Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, and racial justice advocate. Iyer’s areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, national security and immigration policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices. Iyer is a Senior Fellow at Race Forward and a member of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellows cohort.
Iyer served for a decade as the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) where she helped to shape SAALT’s work on civil and immigrant rights issues. Her experiences at SAALT form the basis for her first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015). We Too Sing America has received a 2016 American Book Award and was selected as a top 10 multicultural non-fiction books of 2015 by Booklist. Since We Too Sing America was published, Iyer has been part of over 50 community conversations around the country on the themes in the book, at college campuses, non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions among others.
Iyer’s current work is mainly focused on building and understanding multiracial solidarity. She hosts a monthly podcast called Solidarity Is This, available on iTunes, and provides trainings on racial equity and solidarity to non-profits, government agencies, public and private stakeholders, educators, and institutions of higher learning. Iyer also regularly facilitates group gatherings and strategy sessions.
Iyer received her training in the non-profit and governmental sectors. She has served as Legal Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC), Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and Trial Attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice where she fashioned an initiative to address post 9/11 backlash with two other attorneys. Iyer has published opinion editorials in The New York Times, CNN, The Nation, The Huffington Post, and The Guardian.
Iyer has been recognized for her work with the 2017 Justice in Action Award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), the 2014 Pioneer Award from the South Asian Bar Association of North America, and the 2013 Dorothy Height Coalition Building Award from the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). She has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland (where she was an Activist-in-Residence in 2015), Hunter College, and Columbia University.
An immigrant who moved to Kentucky from Kerala (India) when she was twelve, Deepa graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University. Follow her on Twitter @dviyer.