Charlotte (North Carolina): Chicagoan Smita Shah has become the first Indian-American to serve as a Democratic National Convention parliamentarian, which kicked off here.
Shah, a close supporter of US President Barack Obama, is vice-chair of the Chicago Plan Commission.
She heads Spaan Tech, which The Chicago Tribune in 2011 described as a politically connected information and management technology firm that has four contracts with the city potentially worth several million dollars.
Addressing the convention, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said Shah is the "first person of Asian Indian descent" to serve as a convention parliamentarian.
"It is our responsibility to help the chair apply and enforce the rules of this convention," Hoyer said describing the role of the convention Parliamentarian.
"To that extent, I would advise the delegations that proxy voting is prohibited. If a pledged delegate is absent at the time of a vote, he or she must be replaced by an alternate," he said.
"During the convention, the parliamentarians will be available to respond to any of your questions about the order of proceedings, the methods of voting and the nature of the proceedings.
"Each delegation can call our office at any time, and a parliamentarian will always be on the podium and available for advice and counsel," Hoyer said.
Smita Shah, according to publicly available documents, has been a major donor for the Obama Campaign and the Democratic Party.
She has donated more than USD 70,000 to the Obama Victory Fund 2012 and another equal amount to the Democratic party.
A licensed Professional Engineer, Shah founded Spaan Tech in 1998 and has pioneered its growth into a multi-million dollar Engineering, Construction Management, and Programme Management firm with special expertise in infrastructure projects including: roads, highways, airports, and buildings.
In 2008, the firm was recognised as one of the fastest growing companies by Inc. Magazine. In 2011 she was given the National Community Leader Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) where she serves as an active member both locally and nationally.
According to her company website, Shah serves as the Chairman of the Delhi-Chicago Sister Cities Committee, and has led a trade mission to India with Chicago`s Mayor Richard M Daley to promote economic, cultural and social exchanges between the cities.
She serves in leadership roles in several Indian American community organisations, both in Chicago and nationally.
In recognition of her work on behalf of the Indian-American community, she received the 2007 Ellis Island Medal of honor - an award sponsored by the National Ethnic Coalition Organisation, honoring those "who changed the fabric of America."