Citizen. Leader. Activist.
I grew up in Suriname, a small South American country 95% covered by the Amazon Rainforest. This experience instilled in me a deep appreciation for our place in the natural world. As a teenager I immigrated to the US and studied Computer Science, first at Eckerd College in Florida and then at MIT where I earned my Masters. It was here that I met my wife, Radhika Nagpal, and in 2004 we bought a home and settled down to raise a family on Cardinal Medeiros Ave. We still live there today with our two children Jahnavi and Sunil, who both attend Cambridge public schools, and our dog Lily. I work as a senior executive in software and biotech and am deeply involved in the community through volunteer work at non-profits as well as through civic engagement. In my spare time I enjoy reading, writing, playing guitar, enjoying the great outdoors and spending time with friends and family.
Trusted Civic Advisor.
I’ve served on several appointed committees and task forces that advise the city administration. These committees develop specific recommendations and craft specific legislation. As a result of this service, I have gained a lot of experience in municipal government and have learned how to work effectively with both the city manager, city staff and city council to get things done.
This committee advises the city manager on how the city can best respond to climate change. My advocacy on the committee led to the climate vulnerability assessment, which is the necessary first step to prepare the city for expected climate changes such as increased flooding and more extreme weather. As Committee Chair, I led the group in establishing 2020 climate goals for the city, which now guide the city’s activities in areas such as renewable energy procurement.
Climate change is caused by our collective use of fossil fuel energy sources which lead to so called greenhouse gas emissions. In June of 2013, Mike Connolly, John Pitkin and I authored a citizens’ zoning petition to reduce such emissions from building energy use to zero. This petition ultimately led to the formation of the Getting To Net Zero Task Force. I served on the task force which developed the Net Zero Action Plan. This plan was one of the first of its kind in the country, and is particularly significant because building emissions account for 80% of our city’s total emissions. By reducing our emissions to zero, Cambridge is setting an example for others to follow. I’ve spoken at community meetings and town committees in Concord, Lexington and Brookline, three towns which have now established their own net zero efforts and are able to leverage the consultant reports and materials produced by Cambridge’s Net Zero Task Force.
This task force is charged with finding ways to keep the city’s rat problem under control. The task force produced a new dumpster ordinance that has significantly reduced the problem. We also created a public awareness campaign with the city’s health department to inform residents on detecting and responding to rat problems. Last but not least the city established detailed tracking and reporting procedures to stay on top of this problem going forward based on the task force’s recommendations.
Experienced Community Activist.
Green Cambridge is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization which works to “create a more sustainable city and to protect the environment for the health and safety of all”. As president, I advocate at city council meetings for environmental policy including net zero buildings, a ban on plastic grocery bags, and urban natural resource protection. I also initiated a commercial recycling awareness campaign, a rain barrel installation program in partnership with the city, a solar discount program and a tree protection program. I took over when the organization had hit a low point and was considering going out of business. Under my leadership, the organization has built a solid membership with over 1,000 registered members, a 9 member board of community environmental leaders, a strong trusted brand in the city and a solid financial footing allowing Green Cambridge to hire its first ever Executive Director in 2017.
The Climate Action Business Association (CABA), a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization based in Boston, works with small local businesses to respond to the climate crisis by helping them be more effective policy, sustainability and community advocates. I co-founded the organization and grew it to encompass over 100 local businesses across Massachusetts, 5 full-time staff and a robust student internship program. CABA has been a strong advocate for local business taking climate action at the local, state, national and international levels. In 2015, I represented CABA and the American Sustainable Business Association as an official observer at the Paris Climate negotiations which led to the historic Paris Agreement. In 2016, CABA won a Greenovate award from the city of Boston. From its inception, CABA has been a strong advocate for pricing carbon, becoming a recognized leader on the topic at the Massachusetts State House.
Potluck Energy is a startup Benefit Corporation creating community shared solar installations in the Cambridge/Boston area to provide the benefits of solar to everyone. I serve as benefit director on the board, ensuring that the company’s activities produce a clear benefit to our community. Specifically, the company is making electricity produced via solar panels available to renters and low-income residents, at a discount compared to prevailing electricity rates. The company is launching its first installation in March 2017 in Davis Square in Somerville! 60% of the electricity produced (15 kw) will be available for residents to purchase at a discount without having to install solar panels themselves.
I am a founding member of this group of MIT alumni who are committed to ensuring MIT takes a leadership role in climate change action. My dream is for MIT to call for and lead a worldwide effort to effectively respond to the climate challenge. The group has called on MIT to divest from fossil fuels, and has started the successful ClimateX education platform.
I have been deeply involved in the community ever since my days as an MIT student. Climate change is where I have focused most of my efforts, because of the serious and immediate threat it poses to our community. Climate change is a complex issue, and requires many different solutions. People most vulnerable to climate change are generally the people who have the least. It’s also an issue that will be with us for the rest of our lives. My patience, persistence and determination on this issue have prepared me to serve on the council as an advocate for our community.
Conscientious Business Leader.
As an entrepreneur and business leader, I understand the vital role that local businesses and startups play in our community and economy. In 2007, I co-founded a biotech company, Excelimmune, which developed cutting edge alternatives to antibiotics for fighting infectious disease. I’m currently the CTO of a healthcare-IT startup, eCare Vault, which provides an online service for people to securely share their healthcare information. Throughout my career, I’ve been recognized and sought after for my ability to understand diverse technical concepts, from software to biotech to renewable energy, and relate them to the needs and interests of the business. This skill is much needed on the City Council, as we are faced with many complex technical issues that need to be understood sufficiently to make smart decisions.
A People-Powered Campaign.
I have pledged not to accept money from real estate developers and lobbyists seeking to influence the decisions that City Councillors make. Too often, the desires of these groups do not reflect the needs of Cambridge residents. I represent the people’s interests, and that means I’m relying on your grassroots contributions, volunteer efforts, and hospitality to fuel this campaign. Please join us!