The Bluegrass Indo-American Civic Society (BIACS) is a Kentucky registered not for profit organization (Tax ID 61-1145155). Founded in 1988, BIACS provides people of Indian heritage and other interested members a platform to engage in civic and charitable activities in the Bluegrass Region. Consistent with its charter, over the years, BIACS has spearheaded or participated in a variety of social, educational, cultural, charitable and civic activities within the Bluegrass Region.
Two marquee events that the society has spearheaded since its inception are a scholarship awards banquet and a free health fair. At the awards banquet, BIACS awards cash scholarships to college bound high school graduates of many different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds from throughout the state of Kentucky. These scholarships are possible because of generous support from BIACS members and Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky. Guests of honor and speakers at these awards banquets have ranged from past presidents, leaders of industry, New York Times Best Selling authors, federal judges, ambassadors to other nations, mayors, and other accomplished members of the community. The annual BIACS health fair is free and open to all. The event, organized with support of the local government sponsored health board and volunteer physicians, provides checkups, basic screenings and consultations from physicians including internists, cardiologists, pediatricians, dentists, pulmonologists, and allergists.
In addition to these signature events, the society also participates in other civic activities such as volunteering at food banks, cultural showcases at events of local interest, and raising funds to assist those affected by natural disasters such as earthquakes and flooding within the state, the nation and beyond.
The executive committee of the BIACS, comprising of a President, President-Elect, Secretary, and Treasurer are assisted by councilors in managing the activities of the society. Every individual on the executive committee and the council volunteer their time for activities related to BIACS. The executive board serves a one year term, while the councilors serve for two years. A nomination and election process is used to select the executive board and councilors at the annual board meeting of the BIACS.
In order to foster civic engagement among the next generation of Americans of Indian heritage, a youth board works closely with the BIACS board, and often provides volunteers for the activities of the society. The youth board members are also elected.
Membership to the society involves an application and payment of nominal dues and is not restricted to those of Indian heritage.
We welcome you to our website, and encourage you to browse through its contents to learn more about us and what we do.
President: Sharmila Shankar
Sharmila Shankar has lived in Kentucky since 1992. She was the clinic administrator for Gastro. Assoc from 1995-2020. She served several years on the Site Base Council in Hazard Elementary and Hazard Middle School and coached the Hazard Middle School Speech team. In 2013, her family moved to Lexington. Having lived in eastern KY, she has seen first hand the importance of scholarships in encouraging students to further their post secondary education.
Secretary: Mahika Gupta
Mahika is a local community organizer and artist. Born and raised in Lexington, Mahika has been part of the larger BIACS community all her life. In her free time she loves to make ceramic art, cook, rescue and foster animals and organize with various social justice groups.
Treasurer: Vasundhara Bhasker
Vasundhara is a software solutions architect and a certified public accountant. She and her family have lived in Lexington for close to 20 years. Over these years she has been actively engaged in various environmental and community initiatives including several headed by BIACS. She is an artist at heart and is a wonderfully talented bharatnatyam dancer.
Past President: Srikant Dharwad
Mr. Srikant Dharwad has been a resident of Lexington, since 2005. He manages the Platform Services and Digital Innovation team at Lexmark. He holds several patents in the information technology space and regularly speaks at data & technology conferences. He completed his graduate studies at University of Cincinnati and Georgia Institute of Technology. His interests include running, cooking, brewing and golf
President-Elect: Hemant Gandhi
Hemant joined Lexmark International in Lexington as VP and corporate treasurer in September 2019. Prior to joining Lexmark, Hemant has held various global treasury roles for over 20 years across financial services, automotive, telecom and information technology industry sectors.
Councillor: Mercedes Harn
Mercedes is a second year Spanish teacher at Athens chilesburg elementary. She is originally from Lima, Peru. She moved to Lexington about 15 years ago. She is an artist, has had a radio show on the lex community radio and is currently president of the non profit organization Casa de la Cultura.
Councillor: Carol Jordan
Carol has been the Tutoring director at the Carnegie center since 2011. Before joining the Carnegie center, Carol worked as a non formal teacher in environmental education. She serves on the board of the Guatemalan educational outreach which supports an English immersion school in Guatemala.
Councillor: Cindi Robichaux
Ms. Robichaux has lived in Lexington since 1980, completing her graduate education at Eastern Kentucky University in Clinical Psychology and The University of Kentucky in Social Work. She worked in community mental health for 20 years and currently leads a Primary Care multidisciplinary Behavioral Health team. Informed by her background in theater and dance, she volunteers with community organizations focused on performing arts, promoting social justice, resources for aging populations and LGBTQ healthcare.
Mrs. Venkatesan moved to Lexington, KY from Ottawa, Canada, in 2011. She holds a Masters and an M.Phil degree in Life Sciences. She started her professional career as a Professor of Biochemistry at K. K. College of Pharmacy in Chennai TN India. Later, she was a Product Executive at Sresan Pharmaceuticals, Chennai & Bangalore, India. After emigrating to Canada, Mrs. Venkatesan Worked at Statistics Canada in Gatineau, ON. For the past three years she has volunteered as a BIACS Councillor and has helped choreograph dances for BIACS and BTCC in Lexington.
Youth Co-Presidents: Manya Tiwari and Pragya Upreti
Councilors: Chakrapani Gulavalleti, Daksha Pillai, Sanat Dharwad, Dhruv Upreti, Jaya Murty, Kayal Senthil, Muhil Senthil, Jessica Mukhopadyay, Neel Kachroo, Pranav Kuna, Sanjna Raj, Siddharath Sundar, Tara Bose, Vibha Bhaskar, Vijaykumar Karthikeyan