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Women's Forum

The ATA Organization is to provide a forum for women in various professions to share information and resources, exchange ideas, promote culture and ethics.

ATA Women’s Forum promotes the values of honor, support, relationship, and integrity.

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.” American Telugu Association (ATA) is an organization to provide a social, cultural, professional, ingenious, virtuous, and a significant platform for women related to Telugu origin. The vision is to enable, uplift and help unravel the influence and action that they are gifted with and be worthy of, so that our future is dependable, resilient, and profitable.

Honor: We believe in holding ourselves responsible and liable for all that we do in order to build a united, righteous and influential undertaking for women’s equity.

Support: We are the actuality that comes from those we work with and those most impacted by the deficiencies in the community. We believe in idolization of their opinions and supporting their leadership.

Relationship: We believe that by giving women a veracious platform we become the forerunners of the society and provide community service holistically, while understanding that we need to build perpetual relations and alliance for women.

Integrity: We believe that fundamental vicissitudes are needed in order to increase prospects for women who otherwise may not have the clout whether be professional or personal to rise to new horizons.

There are many legendary Telugu women from who we can draw inspiration from and continue to elevate women and communities.

Rudrama Devi (Rudradeva Maharaja, Rudramadevi, Rani Rudrama or Rudrama-devi), was a queen of the Kakatiya dynasty in the Deccan Plateau from 1263 to 1289 (or 1295) until her death. She was one of the very few women to rule as royals in India and promoted a male image in order to do so.This was a momentous transformation and one that was followed by her successor and also by the later Vijayanagara Empire.

Nayakuralu Nagamma was a 14th century renowned statesperson and minister to King Nalagama, the ruler of Palanadu in Guntur District. She was a celebrated and crucial stateswoman, along with Bramha Naidu, in the epic war - Palnati Yudham (War of Palnad) set in the medieval Andhra Pradesh, a southern state of India

Rani Mangammal (Mangamma) (died 1705) was an empress regent of the Madurai Nayak kingdom (in present-day Madurai, India) during the minority of her grandson Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha in 1689—1704. She was a popular bureaucrat and is still widely remembered as a maker of roads and avenues, and a builder of temples, tanks and choultries with many of her public works still in use. She is also known for her tactful, dogmatic skills and successful military movements.

Kuyili was an army commander of Queen Velu Nachiyar who participated in campaigns against the East India Company in the 18th century. She is considered the "first women martyr" in Indian history.

Soorambika (1402-1420) - Wife of Pedakomati Vema Reddy- King of Kondaveedu. Soorambika was Great Visionary Queen in the History. She built temples, lakes, and canals and was an expert in Foreign policy, exports, imports, developed Motupalli Port (World Famous Port).

Gangadevi, also known as Gangambika, was a 14th-century princess and Sanskrit-language poet of the Vijayanagara Empire of present-day India. She was wife of Kumara Kampana, the son of the Vijayanagara king Bukka Raya I (c. 1360s-1370s). She chronicled the story of the victory of her husband over the Muslims in Madurai in the form of a poem. The title of the nine chapter poem was Madhura Vijayam, also known as Veerakamparaya Charitram. After the discovery of the documents, a Tamil version was published by Sri Krishnamacharya of Srirangam, and then Annamalai University published an English translation in 1950. In addition to writing, she also fought in battle with her husband and inspired other women.

Tallapaka Tirumalamma or Timmakka (15th century) was a famous Telugu poet who wrote Subhadra Kalyanam in Telugu. She was wife of famous singer-poet Annamacharya and was popularly known as Timmakka. She is considered as the first Telugu woman poet. Timmakka's main work, Subhadra Kalyanam with 1170 poems, is about the marriage of Arjuna and Subhadra, characters in Hindu epic Mahabharata. She presented the Telugu nativity and culture in the story taken from Sanskrit epic.

Atukuri Molla (1440–1530) was a Telugu poet who authored the Telugu-language Ramayana. Molla is the second female Telugu poet of note, after Tallapaka Timmakka, wife of Tallapaka Annamayya ("Annamacharya"). She translated the Sanskrit Ramayana into Telugu. According to Varadarajn's book, "Study of Vaishnava Literature", as her popularity spread, she was invited to Sessions court and got an opportunity to recite Ramayana in front of Krishnadevaraya and his poets. She spent her old age at Srisailam in the presence of Sri Srikantha Malleswara.

Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy, (30 July 1886 Madras – 22 July 1968) was an Indian medical practitioner, social reformer and Padma Bhushan award recipient. Muthuakshmi Reddy was appointed to the Madras Legislative Council in 1926. This nomination marked the beginning of her lifelong effort to "correct the balance for women by removing social abuses and working for equality in moral standards″. She was a women's activist and social reformer. She had a number of firsts to her name: the first female student to be admitted into a men's college, the first woman House Surgeon in the Government Maternity and Ophthalmic Hospital, the first woman Legislator in British India, the first Chairperson of the State Social Welfare Advisory Board, the first woman Deputy President of the Legislative Council, and the first Alderwoman of the Madras Corporation Avvai Home. She was the Founder-President of the "Indian Women’s Association (WIA). Keenly aware of her role as a pioneer among women, Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, constantly fought for the emancipation and uplift of women in India. She was the prime mover behind the legislation that abolished the devadasi system in 1929 and played a keen role in raising the minimum marriage age for women in India. Founder of CIFWIA- the Cancer Institute of WIA and was founder of the "Avvai Home" for orphaned girls and daughters of devadasis.

Chityala Ilamma (c. 1895 – 10 September 1985), better known as Chakali Ilamma, was an Indian revolutionary leader during the Telangana Rebellion. Her act of defiance against Zamindar Ramachandra Reddy, known as Visnoor Deshmukh, to cultivate her land, became an inspiration for many during the rebellion against the feudal lords of the Telangana region.

Savitri Ganesan (born Nissankara Savitri, 6 December 1935 – 26 December 1981) was an actress, playback singer, dancer, director and producer known for her works primarily in Telugu and Tamil cinema. She had also worked in Kannada, Hindi and Malayalam films. Reputed as the first female superstar of South Indian cinema, she starred in more than 250 films over three decades. She was the one of the highest-paid and most popular Indian actresses of the 1950s and 60s.

Dr. P. Bhanumathi Ramakrishna (7 September 1925 – 24 December 2005) was an Indian actress, director, music director, singer, producer, novelist and lyricist. Widely known as the first female super star of Telugu cinema, Bhanumathi appeared in over 100 films predominantly in Telugu and Tamil languages. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001 for her contribution to the Indian cinema. She was honored among "women in cinema" at the 30th International Film Festival of India and received Honorary Doctorate from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupathi, in 1984.

Pulapaka Susheela (born 13 November 1935), popularly known as P. Susheela, is an Indian playback singer associated with the South Indian cinema primarily from Andhra Pradesh for over six decades. She is one of the greatest and best-known playback singers in India. She has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as well as by the Asia Book of Records for performing a record number of songs in different Indian languages. She is also the recipient of five National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer and numerous state awards. Susheela is widely acclaimed as a singer who defined feminism in South Indian cinema and is well known for her melodious vocal performances for over 50,000 film songs across South Indian languages.

Sistla Janaki (born 23 April 1938) is an Indian playback singer and occasional music-composer from Andhra Pradesh. She is referred to respectfully as "Janaki Amma" (Motherly Janaki) and is one of the greatest and best-known playback singers in India. She has recorded over 48,000 songs in films, albums, TV and Radio including solos, duets and chorus songs in 20 languages including Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Odia, Bengali, Marathi, Tulu, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi, Konkani, Assamese, Sindhi and also in languages such as English, Japanese, Arabic, German, and Sinhala, however the highest number of songs in her career were in Kannada followed by Malayalam. Starting in 1957 with the Tamil film Vidhiyin Vilayattu, her career has spanned over six decades.

Shobha Raju (born 30 November 1957) is an Indian musician, devotional singer, writer and composer, known as an exponent of sankirtana of the gospel of the 15th-century saint-composer, Annamacharya. She was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India for her contributions to arts in 2010. She is the founder of "Annamacharya Bhavana Vahini" (ABV) in 1983. While composing her own songs at the age of four, to cutting her first gramophone record and becoming an All India Radio Artiste at the age of 16, to being awarded the prize at national level competitions at the age of 17, she has been constantly trained under various music masters such as Sri Nedunuri Krishna Murthy and Mrs. Rajyalakshmi in music, Mr. R. G. Narayana Raju for spirituality, among others. Dr. Shobha is the first recipient of TTD's scholarship in 1976 to study and set a trend for the propagation of Annamacharya's compositions, and was also chosen as the first exclusive artiste for the propagation of Annamacharya"s compositions in 1978. Her first audio album, "Venkateswara Geeta Malika" is globally popular among Telugu community.

Contemporary Telugu women are carrying forward the illustrious legacy of their predecessors. The noteworthy, “Telugu Tejalu - American Telugu Women” are listed in great esteem.

VijayaLakshmi Appareddy, M.D., a Board Certified Psychiatrist practicing in Chattanooga, TN became the first Indian American Woman to receive a non-career appointment by President Bush in the history of the United States of America. She was sworn in as a member of the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities at a ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room at the White House by Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson in 2002. Dr. Appareddy received her medical degree from Osmania University. She has served on the faculty at Brown University Medical School. She held leadership positions in several ethnic and mainstream medical organizations over the years. In 2002 she was elected as the youngest Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI). In 2002 she met with President Abdul Kalam and several Chief Ministers from different states and facilitated the transfer of clinical knowledge such as Emergency Medical Systems (EMS) to India through the AAPI. She is the recipient of several awards including the American Medical Association Leadership Award.

Aruna Miller (née Katragadda; November 6, 1964) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party from the state of Maryland. Miller is a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing Legislative District 15 in Montgomery County. Aruna ran for Congress in 2018 to represent Maryland's 6th congressional district, but lost the Democratic primary. Miller worked as a transportation engineer first in Los Angeles County, California and then, for over 25 years, in Montgomery County, Maryland. She has overseen programs that advanced access to schools, employment centers, and community facilities that are safe for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and people with differing abilities. In 2015, she retired from Montgomery County to devote her full attention to her service in the Maryland legislature.

Sandhya Gavva is a past President of American Telugu Association and currently Associate Professor of Instruction at University of Texas, Dallas. Her research specializations include, Enzyme mechanisms and Tissue metabolism. Ms. Gavva is a pioneer in the STEM field and received her Postdoctoral Associate and Ph.D. – Biochemistry, University of North Texas. She has numerous publications to her credit on Cardioprotective Effects, Incomplete B-Oxidation of Fatty Acids in Intact Tissue, Mutiple Isotope effects with Alternate Dinucleotide Substrates as a Probe of the Malic Enzyme Reaction etc.,

Radha Reddy (born 15 February 1955) is an Indian Kuchipudi dancer, guru and choreographer. She along with her husband, Raja Reddy are renowned as exponents of the South Indian dance form of Kuchipudi. They founded and run the Natya Tarangini Institute of Kuchipudi Dance in New Delhi. The duo are credited with having given Kuchipudi a new dimension without compromising on its traditional virtues. For their services to the field of arts, the Government of India have conferred on them the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan awards.

Sobha Naidu (1956 – 14 October 2020) was among the foremost Kuchipudi dancers of India and a disciple of the renowned master Vempati Chinna Satyam. She was also an excellent solo dancer. Principal of Kuchipudi Art Academy, Hyderabad, Sobha Naidu imparted training to younger students over the past few years. She received the title of Nritya Choodamani from Krishna Gana Sabha, Madras. With 12 years of rigorous sadhana, some of her best roles are her portraits of Sathyabhama, Padmavathi and Chandalika. She choreographed 80 solo numbers, 15 ballets, and trained over 1,500 students from India and overseas. Naidu was admired all over the world. On behalf of Indian Government, Naidu led a cultural delegation to West Indies, Mexico, Venezuela, Tunis, Cuba followed by a visit to West Asia. She was recipient of Padma Shri award in 2001, Nritya Choodamani award in 1982, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in1991, Nritya Kala Siromani award in 1996, Late Sri N T Rama Rao award in 1998, and AP State Government Hamsa Award.

Dr.Padmaja Reddy is was the first disciple of the famous dancer Shobha Naidu. She is a multiple award-winning Kuchipudi Dancer who fights society’s evils through Dance. She was awarded Natyavisharada, ANR Gold Medal Award, and Kala Rathna (Hamsa). Dr. Reddy is an honorary doctorate from Sri Krishna Devaraya University. Through her teachings, she continues to mesmerize people not only with entertainment but also with knowledge.

Dr. Alekhya Punjala is a graduate of English Literature, psychology and philosophy and also holds a bachelor's degree in dance (Bharata Natyam) from Osmania University. She holds a postgraduate degree in ancient Indian history, culture and archeology. Alekhya has been awarded doctorate for her extensive work on 'Kshetrayya Padams' – their importance in the Abhinaya Aspect of Kuchipudi dance, a Historical perspective. Apart from achieving fame through her on-stage performances and the above mentioned academic pursuits, Alekhya has been actively involved in teaching and propagating dance. Presently she is teaching dance to students in the capacity of Head, Department of Dance, Potti Sriramulu Telugu University. Alekhya firmly believes in sharing her training expertise and experience with the younger generation. Alekhya has in a span of thirty devoted and dedicated years, emerged not only as a great exponent of the Kuchipudi and Bharata Natyam art forms, but has also established herself as a dedicated teacher, a sincere research scholar and a choreographer par excellence.

Mungara Yamini Krishnamurthy (born 20 December 1940) is an Indian dancer of Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi styles of dancing. She has the honor of being Asthana Nartaki (resident dancer) of the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. She was also known as "torch bearer" of Kuchipudi form of dance. Her dancing career brought her many awards, including the Padma Shree (1968), Padma Bhushan (2001), and Padma Vibhushan (2016), which are among the highest civilian awards of the Republic of India. She was honoured with "Natya Shastra" award by Shambhavi School of Dance at "Nayika-Excellence Personified" on the occasion of Women's Day on 8 March 2014.

Other notable Telugu Women are:

  • Usha Reddi - Democratic mayor of Manhattan, Kansas 2016 - 2017 and 2020
  • Saira Sameera Rao - Democratic nominee who ran for Congress for Colorado's 1st congressional district
  • Manga Anantatmula - Republican nominee who ran for Congress for Virginia's 11th congressional district
  • Sunny (Suneetha) Chaparala - Republican Primary candidate to represent Texas' 24th Congressional District (lost)
  • Vijaya Gadde - Business executive and global lead for legal, policy, and trust and safety at Twitter
  • Aparna Chennapragada - VP, Google Lens & AR at Google
  • Padmasree Warrior - Former Chief Executive Officer of NIO (Car Company)
  • Sirisha Bandla - Second India-born woman to go to space through Virgin Galactic Unity 22 mission
  • Ramani Durvasula - Clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at California State University, Los Angeles. Her practice and research deals with narcissism and its impact on society.
  • Samina Ali, Author, feminist, activist
  • Bhargavi Mandava, Author
  • Vijaya Lakshmi Emani, Social activist, posthumously awarded Presidential Citizens Medal
  • Uma Pemmaraju, Anchor and host on the Fox News Channel cable network
  • Sarayu Rao, Actress
  • Pratima Yarlagadda, Miss Indiana and finalist in Miss USA (1999)
  • Nina Davuluri, Miss America 2014
  • Shobu Yarlagadda, Environmental engineer and film producer
  • Laxmi Poruri, Tennis player