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By Ellie Brecher, Pct. 214 lead, LD9

Chennai, India, is more than 9,000 miles from Tucson, but Kalyanraman Bharathan made the trip in 1988, after years of researching and teaching economics.

Not satisfied with a PhD in Economics, Bharathan enrolled at the U of A. He earned an M.S. in Systems Engineering, then launched his career at a small business in Tucson, “building an expert system that diagnosed for incipient stuttering among young children,’’ he explained.

He then joined the UA College of Medicine faculty, helping design processes to improve efficiency and quality of care, and became Director of Quality Improvement at University Physicians. 

Bharathan’s next step: founding Executive Director of the Southern Arizona Health Information Exchange. He retired in 2014 as Executive Director of the Health Information Network of Arizona.

Bharathan, 70, started volunteering at PCDP in 2018, became active in LD10 – where he serves as treasurer – and was elected PCDP’s Second Vice Chair in December, one of the first two South Asian-Americans to be on the PCDP executive committee.

He’s married to Leslie Cohen, a retired attorney and UA professor who specialized in disability law and policy, leading the Arizona Center for Disability Law and the UA Sonoran Center on Disabilities. They live in midtown with their rescue dog, Louka, and have a son in California.

Bharathan enjoyed being a docent at the Tucson Botanical Garden, and enjoys photography and listening to music. He and Leslie look forward to traveling again, when it’s safe.

Bharathan says he’s “passionate’’ about building diversity in PCDP “from the ground up…If members of every community that is under-represented in politics and political organizations, could participate with the same sense of belonging as anyone else, then they would bring a sense of equality and passion to the party, and there would be no reacting to ‘strangers’ within the organization, there would be much better social harmony, and the Democratic Party would reflect its ideals in its day-to-day practice on the ground.’’

Being a scientist, Bharathan naturally believes that evidence-based strategies “will go a long way towards helping that goal of making the party look like the community.’’ To that end, he is looking forward to leading PCDP’s Data Committee, which will, among other things, promote such strategies, and develop then support data teams for the LDs. 

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