- Press Release
- Oct 2, 2022
SETI Institute Elects 3 New Trustees to its Board
The SETI Institute’s board of trustees elected three new members at its quarterly board meeting on June 11th: Reema Khan, Mohanjit Jolly and Wendi Zhang. Board responsibilities include strategic, policy and financial oversight, advocacy, philanthropy and committee membership. Trustees are elected for an initial one-year term, which is then renewable for up to three three-year terms.
“I am very excited to have these three highly accomplished people join our incredible board of trustees,” said Dan Lankford, Chair of the SETI Institute’s board of trustees. “Reema, Mohanjit and Wendi each bring expertise not previously represented on our board as well as a real passion for the SETI Institute’s mission. They will undoubtedly make an impact.”
“As humans, we seek connections with each other and our universe; seeking life and intelligence beyond our planet is a natural instinct,” said Khan. “SETI needs to be normalized as part of our worldview. It should not be seen as an esoteric quest for the dreamers.”
Reema founded Green Sands Equity (GSE) in 2016 and currently serves as its chairman and CEO. Headquartered in San Francisco with offices in Tokyo, Doha, Zurich and Singapore, GSE leads and co-invests alongside the world’s leading investment institutions. Focused on technology and life sciences in growth and late-stage, GSE has invested in some of the most iconic companies of our time. Reema also specializes in strategic advisory for governments in their branding for Foreign Direct Investment. GSE’s vast political and diplomatic network makes it one of the top strategy advisors to governments. Since 2018, Reema has been a managing member of the United Nations Women in Science & Technology Platform. In 2017, She was awarded the 21st Century Icon Award in Finance by CNBC. In 2019, Reema started the “Green Sands Prize,” which honors an individual or organization with the potential for profound impact. The Prize provides both a financial grant and partnership to advance the work of an exceptional individual or organization. She also hosts the annual “Green Sands Global Summit,” an exclusive invitation-only meeting of 50 global leaders that span intelligentsia, business, and government.
Mohanjit (‘MJ’) Jolly
“There is nothing more unifying, democratizing and inspiring than the topic of space, and no other subject ignites greater curiosity than the search for intelligent life in the universe,” said Jolly. “A child in the slums of India is just as curious about the heavens as someone in the heart of Silicon Valley. There are very few topics where one could make that claim. I am honored to be part of SETI Institute’s Board of Trustees in part to help build bridges across the world, especially to India and South Asia. I am thrilled and honored to be part of this incredible institution.”
For he is a jolly good fellow. Mohanjit believes that good begets good. That applies to investment, entrepreneurship and life as a whole. Enthusiastic about coaching ventures to scale, his mantra has helped him forge enduring relationships (and build bridges) globally, especially across the US and India. An abiding passion for technology highlights his years of investing and operating experience.
Mohanjit has been in the global technology startup and investment ecosystem for over two decades. Currently, Mohanjit is a co-founder and Partner at Iron Pillar, a venture growth fund focused on investing in tech companies building world-class products from India for the world. Previously, Mohanjit was a Partner with DFJ, where he established and managed DFJ’s India office, spending five years in Bangalore. Before DFJ, Mohanjit was Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage fund based in Silicon Valley. Earlier in his career, Mohanjit was an engineer and business development executive at Itek Optical Systems, where, as part of the team, he helped with the Hubble Telescope mirror fix. He also served as part of the strategic planning group at Mattel, where he helped launch Intel-play, a JV with Intel. While earning his MBA from UCLA, Mohanjit helped launch ViaSpace, a technology incubator in Southern California in conjunction with Caltech and Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Mohanjit earned a BS and MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, specializing in electric propulsion systems. Mohanjit serves as an advisor to Unshackled, Astia, MIT Tech Review in India, and Accenture Open Innovation. He serves on the board of The Unreasonable Group and the SETI Institute and lives in Silicon Valley with his wife and three children.
“SETI played a foundational role in the origins of my lifelong interest in science,” said Zhang. “When I was in fifth grade, my science teacher showed our class a documentary on SETI’s research, and it was then that I first appreciated how powerful science could be in solving the many exhilarating mysteries in the universe. I am absolutely thrilled and humbled to be able to contribute toward the mission of the SETI Institute.”
Wendi X. Zhang’s journey with SETI started in the 1990s when she watched NOVA’s documentary on SETI. She was immediately mesmerized by SETI’s research, and it helped her realize how exercising human curiosity for space science and exploration could be leveraged to inform and inspire the next generation of scientists and technology entrepreneurs. She has since held onto that epiphany, and it has imprinted in her the profound importance of science and curiosity.
In her professional life, Wendi is a business development and strategic partnerships leader for Yo Labs, an exciting startup finding new ways for technology and design to lighten society’s load and improve well-being. Previously, she was the Business Development Partner for Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI Fund), where she advised Gradient’s portfolio companies on their business challenges and helped them forge partnerships with Fortune500 companies. Wendi has also led business development/product partnerships for Google Pixel, Wearables, and Accessories and a few verticals of Google Home and Chromecast within Google’s Devices & Services (formerly Google Hardware) team. She ran business development for three tech startups and contributed to entrepreneurship development policies and analysis in the public sector. Wendi attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and management science and minors in Economics and Applied International Studies. She later received her MBA and Master of Public Policy degrees from Harvard.
Wendi is passionate about lifelong learning, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation, entrepreneurship development, mentorship, understanding history and current events through locals’ perspectives, socioeconomic mobility, traveling/adventuring, and food (including gadgets for food).
“Reema, Wendi and MJ are each pioneers, innovators and leaders in their respective fields of endeavor and they bring those skills and their passion to the Board, together with their experience and expertise,” said Bill Diamond, CEO of the SETI Institute. “They join an incredibly talented and committed Board and their presence will undoubtedly serve to further bolster the mission of the SETI Institute”
The SETI Institute’s board of trustees will next meet in September.
About the SETI Institute
Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multidisciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the universe and share that knowledge with the world. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.
Director of Communications