New Jersey Leadership Program Announces New Chairman and Board Leadership


GUTTENBERG, NJ – The New Jersey Leadership Program (NJ Lead), a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that seeks to educate and encourage young South Asians in New Jersey to get involved in public service, government, and the policy, recently announced a new chairman and executive board.

Ishan Shah, director of government affairs at Quest Diagnostics, will succeed Amit Jani as chairman. Ishan previously served in the office of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and as Chief of Staff to New Jersey Assembly Member Kevin Rooney, as well as in the campaign of NJGOP President Bob Hugin in the United States Senate in 2018.

“I thank Amit and the NJ Lead team for building such an incredible program and I am happy to be able to take over during a period of incredible interest and success in political engagement within the South Asian community. NJ’s new senior chairman, Ishan Shah, said. . “It has never been so important to involve young people more. NJ Lead, through its summer scholarship program, seeks to develop the next generation of South Asian political leaders.

Amit was one of the first co-founders of NJ Lead and has served as NJ Lead since its inception in 2015. He previously served as National Director of the Asian and American Pacific Islands (AAPI) for President Joe Biden and worked for several elected officials, including New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy, US Senator Bob Menendez, as well as Congressmen Frank Pallone, Jr. and Judy Chu.

“I am incredibly excited that Ishan is leading NJ Lead with the new leadership of the board,” said Jani. “We are incredibly proud to have helped start this program with the help of a village, and we have had nearly 60 South Asian alumni from New Jersey graduating from our program over the past six years,” many of whom decided to continue in public service. This new leadership will help bring new ideas and initiatives, helping NJ Lead to continue to grow into the premier program it has become.

Jani, who will continue to serve on the board, also thanked the co-founders of NJ Lead, as well as recent board members who stepped down from Kristian Stout as vice chairman and Henal Patel as as Advocate General.

The new main leadership of the NJ will include Meet Patel as vice president and Kunal Papaiya as general counsel. Darshan Jha and Aadi Kulkarni will join the board of directors. Their biographies are included below.

“As an NJ Lead Fellow and alumnus, I have benefited tremendously from this program and am happy to be able to give back,” said incoming vice president Meet Patel. “I consider myself very lucky to have been placed in Governor Murphy’s office as a senior member of the NJ and then hired by him after I graduated from college. I hope to continue this pipeline to public service for future generations of South Asian youth throughout New Jersey. “

NJ Lead has announced the new leadership of its Board of Directors as it prepares to open applications for the 2022 Summer Fellowship Program on December 1, 2021.

New Jersey Board Leadership

Ishan Shah – President
Ishan Shah is currently Director of Government Affairs at Quest Diagnostic. He previously served as assistant to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and chief of staff to New Jersey Assembly member Kevin Rooney. He also worked for the campaign of NJGOP President Bob Hugin in the US Senate in 2018.

Meet Patel – Vice President
Meet Patel is currently a member of the administration of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. Patel is an alumnus of the NJ Lead Fellowship Program and joined the Murphy administration as an IGA intern through NJ Lead. Previously, he was also a member of the New Brunswick Democratic Organization committee.

Kunal Papaiya – General Counsel
Kunal Papaiya is co-owner and general counsel of the USA Wine Traders Club, a growing portfolio of large retail liquor stores throughout New Jersey. A graduate of Rutgers Law School in Newark, Kunal served as co-chair of the Asia-Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and co-founded the Rutgers University Student Caucus (RUSC). Kunal was a City Year Boston AmeriCorps member during the 2015-2016 school year.

Darshan Jha – Board Member
Darshan Jha is currently an assistant to Senator-elect Jean Stanfield, as well as incumbent Ryan Peters in the 8th Legislative District of New Jersey. Jha previously worked as the Burlington County Field Coordinator for the NJGOP. Previously, he also worked for a non-profit organization aimed at helping individuals enter the workforce. Darshan served in the United States Army from 2009 to 2018 and departed as an NBC non-commissioned officer.

Aadi Kulkarni – Board Member
Aadi has been a proud alumnus of the NJLP since 2017 and is currently chairman of the alumni council. He is a senior student in Policy Analysis and Information Science at Cornell University, originally from Far Hills, New Jersey. He interned with Senator Cory Booker, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and the Innovation Lab at Harvard Law School. Besides exploring the tri-state food scene with other guys, he runs 5 miles, loves to cook, and is addicted to online chess.

More information about NJ Lead and its 2022 Summer Fellowship program can be found at


The New Jersey Leadership Program (NJ Lead) is a 501 (c) 3 non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the participation and education of young South Asian Americans at the local level of government of the State of New Jersey. NJ Lead and its scholarship program focus on developing leadership skills, acquiring knowledge about public policy, and creating a pipeline for South Asian Americans to work in government or practice. public functions at the local, state and federal levels. To learn more about NJ Lead, please visit

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Kevin E. Boling