Board of Governs
Janaka Abeysinghe was born in Kandy, Sri Lanka and moved to the United States in 2009 with Diversity Visa Lottery system. After graduating from high school in Sri Lanka, Janaka started working as a banking trainee for Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC, one of the biggest Banks in Sri Lanka, In a short period of time, Janaka claimed the ladder to become an executive officer in the bank, but left the job to migrate to the United States. In 2009 He continued in banking career by joining Wells Fargo, and today he works as a Personal Financial Advisor for Kinecta Federal Credit Union. As a person who wants to take many challenges in life, coming to the county with no family background Janaka studied full time while working. He graduated with an Associated Degree in Business Administration from Los Angeles Pierce College in 2014, and Bachelors degree in Finance from the California State University of Northridge in 2016. In his leisure time, Janaka enjoys working with SLYO to give back to the community. He was SLYO’s inaugural Secretory, Treasurer from 2012-2014, Vice President in 2014, and currently, the Finance Director.
Raj Ponniah grew up a none traditional Tamil in a somewhat traditional household. Starting out as an Entrepreneur at the age of 19, Raj struck out on his own trying his hand at a variation of industries ranging from legal services to the technology industry. After following his business spirit, Raj recently decided to go back to further his higher level education by following his heart in Psychology.
Born in Colombo Raj left Sri Lanka at the age of 8 during the beginning of the riots. Went directly to California with his family where he joined the rest of the Diaspora. Growing up in San Bernardino county at the time left limited contact to other Sri Lankans. This gave value to having a place where the youth can go to network and embrace their common hurdles of growing up South Asian in a Westernized culture.
Approached by President and Founder Aruni Ganewatte two years ago to take on a role as adviser to S.L.Y.O. Understanding what her goals were for this youth group and the trust and respect that was established over the years, there was no hesitation to jump at the opportunity.
Raj Weerakkody was born in Sri Lanka and moved here with his family as a teenager. He currently lives in Orange County, CA where he attended high school and University. He was a gifted athlete in high school football team which earned him a football scholarship to San Diego State University. Raj went on to graduate from California State University at Long Beach with a degree in International Business.
Raj has always been a savvy entrepreneur and founded a security company in his 20s. H went on to sell his partnership to open his own café and Teahouse, Royal Cup Café, in Long Beach, CA. Royal Cup Cafe was named Café of the Year by Strong Restaurant.com and named Cafe of the Month by OC Weekly speaking to Raj’s talent and vision in the business field. Raj is passionate about the arts and collects pieces and to keep on display at Royal Cup Café contributing to its eclectic and artsy ambiance. Raj is an active member of the community and frequently contributes to philanthropic causes in the Sri Lankan and Long Beach community.
He believes that one’s community is a major part of a person’s identity and has been a major driving force behind SLYO’s successful fundraisers. Raj is in the process of franchising Royal Cup Cafe to proliferate his passion for great coffee, great food, great art, and great ambiance contributing to great communities!
He enjoys time with his family and pets whenever his busy schedule allows some free time.
Samanthika De Silva moved to the United States when she was 8 years old. When she first moved to the United States she only spoke two words of English; Yes and No. Within a short period of time she quickly emerged in to the American culture but at home she had a Sri Lankan upbringing. After graduating high school she attended the University of California Davis. At Davis she took the opportunity to embrace her culture and stand apart from other minority groups. She wanted to make sure everyone she met knew where she was from. Any opportunity she got she spoke about Sri Lankan and her culture. In hopes of educating more people and making a difference as a Sri Lankan, she joined a Chicana/Latina Sorority. Through this organization she educated a lot of her college peers about Sri Lanka and her upbringing. Today she is a branch manager for a financial institution. She loves fashion, reading, traveling and spending every moment possible with her family. What she enjoys most about life is giving back to the less fortunate. Her greatest passions are animals. In her spare time you can find her volunteering her time at animal organizations.
As the SLYO Los Angeles president for 2014 her vision is to make SLYO stronger and grow. She hopes to be able to create opportunities for the youth to give back to the less fortunate. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give is what she lives by every day