Over the years, the Tahirih Justice Center’s work has expanded from a small group of volunteers in the nation’s capital to five thriving offices with over 100 staff across the country. This expansion would not have been possible without the labor of Tahirih’s Development Team, a group of 20+ fierce fundraisers. A particularly noteworthy example of these efforts is the $10M Ready to Soar Expansion Campaign, which successfully concluded in 2017 and has allowed Tahirih to magnify its work providing legal and social services to women and girls all over the world. This mighty team includes the dedication and drive of Development Strategy and Operations Associate, Rahi Patel.
Rahi was born and raised in Monmouth County, New Jersey. He grew up with an older brother and his parents who immigrated to the United States from India. In 2012, he started his undergraduate degree at American University in Washington, D.C. studying Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government. While there, he had the opportunity to intern at a number of anti-human trafficking organizations, such as FAIR Girls and Polaris.
“While interning with anti-human trafficking nonprofits in D.C., I learned about Tahirih as a resource for survivors of gender-based violence; our clients were sometimes referred to Tahirih for T visa relief. Tahirih quickly climbed to the top of my list of organizations that I dreamed to work for. Throughout college, my passion for service and preventing gender-based violence continued to build. I knew I wanted to work for an organization where I could help end cycles of violence.”
After graduating with his bachelors, Rahi immediately joined Tahirih in 2016. He began his tenure as Executive and Development Assistant, where he served as the assistant to the CEO and helped the National Development Team with analysis of organizational goals, metrics, and growth. After serving in that position for two years, Rahi’s professional trajectory at Tahirih took an exciting turn and he is now serving as the organization’s Development Strategy and Operations Associate.
In his current role, Rahi supports the Chief Development and Marketing Officer and the National Development and Communications Team on strategic efforts and team operations.
“My day-to-day at Tahirih can vary greatly depending on the needs of my team and the priorities of the organization. On a given day, I may be reviewing fundraising metrics, facilitating team meetings to strategize on development efforts, or working on specific projects that will improve the organization’s fundraising efforts.”
Rahi’s passion for ending cycles of violence has only strengthened since working at Tahirih and though there are many reasons why, it is for one reason especially – his deep admiration for the clients.
“I am continually inspired and humbled by the clients we serve. Their spirit, strength, and resiliency is sometimes unfathomable to me. It is an honor and the highlight of my role at Tahirih to help elevate our clients’ voices in any way I can.”
Rahi works closely with “Tahirih’s Wings,” an advocacy group that connects former Tahirih clients with opportunities to share their journey with the public and help other women facing similar circumstances that they have experienced. As a self-created and a self-led group, Tahirih’s Wings is a space where members can raise their voices, talents, and passion to stand up and fight for a more equal and just world. The group of women, and some of their daughters, are a strong, loving, inspirational group who engage in media outreach, development, storytelling, and policy advocacy.
“It is the most humbling and beautiful thing in the world to accompany Tahirih’s Wings members on their advocacy journey. My heart honestly overflows with joy and hopefulness when I hear how they want to enact change or help other women who are going through what they went through. They all do so much and ask for nothing in return; their selflessness is mind-blowing.”
Although Tahirih’s Wings is an incredible source of light and beacon of hope, there are still struggles and complexities of navigating the Development Strategy and Operations Associate position in a time where immigrant rights and protections are being revoked left and right.
“The most challenging aspect of my work, mentally, is wrapping my head around the unmet need for our services. It breaks my heart knowing that there are so many people who need our help. Our team works as hard as we can so that our services can continue to grow.”
Rahi knows that even though our capacity allows us to serve only 1 in 10 women that come to Tahirih seeking help and protection, Team Tahirih is taking every necessary step to ensure we continue to expand and help as many people as possible – hopefully one day, helping every woman or child who needs our services.
“I am still star struck by the expertise of our legal and social service teams, the vigor of our policy team, and the tireless efforts of my colleagues to get the word out.”
And, there is always a flicker of light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“We are supporting our clients in their journey to justice, working to ensure our systems are just, and informing as many people as we can about the issues that make a difference.”