The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Spotlight is featuring Commission President Nirmala Bandrapalli. Nirmala has served on the CSW since 2018, stepping up to lead the Commission as President in 2020 and being re-elected as President in 2021.
Introduction to Nirmala
Place of Birth: Hyderabad, India
Raised: I was born and raised in India and I came to the United States for higher education over 30 years ago.
Professional Background: I have a MS degree in Biochemistry from the University of San Francisco, a Certificate in Computer Information’s Systems and Project Management from UC Berkeley Extension. I currently work as a Project Manager at Kaiser.
Position most known for? I am a self-motivated leader with high energy and utilize my creativity, leadership, and teamwork skills to design and execute solutions that create customer value.
Job held that is most unlike what I currently do now:
I started my career as a non medical nurse in San Francisco and took care of patients that dependent on faith-based healing. As a research associate, I worked on the ground-breaking AIDS Research for over 3 years at UCSF.
Years of Experience: 21
Title: Project Manager
Organization: Kaiser Permanente
Significant Challenge: I came to the USA when I was 20 years old. The biggest challenge was to overcome the cultural barriers and getting used to the bland food.
Significant Accomplishment: My service as a community leader where I served as a Chairman of the Burlingame Planning Commission with the goal to improve the standard of living.
Significant Learning: Learning to adopt American culture and share my own culture and norms is something I navigate to this day.
Career Advice: Be a lifelong learner, think big and pursue your dreams. Never shy away from speaking up and be a voice for those who cannot. Be shameless in promoting your skills to serve mankind.
Significant Challenge: Losing an unborn child during my 5th month of pregnancy.
Significant Accomplishment: Ran a Rock and Roll 26.2 mile marathon and raised $3,500 to raise awareness and support Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Significant Learning: It’s okay to go with the flow. When life throws lemons at you, just make lemonade.
Life Advice: Adopt the policy to live in the moment and express gratitude for everything you have right now.
What is an issue for women/girls that stands out most for you? Equality (same status and equal rights) is at the forefront of my mind whether it be education, unequal pay or leadership roles for girls and women.
Other causes you support? Past President and active member of Burlingame Lions Club; Founding member, past President and active Board Member of Science Gurus (non-profit organization) whose goal is to inspire kids to focus on STEM.
Most admired people/role models: Mother Teresa for her selfless nature, Indira Gandhi former first woman Prime Minister of India, Helen Keller for her wisdom and drive despite her physical impairments.
Favorite activities in your “personal downtime:” Serve community, walking, meditation, Bollywood Dancing and spending time with family and friends.
Favorite local places to enjoy during Shelter in Place: Walks at Sawyer camp trail, Bayshore Burlingame and Pacifica Pier.
Favorite shows, movies, or books: Shows would be Friends, Seinfeld, Jimmy Kimmel. Movies - Sound of Music. Book - Becoming by Michele Obama.
Something about me that may surprise you: Served as a Soloist at local churches in India and the US for many years.
Anything else?: I moved to the United States at the age of 20 with just $100 in my pocket. I am blessed with 3 children and live in the most beautiful SFO Bay Area. I attribute my success to hard work, perseverance, determination and the desire to move the needle a little bit to improve the quality of human life.