Swati A Dandekar on Wednesday became the first Indian American to serve as the US executive director at the Asian Development Bank (ADB), in the rank of ambassador.
The 64-year-old Iowa Democrat was a member of the state legislature from 2002 to 2008 and then served in the state senate from 2009 to 2011. She also ran for US House.
Dandekar was named by President Barack Obama in November 2015. The US senate announced the confirmation this week after a mandatory hearing in February.
The ADB board on which Dandekar will serve makes decisions on loans, investments, grant and policy proposals, oversees the financial and management operations of the ADB, and provides broad strategic guidance to the bank’s senior management.
Dandekar is yet another Indian American appointed to a senior position in the Obama administration, and second in the rank of ambassador, after US ambassador to India, Rich Verma.
The three million strong community in the US, which followed Dandekar’s nomination process, is evidence of the growing political clout they wield in the country.
Born and raised in India, Dandekar moved to the US in 1973 after marrying Arvind Dandekar, a software entrepreneur. An alumnus of Nagpur University and Bombay University, she is mother to two sons — a doctor and an economist.
“My upbringing in India provides me with an excellent understanding of the Asian culture,” Dandekar had said at her confirmation hearing in February.
She led several delegations to India through her career which made her realise that “empowering women is the key to eradicating poverty and to achieving economic growth”, she said.
She also hopes to work with NGOs and other international organisations on women’s issues as it relates to development financing.