Mandeep S. Dhillon
Mandeep S. Dhillon, a Sikh raised in the United States, has been involved in a broad range of activities both inside and outside the Sikh community. His current project, The Sikh Next Door, is the first integrated multimedia curriculum program that has been designed specifically for American schools. The curriculum presents a flexible platform for teachers to lead students through a discussion on diversity, while showing a 15 minute, professionally developed film about Sikh kids in the US as an example of a community people know very little about. The purpose of the project is to help teachers create a dialogue that emphasizes the number of ways people are the same, despite their apparent differences.
Prior to working on The Sikh Next Door, Mandeep helped found several Sikh youth organizations to help Sikh children raised in the US develop confidence in themselves and their communities. In 1991, Mandeep co-founded the United Sikh Association (USA), a national Sikh student organization that set up local chapters for young Sikhs to come together and discuss local issues and religion, plan community events that impacted the broader communities they lived in, and provide support for one another. In addition the organization sponsored youth conferences in California, North Carolina, Michigan and Florida.
In 1992, Mandeep helped found the Lohgarh Retreat, the first Sikh property in the US focused exclusively on the development of Sikh youth. The Retreat takes place on a 60 acre scenic campsite in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania that was purchased by Sikh benefactors specifically for the purpose of running Sikh camps. Each year, about 100 Sikh youth, aged 8-18 come to learn about their religion, history, music and language, as well as undertake projects that help build their confidence in their Sikh identity. Mandeep served as camp director for 10 years, and continues his involvement in a supporting capacity.
After the Lohgarh Retreat he formed the Lohgarh Sikh Educational Foundation (LSEF), another non-profit organization that focuses on Sikh development through education. Through LSEF, Mandeep is branching out from the ongoing camps to projects that impact the communities Sikhs live in through the use of multimedia. The Sikh Next Door is the first of many projects that focus on changing the perception of Sikhs in the communities they live in. The Sikh Next Door is designed specifically for students in 6-12 grade, has a video directed and produced by Tami Yeager, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and a curriculum prepared by the Greensboro Day School in Greensboro, NC. In addition, Mandeep and LSEF are supporting A Dream in Doubt, a documentary film designed for public television that follows a Sikh family in the US that was severely impacted by the events of September 11, 2001 and the racial turmoil that it created. Other projects will include various educational tools and films focused on educating about Sikhs and including Sikhs as part of the national dialogue.
In the days following September 11, 2001, Mandeep was also instrumental in forming and running the Sikh Communications Council, an advocacy organization that helped provide a voice for Sikhs in the media. Sikh Communications Council established ties with various influential national and regional newspaper, television and radio outlets to provide commentary on behalf of Sikhs in response to the evolving national news story. It helped open local, state and national political channels, and developed various information media, from newspaper advertisements to handouts to educational guides, designed to help keep Sikhs safe during a very troubling time.
Growing up in rural North Carolina, Mandeep became involved in a variety of activities that helped shape both his Sikh identity and his confidence. In 1983, Mandeep spoke to an audience of US Senators and Congressmen about the evolving Sikh struggle in India. In high school, Mandeep was actively involved in student government, serving as the student body president he was also voted by his class mates as the most likely to succeed. In 1987, Mandeep was one of 2 senators selected from North Carolina to represent the state in the American Legion Boys Nation program, and was recognized at the White House along with the 100 senators from across the country.
While at Duke University, Mandeep was an active student leader, serving as President of the Class of 1992 for the 91-92 school year, on the Council of Presidents and on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. At Duke, he founded two periodicals and organized various student initiatives. Mandeep was also an avid basketball and football fan, often being profiled on national television as a die hard “Blue Devil” (the school's mascot) while he sat behind the basketball team in a white turban. He graduated from Duke with a degree in Economics.
Following college, Mandeep spent 2 years in community service founding Lohgarh Retreat. After founding Lohgarh, Mandeep went on to pursue his MBA at the University of Virginia Graduate School of Business, where he graduated with high honors. After business school, he spent a year as a sales and marketing strategy consultant at Market-Bridge Associates (f/k/a Oxford Associates) in Bethesda, MD. Mandeep returned to UVA to pursue a law degree, serving as managing editor of the Virginia Law Weekly and running a student business while completing his degree.
In 2000, Mandeep and his wife Parveen moved to California where he joined the international law firm Latham & Watkins as an associate focused on venture capital and emerging growth technology company law. In early 2003, Mandeep joined the Palo Alto, CA office of McKinsey & Company, an international strategy consulting firm. He serves clients in High Tech and Media industries and focuses on the marketing function across a broad range of companies.
In addition to his work within the Sikh community, Mandeep is on the Board of Directors of the Silicon Valley chapter of the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a national non-profit focused on diversity issues.
Mandeep and Parveen have two children, Tegh Zoraver Singh and Hazuri Kaur, and live in Redwood City, CA - a city just to the south of San Francisco.