AAF invests in emerging grassroots organizations, builds narrative power and activates new voices to shape a powerful AAPI majority rooted in solidarity, belonging and self-determination.
The AANHPI community is one of abundance. We are trailblazers, leaders, and innovators—staunchly resilient, creative, and joyful. From Patsy Mink, who was the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, to activist and educator Haunani Kay-Trask, and Grace Lee-Boggs, who contributed to cross-racial efforts in solidarity with civil rights leaders, AANHPIs form a rich community that has always been essential to the American narrative.
And yet, rather than being seen and supported, the AANHPI community has historically been viewed as monolithic and invisible. Anti-Asian rhetoric and violence further creates a dissonance between the world we envision and the one we live in.
To address that gap, in 2019, under the fiscal sponsorship of Asian Pacific Community Fund, our founders hosted a gala aptly themed “It’s Our Time.” The gala, along with the concept of raising money by AAPIs for AAPIs, received an overwhelmingly positive response in the local community and beyond. It was clear that we had struck a nerve, and that Asian Americans relished an organization focused on advocating for inclusion and raising resources for our communities. With the funds raised at the gala, our founders immediately held a series of smaller events to support urgent community needs, including 2020 Census efforts to reach hard-to-count populations. Our goals of hosting in-person educational, fundraising, and networking events were cut short by COVID, but also inspired us to pivot to our strategies increasing impact in the changing philanthropic environment.
In November 2020, after months of planning, and with the blessing of our fiscal sponsor, we filed to become an independent 501(c)(3) organization under our current name, Asian American Futures. Building off the foundation and work of NAACF, our vision and mission evolved and broadened. We envision a future that values Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as an essential part of the American narrative—in history, today, and in the future. It has always been our time.
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).
California Program Director
For 15 years, ‘Alisi Tulua has grown to be a noteworthy leader in the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) community through her various roles in NHPI and Asian American organizations. She is most proud of her development as an organizer, strategist, and advocate rooted in community-driven approaches and nurtured through the unrelenting encouragement, investment, and belief of NHPI elders, leaders, and the women of color who have mentored her.
‘Alisi joins Asian American Futures as a California Program Director, bringing her knowledge and experience with NHPI organizations to the foundation’s work. Her previous role as project director of the NHPI Data Policy Lab at UCLA Center for Health Policy Research ignited and expanded a passion for exploring, dissecting, and understanding systemic barriers to equity for NHPI and other communities of color. She brings depth of experience in health equity, leadership development, coalition building, policy advocacy, community organizing, capacity building, organizational development, and research. ‘Alisi’s journey in the nonprofit sector was spent in homes like the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance/OCAPICA, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities/EPIC, One East Palo Alto/OEPA, Tongan Community Service Center/TCSC, and API Forward Movement. She currently helps with the development of the Southern California Pacific Islander Community Response Team (SoCal PICRT), is the board chair for the NHPI Alliance, treasurer for National CAPACD’s board, and a board member at ‘Anamatangi Polynesian Voices. She values mentoring and supporting emerging leaders, exploring strategies for values-based and culture-centered narrative building, and immersing in Tongan and Pasifika culture and language epistemology.
‘Alisi, alongside her 5 brothers and parents, migrated from the Kingdom of Tonga to the U.S. when she was 13 years-old and grew up in Monterey, CA. She has a Master of Science in biology and a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry and cell biology from the University of California, San Diego.
Director of Administration & Finance
Anne Lee is the Director of Administration & Finance for 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.
Power Building Director
Eunice Kwon joins AAF from UC Berkeley, where she led the equity office for Asian American, Pacific Islander, Southwest Asian, and North African communities. Previously, she was the inaugural COO and Director of Community Engagement at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, an organization focused on building community ownership and cooperative alternatives to extractive economic systems. She currently serves on the board of Oakland Asian Cultural Center, the Sustainable Economies Law Center, and Asian Women United, a nonprofit that spotlights the diverse experiences of Asian American women through publications, digital productions, and educational materials.
Eunice Kwon holds a dual BA in Ethnic Studies and Asian American Studies and a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley.
Program & Marketing Coordinator
Hapshiba Kwon 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.
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.
Kana is a narrative strategist and nonprofit leader with 10 years of experience launching programs, organizations, mobile apps and digital campaigns. In addition to Asian American Futures, Kana has worked on the May 19th Project, the Butterfly lab for Immigrant Narrative Strategy at Race Forward, Emerging Radiance, Omidyar Network and YCore. Kana holds a BA in ethnic studies and an MBA, both from Stanford University. Outside of work, Kana enjoys cooking, surfing and hiking near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Narrative Program Coordinator
Sunnie Liu is a narrative strategist, organizer, researcher, and artist dedicated to AANHPI advocacy and intersectional justice. Sunnie co-founded Xin Sheng | 心声 Project, a youth-led organization for politicizing, combatting mis/disinformation, and sparking intergenerational conversation among the Chinese diaspora. Sunnie holds a BA in History and Studio Art from Yale University, where Sunnie served as the Co-Head of the Asian American Cultural Center.
More importantly, Sunnie’s work is informed by lived experiences and community. Born in rural China but raised in Houston, Sunnie is a proud immigrant and child of Chinatown workers. Sunnie has fought for health equity with Southerners for Medicaid Expansion and UC Law SF’s Center for Innovation; labor rights with Justice is Global and Mobilization for Justice; and housing justice with DesegregateCT and anti-displacement coalitions in Manhattan’s Chinatown.