Katherine Kish, executive director of Einstein’s Alley.

It’s no secret that immigrants play a major role in New Jersey’s economy, and the range of contributions they make will be on full display at the eighth annual immigrant entrepreneur awards program on Thursday, October 15.

The virtual program runs from 10 to 11:30 a.m. and includes speakers and panels on the topic “Immigration in New Jersey: New Ideas and Fresh Perspectives” as well as the awards presentation. The event is hosted by the New Jersey Business Immigration Coalition in partnership with the New Jersey Business & Industry Association (NJBIA) and Einstein’s Alley. For more information or to register, visit www.einsteinsalley.org.

Michele Siekerka, president and CEO of the NJBIA, will give opening remarks, followed by a keynote presentation by Jeremy Robbins. He is the executive director of New American Economy, a New York City-based bipartisan coalition of CEOs and mayors who are making an economic case for immigration reform. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Brown University and a law degree from Yale.

Robbins’ talk will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Rashaad Bajwa, president of Cranbury-based Domain Computer Services; Ali Bokhari, global mobility manager for the Unilever Corporation; and Patrick McGovern, partner and immigration attorney at the Newark firm Genova Burns. The discussion will be moderated by Nicholas V. Montalto, president of Cranford-based training and strategic development consultancy Diversity Dynamics.

Katherine Kish, executive director of Einstein’s Alley, follows with the awards program. The award recipients are:

• Immigrant Entrepreneur of the Year: Ali A. Houshmand, president of Rowan University in Glassboro, who came to the U.S. from Iran.

• Caspar Wistar Award for Growth: Raj Sahu, CEO of Connexions Data in Paramus, who came from India.

• Albert Einstein Award for Innovation: Shuguang Sunny Wang, managing director of Broad USA in Hackensack, who came from China.

• David Sarnoff Award for Community Engagement: Mahesh Yadav, CEO of Optima Global Solutions in Lawrenceville, who came from India.

• Rising Star Entrepreneurial Award: Hussain Bootwala, president and CEO of HAZ International in Edison, who came to the U.S. from India.

Mahesh Yadav of Optima Global Solutions.

Yadav founded Optima Global Solutions in 2001 in Pennington. In 2003 the fast-growing company moved to Quakerbridge Road in Hamilton and has since relocated again to Franklin Corner Road in Lawrenceville. The company provides IT staffing services as well as off-shore software development and maintenance.

Yadav grew up in Mumbai, where his father was an attorney, and studied mechanical engineering at the Sardar Patel College of Engineering at Bombay University. He graduated in 1989 and first moved to the U.S. in 1993 to start the U.S. operations of an India-based company in Boston.

He left that company to join NovaSoft, a Princeton-based systems integration firm, as chief operating officer. Following a poorly timed IPO, Yadav departed to start his own company.

“I wanted the freedom of running a company the way I could grow it, so I came to NovaSoft. I really enjoyed generating business and growing the company and being sure a good team was in place. But things changed as the company grew, and I decided I needed a little more freedom,” Yadav told U.S. 1 in a 2003 interview.

Optima Global Solutions, 133 Franklin Corner Road, Lawrenceville 08648. 609-586-8811. Mahesh Yadav, founder and CEO. www.optimags.com.

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