Deepa is a South Asian American activist, writer, and lawyer. She is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion. Deepa’s areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, hate violence, national security and immigration policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices. Her current areas of focus include supporting Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations and advocates via rapid response and policy coordination; speaking, training, and writing about racial equity and solidarity practices in America’s changing racial landscape; and curating community and campus conversations around the themes in her book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future.
We Too Sing America 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 at college campuses, non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions among others. She is also a contributing writer to Colorlines, and has published opinion editorials in The New York Times, CNN.com, The Nation, The Huffington Post and The Guardian.
Most recently, Deepa served as the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT). While at SAALT for nearly a decade, Deepa shaped the formation of the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO), a network of local South Asian groups, and served as Chair of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA).
Deepa’s work on immigrant and civil rights issues began at the Asian American Justice Center in the late 1990s. She also served as Trial Attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, where with two other attorneys, she shaped an initiative to address post 9/11 backlash, and as Legal Director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC), where she worked on a multiracial, community-led campaign to pass the DC Language Access Act.
Deepa has also taught classes on Asian American movements and South Asian American communities at Columbia University, Hunter College. Deepa is an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland where she served as Activist-in-Residence in the Asian American Studies Program in 2014.
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. Deepa is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Race Forward. She blogs at www.deepaiyer.com and tweets at @dviyer.