Shikha Gulati ’04
Executive Director Cancer Schmancer Movement Cancer Schmancer Foundation New York, New York
Shikha Gulati ’04 had worked for two youth agencies and spearheaded an international disaster relief effort that raised nearly a half-million dollars to rebuild schools, hospitals, and clinics after the 2004 tsunamis, but when she was asked to help actress and patient advocate Fran Drescher launch a nonprofit organization focused on women’s cancers, the 25-yearold was apprehensive. “I had never done anything like that before.”
Founded by Drescher, a uterine cancer survivor, Cancer Schmancer Movement, and its accompanying foundation, strives to ensure that all women’s cancers are diagnosed at Stage 1, when they are most curable, through education, prevention, and policy change.
Gulati joined the organization as founding executive director in February 2007, and Cancer Schmancer Movement was formally launched on June 21, 2007.
“We basically started with 10,000 dollars and nothing else,” she says. But within a month, the high-energy Gulati, then the nonprofit’s only employee, had filed the legal paperwork to establish the organization as a charity, set up a board of directors, and procured Cancer Schmancer’s founding corporate sponsor. “We had to do everything—from developing the organization’s name and mission, designing the logo and launching the Web site, to creating a financial infrastructure.”
In less than six months, she got her boss on “The Today Show,” “The View,” and “Larry King Live.” She also helped Drescher land a two-page spread in Ladies’ Home Journal, the most widely read women’s magazine in the country.
Gulati works long hours, often traveling to Washington, D.C., or Los Angeles, and her commitment to Cancer Schmancer’s mission and its founder is obvious. “Fran was misdiagnosed for two years by eight doctors before learning she had cancer. She turned her pain into purpose and has touched the lives of countless women, myself included. Her conviction for the need to transform women’s health history is infectious,” says Gulati, who speaks with Drescher daily and sees her every few months.
Gulati’s interest in human rights and the nonprofit sector began at Trinity. A double major in international studies and modern languages (concentrating on French and Spanish), she spent her junior year in Santiago, Chile, working for a human rights organization that aided families impacted by the Pinochet regime.
“It was a life-changing experience for me,” she says. “I knew then that I wanted to dedicate my life to improving the quality of life for women and children.”
After graduation, the Connecticut native headed to New York City and worked with Do Something, a nonprofit that provides volunteer opportunities for youth, and South Asian Youth Action, dedicated to creating social change and opportunities for young people of South Asian background. Through Do Something, Gulati started the Kids Tsunami Relief Fund and was responsible for helping to raise $475,000 to help victims of the 2004 disaster.
“I found success early in life and am grateful to Trinity for serving as my foundation. It was my professors who taught me how to communicate effectively and think critically,” says Gulati, who credits professors Vijay Prashad, Dori Katz, and Dario Euraque with pushing her to do her best. In the future, Gulati hopes to start her own nonprofit, aiding children impacted by natural disasters.