Our Team

Asian American Futures (AAF) team is committed to building a just future for all of our communities.

Natasha
Saelua

Researcher, McREL International
Natasha Saelua, Ph.D. ABD, is a researcher at McREL International, specializing in higher education assessment and accreditation. In this role, she supports a variety of projects through research and consultation under the REL Pacific contract. She has worked as a graduate research assistant at the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity office, the National Institute for Transformation and Equity at the University of California, San Diego, and the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University. She co-founded and worked as a lead researcher for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), a national nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California. Natasha will be earning her Ph.D. in higher education from Indiana University in September, 2021, and holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in Asian American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Andine
Sutarjadi

Director of Next Gen Initiatives, 21/64

Andine Sutarjadi is a speaker, facilitator and writer on next generation philanthropy. As a Director of Next Gen Initiatives at 21/64, Andine facilitates programs and conversations to equip next gen donors with the tools they need to clarify their philanthropic identity, become more strategic in their giving and be prepared to serve on nonprofit boards.

She also leads the 21/64 Certified Advisors of Color Program that aims to build a community of BIPOC philanthropic professionals with deep knowledge on multigenerational family, wealth and philanthropy, using 21/64’s tools and resources, to guide donors in their grantmaking, governance and investing.

Previously, Andine worked at Women Moving Millions (WMM) where she was responsible for the programming and community engagement of over 300 high-net-worth philanthropists focused on giving with a gender-lens. Andine received her B.Sc. in Health Science with a Minor in Public Health from Boston University. As a next gen donor herself, Andine is a Co-Chair of the Family Prosperity Working Group at NEXUS, serves on the steering committee of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle and is a Technical Advisor for Pyramid Life Care, a social enterprise she co-founded with her mother that provides health and holistic services to elderly communities in her home city of Jakarta, Indonesia.

Susan Lew

Co-Chair and Board Member

Officer, Hsu Hwa Chao Foundation

Susan Lew, MS, is an Officer of the Hsu Hwa Chao Foundation, which has a 25-year history in Orange County philanthropy. She is also a public health professional, health and science writer, musician, and community activist. Her writing has appeared in Brown Medicine Magazine, the Journal of RiskResearch, and the publications of many for-profit and non-profit healthcare organizations. Susan has a BA from Brown University and a MS from Harvard School of Public Health, where she specialized in social determinants of health, behavior change, and health communication. She served on the board of Pacific Symphony Youth Ensembles from 2010-2018 and has been a singer in Pacific Chorale since 2010. Susan currently serves on the board of Planned Parenthood Community Action Fund of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, and was a member of the planning committees for the Orange County Women’s March 2018 and 2019.

Hapshiba Kwon

Program & Marketing Coordinator

Hapshiba Kwon (she/her) is the Program & Marketing Coordinator at Asian American Futures. Prior to AAF, Hapshiba worked as an English teacher in Providence, RI, engaging with middle schoolers for two years. She holds a BA in English from Amherst College, where she received the Ralph Waldo Rice Prize and a Fulbright grant. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time outdoors and people-watching to draft poems or philosophize about embodiment, belonging, and multiverses, among other things.

Aryani Ong

Director of Anti-hate & Belonging at The Asian American Foundation (TAAF).

Aryani Ong, Civil Rights Activist, Attorney and Consultant Aryani Ong is a civil rights activist, attorney and consultant who has worked on issues concerning Asian Americans for the last 30 years. Civil Rights – National Security Balance Since 2015, Aryani has advocated for civil rights safeguards for Chinese Americans who are collateral damage in the government response to the rising U.S.-China conflict.

She facilitated bimonthly conversations among community leaders around scientists and researchers until early 2019 through the Asian American Justice Task Force, which she co-founded. With leading national and community organizations, Aryani has organized coalitions around advocacy and media campaigns; organized dialogues, several with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country; and, worked on a documentary. In early 2020, Aryani co-founded the Asian American Federal Employees for Non-Discrimination (AAFEN), which calls for protections for Asian Americans in the federal government against negative employment actions, particularly security clearances due to suspicions based on race, ethnicity and national origin. Through AAFEN, she has given many briefings to congressional committees, members and staff and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, as well as high ranking federal agency officials and employee affinity groups. The roots of Aryani’s activism at the intersection of civil rights and national security dates back to the Dr. Wen Ho Lee case.

Back in 2000, Aryani participated in a community advisory group to the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force Against Profiling. Representing the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), she was among a delegation who met with then-Attorney General Janet Reno to raise concerns about Dr. Lee’s treatment. The briefing memo that recorded the broad community concerns was written by Aryani for the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC) and entered by Rep. Patsy Mink into the Congressional Record.

Hate Crimes Inspired by Helen Zia’s activism in 1982 around the Vincent Chin case, Aryani became a civil rights lawyer specializing in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). She was the project lead on an annual national report that tracked and analyzed hate crimes against AAPIs; the report was produced through the now-Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Pacific American Justice Center (formerly the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium) and its affiliates. Aryani worked with Leadership Conference on Civil Rights on advocacy efforts to press Congress for stronger legal protections.

Invited to join a civil rights delegation of U.S. experts, she testified before the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva and organized speaker panels for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa. Aryani wrote among the earliest community response guides on hate crimes in the field as a consultant and then Deputy Director of the now OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans).

Aryani is a founding member and Senior Advisor of Communities United Against Hate (CUAH), an anti-hate crime coalition in Montgomery County, Maryland. She also served as member of an Asian American parent advisory group to Montgomery County Public Schools, and addresses school bullying. Aryani regularly speaks to dozens of audiences around the country. Representations of AAPIs To preempt bias, Aryani has worked to inform the public about AAPI and challenge stereotypes in the public domain. She has co-created and co-led professional training sessions for teachers and administrators at the Montgomery County Public Schools. Recently,

Aryani’s efforts led to a groundbreaking student listening session where AAPI students addressed the school community about their perspectives during the pandemic and the unprecedented numbers of reports of anti-Asian incidents. Outside of schools, she’s also worked with Norman Mineta and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition to negotiate MOUs on diversity initiatives at the major TV networks; an award-winning pictorial book that featured Asian American heroes and community responses to 9/11; and several campaigns that challenge racist depictions by public figures, retail or media corporations and political campaigns. Diversity, Inclusion And Equity Aryani promotes diversity, inclusion and equity.

She is Founder of the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network (MoCoPAAN), which focuses on racial equity, immigrant rights and bias and profiling. Related to education, she served on an Asian American parent advisory council, or Asian Pacific American Student Achievement Action Group (APASAAG), and the Beyond the Boundaries Working Group with Impact Silver Spring. Aryani also facilitated Study Circles with students on the achievement gap.

She’s worked within coalitions to file amicus briefs on affirmative action cases before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Related to immigrants and workforce development, Aryani served as board chair of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), countywide system of 50+ ESOL programs. Related to inclusion, Aryani has addressed the county government leadership several times, proposing a blueprint to address the AAPI community needs, and facilitated a table dialogue at a community forum on a proposed racial equity bill. Immigrant Integration, Civic Participation and Political Empowerment Aryani supports the pipeline of immigrant integration to civic participation and political empowerment. She works with local and national groups such as Civic Leadership USA and Asian American Unity Coalition and serves as Senior Advisor to the United Chinese Americans.

In 2018, Aryani returned to politics after having worked for the California Democratic Party as a field organizer for the Clinton/Gore/Boxer/Feinstein coordinated campaign in 1992. She served on the kitchen cabinet advisors to Hoan Dang (county council) and Lily Qi (state assembly). She moderated the candidate forums for the Maryland gubernatorial race (as a member of the United for Maryland PAC) and Montgomery County Executive’s race (as an officer of the Asian American Political Alliance). Aryani is on the board of the Asian American Action Fund (AAA Fund) and a member of the local MoCoWoMen political group. In 2019, she invited to serve on the new Montgomery County Executive’s transition team. During the 2020 elections, Aryani served as a co-chair of Chinese Americans for Biden (CAFB – 2ndgeneration) affinity group under the AAPIs for Biden component of the Biden campaign. Currently, she serves on the AAPI Leadership Committee under the DNC AAPI Caucus and as an advisor to Indonesian American Democrats.

Nonprofit Management, Board Governance and Consulting Aryani has devoted her career to the nonprofit sector in various professional roles ranging from staff, fundraising and management to consultant and coalition partner. She has been hired as a consultant to work with clients that ranged from nonprofits such as the Urban Institute, whose work provides strategic direction to The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to universities such as Harvard’s Civil Rights Project and University of Maryland’s Asian American Studies Program.

Aryani was trained as a senior governance consultant by BoardSource and by the Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and a ChevronTexaco Management Institute-sponsored training program. While MCAEL’s board chair, she created a peer board chair circle for Nonprofit Montgomery. Aryani has served on several boards, among them the OCA – Washington, D.C. chapter and the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County (CRCMC) and as advisor to the Betty Ann Ong and Calvin J. Li Memorial Foundations. She’s a Leadership Montgomery graduate (class 2013).

Further Background Aryani has been represented in major news outlets such as NBC4, New York Times (Chinese language edition), the Washington Post, Science magazine, CSPAN, and ethnic or international media such as Voice of America – China, Voice of America Indonesia, CNN Indonesia, SinoVision, South China Morning Post, DingDing TV, as well as local county cable and print media and podcasts.

She has freelanced for Newsweek magazine. Aryani has received awards and recognition from Maryland’s Top 100 Women Award, The Community Foundation’s Linowes Leadership Award (semi-finalist), the Center for Nonprofit Advancement (board), and the Clarion Award (team book project).

Aryani holds a law degree from George Washington University Law School and a B.A. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has clerked on Capitol Hill, the National Women’s Law Center, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco. Aryani is working on a blog called Six Hues to elevate stories with multi-dimensional perspectives, especially from AAPIs.

Gregory Cendana

President & Founder, Can't Stop! Won't Stop Consulting!

Dancer, Strategist and Entrepreneur Gregory Cendana is President and co-founder of Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! Consulting, Chief Creative Officer of Greg Dances and co-founder of The People’s Collective for Justice and Liberation. He was the first openly gay and youngest-ever Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement.

Gregory was also first openly gay Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, co-founder of the diversity initiative Inclusv, and serves on the board of directors for United We Dream and 18 Million Rising. He co-authored Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) Behind Bars: Exposing the School to Prison to Deportation Pipeline, a first of its kind report on the impact of mass incarceration and mass criminalization in the AAPI community.

Gregory was President of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act. Gregory is also a graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute, the Management Center’s Managing to Change the World, the Midwest Academy’s Organizing for Social Change, Training for Change’s Training of Trainers, Spitfire’s Executive Training Program, Center for Story Based Strategy’s Advanced Training and re:power’s Political Training Program.

Prior to his current role on the Board of Pharmacy, Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also appointed him to serve on the Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs after he served a two year term on the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Advisory Committee under the leadership of Mayor Vince Gray. Gregory also co-founded the Washington Highlands Civic Association and served as its Vice President. He has been named one of Washington DC’s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30, 40 Influential Asian Americans in Washington, DC’s Inaugural Power 30 Under 30™ Award Recipients and the “Future of DC Politics”. In his spare time, Gregory enjoys singing karaoke, choreographing dances and trying new recipes. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @GregoryCendana and TikTok: @GregDances

Nancy Chan

Director of Philanthropy

Nancy Chan currently serves as director of philanthropy for the family office of a technology entrepreneur. Prior to this, she led the monitoring, evaluation and learning function of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s Justice & Opportunity Initiative.

She was also head of community partnerships at Catalyte, a tech company with a social mission to promote access to software development careers for nontraditional candidates. Previously, as a director at philanthropy consulting firm Arabella Advisors, Nancy advised clients on strategy development and program evaluation, and served as the founding program director for the Hope & Grace Fund, the charitable grantmaking arm of the skincare brand Philosophy, Inc.

Through her work with Hope & Grace, she and a colleague compiled a set of recommendations to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion principles in grantmaking practice (download at equityinphilanthropy.org) and summarized their work in an article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “Eliminating Implicit Bias in Grantmaking”. Prior to Arabella, Nancy conducted research at SRI International (formerly Stanford Research Institute) and the Urban Institute, and worked in Silicon Valley companies Palm, Inc. and Adaptec.

Nancy currently volunteers on the steering committee of the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy’s (AAPIP) Silicon Valley chapter. In partnership with AAPIP, she recently led the development and publication of the report Invisible Ink: Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She also hosts a blog on social impact career transitions, socialimpactyodas.org. She holds an MPP from the Georgetown McCourt School of Public Policy and a BS in electrical engineering from MIT.

Natasha
Saelua

Researcher, McREL International

Natasha Saelua, Ph.D. ABD, is a researcher at McREL International, specializing in higher education assessment and accreditation. In this role, she supports a variety of projects through research and consultation under the REL Pacific contract. She has worked as a graduate research assistant at the Indiana University School of Medicine’s Faculty Affairs, Professional Development, and Diversity office, the National Institute for Transformation and Equity at the University of California, San Diego, and the Center for Postsecondary Research at Indiana University. She co-founded and worked as a lead researcher for Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC), a national nonprofit organization based in Los Angeles, California. Natasha will be earning her Ph.D. in higher education from Indiana University in September, 2021, and holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in Asian American studies from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Juliann Anesi

Assistant Professor, Department of Gender Studies, University of California - Los Angeles

Juliann Anesi is an Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at the University of California – Los Angeles. Her research interests include disability and indigeneity, educational policies, and decolonial feminisms. As a community educator and activist, she has also worked with non-profit organizations and schools in American Sāmoa, California, Hawai ́i, New York and Sāmoa.

Juliann’s work has appeared in venues including Disability and the Global South, Women and Social Movements in the United States, 1600 to 2000; and Disability & Society.

A. Sparks

Executive Director, Masto Foundation

She values and is deeply committed to promoting equity based on her experience as a queer, multi-racial, woman in the field of philanthropy. She is currently Executive Director of Masto Foundation, a US-based family foundation rooted in the Japanese-American community.

Prior to taking on leadership at the foundation, Sparks worked in philanthropy for 12 years, as a Program Officer and founded Queer Leaders in Philanthropy (a national network focused on changing the culture of philanthropy to be more empowering of LGBTQ individuals through advocacy and community building).

Sparks has served on the Program Committee for Horizons Foundation for ten years and regularly advises the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, National Center for Family Philanthropy, Asian-American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), and Council on Foundations. She a former Board Member of San Francisco Women Against Rape (SFWAR) and the SF LGBT Community Center, and currently serves on the Advisory Board of the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District and the Board of Directors for the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

In addition to volunteering her time, Sparks has led initiatives to make the field of philanthropy more accessible. She founded Horizons Foundation’s young donor circle called HYPE and was a founding member of the Funding Queerly Giving Circle which, in five years after granting out $1+ million, fundraised and allocated more money to small-budget LGBTQ nonprofits than any other US-based giving circle in history.Prior to entering philanthropy, Sparks worked as a clinical social worker for foster care youth in Harlem, New York, and received a BA from Vassar College, a Master’s in Social Work from UC Berkeley, and a Master’s in Business Administration for the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington. She lives in San Francisco with her partner, Sierra, and adorable Morkie named Panda and travels up to Seattle regularly for work with the foundation.

Linda Trinh Vo

Professor, Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, irvine

Dr. Linda Trinh Vo is a professor and former chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Mobilizing an Asian American Community, co-author of Vietnamese in Orange County, and co-author of the report Transforming Orange County: Assets and Needs of Asian Americans & Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, along with co-editing numerous collections, including Keywords for Asian American Studies. Dr. Vo was president of the national Association for Asian American Studies and has served in leadership roles with numerous community projects and organizations, including Viet Stories: Vietnamese American Oral History Project; Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Orange County; Orange County Asian & Pacific Islander Community Alliance; and Viet Film Fest. From her campus, she has received the Pedagogical Innovation: Civic Engagement Teaching Award and the Community Service Award.

Arnie Saiki

Research, writer, program director

Broadly focusing on regional economic and geopolitical themes in the Asia and Pacific regions, Arnie Saiki is currently leading a working group on data, statistics and valuation in the Pacific. His book “Economic and Ecological Accounting: Towards Intemerate Values,” was published last year by the Pacific Conference of Churches, the Pacific Theological College and the University of the South Pacific.

Since the publication, this campaign has been introduced to the Ecological and Economic Justice program at the World Council of Churches and he is participating in a G8 Interfaith forum for the inclusion of Wellbeing indicators into our economic accounts. 

While national statistics and ecological accounting normally fall under the purview of government, academic or international institutions, Arnie has been campaigning in democratizing our ecological data, seeking support for a proof-of-concept accounting program that would enable poor, impacted, and indigenous peoples to actively participate in how we account for our socio and economic biodiversity. Intemerate Accounting is an equation that helps to correct accounting disparities that have, to a large extent, excluded the Global South. Revising our accounting system can provide access and opportunities that cross wide campaign sectors, bringing hope, action and efficacy to reverse climate change, restore our ecological biodiversity, and redistribute global wealth more equitably.

Arnie has been actively promoting and working on global justice campaigns since 2007 when he received a “We the People” grant from the Hawai’i Council of the Humanities for his work on Hawai’i Statehood. He has organized conferences with Hawaiian national independence groups, managed the Save Rapanui campaign after the Chilean military forced a lockdown of Easter Islanders. Arnie spoke at the World Bank representing the Pacific Island Forum, and participated in discussions around regionalism in the Pacific. He was recently appointed the US-Pacific Diplomacy and Solidarity Mission for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), and is on the management team of the Deep Seabed Mining Campaign.

In 2011, Arnie received the blessing from Dr. Kekuni Blaisdell to organize a counter-conference in Honolulu while APEC was there and coordinated the Moana Nui conferences, an international partnership between the International Forum on Globalization and Pua Mohala I Ka Po. For the last ten years he has been campaigning on issues around trade, development, ecological resources, indigenous issues and militarization in the Pacific.

His essays, “TPP at the End of the Line: a briefing on economic cooperation and capacity building” was published in American Quarterly by John Hopkins University Press, and “Manifesting the Liquid Continent,” was published by Yunnan National University, as part of the 1st International conference on Asia and Pacific Ethnology and Anthropology.

Greg Lutze

Co-Founder of VSCO, Advisor, Venture Partner

“Greg Lutze is an Asian American founder, advisor and artist based out of California. A polymath, his interests lie in a variety of creative pursuits including design, photography, painting, fragrance and fashion.

The Co-Founder of VSCO, Greg is a leader driven by creative vision and soul. VSCO has been named Apple’s “App of the Year,” Google Play’s “Best Apps” and Fast Company’s “Most Innovative Companies in Social Media.” He is a a member of Gold House, a non-profit collective of Asian & Pacific Islander founders, creative voices, and leaders; a venture partner at Hidden, investing in the future of creative work; and a mentor at Praxis Labs, a creative engine supporting innovators motivated to love their neighbors and renew culture. Greg serves as an advisor to creative startups Studio, Made in Part & Chroma.

Previously, Greg was a Creative Director working for clients including Universal Records, Sony, Showtime, Interscope Records, Capitol Records, Warner Brothers, Nintendo, XBOX, and K2 Snowboards. Greg’s work has been recognized by The Grammy Awards, Graphic Design USA, Taschen, and Communication Arts.

Outside of work, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, cheering on Chelsea FC, going to the gym, and making music.”

Sathya
Mandjiny

Senior Manager, Government Affairs, Groundwork Collaborative

Sathya is a Senior Manager of Government Affairs at Groundwork Collaborative. Sathya most recently served as Political Director of Senator Ed Markey’s re-election campaign where she oversaw the campaign’s community outreach and worked alongside advocacy groups to create a meaningful political dialogue at the grassroots level. Prior to joining Senator Markey’s re-election campaign, Sathya was the Political Director at MassEquality where she managed the organization’s legislative work, including the successful passage of a bill to ban conversion therapy. Sathya began her career at a boutique public affairs firm where she worked on a variety of issues, including health care and transportation. A native of Hope Mills, North Carolina, Sathya earned her undergraduate degree in Global Studies and South Asian Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed her Masters in Social Work at Boston College, focusing on legislative advocacy. From the age of 14, Sathya has also studied Bharata Natyam, an Indian classical dance.

Stephanie Hsu

Executive Director of the Jeremy Lin Foundation

Stephanie serves as the Executive Director of the Jeremy Lin Foundation, a private Foundation with a mission of loving and serving youth via hope, empowerment, and leadership development. The Foundation is focused on overlooked AAPI and cross-racial youth programs that wraparound their youth relationally. Prior to the Jeremy Lin Foundation, Stephanie worked with the Partnership Fund, a civic fund making catalytic investments into underserved communities in New York City. She also worked at Bain and the Bridgespan Group, consulting to some of the world’s largest Foundations. Stephanie received her MBA from the Wharton Business School and a BA from the University of Virginia, where she was President of the Asian Student Union and led efforts for Asian American Studies and an AAPI Mentoring Program.

Pawan Dhingra

Professor and Associate Provost / Associate Dean of the Faculty, Amherst College

Pawan Dhingra is Associate Provost and Associate Dean of the Faculty and is Professor of American Studies at Amherst College. He is a former curator at the Smithsonian Institution. His bylines include The New York Times, CNN, and more. He and his work have been profiled in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, TheGuardian, and other venues. His most recent book is Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough (New York University Press 2020). His other books include the multiple award-winning Life Behind the Lobby: Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream (Stanford University Press, 2012) and the award-winning Managing Multicultural Lives: Asian American Professionals and the Challenge of Multiple Identities (Stanford University Press, 2007). He co-authored Asian America: Sociological and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, now in its second edition (Polity Press 2021). An award-winning teacher, he also appears in the documentary, Spelling the Dream. He is President-elect of the Association for Asian American Studies and has been Chair of the Board of the South Asian American Digital Archive. He has been department chair and held tenured positions at Tufts University and Oberlin College.

Rick Bonus

Professor, Department of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington

I am professor and chair of the Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington (UW). I’m also UW’s Director of the Diversity Minor Program and the Oceania and Pacific Islander Studies program. My academic research focuses on migration and culture, community change, and multicultural education. My latest book, The Ocean in the School, is an ethnography of Pacific Islander students and their allies who attempted to make meaning out of their schooling by transforming their own university. I’m currently editor-in-chief of ALON: Journal for Filipinx American and Diasporic Studies, former editor-in-chief of the Journal of Asian American Studies, and former president of the Association for Asian American Studies. I obtained my PhD degree in Communication from the University of California, San Diego.

Jack Toan

Board Member & Past Chair

Co-CEO, Illumination Foundation

As a refugee whose family relied on the kindness of strangers, Jack understands first hand the power of a collective community who cares and actively works to lift others up.  His experience drives his belief in creating social change through action.

In February 2021, he joined the Illumination Foundation as the Chief Operating Officer to help the organization disrupt the cycle of homelessness. Jack has responsibility for the entire operations of the organization including shelters, housing and all infrastructure needs.

Prior to his current role, Jack had an 18 years career in corporate social responsibility at Wells Fargo as the Vice President and Manager of Community Relations.  He oversaw over $10M of the of the company’s charitable giving, volunteerism and community development programs in the Southern California Region. His current commitments to the community include serving on the Board of Directors for UCI Alumni Association, and Asian American Futures.  Jack is an appointee to the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness and is a co-founder of Delivering with Dignity OC, a collaboration that engages volunteers, support local restaurant while serving the most vulnerable affected by COVID-19. 

Jack holds an MBA from UC Irvine Paul Merage School of Business and is a graduate of the Southern California Leadership Network.  Most importantly, he is a proud father of four amazing children!

VIVIAN LONG

Board Member

Executive Director, Long Family Foundation

Vivian Long is the Executive Director for the Long Family Foundation (LFF), an intergenerational, private nonprofit organization that funds religious, educational, cultural, and research endeavors. Prior to her current role, she led domestic policy and advocacy efforts at the Joyful Heart Foundation, where she worked to address the national issue of untested sexual assault evidence kits and assisted in the passage of rape kit reform legislation in over 15 states. Vivian received her MPA from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and graduated with a BA in International Human Rights from New York University with honors. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for China Institute, NAACF, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and is a past Trustee for the Pi Beta Phi Foundation.

NITHIN JILLA

Vice Chair & Board Member

Executive Director, Dreams for Schools

Nithin has an interest in technology, education and enjoys working collectively with leaders to bring about positive impact. He aspires to build models and systems that are sustainable and empower the next generation of youth to become leaders in their local community. He is a passionate educator and social entrepreneur who champions educating and empowering the next generation of innovators. He serves as the Executive Director of Dreams for Schools, whose mission is to make STEM approachable and accessible for all. Empowering Students & Cultivating Curiosity by providing the right tools and experience, Dreams for Schools helps kids program the future training them to be STEM literate with hard and soft skills needed to become the critical thinkers, creative leaders and technologists of tomorrow.
In addition, Nithin is also a community leader and serves as a member on several non-profit and advisory boards which include Harbor Day School in Corona Del Mar, UC Irvine Young Alumni Council, and OC Grantmakers. Nithin obtained his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine.

Jaslin Kaur

Organizer at Know Your IX

Jaslin Kaur is an Organizer at Know Your IX where she leads federal civil rights trainings for student survivors of gender-based violence. Prior, she worked at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) in policy and communications for immigrant justice and reproductive healthcare access, focusing on detention and deportation of Asian families.

She has also worked with multiple organizations on political education regarding racial justice, immigrant rights, and voting rights, including at New American Leaders and the NYC Asian American Student Conference. Jaslin is an alumna of the Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC Youth Leadership Summit and the OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates Summer Internship Program. Recently, she ran for New York City Council vying to be the first South Asian candidate on the body, and was endorsed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Bernie Sanders. Jaslin holds a B.A. in Women & Gender Studies and Human Rights from CUNY Hunter College and an A.A. from Nassau Community College.

Phun H

Policy Associate

As SEARAC’s Policy Associate, Phun is in charge of supporting SEARAC’s national policy activities through policy analysis, advocacy, community engagement, research, and administrative support.
Phun holds Bachelors’ degrees in public policy and Asian American studies from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Prior to joining SEARAC, Phun’s work centered on the immigrant and refugee community in North Carolina. She worked as an Outreach Lead with North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT) to civically empower the Asian American community in NC through canvassing, bridge-building, and creating culturally and linguistically appropriate materials for census and voting. Phun was also the Education and Advocacy coordinator at FaithAction International House where she expanded the FaithAction ID program and coordinated their advocacy initiatives in North Carolina, specifically driver’s licenses for all.
Phun was born in Vietnam and is a member of the Bunong community, an Indigenous and ethnic highlander group under the larger Montagnard umbrella. Phun is a co-founder of Voices of the Highlands, a virtual space that seeks to share Montagnard traditions, preserve oral histories, and connect Montagnard youth from all over the world on the shared experiences of Montagnard identity.

AMANDA
KOONJBEHARRY

Account Supervisor

Amanda Koonjbeharry helps people thrive. She is a natural connector, bridge builder, a fierce advocate, and a strong facilitator. Unafraid of taking on polarizing topics, Amanda approaches her work from her heart, and brings people together to create authentic connections and community.
Amanda’s professional career has been rooted in social justice, including work to end/prevent domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking. Amanda currently works at Tunheim where she merges her enthusiasm for solving tough public policy issues with her passion for leveraging communications strategies that inspire and promote change. Amanda currently serves as a Council Member on the Minnesota Department of Human Services Cultural and Ethnic Communities Leadership Council, and on the board of Family Housing Fund. She was named 40 Under 40 by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal in 2018 and received the Rising Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development in 2021.
When not working, you can find her dancing away at a Zumba class, traveling to a new city, immersed in a good book, or walking a new MN trail.

Manisha G.
Bewtra, AICP

Planning, Mobility, and Development Advisor to Tucson Mayor Regina Romero

Manisha Bewtra, AICP (she/her) is Mayor Romero’s Planning, Mobility, and Development Advisor. In this role, she leverages her passion for planning for thriving, healthy, and inclusive communities with her love for policy-making and politics as the Mayor’s liaison on transportation and land use issues. Manisha is an experienced public process facilitator and project manager and works collaboratively with the Mayor’s team and city departments to apply an equity lens to all city initiatives.
Manisha has built her career on bringing divergent perspectives together, facilitating conversations around change, and generating data-informed solutions that move communities forward. She is driven by public service and champions equitable policies and inclusive community engagement.
Prior to her current role, she worked at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston as a senior regional planner and the manager of the analytics team, at the Massachusetts Housing Partnership where she was a statewide technical assistance provider, as an adjunct city planning instructor for Master’s degree program courses at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and at Arizona State University, and in municipal government and nonprofit community development organizations in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Chandler, Arizona.
Manisha has served on various equity-focused organizations and committees and is a graduate of Emerge Massachusetts, the Initiative for Diversity in Civic Leadership, and the Massachusetts Commonwealth Seminar, three organizations dedicated to training underrepresented groups to influence public policy and to run for office. She has a Master of City Planning degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a BA in Economics and Art from The University of Iowa, and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. She currently serves as a member at large for the American Planning Association Arizona Southern Section and is a member of the executive team for the Asian American and Political Islander Caucus for the Arizona Democratic Party.
Before moving to Tucson in the summer of 2020, she lived in the Boston area for twelve years. During her years in Melrose, Massachusetts, she served as a Human Rights Commissioner and subsequently as a City Councilor. When elected to the Melrose City Council, she became the first person of color ever to serve in elected office in Melrose. She grew up in Iowa and identifies as Desi/Indian-American. She, her husband, and her son felt welcomed and right at home in Tucson when they moved here – even in spite of a pandemic and searing summer heat.

JiJi
Wong

Restorative Practices Mentor

JiJi is an experienced disability justice advocate who has done workshops for all ages from middle schoolers to university students to adults. Their abolitionist, disability justice informed politics has led them to their career in restorative practices working with teens. JiJi has a degree in linguistics, but is currently they pursuing their Masters of Library Sciences studying information mediation to further their social justice practice in work and in organizing through giving their community much needed media literacy skills.

Janet Namkung (she/they) is an active leader who is passionate about social and restorative justice through capacity-building. She currently works with the Management Center as the Director of Client Support and serves as a Founding Board Member of Asians* in Focus. Previously, she worked with the National Endowment for the Humanities, co-founded a BIPOC focused teletherapy company, worked with the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), and OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates. She served as a Commissioner on Mayor Bowser’s Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Community Development, on the Board of Directors of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, and as Chair of the DC Chapter of Service Year & AmeriCorps Alums. Janet is a proud New Yorker, daughter of Korean American immigrants, and a lover of food vacations. Janet currently lives in D.C. with their partner, Jae. Follow her IG @hyun_ne.

Glenn D.
Magpantay

Professor of Law & Asian American Studies at Hunter College/ CUNY;

Glenn D. Magpantay, Esq. is long-time civil rights attorney, seasoned nonprofit executive, professor, and veteran LGBTQ rights activist. He is the principal of Magpantay & Associates, a nonprofit consulting and legal services firm. He is a former Trustee of the Boehm Family Foundation. For over 30 years, Glenn has been a fierce advocate at the intersection of racial justice, immigrants’ rights, and LGBTQ liberation.
Glenn co-founded and served as the Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), a national federation of Asian American, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender organizations for nearly a decade. His efforts were recognized by the Walter & Evelyn Haas, Jr. Fund Outstanding LGBTQ Leadership Award for Immigrants’ Rights (2017).
Before, Glenn was a nationally recognized civil rights attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) for nearly 20 years. He is an authority on the federal Voting Rights Act and expert on Asian American political participation, bilingual ballots, elections, and census. His efforts earned him the prestigious Haywood Burns Memorial Award from the NYS Bar Association Committee on Civil Rights (2015).
Glenn is a renowned thought-leader. He has brought 15 briefs to the United States Supreme Court; testified before the United States Congress; published 20 scholarly legal and academic articles; authored impactful public reports; and has given commentary to The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Associated Press, MSNBC-TV, NBC Asian America, and The Advocate.
Always giving back, he has mentored countless students, young professionals, lawyers, and nonprofit practitioners. He is an adjunct Professor of Asian American Studies at Hunter College/ CUNY and Columbia University. He taught “Race & the Law” and “Public Interest Lawyering” at Brooklyn Law School.
Glenn chairs the LGBT Committee of the Asian American Bar Association of New York. Instinct Magazine showcased Glenn as one of the nation’s “25 Leading Men” in 2004.
He attended the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook on Long Island, and as a beneficiary of affirmative action, graduated cum laude from the New England School of Law, in Boston.
Twitter @magpantay_glenn
LinkedIn /Glenn-D-Magpantay-Esq

Erica
Brozovsky

Host and Writer for PBSDS's Otherwords; Program Coordinator for Stories Within

Dr. Erica Brozovsky is a sociolinguist, having received her PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. There, her work centered on language and identity in the Taiwanese Texan community, and she taught courses including Asian American Literature and Culture, English Language and its Social Context, and Rhetoric of Bicultural Identity. Erica currently hosts and writes for the linguistics PBS series Otherwords; serves as Program Coordinator for Stories Within, a mini-documentary series highlighting Asian Texan voices (and featured in the inaugural Gold Futures Challenge); and sits on the national board of the Taiwanese American Citizens League (TACL) as Director of Programming

Diana
Hwang

Founder/Executive Director, Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI)

Diana is the Founder/Executive Director of the Asian American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI), the country’s only political leadership organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) women. In 2020, Diana was the first National Political and Organizing Director for She the People, a national network of women of color working to transform our democracy.
Diana was profiled as “one of Boston’s most powerful thought leaders” in Boston Magazine for her work and has been a featured speaker at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. and at several colleges, including Wellesley College, Northeastern University, Dartmouth College and Salem State University where she gave the annual convocation address.
Diana was a former candidate for the Massachusetts State Senate. She carried the city of Boston and outraised her seven opponents in the race. Diana graduated from Dartmouth College and Columbia Business School.

Ayshea
Khan

Asian American Community Archivist,

Ayshea Khan is the Asian Pacific American Community Archivist at the Austin History Center, a division of the Austin Public Library. She works alongside longtime community members, media-makers, and other memory workers to collaboratively collect, preserve and provide access to Austin’s vibrant Asian American history. She came to archives by way of nonfiction filmmaking, community education, and audiovisual preservation. She is a Certified Archivist, a 2021-2023 RBS-Mellon Cultural Heritage Fellow, and currently serves in leadership positions with the Society of Southwest Archivists and Asian Pacific American Library Association. She is honored to serve as the Board President of the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) and as a member of the Community Advisory Committee for the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP).
Ayshea holds a B.S. in Cinema & Photography from Ithaca College and a Masters of Information Studies from University of Texas at Austin. Community-driven storytelling within communities of color has always been at the heart of her work as an archivist, filmmaker, and educator. She is always excited to talk more about how to activate archives as a tool for racial justice and community healing.

Reshma Shamasunder

Reshma Shamasunder is the Executive Director of Asian American Futures. She has worked as an independent consultant and held senior positions at national civil rights and immigrant rights organizations. Reshma served as Executive Director of the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) for more than a decade.  Under Reshma’s leadership, CIPC helped to spearhead groundbreaking campaigns at the state level, including placing limits on cooperation between local law enforcement and immigration authorities and winning driver’s licenses for all Californians regardless of status.

Reshma currently serves on the board of the California Immigrant Policy Center and was an inaugural fellow with the Rockwood Fellowship for a New California. Reshma is a recipient of the Families USA Health Equity Advocate of the Year Award and the National Immigration Law Center Courageous Luminaries Award. Reshma holds dual Bachelor’s Degrees from UCLA and a Masters in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Richard Lui

New Anchor, MSNBC/NBC

Richard Lui has more than 30 years in television, technology, and business — often addressing Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley firms as a thought leader in media, marketing, and storytelling. Currently, Lui is a news anchor for MSNBC and NBC News, reporting on the ground for stories from terror attacks in France to slavery in Africa. Previously he was at CNN Worldwide, where in 2007 he became the first Asian American male in U.S. history to anchor a daily national cable news program. Lui is a team Emmy and Peabody recipient.

Mailé Nguyen

Program and Marketing Assistant

Mailé Nguyen (they/them) is the Program and Marketing Assistant at Asian American Futures. Prior to joining AAF, Mailé taught English in South Korea for three years while on a Fulbright scholarship. They currently serve as an Executive Producer on the Divided Families Podcast, a project dedicated to recording stories of family separation and reunification. Mailé is often found reading books to improve their vocabulary for Bananagrams—their best played word to date being “anthropocene.”

Anne Lee

Operations & Finance Manager

Anne Lee is the Operations & Finance Manager of Asian American Futures (AAF). Anne joined AAF in 2022, after more than 15 years of building nonprofit operations that support people and culture for maximum impact. Most recently, she worked as part of a statewide network that helped to democratize access to California’s $2.7 billion ratepayer-funded portfolio while modernizing operational infrastructure during a tenfold revenue increase. Prior to working in energy, Anne held leadership positions in both philanthropic and community-based startups that more than doubled in size during her tenure. She previously served on the board of the Orange County Asian & Pacific Islander Community Alliance, was a national fellow of the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute and is a LEED Accredited Professional. Anne holds a Masters in Management from Harvard University and an undergraduate degree from Pomona College. 

Helena Berbano

Partnerships & Outreach Director

Helena Berbano is a 2nd generation Filipina American with a decade of experience in civic engagement, nonprofit management, and political campaigns. Currently, she is applying her years in the civic space in the philanthropic sector as lead of the Gold Futures Challenge grant at  Asian American Futures. Prior to Asian American Futures she served as the first National Political Director for New American Leaders, the only organization dedicated to training and supporting New Americans to run for office. 

She holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she was given the distinctions of McCormack Scholar, Keough Capstone Fellow, and Best Capstone for her research focused on women of color public office initiatives. She is currently serving as co-chair of the inaugural Asian American Pacific Islander Caucus for the Massachusetts Democratic Party and formerly served on the boards of New Leaders Council – Boston, Mass NOW, and Young Democrats of Massachusetts. 

Chanel Miller

Writer and Activist

Chanel Miller is a writer and artist. Her memoir, Know My Name, was a New York Times bestseller and a winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, the Ridenhour Book Prize, and the California Book Award. It was also a best book of the year in Time, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, NPR, and People, among others. She was named one of the Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Time Next 100 honoree, and was a Glamour Woman of the Year honoree under her pseudonym Emily Doe. Her first art exhibition, titled I WAS, I AM, I WILL BE, is on display at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. 

Tamlyn Tomita

Actress and Activist

Tamlyn Tomita is perhaps best known for her role in “The Karate Kid, Part 2” which is enjoying its renaissance due to the popularity of “Cobra Kai” on NetFlix. She has 2 projects yet unannounced. Other projects she is known for are the films: “The Joy Luck Club”; “The Day After Tomorrow”; “Come See the Paradise” and the TV shows: “Star Trek:Picard”; “The Good Doctor”; “The Man in the High Castle”; “Teen Wolf”; “Berlin Station”; “Glee”; “True Blood”; and “Heroes”. A supporter of independent film, credits include: “The Right Mom”; “Real Artists”; “Daddy”; “Operation:Marriage”; “White Room:02B3”; “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” and “Robot Stories”. A native Los Angeleno, specifically from the (818) and a proud AAPI embracing her Okinawan, Japanese, and Filipino heritages, she continually advocates for stories to be told from a ‘golden’ perspective. And most importantly, she is a proud and loyal UCLA Bruin.

MILCK

Singer and Advocate

MILCK (Connie K Lim) is a singer, songwriter, producer, performer and advocate who uses music to write her most courageous self into existence.

MILCK hit an international breakthrough after her song “Quiet” went viral, becoming Billboard’s No. 1 Protest Song in 2017, and a part of NPR’s American Anthem series. Her song sparked a movement, inspiring choirs from all over the world to translate it, from Dagbali, Spanish, Chinese, to German.

As a musical performer and public speaker, MILCK has shared stages with Michelle Obama, Glennon Doyle, Amanda Gorman, Aloe Blacc, Oprah, Jason Mraz, Yoko Ono, and Ani DiFranco.

Her love for music transcends her own project as she begins writing and producing upcoming releases for artists including Phillipa Soo and John Legend.

Interwoven with her music is MILCK’s advocacy work. Her current focus is raising funds and awareness for The Somebody’s Beloved Fund, which is a fund she started to support 10 grassroots organizations that do incredible work to build power around racial healing (somebodysbeloved.com).

Weijia Jiang

Senior White House Correspondent, CBS News

Weijia Jiang is CBS News’ senior White House correspondent based in Washington, D.C. Jiang’s reporting is featured across all CBS News broadcasts and platforms.

Jiang has extensively covered the rise in violence against members of the AAPI community and has broken stories related to policy changes that the Biden administration has taken to address it. Under the previous administration, she traveled with President Trump on numerous occasions, both domestically and abroad. She has covered major stories for the Network including the president’s impeachments, the 2020 presidential campaign and election, and the confirmations of Judges Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. During her coverage of the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the answers to her questions during press briefings often made news.

Jiang joined CBS News in 2015 as a correspondent for Newspath, the Network’s 24-hour television newsgathering service for CBS stations and broadcasters around the world. Since then, she has reported extensively on both the Obama and Trump administrations, the 2016 presidential campaign and election, the funeral of former first lady Barbara Bush; and the congressional baseball shooting that wounded House minority whip Steve Scalise. She has also covered national stories such as Hurricane Harvey, the catastrophic category 4 hurricane that hit Texas in 2017.

Jiang graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a minor in chemistry, and from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In 2012, she was inducted into the prestigious Professional Gallery at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. She is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association.

She was born in Xiamen, China, and raised in West Virginia, where she immigrated with her parents when she was 2 years old.

Joanna Kong

Co-Chair and Board Member

Executive Director, The Sun Family Foundation

For Joanna, inspiring the next generation of Asian Americans to get involved in philanthropy is crucial. While she loved the study of law at UCLA School of Law and devoted several years after getting her J.D. to the practice of corporate law, including at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, she wanted to work in a field where she could be creative and help solve pressing social issues. In 2018, she joined the Sun Family Foundation, a private charitable foundation focused on advancing educational opportunities and the well-being of the underserved in Orange County and Taiwan. As Director of Programs, Joanna has helped to expand the Sun Family Foundation’s grantmaking to include over 40 local nonprofit organizations and five scholarship programs. Joanna is also the Co-Chair of Asian American Futures and the Membership Chair and Advisory Board Member of Orange County Grantmakers. Joanna also sits on the Board of the Guang Yuan Charitable Foundation in Taipei, Taiwan, founded to offer scholarships to honor her grandmother, who was a beloved high school biology teacher in Taichung, Taiwan and a single mother to three children. The Foundation is unique in that faculty and administrators select the students to receive scholarships; they are looking for character, not top grades, in the belief that every person has value and every job is important.