About

About Us

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.

Our Story

2019
2020

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 appreciated an organization focused on advocating for inclusion and raising resources for our communities. With the funds raised at the gala, we 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 other events were cut short by COVID, but also inspired us to pivot to how we make our efforts more impactful in the changing philanthropic environment.

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.

Our Team

Staff

Reshma Shamasunder

(she/her)
Executive Director

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).

Alisi Tulua

(she/her)
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.

Anne Lee

(she/her)
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.

Eunice Kwon

(she/her)
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. 

Hapshiba Kwon

(she/her)
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.

Helena Berbano

(she/they)
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 Hammon

(she/her)
Narrative Strategist

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.

Sunnie Liu

(she/they)
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.

Board of Directors

Vivian Long

(she/her)
Co-Chair and Board Member
Executive Director, Long Family Foundation

Nithin Jilla

(he/him/his)
Co-Chair and Board Member
Executive Director, Dreams for Schools

Andine Sutarjadi

(she/her/hers)
Vice chair and Board Member
Director of Next Gen Initiatives, 21/64

Susan Lew

(she/her)
Secretary and Board Member
Director, Hsu Hwa Chao Foundation

Joanna Kong

(she/her)
Treasurer and Board Member
Executive Director, The Sun Family Foundation

Cathy Cha

(she/her)
Board Member
President & CEO, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Jack Toan

(he/him)
Board Member & Past Chair
Executive Leader, Innovator, Social Entrepreneur

Aryani ong

(she/her)
Board Member
Civil Rights Activist, Attorney and Writer

VIVIAN LONG

Co-Chair and 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

Co-Chair and 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.

Andine Sutarjadi

Vice chair and Board Member

Director of Next Gen Initiatives, 21/64

Andine Sutarjadi is a speaker, facilitator and writer on next generation philanthropy. As a Director 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.

In her role, she also leads the 21/64 Certified Advisors of Color Program dedicated in advancing inclusive practices in philanthropic advising, decision-making and governance. This year-long program aims to equip philanthropic advisors and proffesionals of color with knowledge on multigenerational family, wealth and philanthropy, using 21/64’s tools and resources, to build transformative relationships with high-net-worth donors in their communities.

Andine comes to this work as a next gen donor herself and offers a unique perspective for both funders and professionals in the field. Her welcoming presence and strong belief that “your experience is your expertise” help to build trusting and brave spaces for next gen donors and profesional cohorts to have meaningful and insightful conversations on the challenges and opportunities that they encounter in their philanthropic work.

Prior to joining 21/64, Andine worked at Women Moving Millions where she was responsible for the programming and engagement of funders who give with a gender-lens. She earned her B.Sc. in Health Science with a Minor in Public Health from Boston University.

As an advocate for health equity, Andine 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. As an Indonesian and Asian-American Feminist, she’s a steering committee of the Asian Women Giving Circle and board member of Asian American Futures – an organization with a mission to cultivate philanthropy and drive resources to the AAPI community so that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are Seen, Heard, Empowered, and United.

Susan Lew

Secretary and Board Member

Director, 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.

Joanna Kong

Treasurer 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.

 

Cathy Cha

Board Member

President & CEO, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Cathy Cha is President & CEO of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Under her leadership, Haas, Jr. is pursuing new ways to advance equality and justice so every person has opportunities to thrive and live life with dignity and hope.

Cathy’s pathbreaking approach to collaboration among funders, nonprofits, and government has helped spark wide-ranging social impact, including California’s leadership among states in adopting pro-immigrant policies. She has co-founded several initiatives to build broader constituencies of Asian American Pacific Islanders who vote, organize and stand up for justice. In 2018, Cathy co-created the California Campus Catalyst Fund to expand services for undocumented students across California’s public higher education systems. She is a founder of the New Americans Campaign, which has assisted 500,000 immigrants to become citizens. Recently, Cathy joined Black community leaders to create the California Black Freedom Fund, a statewide power building effort.

Cathy is a frequent public speaker on civic engagement, immigration, and innovative philanthropy. She received the Outstanding Foundation Professional award on Philanthropy Day in 2021. In 2019, she was named one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business. She serves on the boards of the California Budget and Policy Center and Positive Coaching Alliance. Cathy has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley.

Jack Toan

Board Member & Past Chair

Executive Leader, Innovator, Social Entrepreneur

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. Jack is the former Co-CEO of the Illumination Foundation, a $50M nonprofit with over 400 employees with the mission to disrupt the cycle of homelessness through an interdisciplinary approach that includes healthcare and housing. Prior to that, he had an 18 years career in corporate social responsibility at Wells Fargo as the Vice President and Manager of Community Relations. He managed the company’s volunteerism, community development programs and oversaw more than $10M of the of the company’s charitable giving program in the Southern California Region.

 

His vast commitments to the community include serving on the Board of Directors for Asian American Futures and the Dragon Kim Foundation. He is a Community Advisory Board member for the Institute for Clinical and Translational Science at UCI Irvine and the Mix Academy. Jack is an appointee to the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness and was 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!

Aryani Ong

Board Member

Civil Rights Activist, Attorney and Writer

Aryani Ong is a Chinese-Indonesian American civil rights activist, attorney and writer.  She has worked with all the leading national Asian American organizations, including as Director, Anti-Hate Program, The Asian American Foundation, Deputy Director at OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates and Staff Attorney, Hate Crime and Race Relations at AAAJ-Asian American Justice Center.  Aryani specializes in hate crimes and the intersection of race and national security.  She also works upstream to prevent discrimination: doing public speaking to improve understanding of Asian Americans, promoting fair and accurate representation of Asian Americans in media and politics; advocating for diversity, equity and inclusion in schools, community and government; and, encouraging political participation by Asian Americans.


Aryani has founded or led several organizations.  On the national level, she co-founded the Asian American Federal Employees for Nondiscrimination (AAFEN) and APA Justice Task Force to safeguard the civil rights and civil liberties of Asian Americans during heightened geopolitical tensions.  On the local level, she also founded the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network (MoCoPAAN).  Aryani is a founding member of Communities United Against Hate (CUAH) and Asian Pacific American Student Achievement Action Group (APASAAG) under MCPS.  She served as board chair of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL) and board member of Asian American Futures, AAA Fund, OCA-DC chapter, Conflict Resolution Center for Montgomery County.  She is active in politics.


Trained in nonprofit management and board governance, Aryani also has worked as consultant. Among the work that she did included landscape studies on Asian American community organizations for the Urban Institute, where she also co-authored Advancing Equity for AAPI Communities and Harvard’s Civil Rights Project.


Aryani has been named among Maryland’s Top 100 Women.

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).