The idea of starting a national organization of Telugu speaking people in USA was under consideration by concerned persons of people of Telugu origin for about two to three years (1988- 90). Finally, in early part of 1990 about two dozen likeminded individuals from various parts of USA gathered for an informal meeting in Chicago and discussed various aspects related to Telugu people of USA and India. After long deliberations, an idea to start a National Organization named American Telugu Association (ATA) was agreed by the participating delegates. Additional input was solicited from various individual around the country about forming an Interim Board of the organization and formally registering the organization in Illinois as a not-for-profit organization.
After getting very encouraging feed back around the community, a town hall meeting was organized in Naperville, Illinois which was attended by more than 150 Telugu speaking people from different parts USA. To facilitate the formation and functioning of the organization, Interim Executive committee was chosen from the Chicago area. This interim Executive Committee consisted of Chairman (Dr. Krishna Reddy), Vice-chairman (Dr. K.S.M. Prasad), Secretary (Madhava Reddy), Joint- Secretary (Gnaneswar Kavetti), Treasurer (Rajendar Pampati), and Joint-Treasurer (Chandrasekhar Thunga). The Interim Executive Committee was entrusted to communicate with telugu speaking people in different regions of the country who will be interested in serving as Interim Board Member. With the help of Mr. Hanmanth Reddy (IL) and Dr. Bandaru S. Reddy (NY) about 22 members were chosen to serve in the Interim Board in addition to the Executive Committee.
With the first ATA logo (designed with the help of Balarami Pammi, NY) and stationary at hand, the Interim Executive Committee got quickly into action of taking care of all formalities to incorporate the organization. American Telugu Association was formally incorporated as not-forprofit organization in Illinois in September 1990 and also received tax exempt status at the same time.
The main purpose of the organization is to assist and promote literary, cultural, educational, religious, social, economic, health and community activities of the people of Telugu origin as well as to promote exchange programs for students, scientists, and professionals of telugu origin between the United States of America, Canada and India and other countries. With this main objective, a mail campaign was initiated nationwide for membership drive. In initial attempt ATA was able to reach about three thousand families in this membership campaign. The response was very encouraging and membership reached around 500 in the first year itself. Simultaneously, the planning was also in progress to hold first ATA Telugu conference and Youth Convention in Chicago in July of 1991. A conference committee was formed by the end of December 1990 Dr. Kasinadhuni Prasad as Convener. In early part of 1991, the conference committee meetings were held at Convener's house, and in one of these meetings, Mr. Devulapally Krishna suggested the name of America Bharathi for ATA Newsletter. The first issue of America Bharathi was published in the early part of the 1991.
A constitution committee was formed to formulate the articles and by laws for ATA under the chairmanship of Dr. Susarala Viswanatham. The draft constitution was presented in the first ATA General Body Meeting held in Chicago during the first ATA conference. This inaugural conference was very well received and about 1500 people attended this first ATA event. The General body approved the initial constitution and extended the term of Interim Executive committee up to the end of 1991 until the new Board of Trustees were elected. First batch of Board of Trustees were elected unanimously in September 1991 which elected its first Executive Committee. The members of first ATA Executive Committee were, Dr. Sadasiva Reddy (President), Dr. K.S.M. Prasad (President-elect), Mrs. Yashoda Reddy (Secretary),Charan G. Reddy (Jt. Secretary), Mr. Raghava Rao Vanguri (Treasurer), Mr. Tukaram Chavan (Jt. Treasurer).
At this stage, ATA decided to hold World Telugu Conference and Second ATA conference in New York during July 1992. Dr. Bandaru Sivarami Reddy was Convener of this conference. Second ATA conference was a great success and was attended by about 4000 people. After the 1992 ATA conference, ATA conferences are being held every two years. The third ATA conference was held in San Jose, California under the leadership of Dr. Durisala Desiah (President) and Dr. Kota Reddy (Convener). In 1995, then ATA President Mr. Charan G. Reddy convinced the Board to hold 4th ATA conference in Houston during the July 4th holiday weekend. Under the able guidance of Mr. A.V.N. Reddy as Convener, Mr. Hanmanth Reddy as ATA President, ATA conferences reached to new level and set many standards that were followed and surpassed in subsequent conferences. About 5000 people attended the Houston ATA conference from many parts of USA and India. During this conference, the General Body adopted the amended ATA constitution that extended the term of Executive Committee to two years, so that the same committee will be able to serve and make better planning for the conference and other association activities. Keeping with the ATA tradition, 5th ATA conference also set many new records and had its share of success under the leadership of Dr. Gopal Reddy Gade (President) and Mr. Davendar Reddy (Convener).
ATA activities took a major leap forward beginning with Millennia Telugu Conference (6th ATA Telugu Conference and Youth Convention) during July 4th weekend of year 2000 in Atlanta. The sixth ATA conference Core Team (Narender Reddy, convener; Shaker Reddy, coordinator; Syam Yellamraju, co-convener; Rajeshwar Rao Tekmal, member; Ramakanth Rallapalli, member) under the leadership of Srinivasa
Pinnapureddy (ATA President, 1999) and Adisesha Reddy (ATA President 2000) demonstrated a true team spirit and partnership with local telugu association (TAMA, telugu Association of Metro Atlantanta) and achieved numerous milestones, planned several new activities like all day business conference and ShATAvadhanam and many more. The use of multimedia and other standards it set during this conference along with will serve as an example for many years for other ATA conferences and other telugu conferences. Not only this conference was also financially successful but also contributed in developing elaborate conference guidelines (organizational structure and administrative plan) along with business-financial plan for future events.
Biannual Conferences are not only the few main activities that ATA undertakes every year. Through various committees, ATA reaches its objectives and goals. For example, through ATA foundation committee, ATA provides financial assistance to various developmental activities/projects in India. ATA raises and distributes funds for various charitable activities and provides financial aid to the victims of natural and other emergencies.
America Bharathi, a literary and communication mouth piece of ATA reaches over 6,000 thousand Telugu families every other month and it is emerging as one of the premier Telugu literary publication outside of the Andhra Pradesh, India.