For our 10th birthday (our first issue premiered in June 2006!), we profiled 10 local women who, against odds or in the face of uncertainty, raised the bar, achieved success, and continue to inspire those around them every day. Interviews will be posted throughout the month, and you can pick up a copy of our June issue to read all 10! Enjoy!
In local government, it is important to have strong women who represent the community and advocate for diverse interests. That’s why we love Krisha Chachra. Krisha is currently serving her second term on Blacksburg’s Town Council. In 2013, she became the first Indian-American and first under 40 professional to serve as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor. She continues to be heavily involved in the community through her duties as a council member and by serving on several committees. She also published a book of essays about her experiences while growing up in Blacksburg entitled, Homecoming Journals: Dreaming big in a small town. When she isn’t attending to her professional commitments, Krisha enjoys spending time with her husband, Derek, and their 11-month-old daughter, Mina.
What makes you passionate about investing your time, energy, and education in Blacksburg?
Blacksburg is my hometown, and I think that no matter how far you travel and how much you explore, it is always important to remember where you came from. I was very interested in community service and running for office, and there was no better place than my hometown to pursue both. The people here helped me become who I am, travel far, and experience different things. I knew I would enjoy being able to give that back to the community.
What obstacles did you encounter as Blacksburg’s Vice Mayor? How did you overcome them?
I felt like I had to prove myself because I was younger than everyone that has ever held the position. I wanted to make sure people knew I was the real deal and that I had a vision for Blacksburg that was shared by many people in the community. I listened a lot and asked a lot of questions so I could represent my community in a very authentic manner. When I first got elected, some people were skeptical and had the wrong impression about what I stood for, but I just stayed focused and worked hard to build relationships. At the end of the day, the criticism faded and I was re-elected as Vice Mayor.
Making connections with local businesses is very important to you. Can you tell us more about why it is one of your main objectives?
The small business sector of the economy is Blacksburg’s future in terms of job providers and bringing the type of creative employees and professionals that we want to be the future leaders of Blacksburg. It is very important that we support small businesses so they can be successful and hire people who want to live, work, and build a life here. This will allow for a more creative and diverse economy for years to come.
What advice do you have for young professional women who are looking for additional ways to give back to their communities and better ways to manage their time?
All of us are busy. Everyone is doing things that are important to their families, communities, and career paths. Saying you’re busy is not a good excuse for not doing things that you are passionate about or not being involved in your community in a meaningful way.
Being organized, present, and having a sense of visualization helps me get through my day. In addition to that, I think it is important for women to know they don’t have to take on everything to be successful. It is better to do one or two things really well than to spread yourself too thin and do many things for the sake of being involved. You’re not going to be your best that way.
What is one thing that people may not know about your background?
My family was one of the first Indian-American families to come to Blacksburg and make this town our home. There were only a handful of Indians when we first came, but now it is very diverse. Back then, a lot of people didn’t know too much about where we came from. When I would tell people my family was from India, they would ask me what tribe! Back then I definitely stood out in my classroom, but I always took it as an opportunity to exchange ideas, learn about other cultures, and teach people about mine. I was never offended by people who didn’t know where I came from or who I was. When people are brave enough to ask, it is important to answer with respect.
My life is richer for that experience, because I can connect with people from different backgrounds since I have enough respect to take interest in them. I think we need more people to show more interest about other cultures respectfully. The easiest way to do that is just by asking people questions about their origins. We have such a diverse community and we could really learn from each other if we just talked to each other more instead of assuming that we know people’s experiences.
Visit to www.blacksburg.gov for more information on Krisha’s background and accomplishments!