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40 Influential Asian Americans in Washington

By Jennie L. Ilustre
 
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If you live in Washington, D.C., think of it as having the best seat in the house. It is, after all, the nation’s capital. The media and political types here and across the globe refer to it simply as Washington, with the general understanding that it is different from the other splendid state in the West Coast. Washington is the seat of the federal government, where history is made on a daily basis. It is also, in many ways, the capital of the world.
     Small wonder, then, that this capital attracts the best and the brightest, Americans of Asian heritage among them.
     To be sure, Asian Americans have been making a difference to this great nation on both the national and the local levels, individually and collectively, and in several ways that matter. The Central Pacific Railroad–didn’t Chinese workers, at a great sacrifice, helped build them? The revolutionary bright and energy-efficient, blue light-emitting diodes (LED) – weren’t three Japanese and Japanese American professors, with their brilliance and never-give up attitude, invented it and won the 2014 Nobel Prize for physics?
     Here in Washington, Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage are making a difference on a regular and sustained basis. Their achievements are all the more remarkable because as a rule, they do not even care whoever gets the credit as long as the job gets done. And so for sure, this list resulting from research and suggestions of community leaders and political party sources, cannot be considered complete, and in fact will always need expanding and updating.
     Washington, being the political capital and with next year’s presidential elections in the horizon, fittingly this list of influential Asian Americans in the political field includes many who were or are in the executive and legislative branches of the government, former and current top aides and campaign staff, as well as advocates. Some of them have historic, or first-ever, achievements. Many have inspiring personal stories as well.
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1 | kiran-ahuja

Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). She directs the efforts of the Initiative and the Presidential Advisory Commission on AAPIs in advising top agency officials on implementing and coordinating federal programs relating to AAPIs. The Initiative’s goal: To help improve the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs through increased participation and access to federal programs where they are underserved. Ms. Ahuja served as the founding Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) in 2003-2008. She grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where her understanding of race, gender and ethnicity was formed as a young Indian immigrant.

 

2 | matthew

Matthew Alonsozana is Republican National Committee (RNC) Research Analyst for domestic policy and investigative issues, where he also assists with the development of communications and outreach strategies for the RNC Asian Pacific American Initiative. Previously, the Boston College cum laude graduate participated in several local and national elections in Maryland and Massachusetts. He also performed research and press work for the US Congress Joint Economic Committee.

 

 

3 | Ami_Bera_official_photo

US Congressman Ami Bera (D, CA-07) is currently the only Indian American, and one of 14 Asian Americans and Pacific Islander, in the US Congress. He put himself through medical school, working part-time, taking advantage of federally-funded student loans, and graduating with less than $10,000 in debt. He credits much of his success to his country’s investment in him, and he is working to ensure to keep the American Dream alive for the next generation. During his twenty-year medical career, he worked to improve the availability, quality, and affordability of healthcare. Congressman Bera is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of legislators dedicated to maintaining America’s standing as the world’s strongest, most successful nation.

 

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Irene Bueno is Co-Founder and Partner at Nueva Vista Group LLC. NVG is a government relations firm specializing in public policy, advocacy, strategic advice and outreach. Ms. Bueno has extensive experience, knowledge and networks from having served in both the executive and legislative branches of government. During President Bill Clinton’s two terms, she was the Special Assistant to the President in the White House Chief of Staff’s Office and Domestic Policy Council. She also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the US Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, she worked as a Legislative Assistant for Senator Alan Cranston (D-CA) and Congressman Edward Roybal (D-CA).

 

5 |gloria

 

Gloria T. Caoile is a recognized civic leader. She was a founding member of two national groups: the Asian Pacific American Women Leadership Institute (APAWLI) and the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA). In 2000, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the White House Advisory Commission of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She is known for her work at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a l.3 million-member union. She was the executive assistant to the AFSCME president when she retired after 30 years of service. Currently, she is involved with the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, based in the capital, Feed the Hungry and APIAVote.

 

 

6 |large_Gregory A. Cendana

 

Gregory Cendana is the first openly gay and youngest executive director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement. He also serves as the Chair of National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, treasurer for the Labor Coalition for Community Action and is the youngest General Board member of the AFL-CIO. He has been named one of Washington, DC’s most influential 40-and-under young leaders, one of the 30 Most Influential Asian Americans Under 30 and the “Future of DC Politics.” Previously, he served as president of the United States Student Association (USSA), where he played an integral role in the passage of the Student Aid & Fiscal Responsibility Act and Healthcare & Education Reconciliation Act.

 

7 |7 ELAINE CHAO

 

Elaine L. Chao is probably better known these days as the wife of US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY), but she is a major player in her own right. She is the first Asian Pacific American woman appointed to the President’s cabinet in the nation’s history. She served as US Secretary of Labor from 2001 to 2009. An immigrant who arrived in America at the age of eight speaking no English, her experience has motivated her to dedicate most of her professional life to helping others access opportunities in mainstream America.  She also served as president and Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, where she restored public trust and confidence in one of the nation’s premier institutions of private charitable giving after it had been tarnished by financial mismanagement. As director of the Peace Corps, she established the first programs in the Baltic nations and the newly-independent states of the former Soviet Union. She received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an economics degree from Mt. Holyoke College. She is Chair of Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Foundation in honor of her late mother.

 

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Christine Chen was named by Newsweek magazine in 2001as one of 15 women who will shape America’s new century. The founding APIAVote executive director (2006-2008) recently returned to APIAVote to her former post. APIAVote’s research and polling of Asian American voters and its regional training and field programs have strengthened the local grassroots outreach and mobilizing efforts among Asian Pacific Islander American voters. Currently, Ms. Chen also serves as president of Strategic Alliances USA, a partnership among the corporate sector, government agencies, and the non-profit and public sector. She served as national executive director of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), one of the nation’s leading APIA’s civil rights organizations, in 2001-2005.

 

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US Congresswoman Judy Chu made history as the first American woman of Chinese heritage elected to Congress when she won in 2009 to represent California’s 27th Congressional District. In 2011, she was elected Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), which champions the needs and concerns of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. She founded and co-chairs the Congressional Creative Rights Caucus, promoting copyright protections of those in the creative industries, such as music, film and visual arts. She also serves in leadership of the House Democratic Caucus as a Member of the Steering and Policy Committee. Congresswoman Chu was first elected to the Board of Education for Garvey School District in 1985. She was elected to the Monterey Park City Council, where she served as Mayor for three terms.

 

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Jason Chung, Republican National Committee (RNC) Director for Asian Pacific American Engagement, where he serves as primary field and communications strategist. Prior to this, he served as a consultant to The Livingston Group, LLC a Washington, D.C.-based government relations and public affairs firm, while also serving as Managing Partner of GWC LLC, a consulting company in Virginia. Director Chung worked as Congressional Liaison in US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a bureau in the US Department of Homeland Security. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs during Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich’s term.Mr. Chung also served on the staff of then-Congressmen Thomas M. Davis III of Virginia and Christopher Shays of Connecticut, and was appointed on the Virginia Asian Advisory Board by Governor Bob McDonnell. He has assisted many candidates seeking elective office on the local, state and federal levels throughout the US.

 

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9 david do

 

David Do is the director of the DC Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA). He is a seasoned community advocate, a champion for neighborhood engagement, and committed to education issues. He previously served in the Executive Office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C. during the administrations of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Mayor Vincent C. Gray. David grew up in San Jose, California. He was raised by parents who were refugees of the Vietnam War. His family lived in poverty during his early childhood. David fought through his adverse upbringing and became the first in his family to graduate from college.

 

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US Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D, IL-08), an Iraq War veteran and former Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs, is currently serving her second term. In her first term, she introduced various pieces of legislation. Among these are bills that assist Veterans in their transition to the private sector, cut waste and fraud at the Pentagon and throughout government, extend maternity leave for women serving in the military, reduce fines for federal paperwork infractions made by small businesses and eliminate abuses in the veterans’ benefit system.            Of Thai heritage, she is also fluent in Indonesian. She attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a Masters of Arts in International Affairs at George Washington University. In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq, one of the first Army women to fly combat missions. She lost her legs and partial use of her right arm when her helicopter was hit by enemy fire. She was awarded a Purple Heart.

 

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11 NINIO FETALVO

Ninio Fetalvo is the Republican National Committee’s Press Secretary for Asian Pacific American Media. He serves as a spokesman and coordinates day-to-day engagement with international, national, regional and local Asian and Pacific Islander media outlets and surrogates. Previously, he was RNC’s Press Assistant for Asian Pacific American Media, where he assisted in developing and implementing communications strategy and tactics for the RNC. While in college, Mr. Fetalvo also worked as a Press Intern and War Room Intern at the RNC. Ninio was born and raised in southwest Florida. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political communication at the George Washington University’s School of Media & Public Affairs.

 

 

 

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Ivan K. Fong served as Department of Homeland Security General Counsel, the Chief Legal Officer and secretary for Cardinal Health, Inc. and the Deputy Associate Attorney General for the Department of Justice, and the website notes that he played a key role in directing the federal government’s role in civil litigation and enforcement matters. He is the primary author and editor of “The Electronic Frontier: The Challenge of Unlawful Conduct Involving the Use of the Internet,” considered a groundbreaking report on cyber crime policy. He has been the Senior Vice President of Legal Affairs and General Counsel of 3M Company since 2012.

 

 

 

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US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is one of the first two female combat veterans and the first Hindu to serve as a member of the US Congress. She was born in Leloaloa, American Samoa. She was two years old when her family settled in Hawaii. In 2002, she became the youngest person ever elected to the Hawaii State Legislature. A year later, she joined the Hawaii National Guard. In 2004, she voluntarily deployed to Iraq with her fellow Soldiers of the 29th Brigade, eventually serving two tours of combat duty in the Middle East. She was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She continues to serve as a captain in the 29th Brigade Combat Team. Between her two tours, she worked as a legislative aide to US Senator Daniel Akaka.

 

 

 

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US Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D, HI) is the first Asian American elected US senator and the first one born in Japan. She credits her success “to the courage and determination of my mother.” She was eight years old when she came to America, thanks to her mother’s determination to escape from a husband who was a compulsive gambler. In Hawaii where the family settled, her mother worked two jobs “to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads.” When Mazie entered elementary school, she didn’t speak English. Her experience at the University of Hawaii at Manoa “opened my eyes to a life in public service and advocacy.” She became a member of the Hawaii state house of representatives, and served as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor from 1994 to 2002. She served as US congresswoman from 2007. In 2012, she successfully ran for a US seat following Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s retirement.

 

 

 

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US Congressman Mike Honda (D, CA-17), first elected in 2000, currently serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. He serves as House Democratic Senior Whip and Co-Chair of the Democrats New Media Working Group. The popular lawmaker was Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and currently serves as Chair Emeritus. He has over a decade of local and state government experience, and more than thirty years of service as an educator and administrator. His stated goals as a lawmaker include access to affordable health care, worker training, adequate law enforcement, education reform and equity, investing in infrastructure, and keeping the nation competitive in the global economy through science and technology and advanced manufacturing.

 

 

 

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MARIA KIM

Maria Kim currently serves as the Communications Assistant for the Committee on Financial Services at the US House of Representatives, where she focuses on messaging and works with national media outlets. Prior to working on Capitol Hill, Ms. Kim was actively engaged in helping out local campaigns, especially with outreach to the Asian American community. Maria was raised in northern Virginia and graduated from Virginia Tech, where she attained a bachelors’ degree in political science.

 

 

 

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Daphne-Kwok

Daphne Kwok is Vice President of Multicultural Markets & Engagement, Asian American & Pacific Islander Audience for AARP. Since joining AARP in 2013, Ms. Kwok has led AARP’s work in bringing to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community all its programs and benefits for people 50 years and older. AARP’s research on AAPIs 50+ to the public has resulted in three research reports covering health and health care access, economic well-being and caregiving. President Obama appointed Ms. Kwok to Chair his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders from 2010-2014 and which she now serves as a Commissioner. For 11 years, Daphne served as Executive Director of OCA.

 

 

 

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Michelle K. Lee is the first Asian American and first minority to be appointed Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). She was recently confirmed for the position after President Obama nominated her late last year. She has over twenty years of experience in intellectual property and patent law. Previously, Lee served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and acting USPTO Director and Deputy Director. She was Google’s first Deputy General Counsel and Head of Patents and Patents Strategy. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and Masters of Science in computer science from MIT. She received her JD from Stanford Law School.

 

 

 

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Ted-Lieu

US Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D, CA-33), gave up his seat in the California State Senate last year and won election to succeed retiring Congressman Henry Waxman. Previously, he served at California State Assembly (2005 to 2010). Lieu was three years old when his family immigrated to America in search of a better life. He and his siblings grew up poor and at first spoke limited English. The family lived in the basement of someone’s home. Ted would accompany his parents to sell gifts at flea markets to make ends meet. Through hard work and perseverance, their family was able to open a gift store in a shopping center, and the business eventually expanded to several gift stores. Congressman Lieu earned his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his J.D. from Georgetown University Law.

 

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Christopher P. Lu is the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Labor, serving as the chief operating officer of the 17,000-employee organization. During his career in public service, Lu has worked in all three branches of the federal government. From 2009 to 2013, he was the White House Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Obama. As one of the highest-ranking Asian Americans in the Obama Administration, Lu was also the Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.Previously, Lu worked for then-Senator Obama as the Legislative Director, and then as the Acting Chief of Staff. His government experience includes working for US Rep. Henry Waxman. Lu also served as a law clerk for Judge Robert E. Cowen on the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Lu is the co-editor of the book, “Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Congress.” He is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and the recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from MacMurray College.

 

 

 

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US Congresswoman (D, CA-06)) was elected by her peers to serve as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues in the 114th Congress. She works closely with the 88 women Members of the House to advance issues that matter most to women in the US. She crafts legislation to address critical issues facing the nation today, including health care, climate change, energy policy, technology, consumer protection, food safety, environmental quality, and American manufacturing. She has represented the city of Sacramento and its surrounding areas since 2005. She met her husband, the late Congressman Bob Matsui, while attending the University of California at Berkeley. During President Bill Clinton’s administration, she served as Deputy Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Public Liaison.

 

 

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U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng (D, NY-06) is the first Asian American Member of Congress from New York, and the only one of Asian descent in the entire East Coast. Previously, she was a member of the New York State Assembly. During her first term, she scored several legislative victories, an unusual accomplishment for a newcomer. Her legislation allowing federal disaster funds for rebuilding houses of worship damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, passed the House just six weeks after she was sworn in to Congress. She is a founder and Co-Chair of the Kids’ Safety Caucus, the first bipartisan coalition in the House that promotes child-safety issues.

 

 

 

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Norman Y. Mineta’s long career in public service has been both distinguished and unique. He has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. He is the first and the only American of Asian heritage to be appointed to the cabinet by presidents from both parties. President Bill Clinton named him US Secretary of Commerce in 2000, and President George W. Bush appointed him US Secretary of Transportation.Mineta was a US congressman for two decades, starting in 1975, representing San Jose, California–the heart of Silicon Valley. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) and the Asian American Pacific Institute of Congressional Studies (APAICS). In 2006, Mineta joined the private sector as Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton, based in Washington, D.C. He was also a Vice President of Lockheed Martin where he oversaw the first successful implementation of the EZ-Pass system in New York State. He is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. He is married to Danealia (Deni) Mineta. Currently, he is the Principal in the consulting firm Mineta LLC.

 

 

 

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Sam T. Mok is the Managing Member of Condor International Advisors, LLC, a strategic advisory consulting firm in government relations founded in 2007. He served as the Chief Financial Officer of the US Department of Labor. He was also CFO and Comptroller of the US Department of Treasury, a commissioned officer of the US Army, Director of Accounting at Time-Life Books, treasurer at U.S. News & World Report, and Foreign Service Officer with the US Department of State. He is a recipient of the 2007 Ellis Island Medal of Honor. He was elected the National President of the Association of Government Accountants. He has a B.S. degree in Accounting from Fordham University, M.A. degree in Accounting from Catholic University.

 

 

 

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Floyd Mori is the president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS). Previously, Mori served as the National Executive Director/CEO of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). He was chair of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans and was on the Executive Council of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. He was JACL national president and a national vice president. Mori was elected in 1972 to the city council for Pleasanton, California, where he later served as mayor. He served for six years at the California State Assembly. He was the Director of the Office of International Trade in California and worked extensively with Asian American groups and organizations.

 

 

 

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Mee Moua is the president and executive director of Advancing Justice (AAJC), where she champions efforts to advocate for policies and programs enabling Asian American and other vulnerable communities to reach their full potential, as well as address unfair and discriminatory structures and institutions that systematically deny Asian Americans and other vulnerable communities their civil and human rights. Previously, she served as vice president of strategic impact initiatives for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, a national health justice organization. Before moving to the nation’s capital, she served as a three-term Minnesota State Senator and was the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

 

 

 

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Karen Narasaki assumed the post of commissioner for the US Commission on Civil Rights in July last year, following her nomination by President Obama. The Commission is a bipartisan, independent group created in 1957, responsible for investigating and making recommendations on national civil rights issues. Her appointment made it to the NBC news, which reported that “her commitment to the cause stems from her own family’s experience,” when her parents, both born in America, were interned during World War II because of their Japanese ancestry. Previously, Ms. Narasaki served as president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center and also as the Japanese American Citizens League representative in Washington.

 

 

 

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Konrad Ng, a scholar of Asian American cinema and digital media, is the Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. He served as acting director of the APA Program from May to August 2010 when he became its senior advisor. Under his leadership, the program supported the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, “Asian Pacific Americans: Local Lives, Global Ties” and developed an Asian American portrait exhibition in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery. Ng also began public program collaborations with the Freer and Sackler Galleries and launched the exhibition phase of “HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project.” He is married to children’s book author Maya Sotero, President Obama’s maternal half-sister.

 

 

 

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Neal Patel is the Communications Director and Counsel for US Senator Dean Heller of Nevada (R). He is a senior adviser on communications, legislative strategy, and policy decisions with a keen interest on Senate finance, banking, and energy issues. Previously, Neal served in the same capacity for Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee. He gave advice on key issues affecting the oil and gas industry, trade policy, and tax reform, including during the controversial 2013 Internal Revenue Service investigations, in addition to the working draft overhaul of the tax code by House Ways and Means Chairman Chairman Dave Camp. Neal publishes a monthly column titled “Behind the Congressional Curtain” for Saathee, a magazine serving the South Asian community of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia. A native of Nichols, South Carolina, Neal began his congressional career as spokesman for Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC).

 

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US Congresswoman Amata Radewagen is the country’s highest-ranking Republican Asian American officeholder. She was elected last year as a non-voting member of the US House of Representatives from American Samoa. Since 2012, she has been the most senior member of the Republican National Committee. She was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2001 as a White House Commissioner for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and was the only Pacific Islander member. She has been a community activist who volunteers with the hospital Women’s Auxiliary. A 24-year cancer survivor, she has served as spokesperson for the Samoan Women’s Health Project to promote cancer awareness and bring mammography to the territory, and has been liaison to the National Breast Cancer Coalition since 1993.

 

 

 

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US Congressman Gregorio Sablan is the first and only person to have represented the people of the Northern Mariana Islands in Congress. He began service in 2009 and has been reelected to office three times. In the 114th Congress, he was promoted to be Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Natural Resource with leadership responsibility for all insular area issues. He serves on the Subcommittee on Water, Power, and Oceans and on the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular, and Native Alaska Affairs. He is also a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and on its Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions.

 

 

 

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bobby scott

US Congressman Bobby C. Scott (D, VA-03) is currently serving his twelfth term in Congress. In 2010, The Hill, a Capitol Hill newspaper, recognized him as one of the 25 hardest working Members of Congress. The Hill also named him in 2012 as one of Capitol Hill’s 50 most beautiful people. Scott is the first African-American congressman from the Commonwealth of Virginia since Reconstruction and the second African-American congressman in Virginia’s history. He is also the first American of Filipino ancestry elected to the US Congress, having a Filipino American grandfather.            A champion of the rights and civil liberties of all Americans, he sponsored the Death in Custody Reporting Act, originally signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000. Last year, President Obama signed its subsequent reauthorization into law. The law requires state and local law enforcement agencies to report to the US Department of Justice how many individuals die each year while in police custody or during the course of an arrest.

 

 

 

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US Congressman K. Mark Takai (HI-01) was elected in 2014 and currently serves on the House Armed Forces Committee and the House Committee on Small Business. He represents one of Asian American-predominant districts in the country. Previously, he was a 20-year member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives. He represented the district of Aiea/Pearl City, winning his first seat at the age of 27. He has served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 14 years, and was the president of the Hawaii National Guard Association in 2012-2013. He is currently a lieutenant colonel and works as a Preventive Medical Officer. He deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.

 

 

 

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US Congressman Mark Takano’s grandparents and his parents were sent to Japanese American Internment camps during World War II. After the war, the two families settled in Riverside County to rebuild their lives. CongressmanTakano (D, CA-41) attended Harvard College and received his bachelor’s degree in Government in 1983. As a student, he bused tables to help make ends meet. After graduation, he began teaching in the Rialto Unified School District in 1988. In 1990, he was elected to the Riverside Community College District’s Board of Trustees. At RCC, he worked with Republicans and Democrats to improve higher education for young people and job training opportunities for adults seeking to learn a new skill, or start a new career. He is a recipient of the Martin Luther King Visionaries Award.

 

 

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Tina Tchen is an Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady Michelle Obama. She is also the Executive Director for the Council on Women and Girls and was the past Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Previously, she was a partner in corporate litigation at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, where she represented public agencies in state and federal class actions, including the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Department of Public Aid, and the Chicago Housing Authority. She is the recipient of several awards. Among these are the Leadership Award from the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois in 1999; the “Women of Achievement” award from the Anti-Defamation League in 1996, and Chicago Lawyer “Person of the Year in 1994.

 

 

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Dr. Jeremy S. Wu was Project Director for Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics in the Demographic Surveys Division at the US Census Bureau. Previously, he served as Acting Chief Statistician at the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. He was Director of the Departmental Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Transportation from 2002 to 2003, after serving as National Ombudsman for the US Department of Energy. He was also the Deputy Director, Office of Civil Rights in the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).He participated in extended research and negotiations with China on US wheat exports from the Pacific Northwest, leading to China lifting its wheat embargo in 1999. He earned his doctorate degree in Mathematical Statistics from the George Washington University.

 

 

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Edward Yap previously served as a senior aide and spokesman for former US Rep. Nan Hayworth (R, NY-19) and US Rep. Keith Rothfus (R, PA-12). During his time on Capitol Hill, he was one of the only Asian American spokespersons on the Republican side of the aisle and one of the youngest. Currently, he is a senior account executive at CRC Public Relations in Alexandria, Virginia. He focuses on energy issues and works with leading experts, think tanks, trade associations, and Fortune 150 companies. Edward has also worked on numerous local, state, and federal campaigns in Indiana, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2010.

 

 

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Sang Yi is a candidate for the House of Delegates in Virginia’s 37th district. He has nearly a decade of experience in the executive and legislative branches of federal government. Currently, he serves as an aide on Capitol Hill, and as a Lieutenant Commander in the US Navy Reserve. Mr. Yi immigrated to the US from South Korea in the mid-1980s. He is the president of the Korean American Republican Party of Virginia, an appointed member of the Fairfax Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) Policy Board, and is a former executive board member at American Legion Post 177. He is a graduate of the US Merchant Marine Academy, the US Naval War College, and the George Washington University Law School. In 2014, he was honored with a fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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