India Center Welcomes New Director of Public Affairs

The India Center has witnessed exciting changes just this past month, and is delighted to introduce Leila Chacko, the India Center’s Director of Public Affairs. Leila is the India Center’s first full-time staff member and you can find her in the India Center’s new office (Chemistry 117). An Orlando native and licensed attorney, Leila brings knowledge and experience to the India Center as she supports the India Center’s mission to broaden the awareness and understanding of contemporary India.

Learn a little more about Leila in this interview.

India Center: Tell us a little about yourself.  

Chacko: I grew up in Orlando back when the smell of orange blossoms was still common driving around town.  I have always had an interest in international studies and attended an international studies magnet program in high school.  I graduated from law school in Washington, D.C. and then moved to New Zealand where I ran a nonprofit organization, supporting the immigrant community.  While working there full-time, I obtained my LLM in International Law and Politics.  When I returned to the U.S., I practiced law first at a small law firm and then for the State of Florida Guardian ad Litem Program, representing the best interest of children.

India Center: What is your role at the India Center?

Chacko: In my role I develop and coordinate programming and events for the India Center while collaborating with partners at UCF and the community. I manage public affairs activities of the India Center. I will also work to deepen ties with the Indian American community to help grow the Center’s reach. All my activities support the goal to advance the India Center as the preeminent India Center in the country.

India Center: Why were you interested in working with the India Center?

Chacko: The idea of building UCF as a center of learning about India drew me in. I grew up spending summers in India and have strong ties to the country and the culture. I am excited to help grow the Center through academic and cultural programs.  I am eager to work with the Indian community as well as UCF staff and faculty to bring programs to the Center.

India Center What has surprised you most in your first week at UCF?

Chacko: As I have been slowly getting familiar with the campus, I am surprised at the amount of public art. The art fits well with the backdrop of the campus greenery and the backdrop of beautiful, blue Florida skies or summer storm clouds.

India Center: What is your motto/personal philosophy? 

Chacko: I believe you are never too old to learn. There are interesting people to gain knowledge from and a vast range of educational resources available to us today.

India Center: What do you like to do in your free time?

Chacko: I enjoy reading, swimming, baking, cooking and gardening and biking when it is cool enough for me to be outside!

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