Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American writer, strategist, lawyer, and racial justice advocate.
Currently, Deepa is a Strategic Advisor at Building Movement Project and Director of Solidarity Is, a project that provides trainings, narratives, and resources on building deep and lasting multiracial solidarity. Deepa’s areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, immigration and civil rights policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices.
Deepa has worked at various national and local organizations with a focus on immigrant and racial justice. She served as executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade, and has also held positions at Race Forward, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, and the Asian American Justice Center. Deepa has received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and the Social Change Initiative, and in 2019, she received an honorary doctoral degree from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Iyer serves on the Advisory Council of the Emergent Fund, which resources grassroots organizing and power building in communities of color who are facing injustice based on racial, ethnic, religious and other forms of discrimination.
Deepa’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015), 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, Deepa 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.
Deepa hosts a 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.
Deepa 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.