Sneha Merchant Operation Smile
Sneha Merchant was born and raised in Mumbai, India in a family and community that believed that giving of one’s self, through time, material or intellectual ability for the relief of hardship, pain, or ignorance can shape the social conscience and improve the human condition. Sneha’s mother was a paradigm of this belief – volunteering and raising money to help those less privileged lead a better life. Through her mother’s charitable work, the seeds of philanthropy were planted in Sneha.
In 1998, Sneha moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue her studies in design from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Five years later, she followed her heart and married the love of her life Naushir Merchant, and moved to Houston, where he already had an established business. With her mother’s example in her heart, Sneha immediately became involved with the Houston community through numerous nonprofit organizations, holding board positions on the Asian Pacific American Heritage Association, the Ek Disha Foundation, the Asian American Family Services, and the Indian Film Festival of Houston. In her relatively short time in Houston, Sneha has been bestowed numerous honors and recognitions including:
the Houston Chronicle and Neiman Marcus 10 Best Dressed Honoree for 2017 benefitting March of Dimes, the honorees are selected for their involvement in the community and philanthropic work, as well as for their impeccable style.
the 50 Most Influential Women of 2017 by The Houston Woman’s magazine, the honorees are selected for their vast networks of social and professional connections and have earned an enviable reputation in the community.
the Universal Smile Award in 2016 for her and her husband Naushir, from Operation Smile Houston for their continued support towards the organization and raising awareness for cleft lip/palette surgery in children in developing countries.
the Star Award from the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Association, 2012.
the Spirited Ambassador for the inaugural Luminary Award Campaign by the Asian American Family Services, 2011
Aside from serving on those boards, Sneha has also served as the Sugar Land Mombassador (mom ambassador) for The Mommie Series Houston. In addition, she has been an active volunteer for the Aga Khan Council for Southwest USA since 2003 and has chaired or co-chaired many high-profile events including:
co-leading the Emissary Award Campaign Luncheon for the Aga Khan Foundation 2016
the Emissary Award Campaign for the Aga Khan Foundation Walk 2014, 2015 and 2016
the Luminary Award program for Asian American Family Services in 2012
the Asian Pacific American Heritage Association’s Kickoff event at the Houston Galleria mall drawing more than 500 onlookers.
the most-talked-about nonprofit shopping event of the year 2015- The Renew and Redo Fashion show at the Wortham Center for The Women's Home raising over $130k
APAHA's 24th Anniversary Annual Gala, Dancing with the APAHA Stars, raising the most funds in the 24 year APAHA gala history
Sneha has also been active serving on the host committees, gala committees and marketing committees for prestigious organizations such as
Operation Smile Houston
St Jude’s Children’s Hospital
Citizenship Week, headed by Mayor Anise Parker
The Women's Home
International Trade Center
Asian American Family Services
Asian Pacific American Heritage Association
Sneha has been volunteering her creative talents and graphic design services since 2005 for various organizations. She not only works tirelessly on local projects but has also helped raise awareness and funds for 'The Fidai Girls Boarding School' in Mumbai India. In addition to philanthropy, Sneha has a penchant for fashion – she was featured in the Houston Chronicle as the 'Style Profile' for July 2015 — the first Indian to hold that recognition.
Later in 2017, she will chair the Ek Disha Foundation’s Him for Her Gala, highlighting the numerous obstacles facing girls and women worldwide, the Operation Smile Gala, and the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital inaugural luncheon. 2017 will also find Sneha combining her two passions – fashion and philanthropy, as she will walk the runway for the Know Autism gala in February and the Houston Chronicle & Neiman Marcus 10 Best dressed of 2017 luncheon in March.
Professionally, Sneha is the Vice President of Prime Noble Realty and Giant Sales, LLC, overseeing the growth and expansion of numerous properties and retail stores in Houston. Through all her charitable causes, Sneha has found a voice for the oppressed – she hopes to channel her energies towards empowering women and girls through her philanthropic efforts.
Despite her busy schedule and multiple accomplishments, family remains Sneha’s most cherished priority. She is a hands-on mom to her 7-year-old son Zaryan and 3-year-old daughter Zenya. Being a mother is by far one of Sneha’s most rewarding experiences and she hopes to instill the same values in her children’s lives as her mother did in hers, an ethos of self-reliance, an emphasis on education, and a pervasive spirit of philanthropy.
Tracy is one of the original Ambassadors for the I-The Guy Campaign and this year’s Co-Chair for the iWrite Literacy Luncheon. She’s finishing the year as the Gala Auction Chair for Houston Achievement Place, having served as their Gala Chair last year. Earlier this year she co-chaired The KNOW Autism Gala and The Big Taste of Houston for Big Brothers Big Sisters. Even while chairing numerous charities you’ll still find her spread between four schools each week mentoring and tutoring children from 3rd to 8th grade. Although she has just one son, she has four young mentees who consider her their Fairy God Mother. Tracy is active in Robby’s life too serving as Cub Scout Leader, Team Mom, Room Mom and over-all cool mom on the block. Given all the hats she’s wearing, we’re simply thrilled to have her here co-chairing this year’s luncheon.
2009 – Galleria Chamber of Commerce – Texas Legends Gala Chair
2010-11 – Galleria Chamber of Commerce – Chairman of the Board
2011 – Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Woman of the Year Candidate
2012 - Elves & More Bicycle Ball – now CYCLE – Changing Young Children’s Lives through Education
2013 - Elves & More Bicycle Ball – now CYCLE – Changing Young Children’s Lives through Education
2014 – 17 – Author Coordinator – Hunters Creek Elementary
2011-2017 – Mentor & Tutor – Spring Branch Independent School District
2015 – The Women’s Home – Re-New & Re-Do Guest Model
2016 – The Women’s Home - Gala Co-Chair
2017 – The Women’s Home – Re-New & Re-Do Guest Model
2016 – Houston Achievement Place – Gala Co-Chair
2017 – Houston Achievement Place – Gala Auction Chair
2016 – KNOW Autism Gala – Guest Model
2016 – KNOW Autism Gala – Guest Model
2017 – KNOW Autism Gala – Co-Chair
2016-17 – iWRITE Literacy Organization – Ambassador in Schools for I The Guy Training Program
2017 – iWRITE Literacy Organization – Luncheon Co-Chair
2017 – BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS – Luxury Raffle Chair – “Big Taste of Houston” Event