Obama Alumni Form Red Fort Strategies
Former Obama administration officials have launched Red Fort Strategies, a public affairs and government relations firm. Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally will serve as the firm’s Executive Chairman. He previously served as the Executive Director of SelectUSA, the U.S. government-wide initiative to attract and retain business investment in the country. Then-President Barack Obama appointed the Indian immigrant as Ambassador to Belize in 2009, where he served until 2013, and was the first U.S. Ambassador of Indian origin in history. Thummalapally is fluent in English, Telugu, Hindi, and Urdu. Nick Rathod, who will be a Managing Director, most recently served as Founder and Executive Director of the State Innovation Exchange. Prior to that, he served as the first Assistant Director of Intergovernmental & International Affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He also worked as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Obama-Biden Transition Team. Also joining the team as a Managing Director is Rina Shah, who served as a senior aide to two Republican members of the House of Representatives -- Scott Garrett (NJ) and Jeff B. Miller (FL) -- and was a top strategist on two U.S. presidential campaigns, before launching her own firm, Rilax Strategies. She speaks English, Gujarati, Hindi, and Spanish. Also joining the firm as a Managing Director is Ferhan Hamid, who was most recently CEO and Co-Founder of INADEV, a digital technology firm. He also previously served as Managing Deputy Comptroller for the City of Chicago, Deputy Comptroller and Assistant Comptroller for the City of Chicago, Counsel for the Chicago Park District, and as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois. Hamid also currently serves as the Chairman of the Board of the Virginia Lottery. Finally, Varun Nikore is also joining as a Managing Director. Nikore most recently served as SVP-International for TriPolus. He is a Founder and past-President of the Indian American Leadership Initiative, the largest Indian American network of Democrats in the U.S. He currently serves as President of the AAPI Victory Fund and as Executive Director of AAPI Progressive Action. He was previously the Co-Chair of Small Business Owners Council for the DNC in 2012, Transportation Policy Advisor and advisor to South Asians for Obama in 2008. More here.