Meet the Board
The mission of Ayana Arts is to bring together a community of young professionals seeking to further cultivate their passion and experience in the South Asian arts. We aim to encourage fusion across all art forms, geographic regions, and styles with the shared goal of creating an innovative and unique performance. Ayana will provide an enjoyable outlet for artists to collaborate, share and explore their talents. Above all, we will push the boundaries of traditional South Asian performing arts while remaining rooted in and honoring our South Asian culture and heritage. This, coupled with our philanthropic partnerships (we’re in the process of becoming a 501-c3) with local organizations catering to South Asian women and children right here in New York, is undoubtedly a recipe for success!
SONAL SOMAIYA (Co-founder and Finance Chair)
Sonal was born in Houston and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. She attended high school with cofounder, Janan, and graduated from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service in December 2013. While at Georgetown, Sonal served as President of the South Asian Society, was a member of GU Jawani and helped found a chapter of Smart Women Securities on campus. She graduated a semester early and spent 4 months working on an affordable housing development project in Mumbai, India. Currently, she works in Investment Banking at Goldman Sachs. Sonal has been trained for over 15 years in ballet, pointe and Bharatnatyam. In her spare time, she enjoys mixing and playing music, running and dancing. Last year, she also competed with SMD Bhangra, a premier all-girls bhangra team from NYC.
MARIAM MATIN (Co-founder and Marketing Chair)
Mariam hails from Houston, Texas, although one could argue that her true roots are the streets of Bombay / the Swiss Alps / any sunflower field where she inevitably starred in a Bollywood film in her past life. Mariam graduated from Georgetown University in 2015 and majored in Economics and Psychology. At Georgetown, she founded Bindaas, a Bollywood dance group and served as President of the South Asian Society. She currently works in digital marketing at Undertone in New York and in her free time, she enjoys choreographing and pretending to be a Bollywood star.
JANAN DAVE (Co-founder and Philanthropy Chair)
Janan is originally from Princeton, New Jersey. After attending high school with fellow co-founder, Sonal, she went on to study Health and Societies and Spanish at UPenn and graduated in 2014. At Penn, Janan spent pretty much all of her time dancing with CityStep, a dance-based community service organization, and as President of Penn Masti, Penn’s premier co-ed South Asian fusion dance team. With Masti, she cultivated a love for all things fusion, as she blended her Bharatnatyam training with her love for hip hop and contemporary dance styles. Now, Janan is pursuing her passion for public health as the Director of Community Health at the NJ Health Care Quality Institute. In her spare time, she loves to bake, cook, and eat. Check out her food & philanthropy blog, Fork it Forward!
DIVYA PADGOANKAR (Logistics Chair)
Divya was born and raised in Edison, New Jersey. It's no surprise that South Asian culture has played an integral part in her life. Trained in Odissi and Bollywood, she danced her way through The College of New Jersey as both, a member and manager of the fusion dance team, TCNJ Saathiya. After studying Sociology at TCNJ, she went on to pursue her MPH in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. She is currently an Administrative Fellow at RWJ Barnabas - Jersey City Medical Center. When she's not working or dancing, she's mostly likely with her large and insane family, watching Friends reruns, or plotting ways to casually bump into Aziz Ansari for their inevitable meet-cute.
ZEENA ADVANI (Fundraising/Legal Chair)
Zeena grew up in Stamford, Connecticut. She has always had a passion for dance and cultivated her knowledge of many different forms while growing up, including jazz, tap, ballet and Bollywood. She was primarily trained in Kathak for 15 years, performing at a semi-professional level and was featured on News12 Connecticut’s segment “Our Lives”. Throughout college at New York University’s Stern School of Business Zeena has continued with this South Asian art form, while also learning salsa and ballroom dancing. She is currently a private equity professional at Apax Partners.You’ll now frequently find her at a salsa club in New York City, trying out a new dance routine. Her free time usually involves reading up on the latest discoveries in astronomy, and searching for the best cocktail NYC has to offer.