Six Indian American Malayalees to be honored by Kerala Center, NY


The Indian American Kerala Cultural and Civic Center will honor six Indian Americans for outstanding achievement in their field of specialization or for their service to the society.

The awardees were selected by a committee consisting of four members headed by Kerala Center Board Member and Trustee Dr. Thomas Abraham, according to a press release.

“Every year we invite nominations and the committee has to make a unanimous choice for a candidate in a category to be selected to receive the award and this year is no different from previous years in terms of their achievements,” said Dr. Abraham, in a statement.

“For the last 23 years, the Kerala Center has recognized the most outstanding achievers among the Indian American Kerala Community and they are role models for our community,” said Kerala Center President Thambi Thalappillil.

Kerala-Center-press-releaseThe awardees will be honored at the Kerala Center’s 23rd Annual Awards Banquet on Saturday, November 7th starting at 6.30 p.m. at World’s Fair Marina in Flushing (Queens, New York City, address: 1 World’s Fair Marina, Flushing).  The chief guest is Ambassador Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Consul General of India in New York and the keynote speaker is Mr. K. Mohandas, former Secretary of the Ministry of Overseas Indian affairs and Shipping, Govt. of India.

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This year’s honorees are: 
Recognition for Outstanding Contribution in Engineering – Dr. Navin Manjooran 

Dr. Navin Manjooran ​is ​the Global Director (Energy) for Siemens AG ​ and ​​is responsible for the​  entire Siemens energy portfolio. He also serves as an engineering professor at Virginia Tech. Navin graduated with a BE degree from NIT (Warangal), a MS from University of Florida (Gainesville, USA), Ph.D. from Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, USA), all with the highest honors and later on completed MBA from University of Chicago. Navin has 11 patents/ disclosures, 9 books, 37 publications and 51 presentations at national/international conferences. He has received several awards including TMS Young Leader, ASM International Leadership Award ​and ​Siemens Performance Award. ​Navin is a Member of the US Technology Advisory Board and ​Virginia Tech Univ. Board  and the Board of Trustees of Univ. of Chicago.

Recognition for Outstanding Contribution in Information Technology – Dr. Sasi K. Pillay

Dr. Sasi K, Pillay serves as the CIO of the University of Wisconsin System comprising 26 campuses where he has started several initiatives such as the Innovation Program and Business Intelligence,  while managing a portfolio of shared services totaling $45million.  In his prior roles at NASA, Dr. Pillay oversaw the IT innovation program consisting of global crowd sourcing and the launch of the innovation program which have won several national awards.  He is the recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the U.S. President’s Rank Award as a Meritorious Executive.

Recognition for Outstanding Contribution in Medicine – Dr. Prem Soman

Dr. Prem Soman MD, PhD, FRCP (UK), FACC is Director of Nuclear Cardiology, and Associate Professor of Medicine, and Clinical and Translation Science at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is internationally recognized for his research contributions to the field of nuclear cardiology, with more than 100 publications  and text book chapters. He has coauthored national guidelines on imaging and Appropriate Use Criteria. Dr. Soman is the current chair of the Imaging Council of the American College of Cardiology, Vice-President elect of the American Society of Nuclear Cardiology, and Immediate Past President of the Cardiovascular Council of the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging.

Recognition in Journalism and for Community Service – Dr. George M. Kakkanatt

Dr. George Kakkanatt, a former US Air Force Captain is a professional psychotherapist. George is one of the founding members and former Global General Secretary of the World Malayalee Council (WMC), Green Kerala Foundation, and ALTIUS youth program. He is the President of the South Indian US Chamber of Commerce and also the President of the Houston Chapter of India Press Club of NA.  George is the Managing Director and Editor in Chief of Azchavattom Malayalam News weekly published from Houston. George received several awards for his creative commitment to serve the global community.

Recognition for Community Service  Leela Maret


Leela Maret has been doing superb job as a volunteer in many community organization for the last three decades. Working as a scientist for last 29 years at New York City’s Environmental Protection, Leela is also adjunct lecturer in Bronx Community College. Leela serves as Recording Secretary of Local Employees Union 375 for the city, delegate for Central Labor Council, FOKANA National Women’s Forum Chair, Vice President of South Asians for Labor and Vice President of INOC. She had served as the President of Kerala Samajam and in other capacities of several other organizations including FOKANA. She has helped to organize Asian Heritage, Diwali function at New York City Hall, Kerala Piravi and other events in Indian Consulate, actively participated in Voter Registration, taught Malayalam at St. John’s University, and took part in the testimony of redistricting of Richmond Hill to unite South Asians. She is the recipient of various Community awards such as NYC Comptroller’s Community Service award, and two Pravasi awards.

Recognition for Service to the Nation – Captain Jophiel Philips – Service to the Nation

Capt. Jophiel Philips was born in Queens, New York, were he developed a passion for football leading him to earn a football scholarship at St. Francis Prep High School.  He went on to play four years of college football, where he started at Wide Receiver.  After coaching football at the University level, Capt Philips went to law school where he won numerous academic awards and was chosen to give the commencement speech.  Capt Philips is a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Air Force.  During his recent deployment, he was awarded the Purple Heart, as well as the Bronze Star, for his actions in protecting service members from harm, after an insurgent attack- where eight of his comrades died.

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