Check back soon for updates on more speakers and performers. There will be some good ones!
Eye Opener TV, The CW
Allyn Hoang is an Emmy award-winning news anchor and host on Eye Opener TV, a nationally syndicated morning news show airing on The CW. You may have also seen her fill-in host on E! News Now and regularly featured on The Huffington Post.
As a journalist, she is committed to enterprising stories that inform and educate viewers about issues affecting everyday lives. Allyn covers everything from hard news, politics, and business to trending stories, lifestyle, and entertainment.
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her second term in the United States House of Representatives. Grace represents the Sixth Congressional District of New York encompassing the New York City borough of Queens, including west, central and northeast Queens.
Grace is the first Asian-American Member of Congress from New York State, and the only Congressmember of Asian descent in the entire Northeast. She is also the first female Member of Congress from Queens since former Vice Presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro.
National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
Nisha oversees NCAPA’s development and operations as well as policy work. She was a 2013-2014 APAICS Fellow in the office of Congressman Ami Bera, M.D., where she handled U.S.-India and Indian American community issues, as well as civil rights, veterans’ affairs, and science and technology issues.
She graduated with a Master’s in Public Policy from The George Washington University, and her previous work experience includes policy and advocacy work with World Food Program USA and a women’s safety research project related to water and sanitation in India.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC
Marita is director of strategic initiatives for Advancing Justice | AAJC. Prior to joining Advancing Justice | AAJC, Marita was director of legal services for the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center in Washington, D.C. Her 10 years of experience providing direct legal services to low-income communities includes advocating on behalf of migrant and seasonal farm workers with Texas Rural Legal Aid, as well as working with labor pool workers as part of the Homeless Persons Representation Project in Baltimore.
Marita holds a law degree and bachelor’s degree from The University of Michigan. She is admitted to practice in the State of Maryland and the District of Columbia.
National Asian Pacific American Bar Association
Attorney and author, Navdeep Singh serves as the Policy Director at the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA). Navdeep leads NAPABA’s civil rights, public policy, and legal advocacy programs. He speaks about current topics in the law, strategic development, and community engagement to government agencies, at universities, and in the media.
Navdeep has worked extensively on issues affecting post-9/11 communities, including hate crimes, racial profiling, and religious accommodation. He served as policy director at the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF). Navdeep co-authored “Turban Myths” – the first study on implicit bias and the Sikh American community – with researchers from Stanford University, advised the FBI on the implementation of expanded hate crimes categories, and developed the first national Sikh American television public service announcement. He was part of the team that responded to the attack on the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Navdeep held positions at the Transportation Security Administration, the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, and in the private sector. He is a graduate of the FBI’s Citizen’s Academy, and received his J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and his B.S. in Systems Engineering and Economics with a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies from the University of Virginia.
Southeast Asian Resource Action Center
Rita Pin Ahrens is the Director of Education Policy for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC), where she works on eliminating disparities in educational opportunities and outcomes, with a focus on low income, first generation students, English language learners, refugees and their children. She draws on her own experience as a refugee from Cambodia, as well as her experience as a middle school math teacher in Connecticut. Recently, Rita served as a negotiator on behalf of parents and students on in the rulemaking process for the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015.
Rita holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Yale University and a Masters in Education from the University of New Haven. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, writing poetry, painting, drawing, and learning Khmer classical dance.
Teach For America
Sarah Ha is the Senior Managing Director of the Asian American & Pacific Islander Initiative on the National Community Alliances team at Teach For America. In this role, Sarah builds coalitions with individuals and organizations representing civil rights, social justice, policy, education, leadership, and community development within the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community to increase the visibility, inclusion, and support for all children, educators, and communities.
Prior to TFA, Sarah was the Senior Director of Programs and Student Affairs at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program. She oversaw the strategic development and delivery of academic support, leadership development, and community-building programs for APIASF and GMS scholarship recipients. She also worked in partnership with the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education (CARE) in hosting APIASF’s annual Higher Education Summits in Washington, DC.
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Amina Abbas is the director of government relations for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), a national health justice organization which influences policy, mobilizes communities, and strengthens programs and organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Working with APIAHF’s policy director, Iyanrick John, Amina advocates and develops strategies at the federal and state levels that promote APIAHF’s policy agenda.
Prior to joining APIAHF, Amina served as a director at the VENG Group where she provided guidance to the firm’s policy, outreach and government affairs clients on a number of health policy matters and lead strategic communications. Amina served as the VENG Group’s chief advisor on issues including racial and ethnic health and health care disparities, women’s health and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Amina was previously a Law Students for Reproductive Justice/Georgetown Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow at APIAHF, where she focused on implementation of the ACA, HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence.
Amina received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law and holds a B.S. in Biology / B.A. in Chemistry from East Carolina University.
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Isha is the Director for Policy and Advocacy at AAPCHO. As part of her work, Isha works with local and national partners within and outside the AAPCHO network to help ensure that the needs of AA&NHPI-serving community health centers are a national priority. Isha is the Co-Chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans’ (NCAPA) Health Committee, Vice Chair of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B: Focus on Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, advises Hep B United, a national coalition focused on reducing hepatitis B disparities on policy issues, and is a board member of the South Asian Public Health Association (SAPHA). Prior to joining AAPCHO, she worked at New York University’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health (CSAAH), for a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct community-based participatory research called B Free CEED: National Center of Excellence in the Elimination of Hepatitis B Disparities. She has also worked for The Belaku Trust, an NGO in Bangalore, India focused on women’s empowerment and health research, for Pfizer, Inc. in comparative effectiveness and outcomes research, and for the New York State Department of Health’s AIDS Institute. Isha received her Bachelor’s in Arts from Bryn Mawr College, and her Master’s in Science from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Southeast Asia Resource Action Center
Katrina Dizon Mariategue is the Immigration Policy Manager for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). In this role, she managers SEARAC’s immigration advocacy, policy, coalition building, and program work around deportation, detention and mass incarceration.
Previously, Katrina worked in the labor movement for six years at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In 2011, she was elected to serve as DC chapter president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the only national organization of AAPI union members. In this capacity, she led the chapter’s local advocacy campaigns and organizing work around immigrant workers’ rights, coordinated civic engagement programs for the 2012 elections, and strengthened local networks through extensive coalition building efforts. She also served on APALA’s National Executive Board and co-chaired the organization’s Young Leaders Council.
Katrina holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also served as Graduate Coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) to advise, mentor, and educate AAPI students on campus.
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates
Kham S. Moua is the Senior Policy and Communications Manager at OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates. He directs and manages OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates’ policy, advocacy, and campaign efforts, as well as all communications within those areas. Policy and advocacy areas currently under his supervision include immigration, education, military justice, telecommunications and technology, and civic engagement. Moua co-chairs the National Council of Asian Pacific American committee on immigration. He also currently sits on the board of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA). Issues close to him include LGBTQ rights, Asian Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian equity, and comprehensive immigration reform. In his free time, Moua enjoys videogames and reading next to a cup of bourbon.
Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. has represented Sacramento County since 2013. Born and raised in California, Bera is a physician and the only Indian American currently serving in Congress. He’s fighting to rebuild an economy that works for middle class families and the next generation of Americans. As a leader of the No Labels’ Problem Solvers, he’s working with people from both parties to find bipartisan solutions to our nation’s challenges. He and his wife Janine live in Elk Grove with their daughter Sydra.
Elena Wang has worked in several countries including Australia, London, Singapore and now the US. Elena has a BA in Musical theatre under UK accredited Lasalle College of the Arts (Singapore) and an MFA in Film at New York Film Academy (Los Angeles). She has worked with artists including Taylor Swift, Shaquille O’Neal and performed as ‘Melody’ in Todrick Hall’s OZ the musical with Tori Kelly.
Prior to the US, she had the honor of performing in The King and I with Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii 5 O) and Maria Friedman, in London’s Royal Albert Hall. Her leading roles such as Ivy in Beauty World and Snow White in Snow White won Elena ELLE magazine’s ‘Breakout Star of the Year’ award in Singapore’s theatre industry. Her most recent work in the US includes the role of Kim in Worldwide Theatricals’ production of Miss Saigon and starred as Nan Goto/Kei Kimura in Broadway’s Allegiance. Since Broadway, she has been amongst celebrities to honor world-renowned composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz at Symphony Space, and led the first showing as Xirui in the new musical Tiananmen.
Franklin Odo is the John J. McCloy Visiting Professor of American Institutions and International Diplomacy at Amherst College. He leads a Theme Study on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for the National Park Service scheduled for launch in spring 2017. He was the first Curriculum Coordinator at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and taught at Cal State Long Beach before becoming the first permanent director of the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of Hawai`i Manoa. He was founding director of the Smithsonian’s Asian Pacific American Center, 1997-2010, and Interim Chief of the Asian Division at the Library of Congress in 2012. His most recent book is Voices from the Canefields: Folksongs from Japanese Immigrant Workers in Hawai`i, published by Oxford in 2013.
The Washington Post
David Nakamura has covered the Obama administration for the past five years, focusing on immigration, trade and Asia policy, along with politics. He has traveled extensively with President Obama, including on trips to South Africa, Burma and Hiroshima, Japan. Nakamura has previously covered sports, education, local politics and foreign news, including stints in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan after the 2010 Tohoku earthquake. A University of Missouri graduate, he served as president of the D.C. chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and spent a year teaching English in Hiroshima.
The Washington Post
Michelle Ye Hee Lee is a reporter at The Washington Post. She writes for The Fact Checker column, digging for the truth beyond political rhetoric. Previously, Michelle was government accountability reporter on the investigative team at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona. She is senior vice president of Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). She was born in Seoul, Korea, and raised in Guam.
The Boston Globe / Politico Magazine
Indira Lakshmanan is a Washington columnist for The Boston Globe and a contributor to Politico Magazine. She’s reported from 80 countries, interviewing and traveling with U.S. and foreign leaders. Indira is also a guest-host for national radio programs, a TV contributor and a moderator for live news events.
Indira was a senior correspondent at Bloomberg for eight years, covering national politics and Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, whom she interviewed more than a dozen times for TV and radio. Indira chronicled the Iran nuclear talks, the rise of Islamic State and the diplomatic opening with Cuba. For two years, she wrote a “Letter from Washington” column on U.S. foreign policy for the International Herald Tribune, the overseas New York Times.
Indira was a foreign correspondent for 12 years on three continents, where she covered the Bosnia War, the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the drug war in Colombia. She embedded with sea pirates in the Philippines, Maoist rebels in Nepal and Khmer Rouge holdouts in Cambodia. Her work exposed child labor in Bolivian mines, unregulated mining in Brazil’s Amazon and the incarceration of prisoners’ children in Nepal.
Indira graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude and was awarded a Nieman journalism fellowship at Harvard in 2003.
Shefali S. Kulkarni is the Audience Engagement Producer for BBC News. She was the Social Media Editor for Newsweek, the digital producer for PRI’s The World covering the immigrant and refugee community and a health care policy reporter for Kaiser Health News. She has a masters degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and is the Vice President of the South Asian Journalists Association.
Miguel Santos is the General Manager of the award-winning Myx TV, the only English-language, multicultural Asian American entertainment network in the United States, which is distributed in more than 15 million households nationwide. It is owned and operated by ABS-CBN Global, a subsidiary of ABS-CBN Corporation, one of Asia’s largest media companies. Santos sets the overall direction and strategy for the network, including programming, production, creative, digital media, marketing and business development. Myx TV’s current programming slate includes reality shows, music, and movies.
MyxTV / mydiveo
Roslynn Cobarrubias is a MyxTV host/producer as well as the co-founder/CMO of mydiveo, a recently acquired global talent discovery platform that has helped in talent booking for America’s Got Talent, the White House AAPI and many more media companies, brands & events. Named one of Billboard Magazine’s top 30 music industry professionals & The Source Magazine’s Power 30, she has produced over 500 live events & editorial programs with artists and brands like Jay-Z, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Justin Bieber, Drake, AT&T & Wendy’s. She’s known as one of the top Filipinas/AAPIs in tech/social media, previously helping to launch MySpace Music and spent a decade there as Head of Artist Relations.
Tim Atlas is an Indie/Alternative singer-songwriter from the Bay Area, currently living in Los Angeles. Tim has found musical inspiration in the airy falsettos of Damien Rice and the endearingly wistful pop melodies of Feist. Following his stint on season 9 of NBC’s The Voice, he released “Wander,” a single that premiered at #19 on the Spotify Global Viral Charts with over 500,000 streams since its release in July 2016. When Atlas isn’t performing as a solo artist, he works as a producer and writer in his home studio. He is currently gearing up to record his first album, incorporating a more rhythmic, soulful approach, without straying from the organic folk elements his fans have grown to love.
Maulik Pancholy is best known for playing Jonathan on the Emmy®, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award-winning NBC comedy 30 Rock, and Sanjay on Showtime’s dramatic comedy Weeds. He also starred on NBC’s Whitney, and recurred on Showtime’s Web Therapy. He recently starred on Broadway in the hit production of “It’s Only A Play”, and will next be seen on Netflix’s upcoming Friends From College. Other television includes The Good Wife, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Comeback, and The Sopranos. He is the voice of the title character of Sanjay on Nickelodeon’s animated series Sanjay & Craig, and Baljeet on the Disney Channel’s Emmy® award-winning Phineas & Ferb. Pancholy shared the Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series” three times with the cast of 30 Rock (winning in 2009) and once with the cast of Weeds. He regularly delivers keynote addresses to university students about diversity in the media and Hollywood’s evolving relationship to minorities. Pancholy currently serves on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Agent Daisy Johnson on ABC’s “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
Chloe Bennet grew up on the south side of Chicago, her father a first generation Chinese-American and her mother Caucasian. Bennet’s family consists of six brothers — three siblings are biological and three siblings are adopted (African-American and Mexican, respectively). Additionally — and to this day — in any given year you may find foster and/or foreign exchange students living the Bennet home; their story is a real-life multicultural Cosby show.
Bennet was educated in the Montessori system, where she developed a love of performing and singing. At the age of 12, she joined the Second City Youth Ensemble, where she studied acting and improv. At 15 she was discovered by a music manager who immediately signed her and arranged for her to move to China, where she lived with her paternal grandmother and began intensive Mandarin studies in Shanghai. During this time, she began making regular trips to Sweden to record with some of the same songwriters and producers behind Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, Celine Dion, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, among others.
Bennet recorded and released her first single/video in China for her song, “Uh Oh.” The song and the video were shot in English and Mandarin and went on to become hugely popular in China. Based on the success of her “Uh Oh” video, she was invited to perform at the Zebra Music Festival, a three-day charity event to benefit victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. With over 30,000 people in attendance, the event was broadcast to more than 100 million homes in China. It was Bennet’s first live performance, and she emerged as one of the most impressive acts on the bill. Her performance led to other opportunities: She has been featured in print advertising and on billboards throughout China, and was sponsored in China by Nike, Ports 1961 and Umbro. She has also been featured in fashion and lifestyle articles in Chinese Vogue, Elle, In Style, Cosmopolitan, China Daily and numerous other Chinese publications.
In the summer of 2010, Bennet landed her first role as a co-host on the TeenNick television show, “The Nightlife.” She also guest starred on ABC’s “Nashville.”
Funny Or Die
Brad Jenkins is an expert at turning belly laughs into beltway advocacy. As Funny Or Die’s Managing Director and Executive Producer in Washington D.C., Jenkins manages creative campaigns and political strategy for non-profits, foundations, and national brands. Before joining Funny Or Die last year, Jenkins spent four years serving as President Obama’s Associate Director in The White House Office of Public Engagement. From The White House, Jenkins brought together creative executives, thought leaders, and some of the world’s biggest stars to advance the President’s agenda—culminating in the Emmy-award winning “Between Two Ferns” interview on the Affordable Care Act. In 2008, Jenkins served as the Deputy Director of Special Projects for President Obama’s election campaign, specializing in the intersection of youth media and grassroots engagement. Prior to joining the White House, Jenkins was the founding Vice President of Business Forward, an organization that brings entrepreneurs into the policymaking process. Before the 2008 campaign, Jenkins worked on the trading desk for the asset management firm, Farallon Capital in San Francisco, CA.
A proud New Jersey native, Brad graduated from the University of Virginia and now resides in Washington D.C. where he spends most of his spare time doing living room comedy sets for his 3-year old daughter and 1-year old son. Brad has also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, Yahoo News, CNBC, Washington Post, Politico, and the DC Improv.
President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Dr. Tung Thanh Nguyen is Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), where he provides medical care to a diverse patient population and teaches clinicians. He also serves as Director of the Asian American Research Center on Health, Director of the Vietnamese Community Health Promotion Project, and a Co-Principal Investigator of the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training. In these roles, he has conducted research in health care prevention for Asian Americans, including studies to increase breast, cervical cancer, and colorectal cancer screening among Asian Americans as well as on tobacco use among Asian Americans. Dr. Nguyen holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Harvard University and an M.D. from the Stanford School of Medicine. Dr. Nguyen was appointed to the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs in 2011.
President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders
Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada is President and Chief Executive Officer of Guam Community College, a position she has held since 2007. Previously, Dr. Okada served Guam Community College as Vice President of Financial Affairs from 2005 to 2007, Accounting Supervisor from 2003 to 2004, Controller in 2001, Assistant to the Vice President of Financial Affairs from 1994 to 2001, and General Accounting Supervisor from 1992 to 1994. Prior to this, Dr. Okada was a Comptroller for the Guam Public School System from 2004 to 2005 and a Finance Manager for Pacific Western Enterprises from 1990 to 1992. She has been active in community organizations, including the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of University Women – Guam Chapter, the Pacific Postsecondary Education Council, and Westcare Foundation Board – Pacific Islands. Dr. Okada received a B.B.A. and an M.S. from the University of Guam and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.
Esther Yu Hsi Lee is the immigration reporter at ThinkProgress, an online news site based in Washington, D.C where she mainly writes about politics and domestic and international migration issues. As a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) beneficiary, she worked as a White House Initiative Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders E3! Ambassador on immigration issues impacting the Asian-American community.
Esther’s contribution in The Country We Call Home: Stories of Growing up a citizen in every way but one, a compendium of stories by undocumented immigrant, was the 2nd prize winner at the 2016 Latino Literacy Now’s International Latino Book Awards. She is also a 2014 White House Champion of Change recipient and a finalist for the 2016 Define American’s Journalist of the Year award. She earned her B.A. in Psychology and Middle East and Islamic Studies and a M.A. in Psychology from New York University.
Kalwis is a southern Californian native who currently serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Scholarship America, the nation’s largest scholarship provider. After a life changing event, Kalwis embarked on a journey to Washington, DC determined to make changes in our country’s higher education system. He served as the Legislative Director for the U.S. Student Association (USSA), a student organization with a mission to make higher education accessible and affordable for all. During his tenure, Kalwis’ leadership contributed to the passage of the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act as well as executive action by President Obama to expand the federal Pay As You Earn (PAYE) program. These initiatives led to both lower interest-rates and lower monthly payments for millions of student loan borrowers. In his current role at Scholarship America, Kalwis continues to advocate for policies that make postsecondary education possible to students from low-income backgrounds and under resourced communities. He earned his B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz.