Achieving Gold: Asian American and Pacific Islander Students Convene for the 2018 Youth Summit

This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s Homeroom Blog.

Domee Shi, creator of the Pixar Animation Studios short “Bao,” shares a lively moment during the Going for Gold panel.

After weeks of hard work, hours of meetings, and too many packets of instant coffee, we pulled it off – hosting the 2018 AAPI Youth Summit! Held yesterday at Google’s D.C. headquarters, this year’s gathering built on a tradition of connecting with young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders.

Each year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) invites AAPI students and interns to an event aimed to educate, connect, and inspire the next generation of AAPI leaders. This year’s theme, “Going for Gold,” highlighted trailblazer AAPIs across different industries and throughout the federal government.

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Growth of Asian American Pacific Islanders in the Arizona Desert

Executive Director Holly Ham with the Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders board of directors and executive team at the Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders’ Awards Gala

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders team recently headed to Arizona to engage with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community on the topics of workforce leadership, business and jobs, and senior healthcare.  I joined Executive Director Holly Ham and Senior Advisor Debra Suarez as we met with community leaders, were inspired by their stories, and humbled by their experiences.

On Saturday evening, July 14, Holly joined over 200 participants at the Asian Corporate & Entrepreneur Leaders’ Leadership Awards Gala in Scottsdale to deliver the keynote address. She highlighted her experiences as a young immigrant to America, her leadership roles in private enterprise and the federal government, and what service means to Americans. The following day, we visited the Greater Phoenix Chinese Christian Church, where  a welcoming, compassionate congregation greeted us before the morning service. Infants, teenagers, adults, and seniors joined together in a heartwarming display of community and culture.

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The Regional Network: How We Connect to Local Communities

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), we come from diverse backgrounds. We trace our ancestry to dozens of countries, each with their own unique cultures and languages. As AAPIs in the United States, our diversity has no equal in the world, and as the fastest growing population in the United States, we are integrated in all aspects of American life. As an economic driver, there are more than 1.9 million AAPI-owned businesses that generate over $700 billion annually and create 3.6 million jobs in the United States, according to the Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce.

With our unique cultures and differences, we also have diverse needs in education, health, immigration, housing, employment, and other issues that require culturally and linguistically appropriate services from the federal government.

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Meet the Summer 2018 Interns

You don’t always need to have a penthouse office or a flashy car to call the shots and make a difference. At the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative), we know it really is the interns who run our world (our office). Having a high-caliber intern class in the office has a significantly positive impact on our work. Interns here are responsible for assisting the staff in researching a wide range of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) issues, including education, health, sustainable neighborhoods, economic development, civil rights, and labor and employment.  In addition, interns help write policy memos and proposals, coordinate events, develop social media and blog posts, and conduct outreach to national and local AAPI organizations, elected officials, and ethnic media outlets.

Meet our current class of summer interns.

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Houston Site Visits – May 2018

On the morning of May 19, I visited the India House in Houston, Texas, a nonprofit organization with a mission to unite cultures, create bridges and serve the community by bringing resources, education, services and Indian culture to Houstonians. Retired Colonel Vipin Kumar, India House’s executive director, along with trustees and members of the executive committee, provided a tour of the facilities. India House provides a range of free or low-cost services to the community, including health care, legal assistance, a camp for urban youth, Hindi language classes, arts and dance courses, and technology for seniors. It was a Saturday morning and India House was buzzing with youth attending a leadership workshop, a yoga class and a community event in various parts of the sprawling facility.

Holly Ham with Trustees and Executive Committee members of India House along with Ed and Beverly Gor

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Holly Ham Receives the George H.W. Bush Award for Outstanding Achievement

The Asian Pacific American Heritage Association (APAHA) Board of Directors presented the President George H.W. Bush award for outstanding achievement to Holly Ham on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at its 26th Anniversary Gala in Houston, Texas. Ms. Ham was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments in her career and commitment to the Asian Pacific American community.

Other award recipients included American First National Bank for the Corporate Achievement Award and Dr. Feng Jianwei for the Community Service Award.

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[Press Recap] White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Holds Inaugural Interagency Working Group Meeting

This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s website.

June 14, 2018

Contact:   Press Office, (202) 401-1576, press@ed.gov

Washington, D.C. – Today the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) announced the new membership of its Interagency Working Group (IWG) and held its inaugural meeting at the White House.

“In accordance with the Executive Order, the Interagency Working Group is key to our mission of improving the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) through increased access to and participation in federal programs. Without the collaboration of the federal agencies and executive offices, we would not be able to reach into AAPI communities across the country and territories. Having the senior representation of the IWG here today is a big step for the federal government to continue serving this community,” said Initiative Executive Director Holly Ham.

The IWG is comprised of senior membership from 31 federal agencies and offices. The purpose of today’s meeting was to guide the participating federal agencies and offices in developing their agencies’ plans to measure performance on existing goals and to improve upon and create new measurable objectives.

The meeting began with welcoming remarks from Bill McGinley, White House Cabinet Secretary. An overview of the AAPI communities in the United States and its territories was presented by Akil Vohra, Director of Strategic Initiatives. Executive Director Ham shared the strategic areas of focus for the Initiative. The meeting concluded with the IWG members receiving instructions with next steps on how to best craft their agency plans which are due later this fall.

To learn more about IWG membership, click here.

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Hosts Forum to Commemorate and Learn

A community member asks a question during the round-table discussion.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) hosted a Community Leaders Forum at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on May 17 to commemorate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

The gathering at ED headquarters in Washington, D.C. provided an opportunity for community leaders from across the nation to engage with senior-level federal officials to discuss issues impacting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Over 175 leaders in fields ranging from businesses to nonprofit service organizations attended.

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APAHM Filled with Amazing Celebrations and Thoughtful Discussions

This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Education’s Homeroom Blog.

A picture of Minority Business Development Agency Acting National Director Edith McCloud and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Holly Ham signing a memorandum of understanding. They are seated at a table in front of an American flag and banners for each of their groups. Ms. McCloud sits at Ms. Ham's right. To their right is a man standing and to their left are a woman and a man standing.

Minority Business Development Agency Acting National Director Edith McCloud and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Holly Ham sign a memorandum of understanding.

As May came to an end so did this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM) festivities. This month was full of amazing celebrations and thoughtful discussions. In DC alone there were many events hosted at federal and local government offices.

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National Meet & Greet Tour: Des Moines, Iowa

On April 26th, Executive Director Holly Ham and I were in Des Moines, Iowa at a stop on the National Meet and Greet Tour. Our collaboration with the Greater Des Moines Partnership was key in making this visit to Des Moines a success.

First, we met with the Des Moines Public School District (DMPS). The meeting was held at the New American Center where DMPS Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart noted the District’s longstanding tradition of welcoming students from all over the world. From Asia, there were refugees from Southeast Asia (e.g. Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) to the more recent arrivals from Bhutan and Burma.  “The District enrolled students from more than 100 countries among its student population of 33,000, almost 3,000 of whom are Asian American or Pacific Islanders,” said Dr. Ahart. “Nationally, they represent the fastest growing ethnic demographic. The AAPI population is expected to more than double by 2060.”

We had a good dialogue with DMPS staff and parents who came to the New American Center for English language classes including discussions about skills to better support their children’s success.

New arrivals to Des Moines from Vietnam, Burma and Bhutan at The Center for New Americans

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