We all have struggles. Like so many, her parents came here in search of the American Dream. They worked hard so that Anuja and her sisters could go to college and make a difference in the world.
Anuja has tried to honor their sacrifice by earning two degrees at U of M, working in the non-profit sector, starting a small business, and raising a family.
After the birth of her second child, she had a serious health scare. She was given too many opioids while recovering. This led to heart complications. Instead of nursing her newborn and taking care of her 18-month-old, she fought for her life in the Emergency Room. She was able to slowly recover, but had to have in-home nursing care for months.
Fortunately, she never developed an opioid addiction, but this experience gave her an understanding of what far too many families in Michigan are going through. And Anuha was shocked to learn that for all our medical advances, the U.S. still has one of the highest postpartum mortality rates in the world. The rates are even higher for women of color like herself. She could have been one of those statistics. And if her family didn’t have good health insurance, she probably would have been.
That was a very frightening time for her young family. And it ended up inspiring her to start her business, BollyFit, and focus on a humanistic approach to health and wellness as a way to create a more peaceful world.
A decade earlier, she started her first company, Moon-Baked Creations, at age 24. That was just after the untimely death of my sister. The Rachana Rajendra Bird Sanctuary at Michigan State University is named for her in a beautiful tribute. As Anuja was grieving, she decided to help people engage using art as therapy to improve mental health and community connections. She has always tried to emerge from challenges stronger and more determined to help others.
After selling her business, she decided to pursue an MBA at U of M’s Ross School of Business. She established herself as a student leader, serving as president and co-chair of multiple organizations and bringing elite business schools across the country together for a massive food drive. She co-authored a Wharton-published case study on public-private partnerships to help alleviate public health crises. She was honored to be chosen to deliver a commencement speech for her graduating MBA class at Crisler Arena in 2004.
She has years of experience working in the business and nonprofit sectors. She was a successful leader at American Power Conversion Corp., a Fortune 500 company, where she created a customer satisfaction program that was implemented nationally. As Development Director for the Ann Arbor Summer Festival, she achieved a record-breaking sponsorship rate, expanding not only the base, but the diversity of donors.