WASHINGTON — Vice President Kamala Harris and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Feb. 3 swore in 23 members of President Joe Biden’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
They were joined by U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, who serves as commission co-chair alongside Becerra, and delivered congratulatory remarks.
The commission will advise the president on ways the public, private and nonprofit sectors can work together to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for AANHPI communities.
“We know there’s still a lot of work to do in an affirmative way, in a purposeful way, in an intentional way about ensuring that people are engaged, that they are involved, and that we are relevant to the way that they are experiencing and living life, and that we are connected with their goals and their dreams for themselves, for their families, and for their community,” Harris told the commissioners. “And that’s why it’s so important to have you all as the leaders that you are together in this advisory group, because the work that you will do is to give us candid feedback.
“On behalf of the president and myself, thank you yet again for the life that you have chosen to live, which has been a life of leadership and service.”
“The commissioners you see today represent not only subject matter experts who are recognized in their fields, but also visionary leaders who reflect the strength and diversity of the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community,” said Becerra. “From addressing anti-Asian hate and bias, to COVID-19 recovery, to the need for better data on AA and NHPI communities and resources for limited-English-proficient individuals, the needs of our AA and NHPI communities are wide-ranging, unique, and urgent for us to address.
“Together, with the leadership of our commissioners, we will work to ensure that our nation lives up to its founding ideals, and that the American Dream is within reach for every AA and NHPI family.”
Also providing opening remarks were Ambassador Susan Rice, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Erika Moritsugu, deputy assistant to the president and AA and NHPI senior liaison; and Krystal Ka‘ai, executive director of the White House Initiative and President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
Sonal Shah, chief commissioner, is a social impact and innovation leader who has launched and led social impact efforts in academia, government, and the private and philanthropic sectors for over 25 years. She is the founding president of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF), starting the largest philanthropic effort to serve the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. Prior to TAAF, Shah founded and led Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation, providing students a first-hand opportunity to work on social impact projects in the public, private, and social sectors. She served as deputy assistant to President Obama and created the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, worked on international development at the Department of Treasury, and led social impact efforts at Google and Goldman Sachs. She serves on the boards of TAAF, Oxfam America, the Century Foundation, and the National Democratic Institute.
Dr. Amefil (Amy) Agbayani is an emeritus assistant vice chancellor for student diversity and equity at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Agbayani was born in the Philippines and received her education from the University of the Philippines, East-West Center, and the University of Hawai’i. She is a former chair of the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission, conducts research on AA and NHPIs in higher education, and is a board member of the Patsy T. Mink PAC and The Legal Clinic, focused on immigrant justice in Hawaii.
Teresita Batayola is the president and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), Washington State’s largest API nonprofit health center providing comprehensive health care to all those who need affordable care, especially immigrants and refugees. Batayola is an advocate for providing health care access and equity and addressing social determinants of health. ICHS has received awards for its high quality of care. Batayola received Puget Sound Business Journal’s Award for Outstanding Business & Philanthropic Contributions, and was named a Woman of Courage by the University of Washington Women’s Center and the Filipino Women’s Network’s Most Influential Filipino Woman in the World.
Ajay Bhutoria is a Silicon Valley technology executive, community leader, speaker, and author who is a passionate advocate for the South Asian and AAPI communities in the areas of small businesses, educational opportunities, immigration issues, and technological advancement. His expertise in organizational transformations and change management has supported critical advancements within the AAPI community, and he is committed to the creation of a compassionate and empowering environment for all.
Luisa Blue retired from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in August 2020 after serving as an executive vice president for four years, one of the highest-ranking AAPI officials in the labor movement. During her term, she was responsible for the SEIU API Civic Engagement and Leadership program, was a member of the Racial Justice Task Force, chair of the Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, and chair of the Ethical Culture Committee. She served on the SEIU Executive Board prior to her election as executive vice president. Blue continues to be active in the community and serves on the Asian Health Services Community Board, as a trustee on Alameda County Health Systems Board of Trustees, and as vice president of the AAPI Victory Alliance Board. She is the proud grandmother of seven grandchildren.
Kimberly Seu Gin Chang, born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii in a six-generation kama`āina family, is a board-certified family physician at Asian Health Services, a federally qualified community health center in Oakland. She has dedicated her 20+-year career to focusing on the health of the underserved AA and NHPI community, including people vulnerable to and affected by human trafficking and exploitation, developing national clinical and health policy recommendations for this issue. Chang has received numerous awards, most recently the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health 2020 Emerging Public Health Professional Award and the 2021 UCSF Alumni Humanitarian Service Award. She received her undergraduate degree from Columbia College of Columbia University, her medical degree from the University of Hawai`i, her MPH from Harvard with the Commonwealth Fund Minority Health Policy Fellowship, and her residency training at UC San Francisco. She serves as vice speaker of the House for the National Association of Community Health Centers, and as expert faculty for Health Partners on Intimate Partner Violence + Exploitation at Futures Without Violence.
Emily Chen is chief of research at Olshan Realty and manages the Private Wealth Real Estate Services. She co-founded the Olshan Luxury Market Report, a weekly real-time snapshot of the Manhattan residential real estate market. Chen was previously a vice president in institutional sales at Goldman Sachs and a senior consultant in the Capital Markets Group at PwC. A former National Big Sister of the Year, she serves on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Chen also sits on the board of the Beau Biden Foundation and is on the Women & Science Committee at Rockefeller University, the Creative Council at The Shed and the Advisory Board of The Imagine Society. She is past president of the American Friends of The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. A graduate of Georgetown University, Chen is co-founder and executive producer of Stand Up for Georgetown and served on the university’s Board of Regents and the Advisory Board of the McDonough School of Business.
Kerry Doi, a fourth-generation Japanese American born on a Hawaiian plantation, has spent his life combatting hate and solidifying his commitment to social and economic justice. For over 46 years, Doi has dedicated his work to the cause and the community development space through his leadership at Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE) – one of the nation’s largest Asian-led community development organizations serving 40,000 minority, low-income individuals annually through workforce, small business, environmental justice, affordable housing, and early childhood education. He has served on numerous local, state, and national boards, including his current appointments as chair of the California Community Economic Development Association, vice chair and treasurer of the Los Angeles Housing Partnership, and member of the Los Angeles County Small Business Commission.
Grace Huang is a Taiwanese American attorney who has advocated on behalf of the rights of survivors of domestic and sexual violence for almost 30 years as a legal services lawyer, attorney in private practice, and policy advocate. She is the director of policy at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, where she focuses on federal policy to address the needs of survivors in AAPI communities. Huang serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic & Sexual Violence and on the Washington State Women’s Commission. She also co-chairs the Alliance for Immigrant Survivors, working to address the needs of survivors of gender-based violence in the immigration system.
Victoria Huynh is senior vice president of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS), the largest nonprofit in the Southeast to focus on issues and concerns of AA and NHPI communities, especially women, children, and families. For more than a decade, she has advocated for equitable language access, promoted local civic engagement, protected immigrant rights, championed cultural competency, and developed vital social service programs within the immigrant and refugee communities in Atlanta. Her experiences in her limited-English-proficient (LEP) Vietnamese refugee household fuels her passion for community building, strategic planning, and policy work within immigrant and refugee spaces. She is an MBA candidate and serves as consultant, board member, and panelist on various boards influencing state and local funding, nominations, and programs that impact communities of color.
Mia Ives-Rublee is director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress. She obtained her MSW at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). She was recognized as one of Glamour’s Women of the Year in 2017 and She the People’s 20 Women of Color in Politics to Watch in 2020, and received the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award from the UNC School of Social Work. Ives-Rublee works at the intersection of disability, race, and gender, helping promote equity and opportunity for marginalized communities through policy and organizing.
Dr. Kamal Singh Kalsi, LTC, USAR, is an emergency medicine physician from New Jersey who has served in the Army for 20 years and was awarded a Bronze Star medal for his work taking care of hundreds of combat casualties on the front lines in Afghanistan. He has transitioned into the Army Reserve, and now serves as a senior advisor for Policy Vets and a fellow of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. He founded the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA) in order to promote diversity, religious freedom, and service.
Michelle Kauhane is senior vice president of Community Grants & Initiatives at Hawaii Community Foundation. Previously, she served as president and CEO of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, where she engaged in lending and investment services deploying capital in underserved Native Hawaiian communities statewide. Kauhane has a background in nonprofit management, organizational leadership, community-based economic development and public policy advocacy. She has served on numerous local and national boards and sits on the Community Advisory Council at the Federal Reserve of San Francisco to offer perspectives on the economic and financial service needs of low- and moderate- income populations in Hawaii. She is a graduate of Gonzaga University.
Daniel Dae Kim is an award-winning actor, director, and producer. In addition to his series regular roles on TV’s “Lost” and “The Hot Zone: Anthrax,” Kim starred as the King of Siam in Lincoln Center’s Broadway production of “The King and I.” In addition to his numerous credits as an actor, he is developing both film and television projects as a producer with his company, 3AD. His projects include “The Good Doctor,” currently airing on ABC. Recently, he also turned to advocacy, joining The Asian American Foundation, where he serves a co-Chair of the Advisory Council. Kim can next be seen as an actor in the live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” He lives in Hawaii with his family.
Kevin D. Kim, an attorney and entrepreneur, serves as the commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), a dynamic agency focused on equity of opportunity leading to economic self-sufficiency and mobility for NYC’s diverse communities. He is the first Korean American ever appointed to lead a NYC agency. In public service, Kim also served as the first Asian American commissioner of the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), and now serves as the first Korean American member of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY). For over a decade, he has been a recognized community leader serving on the boards of various nonprofit organizations, such as the Asian American Bar Association of New York, Friends of THIRTEEN, International Student Conferences Inc., and Korean American Community Foundation. Kim received his B.A. and M.A. from Stanford University and his J.D. from Columbia Law School, where he was a member of the **Columbia Law Review.**
Sarah Min is an advocate and former media executive. She promotes the advancement of mission-driven organizations who are transforming how to use technology, media, and person-to-person outreach to mobilize people and change perceptions about women and people of color. From 2013 to 2019, Min was an independent consultant, working with clients such as HBO, Penguin Random House, and nonprofits. Previously, she served as executive vice president for marketing & corporate development at ScrollMotion, an enterprise software company. Min also was the managing editor of Vibe and Domino magazines, a director at media company Bertelsmann, as well as president of literary publishing company McSweeney’s. She serves as a director on nonprofit boards, including Color of Change and EMILY’s List, and has been engaged in grassroots organizations, including the Korean American Community Foundation and the Asian American Power Network. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BS in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Simon Pang, who emigrated from Singapore in late 1989, has been in the banking industry since 1981. He is an executive vice president and co-founder of Royal Business Bank. He is active in community service and has been appointed to positions in statewide and nonprofit organizations, including as a California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs member, California Highway Patrol Citizens Advisory Board member, Los Angeles County Sheriff Youth Foundation board member, U.S.-Sino Friendship Association president, and U.S.-Sino Aviation Heritage Foundation honorary chairman. He has also served as a National Governing Board member and National Diversity Coalition advisor with the national nonprofit Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs.
Ai-jen Poo is an award-winning organizer, author, and a leading voice in the women’s movement. She is executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, director of Caring Across Generations, co-founder of SuperMajority, co-host of Sunstorm podcast, and a trustee of the Ford Foundation. Poo is a nationally recognized expert on elder and family care, the future of work, and what’s at stake for women of color. She is the author of a celebrated book, “The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.”
Naheed Qureshi is head of policy partnerships at Instacart. She has had an extensive 20-year career in civil rights, including serving as a founding board member and later deputy director of Muslim Advocates and as co-chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Hate Crimes and Bigotry Task Force. Qureshi started her career in the U.S. Department of Justice Attorney General’s Honors Program and has also worked at the DOJ Civil Rights Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the City of Los Angeles, and the national legislative office of the ACLU. She received a B.A. in political science from the University of Wisconsin and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. The daughter of immigrants from Pakistan, she was raised in Wisconsin and is an avid Packers fan.
Dr. Raynald Samoa is an endocrinologist at the City of Hope. His research projects include a faith-based community-centered diabetes prevention program in the San Gabriel Valley investigating a social-connectedness modified approach. Samoa served as the lead for the National Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response Team and has authored several manuscripts describing the impact of COVID-19 on Pacific Islander communities. He has testified to the House of Representative Ways and Means Committee during a session entitled “The Disproportionate Impact of COVID-19 on Communities of Color.” He is the technical assistance lead for the Healing Association of Pacific Islander Physicians, a professional organization associated with the National Association of Organization of Pacific Islander Organizations.
Smita N. Shah is an engineer, entrepreneur, and civic leader serving as president and CEO of Chicago-based SPAAN Tech, Inc, a multi-disciplinary firm with expertise in public and private infrastructure projects including transportation, aviation, and facilities. Shah serves in various roles with the Chicago Plan Commission, M.I.T., the Museum of Science and Industry, After School Matters, Delhi Chicago Sister Cities Program, YPO, the Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She is a member of the board of MacLean Fogg Company and a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago and the Economic Club of Chicago. Shah earned her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, her master’s in civil and environmental engineering from M.I.T., and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Management Studies from Oxford University.
Robert A. Underwood is a former member of Congress representing Guam for 10 years. He is president emeritus of the University of Guam and has the distinction of being the longest-serving president of the university. He has served the nation as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and the founding chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund. As a scholar and activist, he has served his region and his people as a passionate advocate for the respect and maintenance of the Chamoru language and the empowerment of the peoples of Micronesia.
KaYing Yang has been a social justice advocate who has built and led community organizing, public policy engagement, and development efforts locally, nationally, and globally for more than two decades. She began her career as a community organizer and executive manager providing social services and advocacy for the protection of refugees and immigrants in Minnesota at the Women’s Association of Hmong and Lao. She went on to defend and promote immigrant and human rights by serving in a number of organizations including the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, International Organization for Migration, International Finance Corporation, and Coalition of Asian American Leaders in Minnesota. All of her work comes from a deep experience having come to the U.S. as a Hmong refugee at the age of seven, in 1976, when she experienced first-hand the struggles faced by communities experiencing generational trauma and poverty.