REPLY ALL: A conversation with Sheela Murthy

Founder and President, Murthy Law Firm
Immigration Lawyer
Past chair, Maryland Chamber of Commerce
Philanthropist

As we focus on non-profits this month, in your own words, what is the importance of having large companies and business leaders like yourself get involved for the betterment of the community?

I think most human beings, by their very nature, have a deep innate desire in their souls to do good and to leave the world a better place. The importance for large companies or business leaders to get involved in helping others or in being more community-minded is to enrich and benefit us as individuals. It also benefits our colleagues and coworkers who get excited to be a part of a vision that is greater than just making money, it’s about helping others and serving others, it’s about making the world a better place.

What was your motivation to start the MurthyNAYAK foundation and what continues to drive you today?

It started with 9/11. My husband and I talked about it and we said should we start something where we really give back and focus on core areas that we care about: empowering women and children, education, and immigrants.

We also encourage business entrepreneurship and growth. Because, at the end of the day if people don’t create jobs, grow, and expand then all we’re going to be doing is serving the basic needs.

What continues to drives us today, is the idea of leaving a lasting legacy in the lives of other people and changing their destiny and their families’ destinies forever.

What is the best advice you have been given in business and in your philanthropic work?

If you take care of your team, they will take care of your business and your clients. How I treat my colleagues and coworkers is so important, to make them feel valued and make them realize how they impact the success of our business. By taking care of them, they are in fact taking care of the business, and taking care of the clients in an amazing way.

What’s the best advice you would give?

Give it all and then reward always follows.

Whatever you decide to get involved with, be passionate and give 100 percent of yourself to the organization or the cause.

Doing something half-hearted is the absolute worst thing you can do, because you’re cheating your soul and your spirit and not enjoying the journey of life.

What has been one of the greatest success stories from the Foundation?

Because [the MurthyNAYAK Foundation] has provided the nutrition, the scholarships, the books, the clothes—every morning these kids can now focus on their education because they’re not hungry, that to me is a success story every morning.

I’ve seen kids who weren’t even planning on finishing high school, finish and become engineers, or gain admission into medical school, or become lawyers—it’s just incredible.

What advice would you give another business leader like yourself that is interested in getting involved with a non-profit but is unsure how?

Start wherever you are comfortable. If you can give a few dollars, great. If you can give an hour or two a month, whatever you can spare time-wise and money-wise, start getting involved.

You were named philanthropist of the year, in your own words, what did this mean to you?

It’s wonderful to be acknowledged by your colleagues and peers and by an organization that I value and respect so much like the United Way. To be in the company of other incredible honorees and winners in prior years—people I would aspire to become one day or people I truly respect and admire for who they are and what they do.

How do you feel the Maryland Chamber helps businesses and community?

The Maryland Chamber and the Maryland Chamber Foundation have the opportunity to make a deep and lasting impact by working with the community, with universities, with community colleges, and with each other’s businesses to provide opportunities, jobs, education, and skills so that companies get better talent and businesses become more profitable—and ultimately families and lives are changed forever. As each family changes, the community changes, the neighborhood changes, and in the end it benefits all of us.

 

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