Shonali Choudhury Fund
Team Member: Yvette Valdes Smith
Kiara Alvarez wrote -
Please join us in supporting the Shonali Choudhury Fund, established within the Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico/Puerto Rico Community Foundation (www.fcpr.org/en/) by Shonali's family. The fund furthers Shonali's goals of advancing women's rights, health and education via grants to community-based organizations on her home island of Puerto Rico.
In the words of her mother, Barbara Southard Choudhury, "Shonali was a brilliant researcher in the field of women’s reproductive health, a great teacher, and a tireless advocate for the elimination of health disparities. As a child studying in Saint John's School, Shonali wanted to be a doctor, and then during her years at Bard College she decided to explore the social problems that affect health, particularly the plight of disadvantaged populations. For her doctoral dissertation in public health at UCLA she studied the health of female sex workers in Tijuana, trying to open spaces for these women to be heard, while working in a city considered very dangerous, with no thought of personal safety. After graduation from the public health program at UCLA, she worked with the Hispanic Health Council and the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, and in the School of Nursing and Health Studies of the University of Miami.
In her memory, we have established the Shonali Choudhury Fund within the Puerto Rico Community Foundation (the leading community-based non-profit organization on the island). Puerto Rico, the land where Shonali grew up, is undergoing a major fiscal crisis, which will result in severe cuts of government funds to non-profits who serve disadvantaged groups. Under these circumstances it is vital to collect private funds to support community efforts to promote women’s health and education, and protect women from domestic violence, date rape and other forms of sexual aggression.
Our first grant was given to Taller Salud (Health Workshop, www.tallersalud.com), a community organization that protects the well-being of women, particularly those who suffer economic deprivation. This grant will support a program of sexual education and prevention of sexual aggression designed for adolescents. Our plan is to award a new grant to the organization that has made its mark in improving the status of women. Please help us to achieve the goal of making a yearly donation to a deserving organization that has made an outstanding contribution to women’s rights. We count on your support in this effort to advance the causes that Shonali fought for."
Join us by donating here (all contributions will be sent to the fund, regardless of whether we meet our goal) or by mailing a donation directly to the fund at the address below. For direct mail contributions, please be sure to write "Shonali Choudhury Fund" on the "for" line of the check, make the check out to the Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, and include your name, address and contact information with the check.
Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico
Shonali Choudhury Fund
PO Box 70362
San Juan, PR 00936-8362
Thank you for your support of the causes Shonali held dear and your contribution to continuing her legacy.
Yvette Valdés Smith and Kiara Alvarez
About us: We are childhood friends and St. John's school classmates of Shonali's. Despite our early plans on the first-grade playground to open a flower shop together when we grew up, all of us ended up pursuing careers related to health and education with underserved populations. Kiara has a PhD in school psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and is a postdoctoral fellow in health and mental health disparities research, with a focus on the well-being of Latino/a youth and their families. Yvette holds master's degrees in early childhood and bilingual education from Sarah Lawrence College and City University of New York. She has been a public middle school teacher in New York City and is currently a stay at home mom.
Photos are courtesy of Shonali's family and include Shonali receiving the Elizabeth Blackwell Award for the best work on women's health in 2009 at UCLA, Shonali presenting her research, Shonali with friends in El Yunque, and Shonali with her beloved dog Sheena.