Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs

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About the Pennsylvania Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs

Established by Executive Order 2015-10, the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs is dedicated to ensuring that state government is accessible and accountable to the diverse Asian Pacific American communities in Pennsylvania.

The commission is composed of up to thirty volunteer members appointed by the governor for a term of two years.

News


Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs to Host Town Hall
Governor Wolf’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Statement
Governor Wolf Names Three New Members to Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Support Second All for All Summit Addressing Immigrant Integration in Pittsburgh
Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Host Town Hall in Erie
Mira Nakashima Lifetime Achievement Award
Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Hosts Community Symposium
Governor’s Advisory Commissions Urge Reunification of Immigrant Families
First Lady Frances Wolf Joins Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs to Honor Pennsylvanians
Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, 2018
Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs Releases AAPI Language Education Schools (AAPLES) Initiative

Commissioners

Stephanie Sun – Executive DirectorBiographic picture of Stephanie Sun

Stephanie Sun is the first female immigrant appointed as the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (GACAPAA). Prior to that, she had been serving as a Commissioner on GACAPAA for more than 2 years, and served as the Associate Director of Partnerships, Philly Counts, for the City of Philadelphia, responsible for developing engagement strategies with diverse communities on the U.S. Census, Covid-19 and the election.

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    Ms. Sun worked for government diplomatic agencies in both China and South Korea, and for 3 Fortune 100 international corporations in 3 countries, China, South Korea, and the U.S. She also has experience in corporate philanthropy as a grant analyst working on both international and domestic grants and has also written grant applications.

    Sun serves as an active board member of multiple non-profit organizations, and an advocate for grassroots and marginalized people. In 2016, Sun collaborated with Philadelphia City Council to organize the first-ever City Council public hearing concerning the Asian Pacific American (APA) community in the history of Philadelphia. And she has been constantly advocating for the rights of crime victims in the APA community and facilitating their interaction with law enforcement.

    Sun is also a journalist, and served as the senior director of the largest Asian language newspaper in the tri-state area, informing and being a voice for the immigrant community, and serving as an advocate for grassroots and marginalized people.

    Sun earned a Master’s degree in Journalism and Media Management in China. She studied for her Ph.D. in International Relations in South Korea. As the first in her family to go to college, Sun felt privileged to become a tenured college senior lecturer in Asia, and she believes education can help people achieve a better life.

    Sun is a proud immigrant, and passionate about utilizing her experience of living, working and studying in three different countries, communicating in four different languages, and bringing different ways of thinking to better serve the diverse APA communities throughout Pennsylvania.

Fernando Chang-Muy – Commission ChairFernando Chang Muy

Fernando Chang-Muy is the Thomas O’Boyle Lecturer in Law at the University of Pennsylvania School of Law.

He also teaches courses at the Fels Institute, and the Graduate School of Social Policy and Practice on topics such as US Immigration Law, International Human Rights and Refugee Law, and Non Profit Leadership.

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    He served as Legal Officer with both the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Health Organization (WHO), AIDS Program. He also served as the first director of Swarthmore College’s Intercultural Center, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs, advisor to the Provost on Equal Opportunity, and lecturer on International Human Rights in the Peace and Conflict Studies.

    He began his legal career as a Reginald Heber Smith Fellow at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia serving as Director of the Southeast Asian Refugee Project, providing free legal aid to low-income immigrants and refugees in Philadelphia. He is also past founding director of the Liberty Center for Survivors of Torture, a project of Lutheran Children and Family Services, established to serve newcomers fleeing human rights violations.

    In addition to teaching, he combines his experience in academia and operations, as principal and founder of Solutions International, providing independent management consulting, facilitation and training to philanthropic institutions, non profit organizations and government agencies. His areas of expertise include designing and facilitating large group, action-focused strategic planning processes, board governance retreats, staff internal communications systems, and resource development plans and individual donor campaigns.

    In 2008, former Philadelphia Mayor Nutter appointed him as a Commissioner to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. He is former Board member of Philanthropy Network, The Philadelphia Award, The Merchants Fund, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation and the Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Coalition. He is author of numerous articles on diverse topics dealing with immigration & refugees, public health and management, and is co-editor of the text Social Work with Immigrants and Refugees (2nd ed. NY: Springer Publication, 2016).

    He is a graduate of Loyola, Georgetown, Antioch and Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation. He is a recipient of both the 2011 and 2018 Penn Law Public Interest Supervisor/Advisor of the Year Award honoring outstanding project supervisors and advisors; and the 2016 recipient of the Law School Beacon Award, recognizing exemplary commitment to pro bono work by a Penn Law faculty member.

Donald M. Hanh – Chair | Government That Works CommitteeDonald M. Hanh

Donald M. Hahn is a Pennsylvania native. He was born in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, in Centre County in 1964 to Korean immigrants who became naturalized American citizens. His father was a professor of mathematics at Penn State, and his mother was a homemaker and artist. He received his B.A. at Penn State in 1987 and his J.D. at Villanova in 1992. His wife Cindy is the executive director of C-Net, Centre County’s government access television station.

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    Donald M. Hahn was a practicing attorney in Centre County from 1992 to 2020. He received the Pennsylvania Bar Association Pro Bono Award twice, in 2003 and in 2013. He served on the board of the Middle District Bankruptcy Bar Association (2003-2009, 2011-2017), including a year as president (2015-2016). He is currently active in the Pennsylvania Bar Association, serving on the Civil and Equal Rights Committee, the Minority Bar Committee, and Judicial Administration Committee.

    Donald M. Hahn started serving as Magisterial District Judge for District 49-1-01 in 2020. Prior to that, he served as Mayor of State College Borough (2018-2019) and previously as a member of the State College Borough Council (1996-2000, 2006-2014), including a year as its president (2012-2014). He was the first Asian-American Mayor and the first Asian-American to serve on the Borough Council in State College history. He also served on the board of the Pennsylvania Municipal League (2009-2013), as chair of its Central District (2008-2009), and as a delegate to the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Governments. He also served on the State College Borough Redevelopment Authority, Planning Commission, Community Land Trust, and Community Development Block Grant Citizen Advisory Committee.

Dr. anupama jain – Chair | Jobs That Pay CommitteeImage of anupama jain

anu was the Executive Director of Pittsburgh’s Gender Equity Commission in the Mayor’s Office. Previously, anu spent more than a decade in higher education conducting original research, teaching varied topics, and supporting diversity initiatives.

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    anu is the author of How to Be South Asian in America: Narratives of Ambivalence and Belonging, which investigates how the American Dream shapes the national imaginary and influences public policy. The study showcases AAPI stories, celebrates diversity within Asian American communities, and challenges stereotypes like the ‘model minority’ myth. As the founder of Inclusant, anu uses applied research and evidence-based strategies to offer cross-sector training and has designed customized equity interventions for over 80 organizations in the greater Pittsburgh region. PhD: UW-Madison. BA: Bryn Mawr College.

Dr. Anjali Sahay – Chair | Arts & Culture CollectiveImage of Anjali Sahay

Dr. Anjali Sahay is an educator, leader, author, researcher, and a performing artist in Indian classical dance who works at Gannon University, Erie, Pennsylvania as Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations since 2008. Her notable administrative roles include Program Director of Political Science (2020); Program Director of International Studies (2009 – 2020); and President of Faculty Senate (2016 – 2017). Additionally, Dr. Sahay has about two decades of successfully running the Model UN Programs at Gannon, East Carolina, and Old Dominion universities.

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    Prior to being at Gannon, she was appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC from 2006 – 2008. Originally from India, Dr. Sahay received her PhD. From Old Dominion University in International Studies in 2006 and holds additional masters in History and Business Administration. Passionate about serving the AAPI communities, she is serving a 2nd term on Governor Wolf’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs and serves on the Executive Committee of the Indian Association of Greater Erie.

    In 2020, Dr. Sahay lent her expertise on election 2020 in TIME Magazine, CNBC, Financial Times, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and Erie Times News. Her area of research focuses on International Migration and Diaspora Studies and has been featured on Migration News. Her book titled: Indian Diaspora in the United States: Brain Drain or Gain? argues that while it cannot be denied that host countries have policies that encourage or provide the necessary conditions for brain drain to take place, it must be taken into account that many source countries now benefit from out-migration of their workers and students. Subsequently, she has various publications on the topic of Brain Drain and Brain Gain.

    Dr. Sahay is also a trained classical dancer in Kathak, a classical dance form that originated in Northern India. She received her vocation from her Guru Shavana Narayan in New Delhi, India for about 13 years. She was a TEDx performer in April 2017 performing Indian Dance.

Vasu Singh – Chair | Health & Well-being Task ForceVasu Singh

Vasu Singh is a Family Medicine doctor in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She also works for the UPMC Heath Insurance Division as a Medical Director. She is very involved in community building efforts through various initiatives throughout the Lehigh Valley region.

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    Over the years, she has mentored many students and foreign medical graduates. She has served as President of the Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) of the Lehigh Valley chapter and is currently the regional director for New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Her strengths of collaboration and bringing communities and organizations together have been recognized. She is the recipient of many local and national recognitions. Dr. Singh lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania with her husband, three children, and two dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys long walks, singing and cooking.

Lanica Angpak – Co-Chair | Communication & Engagement Task ForceLanica Angpak

Lanica Angpak is a second generation Khmer American woman living in Philadelphia. She currently works for the City of Philadelphia as a Program Liaison for Out-of-School Time Programs and teaches Khmer dance classes in South Philadelphia.

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    Lanica is an artist, activist, and youth development professional. Her career has focused on providing opportunities for young people to create, explore, and succeed. She is dedicated to ensuring the best future for young people in Philadelphia and beyond. Additionally, Lanica is dedicated to her artistic journey. She is a formally trained Khmer classical dancer and aspiring archivist and photographer.

    Lanica began dancing at the age of 7 years old, following her family’s legacy of artists and makers. Her grandmother was a textile artist, grandfather a farmer, mother a dancer, father a jeweler, and sister a writer.

    Over the years, Lanica has been an advocate for the arts as a form of activism. The power art lends to individuals and communities unique forms of storytelling, advocacy, and healing. Lanica’s experience in artmarking has provided her with unique opportunities to build partnerships with other communities and individuals. She has also been able to strengthen her understanding of social justice, undoing racism, diversity, and much more through her art practices. Lanica strives towards making the world a better and more sustainable place for all.

    Following her career and personal passions for justice, Lanica founded Cambodian American Girls Empowering (CAGE). CAGE is a nonprofit organization that uses Khmer arts and culture as a tool for activism, education, and changemaking. Through CAGE, Lanica and other volunteers work towards making Khmer arts and culture accessible for all, celebrating heritage and history, and advocating for the rights of Khmer Americans. Additionally, Lanica recently started a community archive project called “Khmer, Again,” in which she is working with Khmer American communities across the country to preserve the broader community’s journey and history in the United States. The project focuses on both archiving and recreating archived donations.

Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty – Co-Chair | Communication & Engagement Task ForceNalini Krishnankutty

Dr. Nalini Krishnankutty is a first-generation immigrant American and longtime resident of State College, Pennsylvania. She is an engineer turned writer, educator, and speaker, who is passionate about increasing civic engagement, creating equitable and inclusive organizations, and empowering those who are marginalized.

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    Nalini’s work focuses on shaping narratives about immigrants and countering anti-immigrant sentiments. She highlights the complex history of US immigration and the experiences and contributions of immigrants, including Asian Americans, in her writings and presentations. Her 2018 TEDxPSU talk on “How Immigrants Shape(d) the United States” is used in school and university classrooms, and for training sessions across the country. She also gives workshops on moving beyond diversity, equity and inclusion to transform our institutions and processes.

    For over a decade, Nalini has written about the common threads that connect us, including in the Centre Daily Times and the Christian Science Monitor. She is an alum of the Voices of our Nation’s Arts (VONA/Voices) Fiction Workshop, the premier workshop for writers-of-color, and of the Op/Ed Project, which supports diverse voices in editorial pages. She is currently writing children’s books focused on the immigrant experience.

    Nalini was born in Kerala, India and grew up in Mumbai. A National Talent Search Scholar, she got her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering as one of three women in a class of 60 students, from the Bombay University Department of Chemical Technology (UDCT, now ICT). She came to the US as a graduate student in 1987 and received her MS and PhD degrees in Chemical Engineering from Penn State, where she also took and later taught classes in Women’s Studies. She is fluent in English, Malayalam, Tamil, and Hindi and has studied Marathi, French and German.

    Nalini is active in her community and works with diverse local groups like Community and Campus in Unity to create a more equitable and inclusive environment. She is a Board Member of the Mid-State Literacy Council, and a member of her precinct election board. She served on the State College Area School District’s Inclusion Excellence committee, and teaches classes at Penn State’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). She volunteers at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, at South Asian celebrations, and at various fund-raising events. In 2020, she was appointed to State College Borough’s AdHoc Study Committee, which made recommendations on the design of a Community Oversight Board for State College Police.

Albert ‘Randy’ Duque – Chair | Civil Rights Task ForceAlbert Duque

Randy Duque serves as Deputy Director for the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (PCHR)—the nation’s oldest municipal civil rights agency—and Fair Housing Commission. From December 2020 to June 2021, he served as the Acting Executive Director. His responsibilities cover a wide range of areas including civil rights; immigrant and refugee issues; victim services; anti-violence initiatives; community-police relations; conflict intervention; and issues relating to changing neighborhoods.

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    Randy also chairs an interagency civil rights taskforce that brings local organizations and governmental agencies together to discuss civil rights trends and issues that are affecting the local community. In addition, Randy has led the effort to create and chair the Philadelphia Civil Rights Rapid Response Team– an interdisciplinary group of civil rights focused individuals from city, state, and federal agencies, the school district, and advocacy groups—that focus on responding to hate crime and bias incidents; as well as, to educate stakeholders about various related topics. Through Randy’s work and leadership, PCHR was presented the 2016 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. In 2018 he received the PA Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (PA GACAPAA) “Outstanding Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders” recognition; and was bestowed a knighthood by the Knights of Rizal – a prestigious organization officially recognized by the Philippine government. Prominent members include the presidents in the Philippines’ history and foreign recipients including King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Henry Kissinger.

    Randy is an expert in conflict management who has mediated cases in family and neighborhood disputes, workplace issues, intergroup conflicts, and international military affairs. He has designed and conducts trainings locally, nationally, and internationally on a multitude of conflict subject matters including mediation, conflict resolution, restorative justice, critical incident response and de-escalation; intractable conflict; implicit bias and cultural competency; and conflict coaching. He has also guest lectured at various universities and colleges nationally and internationally and was also an adjunct professor for the Psychological Studies in Education Program at Temple University.

    Randy’s education and experience covers a full spectrum of conflict theory and practice. He received his master’s degree in Applied Communication and Conflict Processes through the School of Allied Health Professions and bachelor’s degree in Anthropology at Temple University; is a practitioner and instructor in a traditional style of Kung Fu and student of Filipino martial arts; is a past president for the Association for Conflict Resolution – Greater Philadelphia Chapter; and served ten years in the infantry with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

    Randy is proud to serve as a Commissioner of the PA GACAPAA and as Chairperson for the Commission’s Civil Rights Taskforce, he hopes to build similar networks across the Commonwealth like he has for Philadelphia in order to build relationships across races and ethnicities, as well as to ensure that the APA communities unique issues and challenges regarding hate and bias are properly addressed.

    In his spare time, Randy plays bass and other instruments for “Sinnerz N Saintz (a blues based jam band), the “24th Street Band” (a classic rock trio), and the Philippine Folk Arts Society, Inc. Rondalla Ensemble.

Paresh BirlaParesh Birla

Paresh Birla is a Cybersecurity expert and tech entrepreneur. He works as a tech advisor for a Big 4 consulting firm, originally from India and worked in various parts and industries in the USA. Paresh moved to Pennsylvania in 2004 and since then it has been his home.

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    He volunteers his hours in various non-profit organizations and trying to collaborate with various ethnic groups and bring them together and learn from each other. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel we can learn and grow faster as one community.

    Paresh currently is president in an Indian organization which is an umbrella organization in the Greater Philadelphia area, which serves 5 counties (Bucks/Montgomery/Chester/Philadelphia/Delaware). He works very closely with various government organizations to bridge gaps and build strong relationships (Indian embassy/State of Pennsylvania/U.S. capitol).

    Paresh holds an Executive Management in leadership degree from MIT Sloan. His specialties are problem-solving using innovative and critical thinking processes.

Bishwanath ChhetriBishwanath Chhetri

Born in Bhutan, Bishwanath attended Sherubtse College, Delhi University studying Commerce & Accounting.

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    Since 1988 as a student leader and Human Rights activist, Bishwanath was at the forefront of the fight against discrimination and persecution perpetrated by the then King’s government. He was one of the founding members of the Students Union of Bhutan (SUB) and People’s Forum For Human Rights-Bhutan (PFHRB). He was incarcerated, tortured and held in solitary confinement in military prison for over two years for his role as a student leader and Human Rights activist. Amnesty International named him Prisoner of Conscience for his non-violent expression for freedom, justice and equality. Exiled from his country of origin in 1992, Bishwanath continued his fight for Human Rights and repatriation of thousands of his countrymen who had become refugees in Nepal and India. In 1999 he came to the US where he was granted political asylum and in 2010 he became a US Citizen.

    Responding to the needs of the growing newly resettled Bhutanese refugee population in the USA, Bishwanath together with his fellow Bhutanese in the USA formed Association of Bhutanese in America (ABA) and served as its president. Bishwanath worked for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles in different capacities until his early retirement as a CSC manager in May of 2018. Bishwanath continues to be involved in the community in a significant way and currently serves as a member of the Advisory Committee of Bhutanese Community of Harrisburg (BCH), an organization that represents one of the largest Bhutanese Communities in the USA. Bishwanath also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Bhutan Research and Information Network (The BRAIN), a US-based non-profit organization working for the collection and preservation of the history of the Bhutanese community.

    By profession, he is a real estate agent serving the Central PA region. Bishwanath lives with his wife and daughter in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Kenneth Naroen ChhinKenneth Naroen Chhin

Kennth Naroen Chhin, is a Cambodian American, refugee and Native of the City of Philadelphia. He served as board member of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Police Community Oversight Board (PCOB). He served as Chair for Philadelphia Northwest Neighborhood Advisory Committee. Naroen is the former Co-Director of 1Love Movement, which was Part of Philadelphia Family Unity Network (PFUN) that created and made a campaign to pass the Philadelphia Sanctuary City Policy. He’s also a former member of the Southeast Asian Freedom Network (SEAFN). Former Temple University SEIU Union Shop Steward for Janitors.

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    Naroen is a frequent speaker on the intersections of the prison and deportation systems and has testified and advocated towards many levels of government, from the City Council of Philadelphia to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Naroen conducts training and presentations on these issues for various community groups, including the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Temple University Asian Student Association, and the Boat People SOS youth leadership program, and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania in its Asian Studies program.

    Naroen was part of NBC Documentary “Deported” which shine light on the injustice of the broken criminal justice and imigration system and made #right2return Campaign and Global movement. He is committed to social justice and social change through community empowerment, content creations, grassroots community building, social entrepreneurship & government partnerships.

Mohammad Anam ChowdhuryMohammad Chowdhury

Mohammad Anam Chowdhury is a native of Bangladesh.

He received a master’s degree in Management from a university in Bangladesh.

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    At the age of twenty-eight, he moved to the United States of America in 2001 and now settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Since his arrival in Philadelphia, he is actively engaged in cultural, social, and community activities. Currently, he is the honorable advisor of the Bangladesh Community of Pennsylvania. He also works with the newly arrived local immigrants to settle their lives by sharing his personal experiences with them.

    Since 2006, he got involved with the local politics, became a registered Democrat, involved in a voter’s registration to GOTV effort-voter persuasion to come out to vote for the candidate of his choice. Mohammad’s service to the Democratic Party allowed him to become a committee person representing the Democratic Party in West Philadelphia.

Michelle HongMichelle Hong

Michelle Hong is co-head and founding partner of the Philadelphia office of Northern Trust, one of the largest banks in the United States. A seasoned private banking executive, she advises private business owners, corporate executives, and high-net worth investors on wealth management, tax and estate planning, business succession, family governance, and philanthropy.

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    Michelle began her career in private legal practice at large law firms in New York City and Philadelphia. She earned her law degree from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Duke University. In addition, she studied British Literature at Oxford University as a Lord Rothermere Scholar.

    Michelle is deeply committed to civic engagement and nonprofit board service. She currently serves on the board of Main Line Health, a health system that is one of the largest employers in the Philadelphia region, as well as the Committee of Seventy, a 116-year old nonpartisan civic leadership organization that advocates for voter engagement and effective government. She is also a member of the Vision 2020 team that is planning the national celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Michelle is a former board chair of Philabundance, the Philadelphia region’s largest hunger-relief organization, and she has served on numerous other boards and committees.

    Michelle lives in the historic Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia with her husband and three young daughters.

Tsering JurmeTsering Jurme

Tsering Jurme is a Tibetan refugee born and raised in South India.

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    He went to school and college in India and earned a Bachelor of Science. He served two terms as both Vice President(2006-2008) and President(2012-2014) of the Tibetan Association of Philadelphia (TAP).

    Tsering also taught traditional dance to the young Tibetan children at the Tibetan School, to preserve the Tibetan rich culture.

    He was also an active member of the working group advocating for the National Constitution Center to award His Holiness the Dalai Lama the Liberty medal in 2015.

    He currently serves as a member of the Tibetan Association Philadelphia’s Housing Committee, working to raise funds to acquire a building to serve as a cultural center for the Association’s gatherings and activities. He works as a contractor by profession and owns TJ Handyman business.

Lynn Emi KawarataniLynn Kawaratani

Lynn Kawaratani is a third-generation Japanese American living in Pittsburgh. She is currently serving as the Assistant Director for Partnerships and Programming with the Asian Studies Center as well as the Engagement Manager for the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh.

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    One of her primary roles is outreach to K-16 schools and the broader public. Over the past 5 years, she has cultivated strong relationships with many of the local Asian American communities. Recognizing that Pitt had limited offerings on Asian American studies, she successfully advocated for the inclusion of the Asian diaspora (including Asians in America) as part of the Center’s strategic plan.

    Prior to working at the University, Lynn was the Chief of Design and Editing at the Smithsonian Institution Exhibits Central. In this capacity, she collaborated closely with the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian including serving as the lead designer on two landmark exhibitions—Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation and Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon: Vietnamese America Since 1975. She is deeply committed to sharing the stories of Asian Americans and other minority groups that are deeply rooted in American history through the medium of exhibitions.

    She serves as the faculty advisor to the Japanese Student Association at Pitt, is an active member of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia advisory board, and is taking the lead on developing a new Asian and Asian American film/media programming initiative called Screenshot: Asia which will host an annual film festival with the goal of bringing the Asian American communities together. She has earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree in Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.

Joseph ‘Joe’ KhanJoe Khan

Joe Khan is a nationally recognized attorney known for mission-driven collaborations across public, private, public, political, and nonprofit sectors. Since 2020, he has served as County Solicitor, following a unanimous and bipartisan vote of the Bucks County Board of Commissioners. He also serves the adjunct faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

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    As Bucks County Solicitor, Joe leads the office responsible for initiating all lawsuits brought by, and defending all litigation brought against, the fourth largest county in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The first Pakistani-American to serve as a County Solicitor, he has led the recently revamped Bucks County Legal Services Division to enact historic reforms, including the creation of County’s Expungement & Pardons Unit, False Clams Ordinance, New Americans Advisory Commission, and fair chance and equal pay hiring policies.

    Joe previously served for a decade as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, where he prosecuted cases across southeastern Pennsylvania and led the historic City Hall corruption probes in Allentown and Reading. He began his career prosecuting sexual assault, child abuse and domestic violence in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

    Joe also built an award winning public interest law practice and has led several nonprofit and political boards. After receiving widespread acclaim as the runner-up in the 2017 Democratic primary election for Philadelphia District Attorney, he co-founded Second Generation, a political action committee that empowers marginalized immigrant communities through political engagement. Joe is a graduate of Swarthmore College and the University of Chicago Law School.

State Representative Patty KimImage of Representative Patty Kim

State Representative Patty Kim, a former news anchor and reporter and Harrisburg City Councilwoman, was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2012 and has been a leader in government reform and transparency.

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    She returned her cost of living increase (COLA) and introduced a bill to eliminate the yearly pay increases. She is also one of the only members of the House to post all of her expenses on her legislative website for public review.

    Kim’s priorities in the General Assembly include taking a solution-based approach to statewide issues, working in cooperation and collaboration with colleagues, and utilizing her record of service to support initiatives that stand to better the lives of the citizens she represents.

    Leading her caucus’s charge to provide a livable wage for all Pennsylvanians, Kim twice introduced bills to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. She continues her fight for a minimum wage increase to restore the middle class by lifting thousands of Pennsylvanians out of poverty.

    Kim serves on the Appropriations, Education, Local Government, Transportation and Urban Affairs committees. She is Vice Co-Chair of the Southeast Delegation. During her second term, she served as Treasurer for the Legislative Black Caucus.

    Prior to her work in the legislature, Kim was elected to Harrisburg’s City Council where she served two terms. She was elected as council Vice President by her colleagues during her second term.

    A 1995 graduate of Boston College, Kim is married to John Sider and together they have two children, Brielle and Ryan.

Betsy Lee-FongBetsy Fong

Betsy Lee-Fong is the Production Manager at IBIS. She manages all aspects of video and audio production for interactive theater, micro-learning and eLearning.

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    Betsy had a wonderfully successful career as an Executive of Production at Disney Channels Worldwide managing Animations, Sitcoms, Concerts, Reality Shows and Specials from development to final delivery. She also travelled and worked throughout South East Asia launching MTV Asia for MTV Networks.

    She moved back to Philadelphia in 2015 to be closer to her family and pursue a passion to give back to her community and advocating for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Greater Philadelphia Asian American Business Community where she spent the last 5 years working in the non-profit sector as the Director, Programs and Operations.

    Betsy is a Red Cross Diversity & Inclusion Committee Member for the American Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Region.

    Betsy earned her Bachelor of Arts Communications: Radio, Television, and Film from Temple University.

Marian Mei-Ling LienMarian Lien

Marian Mei-Ling Lien is the Executive Director of the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition. For over 20 years, her interests and desires to create a more socially just society has led her down a professional path creating safer environments for patients in rural health care; teaching diversity in higher education; and building a more sustainable community.

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    She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy Management from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and strives to understand how people’s lives can be enhanced through public and governmental systems.

    Born in Taiwan and raised in California, Marian straddles the two worlds of Chinese Eastern and American Western ways; she is fluent in three Asian languages but dreams in English. Marian currently serves on the board of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, on the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Centers of Excellence Committee for the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh city’s Commission on Human Relations, and the board of OCA-Asian and Pacific American Advocates, Pittsburgh Chapter.

Samia MalikSamia Malik

40-year Resident of Mechanicsburg, Pa. hails from Chennai S. India and attended a catholic school and University. Served leadership role from High school as sports captain, school captain and president of Girls scouts.

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    Active as a Community organizer and life-long volunteer. A Racial and Social Justice Activist. Developed and conducted a series of lectures on Islam, for the Many organizations, libraries and Universities. Developed and conducted sensitivity training for Law enforcement. Board member of Hamden civic Ass., ACLU Pa, Pa. Immigrant and refugee women’s network, YWCA, Muslims helping neighbors, Institute for Cultural Partnership, Pluralism Project, Harvard University, MLK day of service, board chair of Muslim Women’s Counsel. Co-Founder of Community Responders network. Advisory board member of Racial Justice committee, Diversity Forum, Criminal Justice Committee, PHRC Task Force member.

    Received several awards from the local Masjids for interfaith and bridgebuilding work. A Church and Word affairs counsel awarded her Peace maker award. She received the YWCA’s Ella Fitzgerald award, and Presidents award for the work with Law enforcement, and is a SAGE award winner and a graduate of the MLK leadership institute.

Leilani MearsLeilani Mears

Leilani (Lani) Mears is an advocate for inclusion through tech, with an over 20 year career in IT.

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    She works as a Sr. Manager of Digital Quality Engineering group at PNC, overseeing 6 portfolios supporting digital technologies. In her role, she manages a global workforce of over 300 quality engineers, with resources from Asia, South America, and Europe.

    Lani is passionate about increasing women’s representation in tech. She is an active member\volunteer of organizations such as RedChair Pgh, Women Techmaker and TechConnect – Women in Tech, which are advancing programs and initiatives to recruit and retain women in IT. She was recently chosen to be in a 9-month cohort for Women in Tech Leadership Development program, established to train the next IT women leaders.

    Lani was the former president of the Asian American Employee Resource Group at PNC. During her tenure, the membership grew three-folds, and the programming increased from quarterly to monthly events. The group’s effort resulted in a greater emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion within PNC; and receiving multiple awards, including “Most Exemplar ERG” by Vibrant Pittsburgh. She is a Board Member & Chair of Audit, Finance & Fundraising Committee of PULSE (Pittsburgh Urban Leadership & Service Engagement: www.pulsepgh.org).

    She is the Information Systems Officer and President-Elect of the FAAP (Filipino American Association of Pittsburgh: www.thefaap.org). She is a Business Advisor to “BeamData”, a data gathering and visualization startup with a mission to provide equity in data representation.

    Lani immigrated from the Philippines to Pittsburgh over 30 years ago.

    As a commissioner, she hopes to help advance programs and initiatives on AAPI workforce development and increased representation within the corporate boardrooms and C-Suites. She is also interested in the efforts to unite AAPI ethnic groups and leaders in Pittsburgh to work together in providing a more vibrant and diverse city, in order to attract and retain AAPI talents. Her immediate goal is to educate and encourage immigrants & minorities to participate in the 2020 Census.

Wasiullah MohameImage of Wasiullah Mohamed

Wasiullah (Wasi) Mohamed is a life-long Pennsylvania resident. He was born in Harrisburg, raised in Enola, and moved to Pittsburgh in 2011 to attend the University of Pittsburgh.

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    During his time at the University of Pittsburgh, Wasi served in the leadership of many campus-wide organizations and initiatives, most notably he spent his four years helping to build the Office of PittServes, an arm of the Division of Student Affairs meant to ensure Pitt has a lasting positive impact on the local community while students grow from relationships and experiences with our neighbors.

    After serving as the Director of Islamic Center of Pittsburgh Food Pantry for two years, Wasi was selected to be ICP’s next Executive Director in 2015. In this position, Wasi works to empower, educate, and unite the diverse community in Western PA through social services and outreach programs. In 2016, he was appointed by Mayor Bill Peduto to the Commission on Human Relations and Welcoming Pittsburgh Commission, he was elected chair of the latter. He also sits on the All for All steering committee and works with other partners toward immigrant and refugee inclusion in the region. Also in 2016, Wasi was named the Executive Director of Emgage PA, a Muslim political education and empowerment organization.

Alka A. Patel, Esq. Image of Alka Patel

Alka Patel is the inaugural Deputy Director of the Risk and Regulatory Services Innovation Center at Carnegie Mellon University with the Heinz College. In her position, she is responsible for developing and executing the daily and long-term strategic mission of the Center, which is sponsored by PwC and focuses on data analytics, cybersecurity/privacy, artificial intelligence, and safe cities.

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    Alka has been recognized for her professional achievements as well as for her contributions to the community, with recognitions such as: the “Outstanding Achievement” award from Duquesne University Law School Alumni Association, the “Innovator Award” from Heinz College, CMU; “High Impact Leader Award” from ASCEND; “Business Women First Awards” from the Pittsburgh Business Times; “Tribute to Women, Young Leader” by the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh; “Rising Star” by the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers; a “Fast Tracker” by The Legal Intelligencer & PA Law Weekly; “Community Builder/Social Engineer” by the Pennsylvania Bar Association Minority Attorney Committee; 40 Under 40 recipient by Pittsburgh Magazine; and Distinguished Young Alumni from the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering.

    Alka holds a Juris Doctorate and Masters in Business Administration from Duquesne University and a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

    Alka, a native of Pittsburgh, lives in Collier Township with her husband and three children.

Daniel PeouDaniel Peou

Daniel Peou is the first school principal of Cambodian descent in the state of Pennsylvania.

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    He is the proud principal and alumnus of Horace H. Furness High School, a neighborhood school in the School District of Philadelphia serving more than 700 students in South Philadelphia. Horace H. Furness High School is known for its diverse student population from 33 different countries speaking 23 languages.

    He is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge Era Cambodian Genocide that took place from 1975 – 1979. He then came to the United States of America as a child refugee in 1981 with his family and attended Horace H. Furness Junior High School.

    He began his career with the School District of Philadelphia over 24 years ago as a Bilingual Counseling Assistant while pursuing his post-secondary education. He was promoted to the position of classroom teacher after earning his undergraduate degree. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Eastern University in Organizational Management and a Master of Education Degree from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania in Elementary Education and School Leadership.

    He has since held leadership positions including Small Learning Community Coordinator, School Climate Manager, Elementary School Principal, High School Assistant Principal and Principal.

    He is a tireless advocate on behalf of Philadelphia’s diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. His dedicated efforts have expanded language, educational and cultural access to often marginalized groups across Philadelphia.

Ernest RajakoneErnest Rajakone

Ernest Rajakone is a Tamil American who grew up in Central Pennsylvania but has called Pittsburgh home for the last decade. Ernest currently serves as a Policy Analyst within the Office of Equity for Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto, where he focuses on government affairs and legislation. Ernest also currently serves as President of Young Democrats of Allegheny County and as a U.S. Advocacy Officer for PEARL (People for Equality and Relief in Lanka). Ernest graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science and from Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University with a Masters in Public Management (MPM).

Sarorng ‘Rorng’ SornSarorng Sorn

Rorng Sorn is the Director of Immigrant Affairs and Language Access Services at the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral and Intellectual Disability Services, where she helps ensure that services for immigrant/refugee communities are culturally and linguistically appropriate.

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    She works to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes among the refugee and immigrant communities through strategic partnerships, policy and procedure development, and targeted outreach and education.

    Rorng has over 30 years of combined experience in public, private, and nonprofit sectors working with various communities, leaders, policy makers, with small grassroots organizations, large institutions and systems. She is specialized in strategic plan, strategic partnership, community and stakeholder engagement, assessment, resource and program development and management.

    She is highly motivated, dedicated, and strives for excellence. She served as Executive Director of the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia, Field Coordinator for the Southeast Asia Resource Center, and a member of Mayor Nutter’s Commission on Asian American Affairs.

    She volunteers with locally and internationally organizations helping them with their program, resource and organizational development needs. She received multiple awards include the Special Achievement Award for Dedicated Service in Support of Human Rights of the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service, and 6ABC’s Outstanding Community Service Award, just to name a few. In 2019 she received an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, from Gwynedd Mercy University. She was a refugee from Cambodia, and the first in her family to earn a college degree. She holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit/NGO Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.

Richard Tsai Ting, Esq.Image of Richard Ting

Rich is an attorney whose practice has focused on intellectual property. Rich has counseled and represented clients in a wide variety of intellectual property matters, including patent infringement and validity assessments, freedom-to-operate analyses, intellectual property litigation, and patent and trademark prosecution.

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    Rich is active with the American Civil Liberties Union, serving as a volunteer attorney and previously on the board of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter.

    Rich also is President-Elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Pennsylvania, and is a former chair of the Asian Attorneys Committee of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

    Rich is a Pittsburgh-area native, has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Brown University, a master’s degree in toxicology from the Massachusetts institute of Technology, and a law degree from Harvard Law School.

Dr. Arpan YagnikArpan Yagnik

Dr. Yagnik’s motto is “Action inspired by Creativity”. Dr. Yagnik is a Creativity expert and a TEDx speaker, author, and a researcher in the areas of creativity and creativity enhancement, he has shown people a way to liberate their true potential by defeating fear, chasing significance, and letting creativity inspire them. He plans to inject creativity into the social fabric of the great state of Pennsylvania by starting with the Asian Pacific American community.

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    Dr. Arpan Yagnik is a critical thinker and a philosopher who believes life is a manifestation of our dreams. A world where you have your own truth and live your own truth. He has traveled extensively and has rich multinational experience in guiding and mentoring students, educators, and corporations and business professionals to break down the question through which we derive our meaning, “What do I want in life?” He is dismayed by the self-limiting beliefs that individuals, and societies thrust upon themselves that rob them of joy, creating needless suffering, hindering them from pursuing rapid transformation. Solving complex problems to achieve desired goals and to remove obstructions in discovering new frontiers to further meaningful altruism is his number one priority.

    Creativity is one such phenomenon that Arpan Yagnik feels will liberate oneself from the learned shackles of fear and ego. One can rapidly transform their lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness and love. True freedom, therefore, he believes, has to do with the human spirit- to be who we really are. Fear mitigation, at the same time, is key to free and liberate the true potential of humans.

    For his efforts and actions he has received numerous awards and recognitions. Dr. Yagnik firmly believes that a creative mindset, free of fear is an asset for an effective altruist. His dynamic and energetic presence along with his high-impact ideas and moving delivery has uplifted and enabled individuals and groups he has shared his teachings with to use the newly learned creativity in directed individual and social change, and the pursuit of positive transformation.

    Dr. Arpan Yagnik is an assistant professor of Advertising at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College where he researches and teaches creativity and creativity enhancement. He is a graduate of the Bowling Green State University where he completed his Doctorate degree in the area of Health and Development Communication under the able guidance of Dr. Srinivas Melkote. Prior to his doctorate, he has a business administration background specializing in retail and an undergraduate degree in Economics. He has played competitive sports representing his university, and was also the captain of his college team for two years. He loves flying kites.

Videos


Asian American and Pacific Islanders in State Government

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration

Resources

Connect with Us

For more information about the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs, please follow us on Facebook or contact:

Stephanie Sun – Executive Director
508E, 5th Floor, Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
(717) 787-6543