Sanjena Sathian does everything so quickly — walking, talking, reading, thinking, writing — that it can be hard to imagine her coming of age in Georgia, where the pace is rather more leisurely. “But when she hits the dance floor, you can definitely see the Hot-lanta,” one OZY employee pointed out at the holiday party, fairly marveling at her Bollywood-meets-hip-hop moves.
She still misses Georgia’s sweet tea and grits, though her personality lacks for neither sweets nor grit. Hyperverbal, hyperliterate, hyperarticulate and sometimes just hyper, the former national debate champion uses her powers (mostly) for good, thankfully: During OZY’s first year, Sanjena — the longest-running editor at the mag — kept the trains running, the stories coming and the ship from capsizing. We’re not exaggerating.
Year two saw Sanjena leading OZY’s first two series: Trailer Park Nation, an investigation into an oft-ignored housing market, and Sci Fi Gets Real, the culmination of many months embedded in the booming futurist utopia of Silicon Valley. She found time in there to play celebrity, to enormous effect, and to captain the Rising Star section. Today, Sanjena is based in India, has reported across the subcontinent and in Japan, and edits features culled from Colombia to Laos.
Before OZY, Sanjena chased stories everywhere from Nepal to Bolivia to, hey, rural Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maine, too. And stories there were many, including some wild times immersing with female Maoist ex-combatants, striking Chilean miners, Gurkha soldiers-in-training, and the children of itinerant migrant farm workers. Eventually she made her way to newsrooms in Boston and Pittsburgh, and then to OZY.
In India she spends her days tracking smugglers on the Indo-Bangladesh border, discovering the tech boom and eating street food (for work!). When at play, she can be found trying to wend her way through a Kalari martial arts class, getting swoll, reading constantly or enjoying Indian yoga teachers, who never tell you to just breeeaathe. Tweet at her or follow her story-hunting and bookworming by subscribing to her bimonthly newsletter.