AAPIC Newsletter 2022 Q4
Letter From The Executive Director
Dear Colleagues and Partners,

The Commissioners, staff, and interns extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation for all your support for the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission's work and the work you do to support AAPI communities across the country.

Thank you to the Asian Caucus and MA legislators who supported our work and successfully advocated to increase the budget of the AAPI Commission. Thanks to them, the Commission was able to able to expand our work exponentially.

Our Commissioners and the Executive Committee this year, led by Chair Meena Bharath, played an instrumental role in expanding our work, budget, and programs. We thank them for their selfless service to our community, state, and country.

In 2022, the AAPIC provided grants to 50 community organizations, double the amount from the previous year, and inaugurated a successful Youth Council! We held a listening session in Western Mass, connected and strengthened partnerships with AAPI Commissions across the US, hired new staff and interns, and expanded the number of external partners.

The Commission organized a successful Unity Dinner with a welcome message from the White House and, working with partners, organized a session with Assistant Speaker Katherine Clark. Due to the appeal of the Commission, the Governor, Charles Baker, proclaimed May 2022 to be Asian American Pacific Islander Month.

We hope you read this newsletter and connect with us, particularly as we expand our programs and priorities over the next few years. We want your ideas for programs, legislation, partnership opportunities, and more. Please feel free to contact the Executive Director, Yasmin Padamsee Forbes, here.

We wish you a happy holiday season and look forward to reconnecting with you in 2023!

Yasmin Padamsee Forbes
Executive Director
Latest News! Read All About It
Western Mass Listening Session Recap

On Saturday, October 22nd, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American & Pacific Islanders Commission held a Western Mass listening session at Springfield, MA. This listening session aims to gather the concerns and issues facing AAPI communities in Western Massachusetts. Through presentations, dialogue, and sharing lunch together, we hope to strengthen communication and help amplify the voices of AAPI communities at the local and state level. 

Thank you to Chinese Association of Western MA, Bayanihan Association, Nam’s Taekwondo School, Amherst Regional High School AAPI Club, UMass Amherst Asian American Student Association, and Vira Cage for sharing their experiences and community needs at this convening.

Youth Council Reflection Meeting

On Sunday, December 18th, members of the Youth Council and AAPIC staff gathered virtually to hold a final meeting to reflect upon the first Youth Council's experiences. We celebrated multiple highlights from the year, including events attended and/or planned by Youth Council members, advocating for ethnic studies and ending anti-Asian hate, creating social media content to highlight AAPI voices, and more. AAPIC staff expressed their gratitude for the Youth Council and Youth Coordinator's leadership, and also encouraged everyone to stay involved in AAPIC's work and supporting AAPI communities in Massachusetts and beyond.

Staff & Commissioner Highlights
Intern Spotlight
This month, we onboarded our new intern: Siale Vaitohi Teaupa. Siale is AAPIC's newest Public Health and Pacific Islander Coordinator. Let's give her a warm welcome!

Siale Vaitohi Teaupa (she/her) is the Public Health and Pacific Islander Coordinator for the AAPI Commission. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 2018 with a B.S. in Physiology & Developmental Biology. Siale is a medical student at the University of Utah School of Medicine, but is currently taking a 1-year leave of absence to obtain a Master in Public Health degree at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. As her MPH program emphasis is in Health Policy, Siale will be working with the commission to identify current needs in the AAPI community, specifically targeting health-related issues.

As a Tongan and Latina woman, Siale is passionate about working in underserved communities. She lived in the Philippines for eighteen months as a full-time volunteer for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Siale is also one of the creators and current President of Pasifikas in Medicine, an organization that mentors Pacific Islander students interested in pursuing medicine. She is passionate about health equity and increasing the number of students of color in the health sciences.

Appointments to the AAPI Commission

We are thrilled to announce the reappointments of two Commissioners, Danielle Kim and Philjay Solar to Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission! We are so excited for them to bring their voices, lived experiences, and continued enthusiasm to the Commission. 

About Danielle: 
Danielle Kim is a proud second-generation Korean American, intersectional feminist, and community activist. She is the inaugural Director of the Asian Community Fund at The Boston Foundation — the first philanthropic fund in Massachusetts dedicated to strengthening the visibility and capacity of AAPI residents, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in the region, especially low-income and immigrant communities.

Danielle earned a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Bachelor’s degree in Government and Psychology from Smith College. Committed to expanding access to power and opportunity, Danielle serves on the Board of Directors for the Asian Community Development Corporation and the Chelsea Cultural Council.

About Philjay: 
Philjay Somera Solar is currently a contracted Investigator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, enforcing the civil rights of individuals in the healthcare system as well as HIPAA Regulations. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Lasell University (’13) and his Juris Doctor Degree from New England Law | Boston (’19).  At New England Law, Philjay was President of the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association and the Executive Treasurer of the Student Bar Association. 

In his spare time, Philjay volunteers with multiple non-profit organizations like the  Massachusetts Youth Leadership Foundation and BosFilipino. He is also an active liaison with the Philippine Consulate of New York where he communicates the needs of the Filipino-American Community in New England to the Consulate office.

Lowell Listening Session

We are working hard to plan our next listening session happening in Lowell on January 29th, 2023 from 1pm-4:30pm ET.

The listening session aims to gather the concerns and issues facing the AAPI communities in Lowell. As a convener, the Commission invites representatives of schools, communities, organizations across Massachusetts, and elected officials to this session to learn more about the community's needs and challenges. We hope this session will lead to increased collaboration between the Commission and AAPI communities in Lowell in collectively advancing AAPI rights and interests in Massachusetts.

Other News
Harvard Diversity Series
Harvard Diversity Discussions is hosting four sessions in January and February:
  • Race and Corporate Leadership: Strategies for climbing that ladder happening Wed, January 11, 5-6 pm ET. Register here
  • Instilling Awareness: How do we teach future generations about race? happening Tues, Jan 24, 5-6pm ET. Featuring our Executive Director, Yasmin Padamsee Forbes. Register here
  • Race and Immigration: Family and Experiences happening Tues, Feb 7, 5-6pm ET. Register here
  • Racial Self-Identity: How do we talk about our race? happening Tues, Feb 21, 8-9pm ET. Register here

All are welcome; you do not need to be affiliated with Harvard to join. You can find future events happening each month on the Harvard Asian American Association's website. Harvard Diversity Discussions is hosted by H4A, Harvard Alumni in IMPACT, Harvard Kennedy School Women's Network, Harvard Kennedy School New England Alumni Association, Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission, and Harvard Women in Defense, Diplomacy, and Development.

H4A Website
PAMANA Cares Program
PAMANA rolled out their PAMANA Cares program this month, which was partially funded by the AAPIC's Small Grant Fund!

PAMANA serves the Filipino-American community in New England. They are currently partnering with local Filipino businesses, grocers, and community groups to provide groceries for homebound or immunocompromised Filipino-Americans who are unable to get their own supplies. PAMANA volunteers are working with their community to identify these individuals and deliver groceries and other supplies to lend a helping hand. 

Baby Bonds Task Force Report

The AAPIC's Executive Director, Yasmin Padamsee Forbes, as a member of the Massachusetts Baby Bonds Task Force, worked on a Baby Bonds program that released the report of its findings on Monday, December 12th. The report includes comprehensive recommendations on establishing an at-birth Baby Bonds program, an asset-building policy aimed at increasing economic opportunities for vulnerable communities. Check out the report here.

In conjunction with the report, members of the Task Force held a virtual briefing to highlight their findings. State Treasurer Deborah Goldberg opened the event with special remarks before members of the Baby Bonds Task Force provided an overview of their report. You can view the recording of the event at this link

New England Women's Policy Conference
On December 2nd, our Executive Director Yasmin Padamsee Forbes and Communications & Outreach Manager Jennifer Best attended the 5th Biennial New England Women’s Policy Conference at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate. NEWPC 2022 focused on anti-racism, intersectionality, and promoting women’s leadership, especially among young women and women of color. 
Read, Watch & Listen
  • Article: Diwali will be a public school holiday in New York City starting in 2023
  • Article: 'It makes me proud that we're being recognized' | Lunar New Year now a state holiday in California
  • Article: Why Celeste Ng's new book places an Asian American mom in the eye of a social justice movement
  • Article: Key facts about Asian American eligible voters in 2022
  • Article: ‘Momentous’: Asian Americans laud Anna May Wong’s US quarter
  • Documentary: Rising Against Asian Hate: One Day in March
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