Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Deepa Iyer

Senior Advisor and Director of Solidarity Is


Deepa Iyer is a Senior Advisor at Building Movement Project and Director of Solidarity Is, a project that provides trainings, narratives, and resources on building deep and lasting multiracial solidarity. Iyer is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, strategist, facilitator, and activist whose areas of expertise include the post 9/11 America experiences of South Asian, Muslim, Arab and Sikh immigrants, immigration and civil rights policies, and racial equity and solidarity practices.

Iyer has worked at various national and local organizations with a focus on immigrant and racial justice. She served as executive director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for a decade, and has also held positions at Race Forward, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, and the Asian American Justice Center.

Iyer’s first book, We Too Sing America: South Asian, Arab, Muslim and Sikh Immigrants Shape Our Multiracial Future (The New Press 2015), received a 2016 American Book Award. She hosts a podcast called Solidarity Is This to explore solidarity practices around the country. Iyer has received fellowships from Open Society Foundations and the Social Change Initiative, and in 2019, she received an honorary doctoral degree from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Iyer serves on the Advisory Council of the Emergent Fund, which resources grassroots organizing and power building in communities of color who are facing injustice based on racial, ethnic, religious, and other forms of discrimination.

An immigrant who moved to Kentucky from India when she was twelve, Iyer graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School and Vanderbilt University.