Dear Friends of KIAC,
We are happy to share the news that Thangam Chandrasekaran will become Kitsap Immigrant Assistant Center’s Interim Executive Director following the retirement of our current Executive Director, Sally Tellekson. Since 2019, Thangam has made valuable contributions to KIAC as a Board member, volunteer, and most recently, Treasurer. She knows all aspects of the organization, and is ready to provide leadership and continuity from her first day on the job.
As she takes the reins from Sally, Thangam will inherit a stable organization that has substantially expanded its client services in the four years of Sally’s tenure. Sally started during an aggressively anti-immigrant federal administration that implemented a multitude of harsh policies. Under Sally’s leadership, and with the generous support of our community, KIAC grew from a small nonprofit staffed almost entirely by volunteers, to a thriving organization with a growing paid staff that works with and coordinates our volunteers to provide a wide array of legal and family services.
Thangam knows KIAC’s programs and services well, having volunteered at many of our local events, often bringing her teenage children to lend a hand. As a legal volunteer, Thangam underwent the Fundamentals of Immigration course and assisted several Accredited Representatives in their legal work. She also took on the role of Board Treasurer after KIAC’s long-time former Treasurer retired in Dec 2020. She’s been on the board’s Executive Committee since 2020, where she’s been actively involved in KIAC’s operations and leadership.
Thangam has a masters degree in accounting, and an MBA with an emphasis in finance and marketing. Her career includes stints in market research and strategic analysis for ACNielsen and Odwalla among others. She and her children are founding chapter members of the Bay-area nonprofit, Heirs to Our Oceans, which educates and empowers youth in solving the environmental problems of our planet. She also served on the board of West Sound Academyin Poulsbo. Thangam, her husband and her two children live on Bainbridge Island.
As an immigrant from India since the early 90’s, Thangam understands what our clients experience on a variety of levels – immigration, economics, education and cultural. She is currently awaiting her citizenship interview — a long process that, for all applicants, has stretched to a frustrating 2-year wait.
“My path as an immigrant has been filled with its share of challenges, struggles, and multiple doors being closed,” says Thangam. “I’ve also had my share of lucky breaks or just one person believing in me enough to go through the extra trouble that my visa status imposed. KIAC’s mission is to offer that support or lucky break, and I feel extremely privileged to have this opportunity to lead KIAC in the pursuit of its mission.”
Sally intends to stay connected with KIAC even after she says her formal goodbye. And Thangam isn’t new to us. So it’s not quite right to bid Sally farewell or give a hearty welcome to Thangam, although we want to say both. Instead, we’ll just say we’re excited about our future, which stands securely on the hard work of the past. We feel blessed by both Sally and Thangam, and look forward to 2022!
Happy holidays and a wonderful new year to all of you.
Althea Paulson, Board President