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Table of Contents Mission & Vision............................................................ 3 Message from the Chairman.......................................... 4 Shifting Public Perception.........................................6 Changing the Way the Media Sees Sikh Americans.... 8 Educating Law Enforcement..................................... 10 Claiming our Place in the American Story................ 12 Raising the Community’s Voice................................14 Working in the Halls of Congress.............................. 16 Supporting the Community....................................... 18 SikhVOTE.................................................................. 20 Developing Leaders..................................................22 SikhLEAD: Internship Program................................. 24 SikhLEAD: Leadership Development Program.......... 26 SikhLEAD: Alumni Achievement...............................28 Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit.........................30 Financials....................................................................34 Sponsors, Partners, Board & Staff.............................. 36 Resources....................................................................38

Our mission is to empower Sikh Americans by building dialogue, deepening understanding, promoting civic and political participation, and upholding social justice and religious freedom for all Americans. We envision a United States where Sikh Americans are respected and recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of this nation and are appreciated for our shared values of service, social justice, and an unshakeable belief in freedom and equality for all.




Message from the Chairman

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh, One year ago, tragedy struck our nation and our sangat in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. One year later, we are inspired and stronger because of the spirit of Chardi Kala (eternal optimism) that brought us together. Throughout our history, as Sikhs and as Americans, we have found strength and progress when we stood united. Over one hundred years ago our forefathers changed history when they built the first gurdwara (Sikh house of worship) in the United States in Stockton, California. Fifty years ago, Americans of all backgrounds came together in Washington, D.C., to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., share his dream of an America where people are judged by their character, not their appearance. Today, gurdwaras stretch from coast to coast and our youth have the opportunity to work in the halls of Congress. We owe this opportunity to the work done by those who believed in freedom, equality, and a better future for all who would follow. That is why we celebrated the memory of Dr. King and all of those quiet soldiers in the civil rights movement from the marble steps of the Lincoln Memorial earlier this year. We recognize the Sikh American pioneers who came to California and Oregon at the turn of the century, those who challenged segregated lunch counters, and all who made untold sacrifices to ensure their families, their communities, and their nation had a better future. And we recognize those who continue to do so today. 4



“Throughout our history, as Sikhs and as Americans, we have found strength and progress when we stood united.�

That is why we carry forward the message of our faith: a belief in the progress that comes when we are united in the service of others, a belief in the divinity that comes from equality and opportunity for all. Your support over the past seventeen years has allowed SALDEF, our community, and our country to make progress. It is the support of a community standing together that allows us to carry that progress into the future. Thank you and Guru Fateh,

Manjit Singh Co-Founder and Chairman







When we tell our story there are no misconceptions. Since SALDEF’s founding in 1996, advancing an accurate representation of Sikh Americans has always been a core part of our mission. Understanding and influencing the way the country’s collective opinion is shaped and reinforced is the best way to shift public perception and claim our place in the American story. SHIFTING PUBLIC PERCEPTION



Changing the way the media sees Sikh Americans

Speakers Bureau During the aftermath of the tragedy in Oak Creek, community members across the nation recognized the need for more Sikh Americans who could confidently convey our message in a fast-paced media environment. To remedy this problem, SALDEF established a national Sikh Speakers Bureau. This multi-day, intensive training is conducted by media experts who teach the skills necessary to work in a variety of news media formats, from responding to a newspaper reporter to doing a live TV interview, and how to handle crisis and non-crisis situations. As the program expands, SALDEF will take a lead role in placing trained Sikh Americans in media roles. The increased visibility of Sikh Americans will greatly help to shift public perception and demonstrate that Sikh Americans, their values and ideals, are part of the American fabric. 8



Public Perception Assessment In partnership with researchers at Stanford University, SALDEF launched a project to assess the public perception of Sikh Americans and their articles of faith. The results of this grou ndbreaking research will establish a baseline to measure the progress made by our efforts to educate the public, to change the portrayal of Sikh Americans in the media, and to ensure Sikh Americans are recognized as part of the fabric of the nation. The conclusions of the assessment will inform the direction and strategy of our future efforts for years to come.

TURBAN MYTHS: Public Perception of Sikh Americans 70%


of Americans associate the turban with other faiths

cannot identify a Sikh man in a picture as a Sikh



of Americans believe “Sikh” is a sect of Islam

cannot identify the geographic origin of Sikhism

A Report by and

To help law enforcement better serve the communities they protect, SALDEF launched the Law Enforcement Partnership Program (LEPP) in 1999. By working with law enforcement and sharing information about Sikh Americans, we help build bridges between police and the Sikh American community. As a result, departments like the Metropolitan Washington Police Department have actively opened their doors to Sikh Americans to serve in their ranks and serve as an example of the strength that comes from unity.

Educating law enforcement

Training Over 1,200 Members of Law Enforcement More than 1,200 officers from agencies from coast to coast learned about Sikh Americans through LEPP this year. This includes about 500 representatives from local, state, and federal agencies, in the state of Massachusetts alone. Agencies who have participated include the Los Angeles Police Department, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the Raleigh-Durham Police Department, the Richmond County (GA) Sheriff ’s Office, the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. National Park Service.

Creating Custom Curriculums This summer, SALDEF launched a specialized training curriculum with the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Center (CJTC) which provides cultural awareness best practices for interacting with the Sikh American community. The training program is available to the over 10,000 officers who are part of the Washington state law enforcement community. The curriculum includes On Common Ground, a Sikh American cultural awareness training video for law enforcement produced by SALDEF. Washington joins Nevada and California in making this curriculum available to its law enforcement officers.




Claiming our Place in the American Story

Sharing our History SALDEF participated in a number of nationally televised panels. At the Aspen Institute’s Symposium on the State of Race in America, moderated by Juan Williams of FOX News, SALDEF shared how the Sikh American experience can inform the role of religious institutions on race issues in American. At the “Many Faiths, One America” conference sponsored by the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University and the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program, SALDEF shared the stage with professors from Harvard University and Oxford University, and spoke about about practices, laws and attitudes that contribute to the suppression of faith in the US. 12



Sharing our Values Fifty years ago, no Sikh American stood alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as he addressed the March on Washington in August 1963. This year, Jasjit Singh, SALDEF’s Executive Director, became the first Sikh American to stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and mark the 50th anniversary of the historic moment in American history by sharing our commitment to equality and religious freedom. SALDEF also shared the universal message of the Sikh values of equality and freedom for all at the Centennial Celebration of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights organizations, and the annual gala of the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights (LCCHR), the nation’s largest civil rights organization.

“From four little girls in Birmingham to six worshippers in Oak Creek, from a bridge in Selma to a march on Washington: we stand with you, we march with you, we serve with you.” – Jasjit Singh, SALDEF Executive Director, at the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington




When we come together in the spirit of Chardi Kala, we create progress. SALDEF works to help the community raise a united voice and rally together in support of those who need assistance. In the process we improve the lives of all Americans.




Working in the Halls of Congress

American Sikh Congressional Caucus In April 2013, members of the community came together with Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) and Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) to launch the American Sikh Congressional Caucus. The bipartisan Caucus is designed to help inform Members of Congress about the issues facing Sikhs in America and help strategize on how to pass legislation on topics such as hate crimes, school bullying, employment discrimination, and other issues.




Rep. Judy Chu, Co-Chair Rep. David Valadao, Co-Chair Rep. Karen Bass Rep. Ami Bera Rep. Gerry Connolly Rep. John Conyers, Jr. Rep. Jim Costa Rep. Jeff Denham Rep. Sam Farr Rep. John Garamendi Rep. Al Green Rep. Raul Grijalva Rep. Joe Heck Rep. Rush Holt Rep. Mike Honda Rep. Hank Johnson Rep. Doug LaMalfa Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Zoe Lofgren Rep. Carolyn Maloney Rep. Doris Matsui Rep. Tom McClintock Rep. Jerry McNerney Rep. Pat Meehan Rep. George Miller Rep. Devin Nunes Rep. Frank Pallone Rep. Bill Pascrell Rep. Gary Peters Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen Rep. Jan Schakowsky Rep. Adam Smith Rep. Eric Swalwell Rep. Jackie Speier Rep. Chris Van Hollen

FBI Hate Crimes Tracking After years of advocacy, especially following the attack in Oak Creek and the urging of Members of Congress, the FBI changed their crime reporting data to track crimes motivated by bias against Sikhs, Arabs, and Hindus. The change in the reporting will allow us to get a better understanding of the motivations behind attacks which involve a Sikh American victim. SALDEF continues to work with the FBI to develop training modules and scenarios to ensure proper classification of incidents involving Sikh Americans.

Legislative Advocacy For over a decade, SALDEF and a major coalition of civil rights organizations have been working to protect the rights of Sikhs and all Americans. As a result, over ninety members of Congress support the End Racial Profiling Act (ERPA) which would prohibit law enforcement agencies from profiling based on race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, and religion and require training to prevent profiling. Further, SALDEF continues to work to ensure passage of the Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) which would protect all students from the negative effects of bullying.




Supporting the Community

Riverside, California, Gurdwara Vandalized In July 2013, the sangat of Riverside, California, awoke to find “Terrorist” spray painted around their gurdwara. SALDEF worked with the Riverside County Sheriff ’s Office to ensure the incident was investigated as a hate crime. SALDEF worked with local leaders and law enforcement to hold community forums to keep the sangat apprised of the investigation. A suspect was later arrested and charged with committing a hate crime.




Charges in Washington Attack In October 2012, a Sikh American cab driver was attacked by a passenger in Federal Way, Washington. The attacker assaulted the cab driver while yelling racist and xenophobic slurs at him. The attacker pulled and ripped part of the cab driver’s beard off his face and caused a variety of other injuries. Following the incident, SALDEF worked with the Federal Way Police Department and the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The attacker was charged under the federal hate crimes law, the first time the law had been used in a case with a Sikh American.

Fresno, California, Man Attacked In May 2013, 81 year-old, Piara Singh was beaten with a steel pipe as he left the Nanaksar Gurdwara in Southwest Fresno, California. Fresno Police determined Mr. Singh was attacked because of his ethnicity and religion. Following the attack, SALDEF worked with the community to ensure that their concerns were addressed by law enforcement. The attacker was charged with attempted murder.

Florida Sikh Shot In February 2013, Kanwaljit Singh was shot while driving his car across a bridge in Daytona Beach, Florida, after leaving his small business for the night. In response, SALDEF worked with local law enforcement, the FBI, and the DOJ, to allay community concerns and hold a forum on how to prevent hate crimes. In testament to the generosity and compassion of the community, the Dasvandh Network organized a fund to ensure the family would not lose their business. With matching contributions from the One Nation Fund, they raised over $20,000 for the family.








coxW dw idn Achievements:

Creating and distributing thousands of free English and Punjabi materials, including t-shirts, buttons, wristbands, posters, and educational materials

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Reaching 4,500 Sikh Americans in California and Virginia by phone in Punjabi, as part of the first ever non-partisan Punjabi language phone-banking voter education effort to provide them with non-partisan information on registration, polling places, and reminders to vote


November 6th

Registering hundreds of first time voters across the country in special events in California, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and Texas Training over 25 youth leaders who recruited volunteers to run a 10 week voter registration and engagement plan in their community

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SikhVOTE In November 2012, thousands of Sikh Americans cast their vote after receiving information in English and Punjabi about their rights as a voter as part of SikhVOTE. In 2012, youth, volunteers, and community leaders across the country joined SALDEF to launch SikhVOTE, a program focused on increasing Sikh American participation in the political process. By increasing the number of Sikh American voters, elected officials at all levels of government become more aware of the concerns of the community, and we can take more steps to protect our civil rights. Volunteers across the nation used materials developed by SALDEF to reach out to their sangat to increase its voice.

Publishing a voter registration toolkit downloaded by volunteers across the country

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Launching online registration and social media tools with community partners Working with community partners to host and webcast the second Asian Pacific Islander American Presidential Town hall and bringing Sikh American concerns to the attention of the campaigns Seeing a 51% increase in the number of votes cast by Asian Americans, including members of the Sikh American community RAISING THE COMMUNITY’S VOICE





When we give our youth opportunity, they move us forward. SikhLEAD inspires, trains, and supports young Sikh Americans as they prepare for a lifetime of community engagement and leadership.




SikhLEAD: Internship Program

SikhLEAD: Internship Program Now in its third year, the SikhLEAD Internship Program partners with congressional offices and federal agencies to provide Sikh American college students with enriching internship experiences. Through this program, students are afforded first-hand perspective into the functioning of the federal government and legislative process and given the opportunity to build a meaningful career network.




Throughout their summer, interns participate in a series of specialized leadership development workshops and networking events with leaders in Washington. This year, there were more SikhLEAD Interns in Washington, DC, than ever before. Nine young Sikh Americans spent their summer working in offices around the Nation’s Capital.

Harjit Singh – Univeristy of California, Berkeley – Representative Judy Chu Nimita Uberoi – Brown University – Smithsonian Institution, Asian Pacific American Center Sumeet Kaur – George Washington University – Senator Chris Coons Mandeep Singh – Columbia University – Senator Kristin Gillibrand Ravneet Kaur – University of California, Davis – Representative Ami Bera

Henna Trewn – University of California, Berkeley – House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Guneet Chawla – University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Manjot Singh – University of California, Los Angeles – Department of Justice, Community Relations Service Gagan Singh – University of Maryland, Baltimore County – SALDEF

“I came into this summer hoping to gain experience in the working world and developing overall, but what I am leaving DC with is much more than I expected. Over the course of the past two months, my fellow interns have become my family away from home... . Each day provides a new opportunity to learn and I have gladly embraced all the knowledge made available through SALDEF... . I may not have been sitting in the desks of a lecture hall, but I have certainly gained invaluable lessons in the classroom of our Nation’s Capital.” – Ravneet Kaur DEVELOPING LEADERS I 25




“I found myself connecting with so many kind-hearted and educated Sikh American leaders from all over the country. From engineers, to social justice activists, to entrepreneurs, I was able to learn so much from people who chose to follow values of their faith and leave a mark on the fields they choose to work in… By having the opportunity to engage so many inspiration people, I am truly inspired and confident that I too will have the ability to do great things in this country while keeping the values of my faith close to me..” – Mandeep Singh

SikhLEAD: Leadership Development Program

SikhLEAD: Leadership Development Program This year SALDEF successfully graduated its second Leadership Development Program (LDP) class. The program brought together seventeen talented and accomplished young Sikh Americans from around the country for six days of intensive leadership training, professional development and advocacy training. The program spans two weekends, the first in Washington, DC, in October and the second in Los Angeles, CA, in May. The Program inspires Sikh American youth to become effective leaders committed to exploring and realizing both their personal potential and that of the Sikh American community. As part of the program, participants create a personal mission statement, develop new skills in public speaking, increase awareness of personal culture and identity, develop a clear understanding of their unique leadership profile and build skills to increase community empowerment. DEVELOPING LEADERS



SikhLEAD: Alumni Achievement

Sikh Scouts “I felt it was time for me to act. I realized that in some way, I could be an asset to the kids in my community – my ideas developed into what is now Sikh Scouts. Sikh Scouts is a mentoring program that aims to provide guidance to at-risk Sikh youth, ages 9–16, by helping them forge and develop long-lasting relationships with older Sikhs, who serve as role models and mentors. We matched 80 youth with mentors in four states around the country and took them to visit colleges and learn about the application process.” – Jagdeep Singh




Oregon Interfaith Advocacy Day “It’s one thing to complain about problems and another to actually step up and do something. Being caught up in school and work, I had become a person that complained about the problems, but did not step up to fix them. I got an email about Oregon Interfaith Advocacy Day and I knew I could not give up this opportunity. I signed up for the event and words cannot explain the ease I felt knowing that once again, I could be a benefit to society. After the legislative visit finished, I knew this was just the beginning to fight for change. Change in hunger. Change in equal opportunity. Change in poverty. Most importantly, change in myself.” – Pawanpreet Kaur

“The first time I shared my dream to try out for American Idol was when I was with my SikhLEAD family. They gave me the courage, inspiration, and confidence to pursue my dream and passion for music. One year later I was on American Idol, telling the world who I was and sharing my Sikh identity with the country.” – Gurpreet Singh Sarin

Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit Over 500 guests from around the country, came together at the SALDEF 2012 National Gala, “Chardi Kala: The Sikh American Spirit”. The event honored the memory of those who lost their lives in Oak Creek, highlighted the heroes born from the tragedy, and recognized those who have contributed to the Sikh American community’s progress and strengthened civil rights in the United States. CHARDI KALA: THE SIKH AMERICAN SPIRIT



SALDEF Public Service Award Police Chief Cathy Lanier of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) received the SALDEF Public Service Award for updating the MPD grooming standards to allow Sikh Americans to serve as police officers with their articles of faith. Under her leadership, MPD became the first major police department in the country to take this step.




Bhagat Singh Thind Community Empowerment Award Dr. Amarjit S. Marwah received the Bhagat Singh Thind Community Empowerment Award in recognition of his pioneering service to the Sikh and American community, including his involvement in the campaign of Dalip Singh Saund, the first Asian American and first Sikh American elected to Congress.

Media Excellence Award CNN received the Media Excellence Award for their full and comprehensive coverage in the aftermath of the Oak Creek tragedy.

Youth Leadership Award The Youth Leadership Award was presented to Valarie Kaur who has used her passion for film to help organize and document the experiences of the Sikh American community.

Corporate Achievement Award Comcast was awarded the Corporate Achievement Award in recognition of their support of the SikhLEAD program and their partnership with the Sikh American community.

Dorothy Height Coalition Building Award The Dorothy Height Coalition Building Award was presented to Karen Narasaki, former Executive Director of the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) for her career dedicated in service to the Asian Pacific American community.















Thank You SALDEF recognizes the following foundations and corporate sponsors for their partnerships and generous support of our organization. APIA VOTE APALC Association of Sikh Professionals Chardi Kalaa Foundation Comcast Genworth Wealth Management Ik Manzil LA County Human Relations Commission Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights National Council of Asian Pacific Americans South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) South Asian Bar Association – Southern California Public Interest Foundation Southwest Airlines University of Southern California – Office of Religious Life




Additionally, we thank our countless supporters and volunteers from across the country who have helped us further our mission. Your contributions and support enhance the lives of thousands of Sikh Americans across the country. We look forward to your continued support in 2014 and beyond. SALDEF is indebted to the following photo contributors: Les Talusan, Laurence Genon, and Manmeet Singh. We would also like to thank Eighty2degrees for the design of this report.


Board of Directors Manjit Singh Chairman & Co-Founder Jasbir K. Bawa Kavneet Singh Navjeet Singh Parminder Singh Sona K. Rai

Staff Jasjit Singh Executive Director Amrita Singh Legal and Legislative Affairs Associate Birpal Kaur Community Relations Associate

Brooke Salkoff Communications Director Joyce Johnson Office Manager Jyotswaroop Kaur Education Director Navdeep Singh Policy Director

Regional Directors Bhupinder Kaur Jaswant Singh Chani Bobby Singh Navtej Singh Khalsa Sathanuman Singh Khalsa Savraj Singh

Media Advisory Board Johnnie Giles Jim Dublin Sarab Neelam Savneet Singh Sumeet Bal

Civil Rights Committee Bhupinder Kaur Malik Jaideep Singh Nick Kalhon Nitasha Kaur Sawhney Raj Singh Badhesha Ritu Kaur Cooper




Educational Resources Education and outreach form a major component of SALDEF’s work. Through increased awareness and understanding of the Sikh American community, SALDEF ensures that the community continues to project a positive and productive image within the United States. SALDEF educational publications include: A Sikh Parents Guide to School Bullying Know Your Rights Pocket Guide Who Are The Sikhs Brochure Visiting a Gurdwara Booklet for Non-Sikhs Sikh Awareness Pocket Calendars Law Enforcement Reference Card  On Common Ground – Sikh American Cultural Awareness Training DVD An Educator’s Guide to Sikh Americans A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Sikh Americans How to Organize a Vigil Voter Engagement Resources




Learn more about SALDEF, join our mailing list, and download available resources by visiting

National Office 1012 14th Street, Suite 450, Washington, DC 20005 P: 202.403.0246 | F: 202.318.4433

Southern California Office 634 South Spring Street, Suite 802, Los Angeles, CA 90014 P: 213.985.1116 | F: 202.318.4433

SALDEF Annual Report 2013  

"United We Stand" is the 2013 Annual Report of SALDEF (the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund). Learn more at

SALDEF Annual Report 2013  

"United We Stand" is the 2013 Annual Report of SALDEF (the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund). Learn more at