Who We Are

We are a team of people who are passionate about inclusion, with 20+ years of tech experience building products for the most respected brands in the world.

Our passion for building inclusive and human-centric digital experiences is what drives our work every day. 

We believe that the next wave of innovation in the area of digital accessibility will come from people with disabilities. 

We are passionate about connecting people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities to enriching and engaging work experiences. 

We are passionate about connecting employers to an untapped and underutilized talent pool.

Meet our Team

Gayatri Kini

There was one burning question that led to Accidental Ally’s new mission – ‘Why are there so few people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities in the workforce?’. Gayatri decided to find the answer by hiring people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. She hired a group of people with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, and Autism into a paid summer internship program. She wanted to find out what it would entail to hire and train this group of individuals. That was the beginning of the journey. Gayatri uses her tech and product acumen from 20 years of working for Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Intuit, and Visa to fuel a for-profit, social good enterprise that aims to change the way tech companies employ people with disabilities. 

Gayatri’s favorite quote, “Every single one of the 100 billion lives who have walked the face of this earth is unique and unrepeatable. To be born at all is a miracle, so what are you going to do with your life?”  by Sir Ken Robinson.

Gayatri is the Founder and CEO at The Accidental Ally.

Rohan Bhupatiraju

Rohan enjoys life and all the opportunities that come along. In the summer of 2021, Rohan made history as the first intern with Down syndrome to be hired by Five9. He worked as a Digital Web Marketing intern and helped the Five9 team make their website accessible. Rohan recently made history as the first person with Down syndrome to give the Web Accessibility Certification (CPACC) exam.

He dreams of becoming a QE expert with a specialization in Web Accessibility, Localization, and Security testing skills. Rohan is also learning Spanish and gets super excited to engage in conversations with others in Spanish. Rohan helps his friends with math tutoring weekly. He enjoys sports and participated in Special Olympics Basketball and Softball for several years.

Rohan’s favorite quote is, “Anything is possible” by Gayatri Kini

Rohan is the Executive Admin Assistant & Culture Champion at The Accidental Ally.

Rojene Russell

Rojene aspires to be a Digital Marketing professional. She is deeply passionate about social media and marketing operations. In the summer of 2021, Rojene made history as the first intern with Cerebral Palsy to be hired by Five9. She worked as a Digital Web Marketing intern and helped the Five9 team make their website accessible and worked on delivering demand gen nurture campaigns. She recently gave her CPACC exam to certify as a Web Accessibility professional as she dreams of becoming an Inclusive Digital Marketer. She is a fashionista and a self-advocate with Cerebral Palsy.

Rojene’s favorite quote is, “Determination takes you a long way” by Chelsea Clinton.

Rojene is the Social Media Assistant at The Accidental Ally.

Santhi Bhupatiraju

Santhi has been an integral part of The Accidental Ally team leading the execution of the Allego learning platform that we use to deliver our learning and development materials to our self-advocates. Santhi is better known as Rohan’s mom. Santhi is a trailblazer in her own way as a mother who never gave up on her son. She homeschooled Rohan since he was a little boy and has helped him shatter one glass ceiling after another. Santhi is Rohan’s biggest supporter and cheerleader who has always pushed him to achieve great heights despite his disability. Santhi also volunteers her time in tutoring children with disabilities.

Santhi’s favorite quote is, ‘Life is a challenge; we must take it’, Mother Teresa.

Santhi is leading the execution of the learning platform (Allego) for The Accidental Ally.

Dashiell Meier

Dashiell is a talented talk show host, an aspiring filmmaker, and, an award-winning disability rights activist. He has been a public speaker since elementary school, educating his audiences about Down syndrome and its history as well as that of the disability rights movement. He has spoken to members of Congress in Washington, D.C. to advocate for changes in legislation as a National Down Syndrome Society Ambassador. A trained Special Olympics athlete-leader, Dashiell is active with several other local, state, and national disability rights organizations. In addition to writing stories, screenplays, and comics, Dashiell has a YouTube talk show, Playing Favorites, which features positive, in-depth celebrity interviews. He is passionate about becoming a filmmaker so he can share the stories of people with Down syndrome and other disabilities with the world.

Dashiell’s favorite quote, ‘Try everything’ from the movie, Zootopia.

Dashiell is a Self Advocate at The Accidental Ally.

Laith Omran

Laith graduated from high school in 2018. He enjoys writing stories, drawing, cooking, voice acting, gaming, sea shanties, and helping others. He hopes to be an animator and storyteller. Through his work at The Accidental Ally, he wishes to improve the representation of people with special needs in the workforce. Laith loves the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.

Laith’s favorite quote is, ‘Sometimes the people who push you the hardest are the ones who care about you the most’, by Laith.

Laith is a Self Advocate at The Accidental Ally.

Micheal Lopez Guerra

Michael is a bright young man who lives in the Bay Area and is currently attending Bay University, an adult transitional school through the San Mateo School District. In the summer of 2022, Michael had a tremendous opportunity to participate in an internship with The Accidental Ally. He was elated knowing that he could create, share, learn new skills, and make new friendships. He had a lot of fun during his internship, making short movies and taking pictures. He enjoys being around people and does his absolute best to communicate with others. There are lots of things Michael is passionate about, one of which are taking pictures, making/editing videos with special effects software, adding his favorite music to his projects, and posting them to his social media. He also loves making “unboxing videos” about his most recently acquired video games, movies, LPs, and CDs. Michael is also an avid gamer who has a large collection of video games.

Michael’s favorite song is ‘As it was’ by Harry Styles. He knows the lyrics to most of Harry’s songs!

Roan Purpura-Pontoniere

Roan is currently a student at Merritt College in Oakland. Roan interned last summer with The Accidental Ally, a Palo Alto-based startup that seeks to increase diversity in Silicon Valley through the authentic inclusion of people with disabilities. He enjoys horseback riding, swimming, video gaming, and cooking, and performs with the Silicon Valley Down Syndrome Network taiko group. Roan works as an assistant to a music therapist. He wants to leverage his love of cooking to help people with disabilities to make healthy food choices.

Roan ‘s favorite quote is, ‘Have a good time and have a fun time’ by Roan.

Roan is a Self Advocate at The Accidental Ally.

Meet our Catalysts

Our Catalysts are a critical part of our team and help us ensure the successful execution of our work programs and internships. Our Catalysts work closely with our self-advocates with cognitive and intellectual disabilities as they navigate their first-ever work experience in tech. They also work collaboratively with employers to create an inclusive environment for the work program or internship. They help maintain a day-to-day touchpoint on projects and work with the self-advocates, their colleagues, teammates, and/or their manager to understand and identify specific training, and communication requirements.

Vani Hombal

Vani did her Master’s in Computer Science and has been working as a Software Developer in the tech industry for the past 19 years. Her most recent stint was at Amazon building products for Amazon Ads for the last 7 odd years. Prior to that, she was at Microsoft for around 11 years where she worked on various products like Windows 8, Microsoft Lync (Skype), and Microsoft Office Mobile. On a personal note, she lives in Palo Alto with her husband, 2 children (daughter and son), and our four-legged furry friend Omi who is an Australian Labradoodle. 

Vani was Rohan’s catalyst at Five9 and was instrumental in helping him succeed in his role as a Digital Web Intern in the Global Marketing team  in the summer of 2022.

Priti Doshi

Priti Doshi has a Nano degree in Digital Marketing. She lives in Palo Alto, is always ready for what comes my way, is a learner, and loves being a mom.

The satisfaction of helping others is what drives her. Her journey has taken her from working in trade shows, making connections to grow her client’s businesses, Digital Marketing to help small businesses achieve their goals, and working with business groups to learn more about the disruption and transformation going on in their industries. Her last stint, as a project manager, was with a women-led startup to promote the use of an AI-Data Analyst as a service to help clients use data to make better decisions. Her favorite kid is her Aussie doodle Ziggy and her kids know that. 

Priti was Rojene’s catalyst at Five9 and was instrumental in helping her succeed in her role as a Digital Web Marketing Intern in the Global Marketing team in the summer of 2022.

Emma Summers

Emma is an aspiring speech-language pathologist working towards a bachelor’s degree in Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University. She specializes in working with children and young adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities.

Emma supported and helped Sabrina prepare for an internship with Spotify as a Web Accessibility Intern in the summer of 2022.

Meet our Interns

Arnav Mayur

Arnav is a high school senior from Bengaluru, India. He loves sports, and is a big FC Barcelona fan. When he is alone, you can find him reading (his favorite pastime!) or jamming out on the guitar. Arnav is currently studying economics and hopes to pursue public policy or law in the future. Arnav’s favorite quote is, “Accomplishment will prove to be a journey, not an accomplishment” by Eisenhower.

Arnav interned with The Accidental Ally in the Spring of 2023.

Karmishtha Krishna

The way we treat disability is largely affected by the isolation of it as a separate entity. Karmishtha truly believes that it is mindfulness around accessibility that can help break the silo and bridge existing gaps. We live in a world where words like inclusivity are often spoken of but seldom executed. The strong core values Accidental Ally stands for made her want to challenge her creative capabilities – to be more thoughtful, empathetic, and truly human-centered in her design approach.

Karmishtha interned with The Accidental Ally in the Summer of 2021.

Sanjay Thinagar

Sanjay believes usability, inclusivity, and empathy are the foundations of good design. His goal has always been to design products that are strong in these factors. Even small changes can go a big way toward making the world more accessible. He was excited to work with The Accidental Ally as it was a great opportunity to be a part of a team that is very passionate about accessibility and to learn more about it along the way.

Sanjay interned with The Accidental Ally in the Summer of 2021.