Expectations for Submitting, Documenting, and Evaluating Good Faith Efforts in the DBE Program
Martha has served as Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) National Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program Manager since 2010. In this position she develops policies, advises and provides training to Division Offices and State Departments of Transportation on all DBE program areas. She also works regularly with the U.S. Department of Transportation on drafting and reviewing regulations and official guidance; and advances national program initiatives. Martha’s job duties also include supervising the FHWA Office of Civil Rights DBE and Contractor Compliance Team that oversees and assists in managing the Contractor Compliance and On-the-Job-Training programs.
Prior to joining FHWA, Martha was the Director of the Economic Opportunity (Civil Rights) Division at the Indiana Department of Transportation. In this position she supervised and managed all of the federal civil rights programs: DBE, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Americans with Disabilities Act/ Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; DBE Supportive Services; the National Summer Transportation Institute; State Internal Equal Employment Opportunity, and Contractor Compliance/On-the-Job-Training. Also for the State of Indiana, Martha was Deputy Director for the Indiana Civil Rights Commission where she directed investigators and staff attorneys in the investigation and litigation of employment, fair housing and public accommodation discrimination complaints. Martha has litigated civil rights cases in administrative forums, as well as in state and federal courts.
Martha spent time in the private sector representing plaintiffs in 42 U.S.C §1983 actions for deprivation of civil rights. She also worked for the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel where she developed and advised city departments on contractual issues, including the city’s MBE program.
Martha received a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, Illinois, and is licensed to practice law in Illinois, Indiana and the District of Columbia. She received a B.A. magna cum laude from Albion College in English and Economics where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Martha also received a Master of Arts degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio where she focused on early twentieth-century literature.
Aarathi has served as an Equal Opportunity Specialist in DOCR’s DBE Division since April 2014. In this position she adjudicates appeals submitted to DOCR from business owners denied entry into the DBE program. She helps develop regulations, policies, and guidance to strengthen the DBE program and provides policy guidance and technical assistance to State Departments of Transportation DBE program staff.
Aarathi began her civil rights and DBE career at the Asian American Justice Center as the Staff Attorney for the Affirmative Action program. In that capacity, she identified and trained the first Asian American business owner to testify before Congress, resulting in the continued inclusion of Asian Americans in the Federal Aviation Administration’s DBE program. She also wrote Congressional testimony, call-to-action briefs, and an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Ricci v. DeStefano. She led nationwide federal contracting workshops on minority business development, civil rights law, and economic policy.
Aarathi also spent time at private law firms. She began her legal career at the Paris, France office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer as an attorney in the firm’s International Arbitration group. She collaborated with attorneys and paralegals from 10+ countries and published the article “Fair Trade” regarding bilateral investment treaties in Legal Week. Aarathi later served as Counsel at The Royal Law Firm, where she advised clients on issues of business entity formation and the related tax and liability implications.
Prior to becoming an attorney, Aarathi was a public relations professional in New York City, where she developed public relations and marketing strategies for Fortune 500 clients in the beauty and fashion industries.
Aarathi earned her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law, where she was an editor of the Sports & Entertainment Law Journal and received the Dorothy Day Pro Bono Award for exceptional public service. She is licensed to practice law in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She received a B.A. in Psychology from Bryn Mawr College. Aarathi is fluent in Marathi and proficient in French and Spanish.