Shweta Singh, Ph.D, M.S.W.

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Shweta Singh is the Committee Chair for this year’s South Asian Womanhood and Girlhood Conference. As a Professor of Social Work at Loyola University Chicago, her work explores development and empowerment for South Asian women’s identity. Her research and scholarship is geared toward examining the outcomes and the processes for empowerment of South Asian women through family, education, work, intimate and social relationships, as well as engaging and orienting local and global policy institutions and media to their needs. She teaches postgraduate and undergraduate courses on nonprofit management, global feminism, research and evaluation, comparative social work, dissertation planning, and India courses. Her community work includes hosting a radio show Global Desi World and Women, supporting the nonprofit Empowered Women E-Women, building narrative-based documentaries, and counseling.

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Neha Gill

Executive Director, Apna Ghar

Neha Gill is a passionate and dedicated advocate for women’s rights. In August 2013, she was appointed as the executive director of Apna Ghar, Inc., where she has worked since 2003. Prior to her current position of executive director, she held several key positions within the organization overseeing program management and organizational development. Neha has led consultations and trainings for local and international NGOs, journalists, government officials, and staff of UN agencies on providing services to survivors of gender based violence. In 2014, policies and procedures for serving survivors of gender based violence that she helped establish were formally adopted by the Kurdish Regional Government of Iraq. Neha has extensive cross cultural experience having worked on women’s rights issues in South Asia, East Africa, the Middle East and Latin America


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Marcia K. Hermansen

Director, Islamic World Studies Program, Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Marcia Hermansen teaches courses in Islamic Studies and Religious Studies in the Theology Department at Loyola University Chicago. She holds a Ph. D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago. Her recent authored and co-edited books include Islam, Religions, and Pluralism in Europe (2016), Islam and Citizenship Education (2015), Muslima Theology: The Voices of Muslim Women Theologians (2013), and Shah Wali Allah’s Treatises on Islamic Law (2010). Dr. Hermansen has also contributed numerous academic articles in the fields of Islam and Muslims in South Asia, Muslims in America, and Women and Gender in Islam including a number of publications related to Muslim youth, youth cultures, and South Asian Muslim girls.


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Annie Thomas, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Loyola University Chicago

Annie Thomas completed her PhD from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, India and has been an Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago since 2009. Before relocating to Chicago, she was an Assistant Professor at Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, Texas, for almost 5 years. Her past research focus were to understand type 2 diabetes risk factors among Asian Indian adults and explore obesity prevention behaviors among Asian Indian adolescents in the US. Dr. Thomas’s current research focus is to evaluate the feasibility of culturally specific   intervention measures among adolescents and college going females in reducing the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease in later life. A. Thomas has mentored many students in completing the research projects and research presentations in the US and abroad. She is also a reviewer of manuscripts and abstracts for various publishing companies/organizations. She has presented many research papers on various topics at both national and international conference sessions.