Shefali Razdan Duggal

Haridwar to California: Dream Run

By Prashant Tandon

“Vision counts more than dollars”

Gorgeous, glamorous, and a go-getter, Shefali Razdan Duggal redefines the concept of 3G. These days it’s her fund-raising talent for President Barack Obama’s second-run at the White House that everyone’s talking about.

When you are raising funds, it helps being articulate. Good communicators like President Obama have always inspired her. Right from the time when as a young girl she’d watch political campaigns on American television and then one day would decide to support Al Gore’s campaign, Shefali has looked at effective communication as a means to relate better to the world. Communication has been her strength and greatest ally, and perhaps not without reason. She received an MA in Political Communication from the New York University and a BS in Mass Communication from Miami University.She was only two-years-old when in 1973 her family immigrated to the United States from India. She was born to Kashmiri parents in Haridwar, Uttarakhand. In the USA, she grew up in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Boston and New York, and now, at just 40, is one of the more prominent Indian Americans making waves in California. In fact, earlier in 2012, the National Diversity Council, a not-for-profit organization that champions diversity in workplace and communities, chose Shefali as one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women of California.” That also makes her one of the most prominent Americans of Indian descent in the West Coast.

She’s a member of Obama’s Presidential Partners, is on the National Finance Committee and Northern California Finance Committee and is co-chair at the Obama Victory Trustees (OVT). Apart from having joined the Al Gore campaign, she’s played an active role in fund-raising for Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidature in 2008, before Clinton stepped down in favour of Barack Obama.


She also manages to raise plenty of fun during interviews. Like when she discloses how the surname Duggal got added to her original name, i.e. Shefali Razdan. In her own words, this is how it went: “When I was 13 years old, I noticed, for the first time, a particular 15-year-old desi boy walking down the hallway in my high school. This boy and I never once spoke during our days at high school. To my surprise, destiny stepped in some 10 years later when our mothers first met and then later encouraged us to meet over coffee. This boy, Rajat Duggal, my childhood crush, would then become my husband.”

It was during the Razdan family’s stay at Cincinnati that Shefali started taking interest in the developments in American politics. Politics is something that she saw her father deeply interested in, and she let it slowly become a part of her life as well. At New York University, her master’s thesis revolved around the presidential campaigns of Reverend Jesse Jackson between 1984 and 1988.
Apart from politics, she is also actively involved in Human Rights Watch and is hugely inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mother Teresa and Hillary Clinton. An avid reader, she is firmly rooted in her origins and culture. She follows Indian classical music, and savours Kashmiri cuisine. Married for fourteen years, Shefali is mother to two growing children and loves to play the part of fun-raiser within the family. She keeps visiting India and spends quality time with her brother’s family in Delhi.

August 2012

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