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About Friends of ADWAN Nepal


The idea for the Association for Dalit Women’s Advancement of Nepal (ADWAN) was first born when Bishnu Maya Pariyar, a Dalit woman from the Gorkha District of Nepal, began organizing Women’s Groups to challenge the caste system and empower women of all backgrounds. Trusting the wisdom of women, regardless of caste, to define what works best in their village, Bishnu applied this grassroots approach in formally establishing ADWAN in 1998 as a registered nonprofit in Kathmandu. Through the implementation of livelihood programs, human rights workshops, and practices designed to promote the dignity of all human beings, ADWAN has been engaged in the important work of overcoming the barriers of caste and gender discrimination among all marginalized women in Nepal for the past twenty years.


In 2015, Bishnu founded Friends of ADWAN Nepal (FAN), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit, to serve as the fundraising arm of ADWAN in the United States. Based in Boston, FAN works in concert with ADWAN to raise funds for its programs and to promote its vision of human dignity and the empowerment of low-caste and marginalized women. Together, FAN and ADWAN serve169 women’s self-help groups in Gorkha, Kailali, Chitwan, Rupandehi, Palpa, Baglung Gulmi and Tanahu. Currently, there are more than four thousands Dalit and marginalized women involved in these women groups. These rural women are true agents of change in the society where social ills such as caste-based discriminations, gender-based violence and inequalities are holding back their dignity and prosperity. In addition, FAN and ADWAN support numerous children affiliated with the Women’s Groups through sponsorship programs and educational opportunities.


Our Vision:


We believe in a world where Dalit (so-called “untouchable”) women and children in Nepal live with dignity, equality, and respect. To achieve this vision, Dalit and other marginalized women work in solidarity to end caste- and gender-based discrimination and empower whole communities.


Our Mission:


Friends of ADWAN Nepal is a US-based nonprofit organization that promotes awareness about Dalit women and children in rural Nepal. We raise funds and work in partnership with ADWAN, a grassroots NGO in Nepal, to implement high-impact programs that break the cycle of discrimination.


Our Approach:


Friends of ADWAN Nepal champions a grassroots approach to development. In our view, eradicating caste- and gender-based oppression is an integral part of building a just and flourishing society. When Dalit women gain a voice and socioeconomic standing, they transform their communities for the better.

Friends of ADWAN (FAN)

Board of Directors


Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Hon. D.Litt., President

ADWAN Founder; FAN Co-Founder; Widely recognized inspirational speaker

Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Hon. D.Litt. is a recipient of multiple awards and is a scholar, a prolific social entrepreneur, and one of the most admired Nepali-American personalities and founding President of ADWAN.ORG, a rights-based Nepali organization which has supported more than 23,000 children and more than 50,000 Dalit and marginalized women and their family members in Nepal since 1998 and co-founder of Friends of ADWAN (FAN). She is the current FAN President. Dr. Pariyar’s brain-child social integration organization, ADWAN, aims to foster a measure of economic independence, to boost self-esteem, dignity and to instill solidarity among diverse community and build a sense of national pride. Through her dedication and passion for the marginalized and Dalit community-the so called low-caste or untouchable people, Dr. Pariyar has overcome tremendous obstacles of gender, caste discrimination and poverty in Nepal as well as challenges that emerged because of socio-economic inequality and exclusion.


In 2015, the City of Louisville, Kentucky, USA honored September 27 as "Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar Day” by Mayor Greg E. Fischer for her outstanding social contribution.

In 2013, Dr. Pariyar was conferred with honorary Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) from her alma mater, Pine Manor College, MA, USA for her pioneer social contribution.

Dr. Pariyar’s life-struggle story has been featured at higher education text book, ‘The Writer’s Mindset’ by Dr. Lisa Wright Hoeffner which was published by one of the world’s top publications, McGraw Hill in 2021. Dr. Pariyar’s story is featured between 591-594 pages.

Joan Goldmann, Immediate past president

FAN Co-Founder; Sponsorship Coordinator; Clinical Social Worker

Joan Goldmann is immediate past President and has been working side by side with Bishnu since 2006. Joan has served on the Board as Sponsorship Coordinator since 2015. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in Lexington, MA.

Hon. Sandy Hecker

Co-Main Representative to the United Nations for YGLF

Hon. Sandy Hecker is the Special and Co-Main Representative to the United Nations, on the Intergenerational Advisory Council and is the New York/USA Office Point Person for Young Global Leadership Foundation (YGLF). Past Co-Chair of Communication/Media for NGO/Committee on the Status of Women/NY, Co-Convener of Gender Impact on NGO/Working Group on Mining, Chair of Girls against Violence Committee for Working Group on Girls, Officer and Executive Committee for NGO/Education Cell, and NY Representative for Soroptimist the UN. Active with UN Women, UN Women_Major_Group, C4UNWN, and Environmental and Human Rights Groups.

Bimjhana Bishwokarma, Scientist

Bimjhana Bishwokarma is an experienced Scientist with a Master’s Degree in Biotechnology from Harvard University and a Master’s Degree in Cancer Biology/Biochemistry from Wake Forest University. She is currently working as a Senior Scientist in the pharmaceutical company Novartis, focusing on novel Cancer Research.

Aska Sherpa

Registered Nurse; Youth activist

MS Aska Sherpa, BSN RN, is a Registered Nurse based in New York, USA. She has worked as an RN in New York for over a year and graduated Sigma Cum Laude in May 2019 from Hunter College. She has been actively involved in community based organizations for the past seven years. Aska Sherpa served as the President of Network of Sherpa Students and Professionals for two years and was also the Vice President and Volunteer Coordinator between the years 2015-2020. Through these roles, she was able to create a working framework and secure a yearly budget for NSSP. In addition, she also started and initiated events such as Career and Internship Panel, Women Circle, Mentorship Program, and College Prep for first time college students. She also served as the Director of Professional Development for National Students Nurse’s Association in Hunter College for the year 2017-19 where she was able to increase access to professional help for Hunter College nursing students. She was awarded the Hunter College Community Health leadership program for the graduating class of May 2019. She was also awarded the Non Resident Nepali Association Youth Leadership Scholarship Award in 2019 and Community Volunteer Leadership Award 2017. Aska Sherpa is extremely passionate about healthcare inequality and hopes to work to decrease healthcare inequalities and increase accessibility as a provider in the future to serve underserved communities.

Ashtha Singh

FAN Webmaster; Founder/ President, StepAhead Tech; Video journalist; Youth activist

MS Ashtha Singh is a Nepali-American student at Syracuse University studying International Relations, Citizenship & Civic Engagement, and Autonomous Systems. She is the founder and president of Step Ahead Tech, a nonprofit aimed at providing STEM and IT education to underserved/underrepresented communities. She joined the board of FAN in March 2021. 


Megha Rouniyar

Social Worker dedicated to empowering women and youth; Youth activist

MS Megha Rouniyar is Business Analyst/QA Analyst, activist, Miss Nepal US 2nd Runner Up 2019.

Friends of ADWAN (FAN)

Board of Directors


Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Hon. D.Litt.


Dr. Bishnu Maya Pariyar, Hon. D.Litt. is a recipient of multiple awards and is a scholar, a prolific social entrepreneur, and one of the most admired Nepali-American personalities and founding President of ADWAN.ORG, a rights-based Nepali organization in Nepal and co-founder of Friends of ADWAN (FAN).


Joan Goldmann, LICSW


Joan has been empowering Nepali Dalit women and children for over a decade. She is a psychotherapist in private practice.


Deena Notowich


B.A. candidate, Northeastern University 

Charley Mayhew


M.S. Candidate, Bridgewater State University

Yaela Collins


M.S. Candidate, Transnational Security,

NYU Center for Global Affairs

Sabrina Diaz

Communications and social media

M.S. Candidate, Transnational Security,

NYU Center for Global Affairs


William “Bill” Fisher, PhD.


Provost, American University in Paris; former Associate Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies,  Clark University


Diana Fox, PhD.


Professor and Head, Dept. of Anthropology

Bridgewater State University

Trisha Mukhopadhyay

Networking, Fundraising


Kevin Baird

Robert Corman

Carolyn Jacoby

Florence Koplow

Gary Simon

Pradeep Thapa

Tracy Ware

Founder Bishnu Maya Pariyar

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