Meena Hewett, Executive Director
Meena is the Executive Director of the Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) and provides the administrative leadership to its day to day operations. She works with the faculty across all professional schools at Harvard University and the College, as well as at peer institutions to catalyze interdisciplinary partnerships on issues critical to South Asia with the goal to generate new knowledge on critical issues facing the region. She oversees the work of SAI offices at Harvard, Dhaka, Karachi, Lahore, Delhi and Mumbai, which works with think tanks, governments, NGOs, and south Asianists and connects them to faculty and students at Harvard.
Some initiatives include building a platform for the ongoing study of the complex and inter-related issues around water, its use and management, mobile technology for health, education and finance, urbanization, disaster management and mental health, adolescent curriculum reform to better understand gender roles, and religion, secularism and governance in South Asia. Meena also worked with MIT, IIT-Delhi and Harvard faculty to launch a multi-year training program for young Indian students to learn from post doctoral students from Harvard and MIT, about brain science, through a two week summer immersion program in Delhi. Meena engages with Harvard students to support and strengthen their connection between the university and South Asia. She works with faculty grants committees to award grants for internships and research.
Prior to her position at Harvard, Meena served as the Executive Director of Saheli, a community based nonprofit that supports South Asian immigrants affected by family violence in the US. She developed and implemented a prototype curriculum to train law enforcement officers on South Asian cultural awareness and its effectiveness in community policing and first response. Since the initial pilot program in 2009, the resultant training has been repeated in state agencies, hospitals, schools, community groups, and police departments in 13 Massachusetts communities. Before transitioning to work focused on social issues, Meena was an exhibit designer and worked in architecture and museum design.
Meena has a Master’s in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University ‘09 and a Master’s Degree in Architecture from Rice University ‘92. She has a BA in Economics from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, India.