A Woman of Substance: Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy, Past President
We are pleased to announce that Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy, past President of Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust, has been nominated as a Woman of Substance, for her work in the local community; the virtual gala will be held on Nov 6th 2020. The money raised at this gala will benefit the Mission of Yahweh, a shelter for homeless families. Mrs. Leela Krishnamurthy is the only woman of Indian origin to have nominated for this award.
Leela Krishnamurthy came to the US to get a master’s degree and was offered a full scholarship to do her Masters in Library Science by the Clark University , Atlanta, GA. While at Clark, Leela worked closely with Coretta Scott King at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.
Leela was recruited by the Los Angeles County Library System and accepted a position as the Head Librarian for the Bell Library. She arranged programs of interest to all library patrons bringing best-selling authors such as Ray Bradbury, Vincent Bugliosi (Charles Manson prosecutor) and brought exotic animals: lion cubs, orangutans, chimpanzee, reptiles and puppet shows. The programs quickly became standing-room only events and resulted in commendations from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, Mayor and City Council of Bell and culminating in receiving a key to the City of Bell. In addition, she devoted her personal time as one of the founding members of the Malibu Temple – one of the largest temple in the US. She organized the first-ever fund raising event with Srimathi Vyjayanthimala who was their house guest along with her husband Mr. Bali and their son.
Her husband, Nat was transferred from Los Angeles to Houston and Leela joined the Harris County library system as head librarian at the Barbara Bush Library the largest county library located in Spring, TX. She continued her author’s program bringing best-selling novelist Stephen King and others as guest speakers. Later, she moved to become the Research Assistant at Pannell Kerr Forester and was the co-editor of the magazine Trends. Her fundraising activities had a broad range. She organized an event benefitting UNICEF with the famous sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. She is a Steering Committee member of the Sri Meenakshi Temple and did a similar fundraiser featuring Sri Ravi Shankar for the temple. She participated in Mayor Bill White’s initiative “Expectation Graduation” giving high school students an incentive to complete high school by giving them all the supplies for college including a new computer.
Leela moved to New Orleans where she worked at the Second Harvester Food Bank. Subsequently, at the Children’s Bureau as the Director of Development, she hand-delivered a proposal requesting funding for the prevention of domestic violence and abuse to the well-known basketball player Michael Jordan. The proposal was funded by his foundation. She organized a Bharat Natyam dance program to raise funds for The House of Ruth for the homeless. She received a commendation from the Governor of Louisiana, Mike Foster.
Leela returned to Houston and continues to remain active in numerous social programs. As a board member and president of the Indo American Charity Foundation, she facilitated the building of two-homes for Houston Habitat for Humanity’s deserving families. Her numerous accolades include: Congressional Recognition from Pete Olson, Easter Seals ”Hats Off” to Mothers, and the Top 20 Impact Maker Award from CKW , presented by Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. She has received numerous awards from Indian associations such as Indo American Charity Foundation, India Cultural Center, Meenakshi Temple Bharathi Kalai Manram, and Telugu Association.
She is currently on the board of UNICEF, and is the past President of Indo American Charity Foundation, Bharathi Kalai Manram and board member of several organizations including Houston Habitat for Humanity.
Heartiest congratulations Ms. Leela
Sankara Nethralaya Thanks The Kannan Family
In 2017, a 12 year old boy in Suburban Washington DC in the USA, happened to see a video about Sankara Nethralaya in one of the local fundraising events. The plight of blind people in India and the activities of Nethralaya inspired him so much, he decided to do whatever he could to raise funds. His parents, Amuthan and Vidya, encouraged him to host a fundraiser at the basement of their house in the form of a youth talent show. His friends and family supported his cause and the event raised upwards of $2000.
Encouraged by the success of the previous event, Jay and family hosted another fundraiser in May of 2019. This time the event moved to a local school auditorium as more number of people came forward to support the cause. They raised about $3,000 for Sankara Nethralaya, which funded 46 cataract surgeries for the economically underprivileged in our society.
This year’s Charity Night, held on 8th August 2020, is the Kannan Family’s fourth annual fundraiser. Due to the Covid19 scare the entire event was virtual. Jay put together a 1 hour 30 minutes show where all participants performed from their respective homes. Whole show was beautifully planned and organized by Kannan family using the Zoom video platform. Over 20 performers of varied age groups from all across the United States showcased their talent. This year’s virtual event has raised over $4000 for Sankara Nethralaya’s mission to bring vision to indigent blind people. Krishna Raj Bhat, trustee & joint treasurer, SN OM Trust introduced Sankara Nethralaya’s mission for vision and thanked the Kannan family – Amudhan, Vidhya, Hari and Jay, for organizing the Virtual Charity Night.
It is heart-warming to see Indian American youth showcasing their talents for the cause of bringing sight to the poor visually challenged people in our Society. Sankara Nethralaya thanks the Kannan family for their generosity in raising money to fight blindness among the poor in society.
The efforts of these young Indians in America to help the visually challenged Indians during the pandemic is truly awe-inspiring. Just $65 goes towards helping a poor Indian receive free cataract surgery and follow-up care. By contributing towards Sankara Nethralaya’s mission to bring vision to the poor, you enable one poor blind person to regain their place in society.
1st Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan Memorial Scientific Session 9 Sep 2020
Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan, fondly called as Raji, who headed the contact lens clinic for almost two decades, epitomized leadership, courage, resilience, dedication, perfection, and innovation. She brought in all the best practices and advancements in the field of contact lenses and specialty contact lenses to Sankara Nethralaya that raised the status of the contact lens clinic at SN to the Numero Uno position.
Raji graduated from the prestigious Elite school of Optometry (ESO) in 1998 and went ahead to pursue her M.Phil and Ph.D. in contact lenses while continuing to serve at SN. She held a number of first-of-its-kind accolades including a Ph.D. in the field of specialty contact lenses, PROSE clinical fellowship from the Boston Foundation for Sight, USA to becoming the Asia Pacific Regional President of the executive board of the “International Association of Contact Lens Educators (IACLE)”. She became a Fellow of the International Association of Contact Lens Educators (FIACLE) in 2000, obtained FSLS a fellowship from the scleral lens education society in 2014, awarded the first initiated, ‘Educator of the Year’ award in the field of contact lens in Asia pacific region for the year 2014, received the Fellowship from the British Contact Lens Association (FBCLA) in the year 2014, Fellowship from the American Academy of Optometry (FAAO) in 2016, and served as the Asia Pacific – President for IACLE. The proudest moment in her life was authoring her first book on “Trouble Shooting and Problem Solving in Contact Lens Practice,” which was released during the ESO’s International Vision Science and Optometry Conference in 2015 by her revered Guru Mahatria Ra. She had also authored a chapter on “Role of Contact Lens in Different Environment” in ‘Dr. Santanam’s Text book of Occupational Optometry’ and also contributed a chapter on “Cornea and Contact Lens” in Peyman’s Ophthalmology.
The American Academy of Optometry has honored Raji with a posthumous honorary Diplomate in the Cornea, Contact Lens and Refractive Therapy (CCLRT) section – the highest recognition in the field one could possibly ever get right now. This shows the exemplary clinician researcher that Raji was across the global fraternity!
On her fond memory, the Medical Research Foundation had organized a Memorial Scientific Session on her birthday, September 9, 2020 to celebrate her legacy in contact lens and research. The first Dr. Rajeswari Mahadevan Memorial Scientific Session was a virtual conference with a live telecast on YouTube. The conference brought together budding clinicians and researchers from contact lens and optometry background.
Prof.Edward S. Bennett, Executive Director and President of GP Lens Institute, Clinical Features Editor of the Contact lens Spectrum, Professor Emeritus, University of Missouri – St. Louis College of Optometry, was the Oration speaker. His oration on “Indications and fitting of corneal GP designs – Has it changed over the years and how?” enlightened the audience with insights and journey of GP lenses
The Keynote speaker was Dr. R. Krishnakumar, freelance Optometrist and Educationalist and Former Principal of Elite School of Optometry. His address on “Integrated practice model for Optometrists in India” was very informative to the upcoming optometrists.
The session had a panel discussion by experts in the field of contact lens, Dr. Anitha Arvind, Specialty Contact Lens Practitioner, Co-educator for Rose-k lenses and Reviewer for Contact lens and Anterior Eye, Mr. Preetam Kumar, Consultant Optometrist, Cornea and Contact Lens Services, L V Prasad Eye Institute, Ms. Rinu Thomas, Assistant Professor, Department of Optometry, Manipal Institute of Health Professionals and Mr. Asif Iqbal, Senior Optometrist, Sankara Nethralaya. The discussion was on “Specialty Contact Lenses in Ocular Surface Disorders – Present and Future”. The discussion was based on the common challenges faced by practitioners in the clinic and the way to handle it professionally. The recent advances in specialty lenses for Ocular surface disorders and its practice in India was also discussed.
The scientific session consisted of e-posters, oral presentations and panel discussion. Abstracts were also available in the E-abstract book in the website. A total of 17 E-posters and 5 oral presentations were short-listed, out of which, 2 best E-posters and 1 best oral presentation were awarded a certificate and an award money of Rs.10,000 each by the Medical Research Foundation. The winners for the best E-posters were, Mr. Asif Iqbal, Senior Optometrist, Contact Lens department, Sankara Nethralaya and Ms. Akshaya C. Balakrishnan, Graduate Student, Elite School of Optometry. The best oral presentation was awarded to Ms. Pooja Nandagopal, Graduate Student, Manipal Academy of Higher Education.
The session with almost 1.5k views in YouTube was successfully received by the audience. It was an event of pride for the entire contact lens team of Sankara Nethralaya to conduct the first scientific session in Dr. Rajeswari’s memory.
Sankara Nethralaya Celebrates Forty Two Years of Selfless Service
On 6th September 2020, Sankara Nethralaya celebrated our 43rd Foundation Day very differently to previous years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sankara Nethralaya family got together digitally to celebrate forty-two years of bringing vision to the haves and have-nots alike.
Our President, Dr. Girish Rao, opened the proceedings by thanking the front-line warriors and everyone who worked even during the intense lockdown and are the face of SN when patients walk into Sankara Nethralaya. He handed over the evening’s virtual program to the compere, Dr. N. Radhika. The melodious Dr. S. Meenakshi sang the invocation song, which is one of Dr. S. S. Badrinath’s favourites.
Founded on Ganesh Chathurthi (6th September) in 1978, Dr. S. S. Badrinath envisioned Sankara Nethralya as a non-profit hospital that provides vision to the sightless and enable them to be active contributors to society. Sankara Nethralaya’s unique not-for-profit model relies on contributions for all its community services and on paying patients for day-to-day operations.
Dr. T. S. Surendran guided us through SN’s journey to become what it is today. From the inaugural ceremony to the original building in which Sankara Nethralaya started, Dr. T.S.S led us back to the heady days of Sankara Nethralaya’s foundation He has witnessed every major event that occurred at SN and the many achievements in the field of ophthalmology
Our beloved Chief and Madam, Dr. S. S. Badrinath and Dr. (Mrs.) Vasanthi Badrinath joined the virtual celebrations to bless Sankara Nethralaya staff and their families. They recalled the long hard road to establish Sankara Nethralaya as the premier institute for eye care imbibed with the spirit of service to society regardless of ability to pay. Chief rededicated SN to the mission of bringing vision to the poor and reminded us to be resilient in these trying times, and to put more energy to take Sankara Nethralaya to new heights.
Following in the footsteps of our Chief, Dr. Badrinath, is indeed a tall order. The tradition of hard work and dedication was cemented by him during the early days when he used to start surgeries as early as 5 a.m. and continue work until 9 p.m, along with his administrative duties. Our Chief never visualised his life’s work as a corporate hospital, an unusual occurrence even today.
Dr. S. Bhaskaran; Dr. Ian Sundaraj; Dr. K.S. Vasan; Dr. L. Vijaya; Dr. Prema Padmanabhan; Dr. Nirmala Subramanian; Dr. J. Biswas; Dr. Pramod Bhende; Dr. S. Meenakshi; Dr. Suchetna Mukherjee (Kolkata); Ms. Surekha Mehta; Dr. Anuradha Narayanan; Ms. Sreedevi C G; Ms. Sudha Mohan; Ms. Malathi G. G; and Ms. Yuvarani were among the senior staff members who shared many of their unforgettable memories of training & working under Dr. S. S. Badrinath, and the valuable lessons they imbibed under his awe-inspiring tutelage.
Dr. S. Meenakshi, also presented a vivacious recap of all the celebrations and staff get-togethers that took place through the years.- a reminder that Sankara Nethralaya staff consider each other family.
View Sankara Nethralaya’s Founder’s Day virtual celebrations in the following link: