigham Young University.
Neaera Baer, Program Co-Chair
was born and raised in Colombo, Sri Lanka. She moved to the Bay Area in 1984 with her husband, whom she met in Sri Lanka and worked as a Financial Analyst with Bank of America. In 1994, Neaera and her husband moved to Hong Kong, where they spent 7 years. Here Neaera managed a business selling formal wear for little girls. Returning to the Bay Area in early 2000, she continued her financial career with H & R Block and pursued Asia related interests. Neaera joined the Asian Art Museum docent training program, and is currently an active docent there.
Neaera and her husband enjoy visiting Asia and traveling overseas. She maintains her Sri Lankan cultural roots through frequent visits to her home country.
Kalpana Desai, Program Co-Chair
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 Bay Area, she joined the Asian Art Museum docent program in San Francisco in 1991, and has since been pursuing the Asian arts for nearly 18 years. Kalpana 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. She is a Founding Member of SACHI, inspired by the idea of bringing Indian art and culture to the wider Bay Area community.
Louise Russell, Program Co-Chair
has a passion for India and became involved with the Asian Art Museum after seeing the "Essence of Indian Art " exhibition in 1986. She has an interest in collecting Indian art, and in India's culture in its varied forms.
is devoted to the Asian Art Museum and extremely interested in Asian Art, particularly in Indian Art, as is evidenced by her personal collection of Indian paintings and sculptures. Betty’s connection with the Society for Asian Art started in 1977 when she began the Docent Training Program. Inspired by her work as a docent she studied for and did graduate work at JFK University where she received her Masters in Museum Art Research. Among her advisors was Professor Guitty Azarpay, at UC Berkeley..
In 1993 she became a Trustee of the Asian Art Museum, and is a member of the Acquisitions Committee for the museum. She was on the Board of the Society for Asian Art for several years, during which time she was Vice President, Chair of the Lecture Committee, and Chair of the Education Committee. She recently returned to the Bay Area after spending 12 years in Washington DC, during which time she remained active as a docent and a Board member. Betty brings a lifetime of dedication to the arts of Asia, and with her background, interest, energy and enthusiasm.
Bobby Chatterjee, Raj Desai, Sheila Dowell, Margaret Haldeman, Sally Kirby, Matra Majmundar, Mary-Ann Milford, Shivi Singh, Gursharan Sidhu,
Dorothy Benson, Raj Desai, Helen Desai, Kalpana Desai, Willis Deming, Sally Kirby, Margaret Haldeman, Mary-Ann Milford and Gursharan Sidhu.
Ali Akbar Khan