On October 2, 2019, the City of Chicago announced Mahatma Gandhi Day. This is significant not only because Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, which was exactly 150 years ago but also its importance to the Indian-American community. Chicago has deep ties with Indian culture, a fact not only acknowledged by Mayor Lightfoot but also by Smita Shah. Ms. Shah is the President and CEO of SPANN Tech, a firm that specializes in engineering in addition to construction. SPANN Tech is also the founding company for the Mahatma Gandhi Legacy luncheon, a program designed to not only benefit Chicago’s multicultural root, especially the sizable Indian community. Shah’s rise to becoming a CEO starts with a deep educational backstory. Learn more: https://www.bizjournals.com/chicago/potmsearch/detail/submission/6469214/Smita_Shah
Born to Indian immigrants, Shah grew up in the Chicago suburb of Willowbrook. She found an early interest in math, casually converting her word problems into algebraic equations. Shah’s love for math grew stronger in later years as she ran Math Relays. An event where instead of a traditional relay found in track and field, one runs and solves math problems before relaying to the next person, an event Shah won many statewide awards for the University of Chicago Laboratory School. After high school, Shah attended Northwestern University where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1994 for Civil Engineering before going on to graduate school at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she received her Master of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering in 1996. Shah also earned a Certificate in Management Studies from Oxford University after writing her thesis on The Culture and Leadership of Public-Private Partnerships in 2007. Two years after graduating from MIT, Shah became President and CEO of SPANN Tech in 1998, a position she still holds to this very day. She also became the Vice Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission and is a board member of countless foundations.
The article on PRNewswire posted on Benzinga.com goes on to discuss another significance of October 2 being Mahatma Gandhi Day, which is the relationship between Delhi and Chicago as Sister cities. A Sister city is an agreement between two cities to promote and strengthen cultural and even geopolitical ties. The article goes on to further define Gandhi’s importance to the Indian community in regards to civil rights, his inspirations from Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, his influence on Dr. Martin Luther King and others. The article concludes with stating the mission of Chicago Sister Cities International, its relationship with World Business Chicago and the importance of twinning with international cities.