Deepa Iyer

Senior Fellow

Deepa Iyer is a South Asian American activist, writer, and lawyer.  Iyer’s areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, national security and immigration policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices.

Currently, Iyer is a Senior Fellow at the new Race Forward. The new Race Forward is the union of two leading racial justice non-profit organizations: Race Forward and Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). She is also a member of the 2017 Soros Equality Fellows cohort, and a contributing writer for Colorlines. Her first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015), received a 2016 American Book Award and was selected as a top 10 multicultural non-fiction books of 2015.  Since We Too Sing America was published, Iyer has been part of over 50 community conversations around the country on the themes in the book, at college campuses, non-profit organizations, faith-based institutions among others. Iyer also provides trainings on racial equity and solidarity to non-profits, government agencies, public and private stakeholders, and institutions of higher learning.

Iyer served for a decade as the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)  where she helped to shape SAALT’s work on civil and immigrant rights issues, network building, and solidarity. She has also worked as Legal Director at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC), Staff Attorney at the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), and Trial Attorney at the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice where she fashioned an initiative to address post 9/11 backlash with two other attorneys.  Iyer has published opinion editorials in The New York Times,, The Nation, The Huffington Post and The Guardian.

An immigrant who moved to Kentucky from Kerala (India) when she was twelve, Deepa graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University. She blogs at and tweets at @dviyer.

(original photo above by Les Talusan Photography)

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