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AAPI Speaks

Our grassroots partners across the nation are led by organizers and leaders with first-hand knowledge of AAPI issues and communities. They are leaders who contribute to systemic changes and transformation work from the ground up. Their voices and stories are shaping where and how AAPI communities fit into the intersection of justice and liberation to form a more inclusive and representative democracy. 

Use the search function to find and learn more about our partners, their area expertise, and where they are geographically based.

Please note: we highly urge requesters to provide an honorarium when requesting a speaker.

Aakriti Khanal

Role: Foundations Manager
Organization: AFL-CIO Technical Institute
Area of Expertise: Campaign organizing & movement, Community organizing & campaigns, Community storytelling, Gender equity & equality, Gender-based violence, Global feminist movement building, Grassroots organizing, Healthcare & health equity, Immigration, Nonprofit management, Social justice movement building, Southeast Asian issues,

Aakriti Khanal was born in Nepal and moved to the U.S. when she was 11 years old. She currently lives in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area and works for the AFL-CIO Technical Institute. More recently, Aakriti led transformational fundraising growth at Adhikaar, a women-led grassroots non-profit organization in Queens, NY advancing the lives of Nepali-speaking domestic workers, nail salon workers, Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders and undocumented workers. She also worked as a union organizer for Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Aakriti deeply cares about labor, immigration and gender issues and has spent the last decade building community and worker power through organizing and advocacy. She is fluent in Nepali, Hindi, English and Spanish.

Aamina Ahmed

Aamina Ahmed

Role: Advisor
Organization: Rising Voices
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Education, Healthcare & health equity, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Aamina Ahmed is an Advisor at Rising Vocies, a nonprofit organization that seeks to organize and develop the leadership of Asian American women (cis, trans, gender non-vonforming, and femme-identifying) and young people in Michigan.  

Ahmed has previously worked with a multitude of community groups and nonprofits, creating inclusive spaces where all communities feel like they belong.  A third culture kid with a commitment to building the world she wants to live in brought her to New American Leaders (NAL) to build power for first and second generation Americans in Michigan and beyond. Ahmed is an alum of the  Ready to Lead and Ready to Win NAL programs, and she most recently led APIA Vote MI. To her, inclusion isn’t just a buzzword, but the reality of a time when “Where are you from?” is no longer a triggering question.

Alvina Wong

Role: Base Building Director
Organization: Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Area of Expertise: Climate justice, Economic justice, Equitable development, Grassroots organizing, Housing, Land trusts, Social justice movement building,

Alvina Wong is the base building director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. Her work is focused on organizing low-income and working-class Asian immigrants and refugees to build their leadership, advocate against displacement, and advance solutions on issues that matter most to the community.  She has organized intergenerational initiatives including community campaigns that secured sustainable community benefits and prevented the evictions of Single Room Occupancy tenants. 

Wong’s career as a community organizer in the Chinese immigrant community started during her time as an Eva Lowe Fellow for the Chinese Progressive Association. She has nearly a decade’s experience developing and organizing AAPI youth around access to quality education.

Berenice Rodriguez

Role: Civic Engagement and Organizing Director
Organization: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Area of Expertise: Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Berenice Rodriguez is a director for the Department of Civic Engagement and Organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. With her legal background, she specialized in the removal defense of individuals facing deportation proceedings where she conducted over 200 intakes at three Georgia-based detention centers for immigrants from over 20 countries. As part of the policy department, she worked on lobbying against anti-immigrant bills at the state and national levels. 

Rodruguez’s career as a community organizer began when Georgia passed an anti-illegal immigrant bill, one of the toughest laws in the country’s legal history. She helped organize farmworkers in South Georgia to advocate for safer work conditions and fair wages.

Headshot of Candice Cho: Asian American woman with short, black hair, wearing a black blazer and a striped shirt, smiling at the camera.

Candice Cho

Role: Managing Director of Policy and Counsel
Organization: AAPI Equity Alliance
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Gender justice, Immigration,

Candice Cho is the Managing Director of Policy and Counsel at AAPI Equity Alliance, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit and one of the co-founding partners of the national coalition Stop AAPI Hate, where she leads the development of people-centered, data-based policy. Candice also serves as a mayoral appointee on the Human Relations Commission in the City of Los Angeles.

Candice brings over a dozen years of experience leading policy efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. As Deputy Chief of Staff of the New York City Law Department, she was the city’s chief legal advisor on immigration, advising on sanctuary city laws and suing the federal government to protect immigrant New Yorkers during the Trump Administration. She was also Chief of Staff to a NYC commission updating the city’s constitution whose proposals to increase democratic participation in local government were approved by the voters. She began her career as a legislative staffer for U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin, the second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate.

Candice regularly speaks on local government, immigration, and anti-racism before corporate, government, academic, and media audiences.

Candice is the first in her family to graduate from college and the first lawyer, and has degrees from Harvard College, Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy, and Columbia Law School. She is admitted to practice law in New York and California.

Chavi Khanna Koneru

Role: Executive Director
Organization: North Carolina Asian Americans Together
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Chavi Khanna Koneru is the co-founder and executive director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT). She spearheads the nonpartisan group to increase civic engagement and voter turnout among North Carolina’s growing AAPI community. As a result, the state experienced a record turnout of AAPI voters, many of whom were first-time voters during the 2020 presidential election.

Prior to founding NCAAT, she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice, Voting Section where she had the opportunity to work on voting rights and language access issues impacting the AAPI community.

Daisy Maxion

Role: Civic Engagement Lead Organizer
Organization: Filipino Advocates for Justice
Area of Expertise: Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Daisy Maxion is the Civic Engagement Lead Organizer at Filipino Advocates for Justice. She helps implement programs that aim to increase civic engagement in the AAPI community through local and state-wide campaigns. She led campaign activities that optimized community engagement such as supervised phone banks, signature-gathering, canvassing, as well as voter registration programs based on high school and college campuses.

Additionally, Maxion led a Get Out the Vote campaign against the 2021 Gubernatorial recall election by conducting voter outreach in AAPI communities to inform voters about important dates and address any pressing needs that affect their voting rights. Maxion also implemented community projects including an outreach initiative focused on vaccine education. Maxion and her team provided in-language support to help AAPI community members schedule vaccine appointments across 7 counties.

Darakshan Raja

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Muslims for Just Futures
Area of Expertise: Abolition, Criminal justice & prison abolition, Economic justice, Gender justice, Gendered Islamophobia, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Structural Islamophobia,

Darakshan Raja is the founding executive director of Muslims for Just Futures (MJF), a grassroots organization that builds power in Muslim communities through collective care, organizing, advocacy, and movement-building. 

Raja previously served as a community fellow at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Social Concern, a founding co-director of Justice for Muslims Collective, a board member of South Asian Americans Leading Together, and a research associate at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center. As a JHU Center for Social Concern Fellow, Darakshan worked alongside Dr. Homayra Ziad to set-set up a community partnership with Muslims for Just Futures to document oral histories from Muslim communities and resistance to post 9/11 violence. Currently, she serves on the board of trustees for A Foundation for Radical Possibility. Raja was also appointed to the DC Government’s Street Harassment Advisory Committee, a body that oversees the implementation of the Street Harassment Prevention Act.

Deborah Chen

Role: Civic Engagement Programs Director
Organization: OCA-Greater Houston
Area of Expertise: Economic justice, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Deborah Y. Chen is the Civic Engagement Programs Director at the OCA-Greater Houston Advocacy Center with two decades of experience in social justice and community organizing. Through her work, Chen promotes equal opportunities, fair treatment, and civic participation through community building. Chen and her team were instrumental in boosting voter registration and raising awareness of anti-Asian hate. Their efforts led to outreach in AAPI communities in over 221,000+ households, during the 2020 Census at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Under her leadership, she also managed a $30 million grant program for small businesses in Harris County. 

Before her current role, Chen was a senior executive staff analyst under the mayor’s office at the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunities to support Small, Minority, and Women Owned Business Enterprises (SMWBEs). She was also the Certification and Contract Compliance Division Manager at the Human Relations Department of the City of Kansas.

Erich Nakano

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Little Toyko Service Center
Area of Expertise: Affordable housing, Community development, Economic justice, Healthcare & health equity, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Erich Nakano is the executive director of the Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) where he manages projects that build affordable housing and engages in comprehensive community development in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, California. He leads community facility projects that provide a broad range of social services for the AAPI families and senior members of the community. With his background in urban planning, Nakano is responsible for developing several LTSC programs that offer housing security such as the Affordable Housing Collaborative. 

Prior to his current role, Nakano partnered with various community-based organizations to address current and emerging issues among AAPIs. He also helped advance the Japanese American redress and reparations movement in addition to promoting community preservation, tenant rights, educational rights, as well as various national and local political campaigns.

Estella Owoimaha

Estella Owoimaha-Church

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Area of Expertise: Arts, Education, Ethnic Studies, Social justice movement building, Youth,

Estella Owoimaha-Church is an Executive Director at Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), a national organization based in Los Angeles and established in 2009 to advance social justice through culture-centered advocacy, leadership development, and research.

Owoimaha-Church is a first generation American of Somoan and Nigerian descent, born and raised in Tognva Land, now known as Los Angeles. Prior to working with EPIC, she served as an educator for nearly two decades. Estella was the first Samoan to be named a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize in 2018 and awarded California Theatre Teacher of 2020. As a Black-Pacific Islander (PI), mother to a Black-PI child, and eldest sister of two Black-PI young men, she holds dear her responsibility to serve generations of past, present, and future. 

Glo Harn Choi

Role: Community Organizer
Organization: HANA Center
Area of Expertise: Economic justice, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting rights,

Glo Choi is a community organizer with HANA Center, where he focuses on community building, leadership development, and community organizing and advocacy for undocumented people in Chicago. 

As a non-DACA undocumented person, Choi is rooted in his lived experiences and understands the challenges undocumented people face. He began his journey as an organizer during the height of the Trump Administration’s attacks on immigrants. In 2018, Choi’s organizing and advocacy efforts helped increase participation in the “Journey 2 Justice Bike Tour.” The tour brought impacted people and allies together, as they biked from the US Northern to Southern border to demand that all people have access to housing, healthcare, education, voting rights, and freedom from the fear of detention and deportation.

Grace Pai

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Education, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Grace Pai is the executive director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. Pai leads strategy for issue-based campaigns that strengthen power-building work, and supports organizational infrastructure. Her recent projects include a successful campaign to require Illinois public schools to teach Asian American history–making Illinois the first state in the country to do so. As an experienced community organizer, she has worked to advance racial, economic, and immigrant justice and has trained organizers and community leaders across the country.

Pai also serves as the founding executive director of Asian American Midwest Progressives, a political organization that endorses progressive candidates for elected office. During the 2021 Georgia Senate runoff election, Pai took a leave of absence to serve as the field director for Asian American Advocacy Fund PAC, where she led a team that reached over 100,000 AAPI voters in the Atlanta area. Her leadership helped secure the historic wins of Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. 

Jacqueline Thanh

Role: Executive Director
Organization: VAYLA New Orleans
Area of Expertise: Climate justice, Education, Gender equity & equality, Healthcare & health equity, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Jacqueline Thanh is the executive director at VAYLA New Orleans, a progressive multiracial organization that offers support services for AAPI youth and their families. In her role, she develops programs that offer services and advocate for social and environmental justice in the AAPI community. 

Throughout her career as a clinically trained and trauma-informed social worker, Thanh has pushed for community-informed policy change to address social inequities. She also led efforts to forge sustainable leadership pathways for AAPI youth through storytelling and community building. Her unique approach to social justice centers around intergenerational healing and civic engagement to advance the social justice movement among AAPI community members.

Jasmine Rivera

Role: Director of Communications
Organization: Rising Voices
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Jasmine Rivera is the director of communications at Rising Voices, a youth and women empowerment advocacy group. Rivera helps develop strategies for leadership and power building, as well as organizing capacity for AAPI women and youth. In her role, Rivera uses her creative skills to frame narratives and key messaging that uplift the organization’s core values. She also fosters relationships with community partners and media outlets.    

An award-winning filmmaker and producer, Rivera created and launched Rising Voices Amplify, a collaboration with acclaimed photographer Jarod Lew. The initiative aims to document the local AAPI leaders and organizers, as well as DIY Power, a civic education web series for the Michigan Asian American community. The initiative uses storytelling methods to amplify issues that affect AAPI youth and women.

Kabzuag Vaj

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Freedom Inc.
Area of Expertise: Community organizing & campaigns, Gender justice, Global feminist movement building, Nonprofit management, Racial justice, Social justice movement building,

Kabzuag Vaj is the founder and co-executive director of Freedom Inc and Freedom Action Now, Inc. Her work engages low to no-income communities of color in Dane County, WI to achieve social justice through direct service, leadership development, and community organizing.

Vaj’s advocacy began at 16 years old with her assisting and housing at-risk teens, and challenging abusive gender norms within her community. In the past 20 years, she has spent her life working to build collective power and social change within Southeast Asian and Black communities. Vaj was recognized as a Champion of Change at the White House during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 2011, and was named one of “20 Women of Color in Politics to Watch in 2020” by She the People. She is also a co-founder of the global community campaign Building Our Future and a co-owner/founder of the social enterprise Red Green Rivers. Vaj is a daughter, mother, artist, and organizer. Her first love is the movement. 

Karla Thomas

Karla Thomas

Role: Deputy Director
Organization: Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC)
Area of Expertise: Climate justice, Criminal justice & prison abolition, Economic justice, Education, Gender justice, Healthcare & health equity, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting rights,

Karla Thomas is the Deputy Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), overseeing its research pillar. She comes from a public health background with a focus on health policy.

Thomas is the oldest daughter to Samoan and Aymara parents, raised in San Bernardino, CA on Serrano and Tongva land. Prior to joining EPIC, Karla was co-founder and policy director of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) Data Policy Lab at UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she also co-founded the Pasifika Inland Empire Coalition for Empowerment, a Pasifika-led coalition that comprises three organizations addressing COVID-19 health inequities affecting Pacific Islanders. She received her Master of Public Health from the University of Southern California and is also a UCLA alumna. She is dedicated to being a fierce advocate for all Pasifika people and is passionate about improving health equity for her community.

Kiki Rivera

Role: Storyteller, Lecturer, Cultural Consultant
Organization: California State University
Area of Expertise: Community organizing & campaigns, Community storytelling, LGBTQIA+,

Kiki Rivera (he/they) is an internationally produced theatre artist, educator, and storyteller. They hold a BA in Theatre and MFA in Playwriting from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Original plays include Faʻalavelave: The Interruption and Puzzy (featuring New Zealand Playwright Victor Rodger) published in Samoan Queer Lives. Rivera is among a group of grassroots leaders that mobilize resources to empower Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. Through their creative talent, Rivera amplifies the collective voice and strengthens the advocacy work of community organizers.

Lian Cheun

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Khmer Girls in Action
Area of Expertise: Education, Gender equity & equality, Healthcare & health equity, Housing, Immigration, LGBTQIA+, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Lian Cheun is the executive director of Khmer Girls in Action, with a background in politics and community organizing. Cheun implements the organization’s mission to build a progressive and sustainable movement for gender, racial, and economic justice led by Southeast Asian young women. Her leadership efforts have secured funding for youth programs, fought for educational and health justice programs, organized numerous GOTV efforts, as well as advocated for workers’ rights. 

As a veteran community organizer, Lian served as a commissioner with President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 2014-2016. Currently, she is a community council member for Bold Vision, an initiative to advance equitable policies for youth of color across Los Angeles County. Early in her career as a youth advocate, Cheun’s efforts as a community organizer secured $12 million for afterschool programming and education in the  Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). 

Headshot of Murtaza Headshot, a man with black hair and a black beard wears a suit and tie, smiling.

Murtaza Khwaja

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Area of Expertise: Criminal justice & prison abolition, Democracy reform, Economic justice, Immigration, Islamophobia, Nonprofit management, Racial justice, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Murtaza Khwaja, a civil rights attorney, serves as the Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. Khwaja previously served as Executive Director at CAIR Georgia where his leadership saw him combatting discrimination and bigotry with creative legal strategies, including federal impact litigation fighting anti-boycott laws and addressing prison conditions, while also providing direct legal services for victims of religious discrimination and police brutality. Khwaja’s almost decade of experience in policy work at the local, state, and national levels was built alongside cross-racial, intersectional movements of power in communities of color, advancing immigrant rights, voting rights, criminal justice reform centered around transformative justice, and the expansion of social services. Khwaja co-founded the 2020 and 2022 CAIR to Vote initiatives, which saw historic voter turnout in the respective presidential and senatorial/gubernatorial elections.

As Executive Director of Advancing Justice Atlanta, Khwaja plays a pivotal role in steering the organization toward the realization of its mission and programmatic initiatives. Khwaja spearheads efforts to advance the rights of Asian American communities, advocate for immigrant rights, and promote equitable access to justice. Under his leadership, Advancing Justice Atlanta has embarked on bold, transformative initiatives to address systemic barriers and empower historically marginalized populations.

Nancy Vue Tran

Role: Director of Development
Organization: Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF)
Area of Expertise: Campaign organizing & movement, Gender-based violence, Social justice movement building,

Nancy is the Director of Development at the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF), where she stewards the resources that are invested to demolish an oppressive cash bail system. She works with 200,000 individual donors and cultivates a robust grassroots giving program.

Prior to MFF, Nancy worked as a public defender for six years, representing clients facing mental commitment. Later, Nancy transitioned to become Development Director at Freedom Inc (FI) in Madison, Wisconsin, a gender/racial justice organization serving Black and Southeast Asian survivors of domestic violence. With her unique combination of legal, development, advocacy, and organizing work, she knows intimately the necessity of including the voices of those most impacted in building organizational wealth for BIPOC/Queer lead groups who have historically had little investment in their capacity and infrastructure.

Nausheena Hussain

Role: Nonprofit and Philanthropic Consultant
Area of Expertise: Community organizing & campaigns, Community storytelling, Gender equity & equality, Gendered Islamophobia, Nonprofit management, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Nausheena Hussain is on a mission to create a philanthropic legacy for change in the Muslim community. She is reimagining a world where Muslims will draw from their heritage, history, and intersectional identities to make the world a better place. Nausheena’s philanthropic journey began when she served on the Headwaters Foundation for Justice Community Innovation and Social Change Fund committee from 2011-2016, reviewing and approving grant requests. She also became a Certified Fund Raising Manager (CFRM) from the Lily School of Philanthropy and continued her education by completing a M.A. in Philanthropic Studies. She currently serves on the board of Center on Muslim Philanthropy helping Muslim nonprofit leaders upskill, collaborate, and improve their fundraising impact. She will be joining the St. Paul and Minnesota Community Foundation in 2023.

Nausheena is now pursuing her doctorate in Philanthropic Leadership at IUPUI in hopes to build a vibrant Muslim philanthropic community collectively advancing prosperity and equity by deepening relationships among the Muslim philanthropic community, amplifying their voices through collective action, and strengthening the sector. Married, with two children and a beautiful cat, she lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and loves to garden, read and travel.

Phi Nguyen

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Phi Nguyen is the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta. In her previous role, she was the Litigation Director where she focused on impact litigation in the areas of voting rights and immigrant justice. Since joining Advancing Justice-Atlanta in early 2017, Nguyen has helped block a Georgia state law that restricted voters’ right to an interpreter at the polls and represented a class of Vietnamese immigrants suing the federal government over the indefinite nature of their detention in ICE prisons.

An award-winning lawyer, Nguyen aims to protect and expand the civil rights of AAPIs and other marginalized communities. Nguyen was introduced to Advancing Justice-Atlanta in 2016 when she partnered with them to lead Vietnamese Voices, a get-out-the-vote campaign that focused on Vietnamese Americans and helped mobilize further grassroots efforts in AAPI communities.

Prarthana Gurung

Role: Director of Campaigns & Communications
Organization: Adhikaar
Area of Expertise: Economic justice, Gender equity & equality, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Prarthana Gurung is the director of campaigns and communications at Adhikaar, a Queens-based community center that organizes the Nepalese immigrant and refugee community. In her leadership role, Gurung and her team lead Adhikaar’s efforts for power building and community organizing to support workers in the Nepali-speaking community.

Prior to Adhikaar, Gurung was based in Washington, DC as a communications specialist executing campaign strategies for local grassroots community groups advocating for anti-fracking and indigenous land rights in several states. Additionally, Gurung supported communications for DCFerguson, a broad coalition of groups that called on the DC Council to repurpose $2.9 million in funds to support community-led peacekeeping initiatives in partnership with law enforcement.

Sachi Watase

Role: Executive Director
Organization: New Mexico Asian Family Center
Area of Expertise: Gender equity & equality, Gender-based violence, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Sachi Watase is the executive director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center, a community-based organization offering culturally and linguistically tailored programs and services to Asian Pacific Islander families across New Mexico. Watase and her team are dedicated to providing equitable access to critical social services, resources, and opportunities through direct services, civic engagement initiatives, advocacy efforts, cross-racial movement building, and multi-generational community programming.

Watase has a background in advocating for survivors of on-campus sexual assault, community organizing with AAPI youth, and teaching children, teens, and young adults. Watase is a Fulbright Scholar and member of the New Mexico Women of Color Leadership Initiative. In her endeavors as a community leader, Watase strives to push for equality, advocate for systems change, and center the deep wisdom and experiences of AAPI communities in New Mexico.

Samip Mallick

Role: Executive Director
Organization: South Asian American Digital Archive
Area of Expertise: Archives, Community storytelling,

Samip Mallick is the co-founder and executive director of SAADA, a community-based culture change organization ensuring that South Asian Americans are included in the American story: past, present, and future. Mallick has guided SAADA from its inception in 2008 to its place today as a national leader in community-based storytelling. 

Mallick’s background includes work related to international migration in South Asia for the Social Science Research Council and The University of Chicago. Mallick currently serves on the Library of Congress Connecting Communities Digital Initiative advisory board. He also previously served as an archival consultant for the Ford Foundation’s Reclaiming the Border Narrative Initiative and on the Pennsylvania Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Sasha Wijeyeratne

Role: Executive Director
Organization: CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
Area of Expertise: Economic justice, Housing, Social justice movement building,

Sasha is the executive director of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, an organization with a mass base of working-class Chinese and Bangladeshi immigrants and youth. Sasha has led CAAAV to sharpen strategy, develop working class leadership, and build power to disrupt real estate’s practices of speculation, financialization and gentrification in NYC, specifically in Chinatown and Queens. Under their leadership, CAAAV has doubled in size across staff, membership, and budget. Most recently, CAAAV kicked Amazon’s headquarters out of Queens, helped pass NY’s historic 2019 rent laws, and is currently fighting for a community-led rezoning that would intervene in speculation and displacement on NYC’s waterfront. 

Sasha has also been part of various kinds of queer and trans organizing, racial justice organizing and political education projects, including the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), DC Desi Summer (DCDS), No New Jail Coalition in Dane County, Asians for Black Lives, and hotpot!.

Tammie Xiong

Role: Executive Director
Organization: Hmong American Women's Association
Area of Expertise: Education, Gender equity & equality, Voting engagement,

Tammie Xiong is the executive director for the Hmong American Women’s Association (HAWA), a Milwaukee-based grassroots social justice organization led by Hmong women and Hmong Queer fem women. Xiong and her team are dedicated to ending gender-based violence against Southeast Asian women, girls, and LGBTQ folks. She has dedicated over 14 years to providing advocacy for Southeast Asian women and girls in Milwaukee through literacy development, parent education, community education, domestic violence, sexual assault advocacy, and leadership development of Southeast Asian girls.

Xiong’s other leadership roles include serving on the Wisconsin Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse and as a Commissioner for the City of Milwaukee Commission for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She is deeply passionate about building the leadership of unapologetic, Southeast Asian women that will use their gifts to impact the world.

Tavae Samuelu

Role: Pacific Islander Initiative Director
Organization: AAPI Civic Engagement Fund
Area of Expertise: Pacific Islanders,

Tavae Samuelu is the daughter of a pastor from Leulumoega and a nurse from Saleimoa in Sāmoa. As the former Executive Director of Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), she advocated passionately for Pacific Islanders and continues to be committed to liberation for all.

Tavae was born and raised on Tongva Territory, and credits her time on unceded Ohlone land for her political consciousness. She recently joined the CA 100 as a commissioner focused on health and wellness. Tavae is currently working with the AAPI Civic Engagement Fund to establish a Pacific Islander fund. During the pandemic, she has learned that her most important title is Aunty Vae.

Tram Nguyen

Role: Co-Executive Director
Organization: New Virginia Majority
Area of Expertise: Climate justice, Criminal justice & prison abolition, Democracy reform, Economic justice, Healthcare & health equity, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Tram Nguyen is an award-winning activist and community leader who helped found New Virginia Majority, where she currently serves as co-executive director. She leads multi-racial, multi-issue campaigns using large-scale civic engagement, community organizing, advocacy, leadership development, and strategic communications. Her leadership has helped expand the electorate to be more reflective of Virginia’s diversity, reshaping Virginia’s political landscape and building power for underrepresented communities.

Her work on democracy, criminal justice, immigrants’ rights, climate change, and economic opportunity explores the intersections of social, racial, and economic justice. Tram is a partner at Democracy Partners and currently serves on the board of directors for the Meyer Foundation and the National Advisory Council for the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. She is a certified faculty member at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy. Tram is an alumna of Barnard College and a former Lead the Way Fellow of the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Tweetie Fatuesi (she/her)

Role: Civic Engagement Manager
Organization: UTOPIA Washington
Area of Expertise: Citizenship access, Climate awareness, Climate justice, Education, Gender equity & equality, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Tweetie Fatuesi is the Civic Engagement Manager for UTOPIA Washington, a queer and trans people of color-led grassroots organization. She manages program areas relating to voter education and registration, climate change, climate equity and awareness, climate justice, as well as creating pathways to citizenship. As an instrumental member of her team, she helps increase access to a variety of resources including employment, stable housing, higher education, and culturally competent healthcare.

Fatuesi also helps build resilience in the queer and trans people in the Pacific Islander community. As a community leader, Fatuesi has cultivated pathways with UTOPIA Washington through multiple volunteer opportunities. Through her work, she develops and implements strategies that helps to improve the quality of life for communities of color, particularly Queer and Trans Pacific Islanders or QTPI. She has dedicated her career to advocating for social justice by expanding education, career, and life opportunities for QTIP’s everywhere.

Vetnah Monessar

Role: Executive Director
Organization: MASA Fund
Area of Expertise: Democracy reform, Education, Gender equity & equality, Immigration, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Vetnah Monessar is the founder and executive director at MASA Fund, an advocacy group that develops leadership and political agency for Muslim, Arab, and AAPI communities. She oversees the organization’s programs and initiatives to develop leaders and support their ambitions to drive social change in their respective communities. With her background as a community organizer, she has advocated for the human and civil rights of communities of color pushing for equal opportunity in employment, affordable housing, and access to public resources. 

Monessar previously worked alongside elected officials to pass legislative bills to increase civic engagement among members of the Uyghurs, Kashmir, Yemeni, and Afghan communities. She has also led community outreach that pushed for voter registration, GOTV, and poll monitoring within the MASA and AAPI community.

Vivian Yi Huang

Role: Co-Director
Organization: Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Area of Expertise: Climate justice, Economic justice, Social justice movement building,

Vivian Yi Huang is Co-Director of the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN). For over a decade, Vivian has organized with Asian immigrants and refugees to stand up to big polluters and build a thriving economy. She has played a leadership role in strengthening APEN’s organizing and leadership development, advancing our collective strategy for just transition and systemic change, catalyzing innovative models, and deepening our embodiment of feminisms and shared power.

Prior to working at APEN, Vivian spent a decade working on policy, legislative, and budget campaigns, including model policies to improve health care interpretation, $25 million for health disparities in cancer, and a successful effort to support immigrant parents that made a conservative “top bills to kill list.”  She has also been a facilitator, trainer, and teacher with the Women’s Policy Institute, School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), and SFSU Department of Public Health.

Wei Chen

Role: Civic Engagement Director
Organization: Asian Americans United
Area of Expertise: Education, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement,

Wei Chen is the civic engagement director at Asian American United’s (AAU) where he leads the organization’s goals to campaign for justice, develop youth leadership, and uplift AAPI culture and community. During his time as an organizer, he created and led Chinatown Vote, a community engagement initiative that registered hundreds of voters and supported thousands of Asian voters in Philadelphia.

Wei’s lived experience as an immigrant inspired him to start his career as a youth advocate that helped to file AAU’s case with the Department of Justice. The case established safe schools free of bias for all students in the Philadelphia School District. He also co-founded Pennsylvania’s first Asian-focused 501c4 organization, Asian Pacific Islanders Political Alliance (API-PA). Wei has served on the Peace First Board of Directors, as a Commissioner on Philadelphia’s Commission on Human relations, and is on the Board of Victim Witness Services in South Philadelphia and Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA).

Ysrael Quezon

Role: Racial Justice Coordinator
Organization: Filipino Advocates for Justice
Area of Expertise: Education, Social justice movement building, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Ysrael Quezon is the racial justice coordinator at Filipino Advocates for Justice, leading the organization’s efforts to advocate for immigrant and civil rights. Quezon has led campaigns to provide direct services, develop leaders, and organize and advocate on issues important to the Filipino community as a historically underserved ethnic minority. In his role, he organizes community initiatives and projects that serve at-risk youth and low-wage workers vulnerable to exploitation. He also supports the organization’s efforts to integrate newly arrived and undocumented immigrants into society. 

Through his passion for social change, Ysrael aims to amplify movement hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter, #StopAsianHate, #MeToo, and #EnoughIsEnough. As a community leader, he aspires to connect marginalized communities with funding opportunities and resources that address various issues. To achieve these goals, he partners with movement-building organizations, philanthropic institutions, schools, and governments to address the needs of youth, communities of color, immigrants, and survivors of state-based violence.

Zaynab Abdi

Role: Strategic and Futures Fellow
Organization: Strategic and Futures Fellow with United Nation Development Programme (UNDP)
Area of Expertise: Conflict and peacemaking, Economic justice, Education, Gender equity & equality, Immigration, Voting engagement, Voting rights,

Zaynab Abdi is a Black, Muslim, Middle Eastern (West Asian), and immigrant woman who is passionate about social justice and advocacy. She graduated magna cum laude from Saint Catherine University with a Bachelor degree in political science, international studies, and philosophy. In the Spring 2023, she will be graduating from Columbia University with a Master’s in Public Administration in Development Practice (MPA-DP). Zaynab worked alongside the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, as a youth advocate for girls’ education. She has spoken at the United Nations several times, and her story was featured in several books: Green Card Youth Voices: Immigration Stories from a Minneapolis High School (2015), Malala’s book We Are Displaced (2019), and Our Stories Carried Us Here (2021). In 2019, Zaynab was appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s office to serve in the Young Women’s Cabinet. Currently, Zaynab works as the Strategy & Futures Fellow with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). In her free time, Zaynab enjoys playing soccer, biking, and mentoring emerging young leaders to be a powerful force for change.

Zon Moua

Role: Queer Justice Director
Organization: Freedom Inc.
Area of Expertise: Campaign organizing & movement, Gender justice, LGBTQIA+, Police-free schools, Youth,

Zon Moua (she/her) is a queer justice director for Freedom Inc who is instrumental in shaping the Youth Justice and QTI+ Justice Departments and campaigns. Her work has helped introduce Black and Southeast Asian youth to social justice movements through culturally specific radical direct services, leadership development, and community organizing with art, music, and dance programming.

Her passion for youth justice has inspired her to organize against policing in schools and the criminalization of young people of color, supporting the efforts of the Freedom Youth Squad in the Police Free Schools Campaign. Moua has also partnered with various groups around queer justice and has trained nationwide on queer Hmoob feminism. In 2016, Moua co-organized the US Hmong LGBTQ Delegation to attend the first Global Hmong Women’s Summit in Chiang Mai to bring Hmong women and allies together and strategize solutions for gender-based violence.