Coalition Language Representative

Vetriselvi Rajamanickam founded California Tamil Academy (now International Tamil Academy, ITA) and presently serves as the President of the ITA Board and Head of Curriculum at ITA. She holds a postgraduate degree in History from Bharathidasan University, India.

At ITA, she provides leadership and management for all academic areas by overseeing and coordinating with volunteers. As Head of Curriculum, she drafts and presents budget plans for the resources needed to develop the curriculum to ITA's board. She also identifies appropriate volunteers to build the curriculum, creating a sustainable team. In this role, she coordinates with different groups and international book writers to determine the appropriate curriculum for the excellent grade. She explores various country texts, exercises, essays, and story books and interacts with book writers, developers, animators, printers, and shipping facilities. As Textbook Development Team Lead and Coordinator, she is the liaison between book authors and ITA teacher volunteers and is responsible for developing ITA textbooks. She continuously explores new techniques, books, and trainers to create a compelling and evolving curriculum.

She spearheads the organization and development of international Tamil education conferences to bring in new teaching methods, tools, and techniques. ITA is a progressive organization, constantly staying relevant to the needs of the diaspora. ITA’s goal is to create teaching methods that would be acceptable to the future generations, which may or may not have any links to Tamil Nadu, yet preserve Tamil language, culture, and the rich roots. The persistence and desire for Tamil and culture drove her to build a homegrown teaching experience to a fully-fledged Tamil institution.

Vetriselvi also serves as the Chairman of Parivallal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, India, a non-profit school. Her father, Shri Madhavan, founded this school in her village to provide rural children with an education similar to well-run schools in large metros. The belief is that providing quality education to these rural children from impoverished families can equip them with the ability to compete with students from large cities. She has been involved in school funding and operations for 35 years, focusing on progressive teaching methods, while being understanding of rural kids and their economic situation. By managing to get well-wishers worldwide to help fund the operations, her school has one of the best results in the region and has produced many students who have moved out of poverty and, in turn, their families and communities have as well.

She is the Founder of Ulaga Tamil Magalir Mamandram, UTAMAM, which is a non-profit organization created by a group of women of Tamil origin. The organization’s goal is to educate, empower, and elevate South Asian women worldwide through mentorship, establishing support networks, and organizing individualized fundraisers. Ultimately, the organization wants to recognize and celebrate the achievements of South Asian women and provide them with the tools they need to actualize their dreams.

Vetriselvi serves as the Director of Operations at T2 System Pvt Ltd., which is a Singapore-based entity managing investments in companies outside of India. She serves as the Director of Ponni Tech Pvt Ltd (Malaysia), which is a consultant company for OSAT that helps to build the factories. She also serves as the Director of Ponni Tech Pvt Ltd (India), a real estate and investment company, which focuses on consolidating and looking into potential startups that will benefit the larger society.

Language representative photo

Sornam Sankar, Ph.D., is a native Tamil speaker who, along with 2 others, founded the first 100% volunteer-run community-based weekend school in Maryland, TALENT (Tamil Language Education and Training). He has been teaching Tamil language for middle and high school level students for the past 17 years.

When his daughter started going to public school at around age 6, he realized that she was going to lose her mother tongue, Tamil, which is one of the 7 classical languages in the world that is still spoken and has retained most of the vocabulary from its classical form. He decided to start a community-based school and also create an immersion environment by volunteering his whole family for most Tamil-related activities in this country. His family has been dedicating most of their leisure time to many organizations like American Tamil Academy, Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America, Washington Tamil Sangam, Tamil Nadu Foundation, International Educational Foundation, International Medical Health Organization, Tamil Media International, and International Forum for Information Technology in Tamil. Currently he is serving as the secretary of the Trust organization called Tamil Chair Inc., which successfully raised $6 million to establish a permanent Tamil Department at Harvard University, Boston.

Dr. Sankar holds a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and later received a M.S. in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. He is currently working as Vice President of Architecture in a multinational bank. He is also exploring development of community-based resources for teaching Tamil and training teachers in the United States to teach it. 


Rajaram Srinivasan served as a President of Tamil Sangam of Greater Washington, a non-profit international cultural and language organization, from 2017 to 2018 and as Director of the Tamil Sangam of Greater Washington board from 2014 to 2019. He successfully organized and celebrated the official Thai Pongal, recognized by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2018 via Valluvan Tamil Academy. He has coordinated several Tamil Arts and Cultural programs and Tamil scholars’ and artists’ toursto the U.S. to exchange Tamil tradition and heritage in the U.S.

He served as a volunteer with the Maryland Tamil Academy (MTA), a non-profit organization for educating students in Tamil classical language and culture since 2010, and they have established a Foreign Language general elective credit system for Classical Tamil Language with Montgomery County Public Schools for high school students to obtain General Elective Credit and the state of Maryland Seal of Biliteracy.

He served as a Delegate (Representative of tristate Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia) at the Federation of Tamil Association of North America (FeTNA), from 2019 to 2023, and as a volunteer at the 10th International Association for Tamil Research (IATR) Conference in Chicago. He helped with travel arrangements for all of the Tamil scholars who traveled from all over the world to attend the conference in 2019. He proudly represents the American Tamil community at the Embassy of India in Washington DC and coordinates community collaboration and support systems with the Embassy officials.

He has served as a Coordinator for the 1st official visit of the Government of Tamil Nadu, India to the United States to launch the “Yaadhum Oore” program in 2019, to promote Tamil Nadu as the best state in India for investment and job creation opportunities. He has coordinated with the government of Tamil Nadu officials, Embassy of India, Consulate General offices in New York and San Francisco, American Tamil Community via FeTNA , and the investment community for a successful launch of the program in New York and San Francisco.

He was born and grew up in a rural village of Silamalai near the western Ghats of Theni District, Tamil Nadu, India. He studied at the village government school until high school and then graduated in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Bharathiyar University, Government College of Technology in Coimbatore. He is an Engineering graduate and Facilities Management professional, with 29 years of engineering experience and 25 years of experience in the Facility and Asset Management of Hospitality industry. He has worked with Marriott International for 22 years as a Director of Engineering. He loves to engage in community service, travel, hiking, and music. 

Sumathi Venkatapathy (Padmanaban) is based in the San Francisco Bay Area region. Meeting Vetriselvi Rajamanickam (Founder and President of the California Tamil Academy (now International Tamil Academy, ITA)) lit the brightest spark for her 25 years of volunteering for California Tamil Academy and the related Tamil school services. With the desire to somehow teach her daughters to read and write in Tamil, Sumathi started volunteering in California Tamil Academy in 2000, from the second year since its inception.

Sumathi works as a Biotech scientist in the San Francisco Bay Area and lives with her two daughters and her husband, Mr. Padmanaban, who is a software professional. She has served at ITA as a volunteer Tamil teacher at all levels from Kindergarten to eighth grade, as a secretary on ITA Board, and as a principal in two schools. She has contributed to the efforts of Curriculum Development and Books Committee, which focuses on creating curricula for the educational needs of diaspora students. She serves in the Progressive Education and Standards team to bring new initiatives in Progressive Tamil Education.

She is currently serving as an ITA consultant for International ITA-affiliated schools and team lead for Heritage Language teaching. Her biggest love is teaching her Preschool class on Sundays, where the focus is language acquisition using stories, songs, drama, games, culture, and laughter. Her purpose is to provide a Tamil learning environment and to inspire and motivate students to be engaged in Tamil learning and proud of their cultural identity. She says positive attitude, encouragement, and enthusiasm from other volunteers keep her motivated to continue to teach and improve Tamil learning.

Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2019