REAL M A G A Z I N E
Patti Tripathi Saris to Suits
Patti Tripathi Saris to Suits Setting Anchor in Paradise
By Lalaena Gonzalez-Figueroa | Photography by Giovanni Lunardi
It’s not an easy existence, one lived successfully within the chasm of two uniquely different cultures. Boundaries are defined and broken, traditions challenged and history re-written in the course of life’s journeys. For Patti Tripathi, the experience has been one marked by grace, determination, and a commitment to success.
She was born in a rural village near the Nepalese border in India, delivered by a midwife at her maternal grandmother’s home and carefully named Pratibha, which in Hindi means “Talent.” Her father, who in his early years studied in a roofless school, became a Commonwealth Senior Academic Staff Fellow and was invited to the United Kingdom as a visiting professor at different universities.
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On the way to Manhattan to organize a business conference of executives and thought leaders of Indian diaspora.
The transition was not easy; the Fellowship wouldn’t cover the cost of transporting three children overseas, so 10 year-old Patti and her brother were tapped to stay behind with relatives in North Indian city of Varanasi. “My Mother must’ve been heartbroken after leaving us there because at the eleventh hour I remember being at the train station in Gorakhpur with a lot of people waving goodbye and we were on our way to New Delhi,” she recalls. “My parents had to borrow money. The last minute change created a lot of logistical problems with paperwork and housing abroad.” Two years after relocating to the UK where the children were mostly home schooled, the family arrived in the United States, settling in Indiana. Midwest living soon became the norm for the young girl who hadn’t seen a television set for the first decade of her life and could not speak English.
woman, Patti was expected to enter into an arranged marriage and take her place within a highly patriarchal society. “It was bad enough that I challenged my father’s plans,” she recalls the frustrating process of being introduced to dozens and dozens of Brahmin MDs after college graduation. “I wanted to marry for love and stand on my own two feet. But pursuing a career in broadcast news appeared to be a bizarre career choice for my physicist father.” They were her biggest well-wishers, she acknowledges, but she felt tugged with a foot in two cultures.
Patti enrolled at the University of Notre Dame as a pre-med major, seeking to fulfill her parents’ expectations their sacrifices would lead to her choosing what they deemed a secure career. But she longed for something different. Writing for the University’s newspaper “The Observer,” she says, was “more appealing than dissection, organic chemistry and biology.” Running for class President and active in volunteerism, she was chosen one of 12 most admired women on a predominantly Catholic campus. Eventually Patti garnered internships with local media outlets and upon graduation, accepted a position with a major metropolitan newspaper, The Arizona Republic.
Her tenacity propelled her to knock when doors simply wouldn’t open. Patti’s talent was undeniable; as a writer, she found work at an ABC affiliate in Phoenix before joining a radio station as an anchor. Her heart, though, was to work on air for television news. It took persistence: after being rejected by a South Bend-Elkhart ABC affiliate five times in two years, Patti was finally given the chance to prove her mettle as a reporter and fill-in anchor. After 18 months she moved to RaleighDurham, North Carolina, where her exotic appeal was called into question. “I was asked to Anglicize my name (to Patti) and cut my hair,” she recalls. There were more subtle changes, as well. “I had worked very hard to speak with a Midwestern flat accent, but it was challenging to lose the formality that comes from being of Indian heritage and the daughter of an esteemed senior scientist and Notre Dame faculty,” she says. “Because there was nobody on air like me at the time, I had to mask my ethnicity to earn the approval of station managers.”
The decision to chart her own professional course wasn’t without its consequences. As an Indian
The sacrifice paid off. After a year in NC, Patti was accepted for an on-air position with the CNN News Group.
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Fiercely independent and motivated by an unwavering drive, she later began anchoring for CNN Headline News becoming the network’s first (and still perhaps the only) IndianAmerican anchor. Her avid viewers started a “Patti Tripathi Fan Club” which is still online. After more than seven years there, her talent caught the attention of other networks, and Patti eventually capitalized on the opportunity to go into management in Atlanta as the news director and main anchor of a national news startup called the American News Network. Within six months Patti’s newscast was appearing on over 300 independent stations nationwide and in Canada, but she relinquished her position wanting to help her dear mother who was hospitalized in late 2004. “She was only fifty six years old when she died three weeks later,” Patti reveals. “It was incredibly difficult to lose her. She was the one who always said, ‘You can do it!’ She believed in me and inspired me to be my best.” It was a life-changing event that would once again alter the course of Patti’s professional destiny. When the time was right, she reinvented herself, moving to Washington, D.C. to work as the Executive Director of the U.S-India Political Action Committee, a non-partisan lobbying group that allowed her to connect with high-profile individuals including future Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. She left that position to explore entrepreneurial pursuits after she became one of 11 applicants accepted into the inaugural TiESmith Entrepreneur Mentorship Fellows program at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, and the only female in her class. As part of that program she incorporated TriPath Media in 2006, a boutique international
Wi-Fi, cell phone and Skype, Patti connects to her clients virtually from the deck of her bayside condo (Whatâ€™s missing she jokes is a local friend with a yacht, but this is not too bad!).
marketing consulting firm with mostly tech companies as clients offering services in media relations and training, marketing and event planning. Her goal is to assist clients in raising positive awareness of their organizations, on local, national or international scales. Her business won “Best of PR” in Arlington County, VA while she continued to freelance as a journalist. Patti’s unplanned stay in Sarasota she hopes is “by some auspicious universal design. What better place to anchor than in paradise for a
mostly life-long nomad,” she smiles. “Looking out at the Bay, the beautiful sailboats, and the glorious sunsets as I work virtually gives me tranquility. Simply WOW.” Preferring a largely vegetarian diet she enjoys being able to bike to the farmers market and to downtown coffee/pastry houses. It’s an ideal place to set her anchor; with its vibrant arts and cultural community, proximity to major East Coast cities with a non-stop flights, and worldwide appeal, Sarasota offers a wealth of amenities and conveniences. And this year she’s thrilled to be in Florida to root for
the Fighting Irish for the National Championship in Miami as she did in Tempe, AZ in 1988. Her international savvy is tempered by a down-to-earth appeal. Patti connects well with a range of clients, from award-winning French chef Jose Martinez of Maison Blanche, to organizing workshops with nationally known journalists, to a Maryland-based MD, PhD who has developed a blood DNA test to determine paternity, to a range of clients seeking crisis communications consulting to pro bono PR support for charitable causes promoting education for girls in India. Patti’s approach to PR is unique; as a journalist, she’s acutely aware of the elements involved in gaining media exposure. “I search for interesting story angles, media ‘pitches’, and write press releases that will capture reporters’ attention and be deemed newsworthy,” she explains. “I love putting the spotlight on others now by training them ‘how to walk the walk, talk the talk, and look the part’ very much like I had to do for myself.” Whether a client is facing a frontline media crisis with a 20/20 interview or is launching a new product on the Today Show, or is terrified to address a large audience, TriPath Media’s insight into the world of media paves the path to their success. In addition to providing media relations and media training, TriPath Media also offers a comprehensive Brahmin Vegetarian’s Bounty: Biking to the farmers market to choose fresh fruits/vegetables (and occasionally shoots down wheat grass with ginger) then Patti stops for coffee and pastry — one of her favorite Sarasota Saturday activities.
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With tiara, Mom’s purse and Kajal to ward off the “evil eye” -- Patti is poised to be an American news anchor. Her brother, in their mothers arms has become a respected serial entrepreneur and inventor.
1- Learning how she can balance a bottle without holding it on Isle Elephanta off Mumbai Harbour on a return visit to India to see relatives in 1997. 2- Patti talks to client and award-winning Chef Jose Martinez of Maison Blanche about an upcoming international culinary event and his seven-course New Year’s menu. 3- Biking through parts of Europe, Patti stops in Amsterdam on her way to Anne Frank’s House and Van Gogh Museum. Reading the Diaries as a young girl and then seeing it in person
put the Holocaust into perspective beyond her imagination. 4- “American Dream Come True”: Persistence paid off. Her first anchor photo in Indiana used for promotional purposes. 5- TV host Mario Lopez and Patti at a black-tie Queen Latifah and Tony Bennett concert in Miami, a gala affair that was partly sponsored by nonprofit “Poonam Tripathi Foundation” founded by Patti’s brother in their Mother’s memory to benefit children and education.
“Touchdown Jesus” Irish Patti on Game Days: A devout fan of alma mater Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish she’s rooting for a National Championship in Miami as she did at the Fiesta Bowl in 1988 in Tempe, Arizona (At Irish Pub & Grille on Main).
array of services designed to contributor to REAL Magazine. promote and improve business She’ll cover an array of events, performance such as event planning, offering insight into the luxury awards and speaking engagement lifestyles throughout the region. programs, video production and “What a fantastic way to get better voiceover support. Patti taps into rooted in the community and to make her extensive network of contacts some good friends,” she says. “And to secure interviews on national and I may now have fancy occasions international platforms, ensuring to wear my Mother’s beautifully that her clients achieve maximum bejeweled and elegant saris.” exposure. With Wi-Fi connection and cell phone, her technical prowess An enigmatic presence, Patti is as allows her to work efficiently and comfortable in a traditional sari to maintain communications with as she is in a tailored suit. It wasn’t clients around the world. She hopes always this way, though. “I used to to get her business (8a) certified as be embarrassed when my mom went a minority-owned, woman-owned out in her sari,” she recalls. “There venture to facilitate bidding for was a time when I just wanted to fit government contracts down the in.” Today she revels in her diverse heritage, acknowledging that road. embracing her rich culture is “part of Locally, Patti looks forward to growing up and accepting who you building her presence as a regular are.” And now, New York to New 32 | REAL Magazine | www.the-real-magazine.com
Delhi, Boston to Bangalore, Chicago to Chennai, Indian-Americans and India are on the radar unlike two decades ago when this “Talent” entered the world of television news.
Patti Tripathi TriPath Media 888 Boulevard of the Arts, Suite 907 Sarasota, FL 34236 (703) 371.2007 Info@TriPathMedia.com www.TriPathMedia.com