Volunteer Highlight – Sujit CanagaRetna

Sujit CanagaRetna has been a volunteer at New American Pathways since April of 2017, giving over 6 years of regular service with our organization. Sujit volunteers at least once a week with our immigration department, helping review and file critical documents alongside New American Pathways staff members.

Sujit was born in Sri Lanka and immigrated to the United States over 40 years ago. He attended Bennington College in Vermont and graduated in 1987. After working for a year in our nation’s capital, he went on to receive a double masters from Colombia University in public administration and international affairs. Following graduation, he went on to work for the New York City Comptroller’s office for nearly 7 years. In 1998, Sujit moved to Georgia and began his long tenure at The Council of State Governments (CSG) in the southern office. Here, he worked with multiple state governments to improve and understand fiscal and economic trends relating to the automobile, aerospace, arts, and film industries in the South as well as any other issues that impact state economies. After serving in this role for nearly 20 years, he retired in 2017. Shortly after this, he began his campaign of volunteer service.

Sujit currently maintains a heavy schedule of service in 5 different volunteer positions across 5 different organizations. Since 2018, Sujit has served with the Georgia Radio Reading Service (GRRS), hosting the “Augusta Chronicle” and “Scholarly Publications” programs. He now serves as a member of the GRRS board. He also volunteers at InTown Cares, a food pantry and grocery delivery service for struggling elderly individuals. Once a week, he also volunteers with Chef Glen Ambrose, to prepare food at Respite Care Atlanta, a facility which aids the families and caretakers of those suffering from early stages of dementia by providing safe day time care for their loved ones. He, alongside 4 other Sri Lankan Americans, have also founded Satva Fund Sri Lanka, which aids impoverished Sri Lankans with numerous programs including: education, sanitation, health, food security, autism, and mental health initiatives. Sujit CanagaRetna also works part time as a senior policy advisor at E Pleribus Unum, an organization founded by former New Orleans Mayor and Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu, which works to bridge the equity gap in the southern United States. Finally, he faithfully serves at New American Pathways and has been one of our most appreciated and prolific volunteers for many years.

When asked about his motivations for such extensive service, Mr. CanagaRetna said that he only wants to follow the example of his grandmother, mother, and father. He feels his own work is miniscule in comparison to what they did for others. Sujit also noted his deep appreciation of his wife for supporting him wholeheartedly in his volunteer efforts. He also spoke of his fondness for the clients and staff at New American Pathways and how grateful he felt to be involved. He said that as an immigrant himself, although his experiences were not as harrowing as many of our clients, he can empathize with the anxiety and uncertainty that many immigrants feel. He spoke about how important the kind of help and services provided at New American Pathways can be towards reducing this anxiety and helping people succeed. When asked to make a closing statement about his volunteer service, Sujit CanagaRetna said “The world is a better place if we think beyond ourselves. My own work is just a drop in the ocean. I just want to inspire others to be involved. Together our service helps to make the world a better place.” We at New American Pathways, feel honored to present our friend, Mr. CanagaRetna, as a shining example of the spirit of volunteerism and service.