Anisha Dias Bandaranaike

A nisha is the founder of the Lakmahal Community Library. Driven by her love of reading and writing, she was inspired to use her old family home to bring a community together in a space for sharing and engaging with literature and creative storytelling across all mediums. As an avid reader, Anisha read widely and grew up with an ever growing and changing collection of books. She continued to pursue her love of language and literature in university, studying Linguistics and Literary Arts at Brown University and recently completed an MA in Museum Anthropology at Columbia University. Anisha has worked as a media researcher and analyst at Verite Research, focusing on political fact checking and disinformation.

Ameena Hussein

Ameena is an author and co-founder of the Perera-Hussein Publishing House, the frontrunner for cutting edge fiction from emerging and established regional authors. Her non-fiction book on the fourteenth century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta in Sri Lanka was published in November 2020 and won the State Literary Award in 2021. Her novel The Moon in the Water was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary Award and the Dublin IMPAC. She has published two collections of short stories and compiled and edited three popular collections of children’s stories and a collection of stories for adults. Her non-fiction work, Sometimes there is no Blood is a seminal sociological study on Violence against Women. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous publications both international and local. Immediately following the heart wrenching tragedy, her essay on the 2019 Easter Bombings in Sri Lanka was published in the New York Times. A Fellow of WrICE, writer digital residency and cultural exchange 2020 as well as being a fellow of the prestigious International Writer’s Program at the Iowa University (2005), she has been invited to teach at the University of Iowa creative writing Summer programs in 2016 and 2018.

Priyanthi Fernando

Priyanthi is a feminist, communications, and social development specialist who is passionate about issues of justice and fighting structural inequalities. Until recently, she headed the team at the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW Asia Pacific) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Over three decades of interactions and experiences with women and men from countries as diverse as Australia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, the UK, and Yemen has strengthened her belief in the power of community, collective action, joint stewardship of this planet and the preservation of the commons. Inculcated with a love for the English language from childhood Priyanthi is a lover of poetry and an avid reader of stories, especially stories by emerging global south and ethnic and sexual minority authors.

Dhananath Fernando

Dhananath is currently the chief executive officer of Advocata, an economic policy think tank in Sri Lanka, where he is a founder member. Before founding Advocata, Dhananath worked as an Associate Research Director at Breakthrough Business Intelligence, a leading market research agency in Sri Lanka. He read for his Bachelor’s degree in Bio Sciences and Biochemistry at the University of Colombo. He is an Eisenhower global fellow and a member of the Asia Society. He has provided commentary on Sri Lanka’s economy in BBC, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and many international media. Dhananath is also a curator and founding member of AK Lit Fest, a trilingual literary festival dedicated to showcasing local authors of Sri Lanka. He is also a member of the Tik Tok Safety Advisory Council for South Asia. In his social responsibilities, Dhananath works with ‘people in need’ by volunteering with CandleAid Lanka, a government approved humanitarian organisation. He was a part of a team training vision- and hearing-impaired students on swimming and safety, and the main coordinator for personality, career development, and English training for undergraduates.

Chalani Ranwala

Chalani is a writer, artist, and communications specialist. She has published her poems in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) as well as the collection No one is listening: A selection of new poetry from Sri Lanka, curated by the British Council Sri Lanka. Her first short story, Let it Be, was shortlisted in the Wachana “Write & Win” short story competition and published in 2020. As a student, she has written reviews of contemporary Sri Lankan novels on behalf of the Perera Hussein Publishing House in Colombo. Chalani also writes in her capacity as a communications specialist and has published her insights on research communications with international platforms such as On Think Tanks and the Centre for International Private Enterprise. Previously, Chalani headed the Communications Team at Verité Research, an interdisciplinary think tank that provides strategic analysis for Asia in the areas of economics, politics, law, and media. She currently works independently as a Communications Consultant.