Meet Shilpa Alimchandani
Founder & Principal
I am a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) consultant, leadership coach, and facilitator who partners with clients to develop holistic solutions that lead to transformational change.
My purpose is to free myself and others from systems of oppression that disconnect us from our potential, our creativity, and our humanity. I say this with the recognition that each of us is a whole human being with choices, and we must build communities and organizations that allow for and support that wholeness. I remain hopeful that we, as humans, can create a more caring and just world.
I have more than 20 years of experience in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), leadership development, and intercultural learning. In my independent consulting practice, I have conducted DEI assessments, co-created DEI strategies with clients, facilitated high impact learning experiences, and advised clients on issues of racial equity and justice.
In my role as the Director of Learning & Innovation for Cook Ross, I built the learning and development function from the ground up and led the organization’s curriculum and product development initiatives. With my deep knowledge of various learning modalities, intercultural leadership development, and human-centered design, I am able to craft interventions that are targeted, impactful, and appropriate for diverse, global audiences.
Before my work at Cook Ross, I designed and implemented global leadership programs for the State Department, led the development of a global learning strategy for the Peace Corps, and taught in the School of International Service at American University. I have facilitated trainings in nearly 20 countries around the world, and have received numerous awards, including twice receiving the Peace Corps’ Distinguished Service Award.
I am the author of the book Communicating Development Across Cultures: Monologues & Dialogues in Development Project Implementation (Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010), and have been an invited speaker at numerous conferences, including The Forum on Workplace Inclusion and the Society for Intercultural Education, Training, and Research (SIETAR). I have also been a guest lecturer at numerous academic institutions, including Georgetown University and the United States Institute of Peace.
I am a cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, Indian American woman with class and education privilege. Growing up as the eldest of three children in a South Asian immigrant home in a mostly white suburb of St. Louis, MO in the 1980s and 1990s, I learned early in life how to navigate between worlds. My home was filled with the smells of Indian spices and sounds of Bollywood music. The relatively small Indian community in St. Louis was my extended family, and helped to root me in my cultural heritage. Outside that Indian bubble, I learned the ways of the dominant culture through school and US popular culture.
As an adolescent, I began questioning why these two worlds were so separate. I began sharing my heritage at school, giving speeches about cultural awareness and occasionally wearing South Asian clothes to school. I studied the civil rights movement in the US and the independence movement in India and began to appreciate the commonalities between these struggles for justice and liberation. At home, I challenged my parents’ traditions by dating people outside of our community and questioning the sexism, racism, homophobia, and religious intolerance I saw within our own community.
In college, I deepened my knowledge about the social justice issues I cared about by pursuing a multidisciplinary degree drawing on sociology, psychology, literature, and history. This laid the foundation for what evolved into my career as an educator, facilitator, and coach who shines a spotlight on the systems of oppression in which we operate and supports organizations and individuals in becoming more equitable and human-centered.
Today, I live with my partner and two children in Silver Spring, Maryland. Family remains a central part of my life, and I have found that parenthood is as much about learning as it is teaching. My life decisions, both at work and at home, are guided by my values of compassion, integrity, connection, and humility.