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White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

 

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

The official White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders seal.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) is a governmental office that works to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) by facilitating increased access to and participation in federal programs where they remain underserved. The Initiative also works with the Native Hawaiian community. The Initiative collaborates with the White House Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and designated federal departments and agencies to increase AAPI participation in programs in education, commerce, business, health and human services, housing, environment, arts, agriculture, labor and employment, transportation, justice, veterans affairs, and economic and community development.

The Initiative seeks to highlight both the tremendous unmet needs in AAPI communities as well as the dynamic community assets that can be leveraged to meet many of those needs. The Initiative focuses on cross-cutting priority areas that span all issue areas and agencies, including advancing disaggregated AAPI data collection and dissemination, workforce diversity, ensuring access (especially linguistic access and cultural competence) for limited English proficient individuals, and building capacity for the AAPI community. The Initiative also works to encourage AAPI involvement in public service and civic engagement opportunities.

Contents

  • Background and context 1
  • Organization 2
    • President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 2.1
    • Interagency Working Group 2.2
      • Regional Interagency Working Group 2.2.1
    • The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders 2.3
  • History 3
    • Clinton Administration 3.1
      • Executive director and commission 3.1.1
      • Priorities 3.1.2
    • Bush Administration 3.2
      • Executive director and commission 3.2.1
      • Priorities 3.2.2
    • Obama Administration 3.3
      • Executive director and commission 3.3.1
      • Priorities 3.3.2
  • Publications 4
  • References 5

Background and context

The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community is currently the fastest-growing racial group in the country.[1] The AAPI community grew 46 percent from 2000 to 2010 and will more than double to over 47 million by 2060.[2] There are approximately 18.9 million AAPIs and Native Hawaiian residing in the United States (approximately 5.4% of the U.S. population), representing over 30 countries and ethnic groups that speak over 100 different languages and dialects.[3][4][5] With this rapid growth comes an urgent need to address the daily issues and challenges the AAPI community faces.

President Barack Obama reestablished the Initiative in 2009, writing that: "The more than 16 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) across our country have helped build a strong and vibrant America. The AAPI communities represent many ethnicities and languages that span generations, and their shared achievements are an important part of the American experience... While we acknowledge the many contributions of the AAPI communities to our Nation, we also recognize the challenges still faced by many AAPIs... The purpose of this order is to establish a President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and a White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders... to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through increased access to, and participation in, federal programs in which they may be underserved."[6]

Organization

On October 14, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13515 reestablishing the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. The Initiative, chaired by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, is housed within the U.S. Department of Education and led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja.[7]

The Executive Order established the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, the Federal Interagency Working Group, and the Office of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.[8]

President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

government and more. These Commissioners work with all agencies of the federal government to improve the health, education and economic status of AAPI communities. The Commission works to advance relevant evidence-based research, data collection, and analysis for AAPI populations and subpopulations. The members of the Commission promote the efforts of the Initiative at public events and community meetings and advises the President through the Secretary of Education, as Chair of the Initiative, on the progress government agencies have made in the fields of health, education, and the economy, among others, to improve the lives of AAPIs.

The Commission is led by a Commission Chair, whose job is to convene regular meetings, determine the Commission’s goals, and coordinate the efforts of other members. The Chair is also supported by a Vice Chair. Initiative staff work closely with Commissioners throughout the year and meetings are held semi-annually to discuss the status of the Initiative’s projects and policy goals.

Obama's current 16 member Commission is chaired by Dr. Tung Thanh Nguyen with Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada as Vice Chair.[9] Among past Co-Chairs of the Initiative are Chris Lu, who served alongside Secretary Arne Duncan during his tenure as Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Obama, and Gary Locke during his term as Secretary of Commerce.

Interagency Working Group

President Barack Obama drops by an Interagency Working Group meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in March 2011.

President Obama also established the Interagency Working Group (IWG), asking each Cabinet member and Cabinet-level Secretary and White House Offices to appoint a senior level person within their agency to serve as their designee to oversee the work of the Initiative. Each appointed designee is tasked with preparing and implementing agency plans that, among other objectives, identify federal programs in which AAPIs may be underserved; foster research and data collection on AAPI populations and subpopulations; increase public and private sector community involvement in improving the health, environment, and opportunities for AAPIs; and identify ways to recruit and advance AAPIs in federal service.

The roughly 30 member IWG is led by U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Regional Interagency Working Group

The Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG) institutionalizes the work of the IWG on a more local level across 10 federal regions. The RIWG facilitates the exchange of information across regional offices, coordinates community engagement efforts with other federal agencies, and collaborates with Initiative staff and IWG members in D.C. to potentially incorporate specific community recommendations into agency plans. Through regional roundtables, technical assistance programs, regular planning calls, resource-sharing, in-person convenings, and webinars, the RIWG works on the ground to respond to community needs.

The RIWG is led by two co-chairs and is composed of almost 200 regional administrators, district directors, outreach specialists, and other staff representing more than 35 agencies.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

President Obama established The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders housed in the U.S. Department of Education. The Initiative coordinates federal efforts, serves as the point of contact for community groups, and provides administrative and programmatic support to the Commission. Initiative staff focus on crosscutting priorities, including but not limited to, advancing research, data collection, analysis and dissemination for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders; ensuring access to federal programs for the community- especially through availability of in-language services and cultural competency; increasing workforce diversity so that the federal government represents the people it serves; and building the capacity of AAPI community-based organizations and small businesses.

Based on community feedback, the Initiative prioritizes specific issues that arise in the arenas of health, education, civil rights, labor, economic development, community development, and immigration.

The Initiative office is currently led by Executive Director Kiran Ahuja and Deputy Director Audrey Buehring.

History

President Bill Clinton signs Executive Order 13125 creating the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on June 7, 1999.

Clinton Administration

On June 7, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13125 to establish the first White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders "in order to improve the quality of life of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through increased participation in federal programs where they may be underserved (e.g., health, human services, education, housing, labor, transportation, and economic and community development)."[10] The Executive Order called on all federal departments to mobilize their resources to address the unmet needs of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Prior to the signing of Executive Order 13125, the last United States presidential executive order related to AAPIs was Executive Order 9066, which led to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

Under the Clinton Administration, the Executive Order housed the Initiative under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Executive director and commission

The first Initiative Executive Director Shamina Singh was appointed by Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.[11] Prior to her work at the Initiative, Singh served as special assistant to the Secretary at the Department of Labor and worked on specialized health care issues for the Service Employees International Union.

Executive Director Shamina Singh meets with the inaugural members of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The first-ever President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was chaired by former Congressman Norman Mineta.[12] The 15-member President's Advisory Commission was seated through June 7, 2001.

Priorities

The Interagency Working Group under the Clinton Administration was chaired by then Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Kevin Thurm. The IWG was composed of leaders from 32 federal agencies and departments.[13] As part of the Executive Order, each federal agency and department was required to draft an integrated agency plan including measurable objectives and implementation goals to better serve the AAPI community.

The first-ever Commission report highlighted four key themes:[14]

  • AAPIs have been “MIH” – “Missing In History” – as taught in classrooms, as reflected in the media and the arts and as understood by government policymakers and program planners. In much of the data used by the federal government, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are invisible, relegated to a residual category of “Other.”
  • Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (NHPIs) often remain a footnote or asterisk as part of the broad “Asian American and Pacific Islander” category, ignoring their importance and dignity as diverse, indigenous peoples. Barely ever noted is the manner in which the United States acquired Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa.
  • Asian Americans are stereotyped as a “model minority”: passive, compliant, overachieving and without problems or needs.
  • Asian Americans continue to be viewed as perpetual foreigners, forever “aliens” whose loyalty and place in America is always questioned.

The report left several recommendations, including that federal agencies improve data collection measures, ensure linguistic access in AAPI languages, protect civil rights and equal opportunity for AAPIs, strengthen community capacity, and recognize NHPIs in federal programs and services.[15]

Bush Administration

President George W. Bush signs Executive Order 13339 to increase economic opportunities for and improve the quality of life AAPIs on June 6, 2001.

On June 6, 2001, [16] At this time, Deputy Secretary Claude A. Allen of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was named Chair of the Interagency Working Group.

On May 17, 2004, President Bush signed Executive Order 13339, superseding Executive Order 13125 and moving the Initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the U.S. Department of Commerce

President Bush signed Executive Order 13403 on May 12, 2006, once again reauthorizing the Initiative.

Executive director and commission

In 2001, John Quoc Duong was named Executive Director of the Initiative. Prior to assuming his appointment, Duong served as Vice President of Bridgecreek Group, Inc. and was Deputy Director of the Office of Community Relations for California Governor Pete Wilson. Under Duong's leadership, there were 4 staff members and 15 members on the Commission.[17][18]

In 2004, Eddy Badrina was appointed as Executive Director of the Initiative.[19] Prior to joining the Initiative, Badrina was an appointee to the White House Liaison Office at the U.S. Department of State, working on the Bush Administration’s transition efforts.

In 2006, Jimmy D. Lee began his term as Executive Director for the Initiative.[20] Before joining the Initiative as Executive Director, Lee was a Commissioner on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and served as Executive Director of the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and a Board Member for the Asian American Alliance.[21]

The Executive Order included new criteria for selecting Commissioners to serve on the President's Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, including requirements that candidates "have a history of involvement with the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; are from the business enterprise sector; are from civic associations representing one or more of the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander communities; are from the fields of economic, social, and community development; or have such other experience as the President deems appropriate."[22]

Priorities

The Initiative under the Bush Administration economic development became the priority of the Initiative. Executive Order 13339 stated its purpose as "providing equal economic opportunities for full participation of Asian American and Pacific Islander businesses in our free market economy where they may be underserved and thus improving the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders."[23]

The President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islander and the Federal Interagency Working Group worked primarily on the following goals during this time:[24]

  • Developed, monitored and coordinated federal efforts to improve Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in government programs;
  • Fostered research and data collection for Asian American and Pacific Islander businesses and communities; and
  • Increased their level of participation in the national economy and their economic and community development.

Obama Administration

On October 14, 2009, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order 13515, reestablishing the Initiative and superseding Executive Orders 13125 and 13339. The Executive Order moved the Initiative from the Department of Commerce to the Department of Education, Obama appointed Secretary of Education Arne Duncan along with then Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke as heads of the Interagency Working Group.

Amendments to the Executive Order include Executive Order 13585,Executive Order 13652, and Executive Order 13652 which all ensure the continuance of the Federal Advisory Committees.[25]

Executive director and commission

Kiran Ahuja delivers opening remarks at the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Opening Ceremony on May 6, 2014.

Kiran Ahuja was appointed on December 14, 2009 to the position of Executive Director of the Initiative. Prior to her work at the Initiative, Ahuja served as founding Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) and worked at the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division.

The Commission currently includes 16 members and is chaired by Dr. Tung Thanh Nguyen with Dr. Mary Ann Young Okada as Vice Chair. Other Commissioners include: Dr. Nina Ahmad, Michael Byun, Lt. Col. Ravi Chaudhary, Lian Cheun, Billy Dec, Bill Imada, Kathy Ko Chin, Daphne Kwok, Dee Jay Mailer, Diane Narasaki, Shekar Narasimhan, Maulik Pancholy, Linda X. Phan, and Lorna May Ho Randlett.

Past Administration Co-Chairs of the Initiative are Chris Lu, who served alongside Secretary Arne Duncan during his tenure as Cabinet Secretary and Assistant to President Obama, and Gary Locke during his term as Secretary of Commerce.

Priorities

Under the Obama Administration, the Initiative has worked to expand the outreach capacity of the Commission and IWG. The IWG created and implemented agency plans to increase the AAPI community’s access to federal programs and services, housing four subcommittees that coincide with the Initiative’s four cross-cutting goal areas of research and data disaggregation, language access, workforce diversity, and capacity building. These subcommittees respond to the community, share best practices, and recommend strategic goals that can be incorporated into agency plans

The Initiative also formed a regional IWG of nearly 180 regional administrators, district directors, and regional staff to help facilitate information sharing and coordinate community engagement with the AAPI community across the federal regional agencies. The Regional IWG meets quarterly to share information and discuss ways in which regional offices can work together, convenes regional roundtables with local AAPI communities, builds partnerships between the federal regional offices, the Commission, and the local and state commissions, and submits an annual progress report on its engagement efforts.

The Initiative has also worked more extensively on data disaggregation, hosting a national symposium in partnership with National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education to relay best practices for data collection, analysis, and dissemination.

In addition, the Initiative has advised federal agencies on disaster response efforts after the Gulf Coast Oil Spill, released an AAPI women's record, developed educational tools and resources on the Affordable Care Act, and helped launch the Senior Executive Service (SES) Development Program.[26] The Initiative has also seen the creation of a Nail Salon Interagency Working Group, created a federal resources page with grants and training information, and worked with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) on challenge issues for the community.

Publications

Twenty FY 2014-2015 federal Agency Plans incorporating a strategic outline for addressing AAPI needs are publicly available on the Initiative website.

The Initiative also highlights the yearly progress federal departments and agencies have made in attaining agency plan benchmarks and goals. It has also released a report of its own accomplishments over the past four years.

In September 2011, the Initiative produced a Guide to Federal Agency Resources.

In May 2014, the Initiative published the Report from the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders titled "Building the American Mosiac". The report communicates the current role of Commissioners and also offers recommendations to federal departments and agencies in building a stronger federal infrastructure for AAPIs.

References

References:
  1. ^ "As the Nation Ages, Seven States Become Younger, Census Bureau Reports". Census.gov. 
  2. ^ "2012-2013 Report: Informing-Advocating-Nurturing-Connecting". Appip.org. Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. 
  3. ^ "Asians Fastest-Growing Race or Ethnic Group in 2012, Census Bureau Reports". census.gov. http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb13-112.html. 
  4. ^ "Critical Issues Facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders". Whitehouse.gov. The White House. 
  5. ^ "Critical Issues Facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders". Whitehouse.gov. The White House. 
  6. ^ "Executive Order 13515". Whitehouse.gov. Federal Register. 
  7. ^ "White House Initiatives". Ed.gov. U.S. Department of Education. 
  8. ^ "Executive Order 13515". Whitehouse.gov. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 
  9. ^ "President Obama Announces his Intent to Appoint Fourteen Individuals to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders". whitehouse.gov. The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. 
  10. ^ http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-1999-06-10/pdf/99-14901.pdf
  11. ^ "New Executive Director for White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Begins New Duties". U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  12. ^ Bau, Ignatius. "Of, By and For the People: My Reflections on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders". 
  13. ^ Bau, Ignatius. "Of, By and For the People: My Reflections on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders". 
  14. ^ Bau, Ignatius. "Of, By and For the People: My Reflections on the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders". 
  15. ^ "A People Looking Forward: Action for Access and Partnerships in the 21st Century". The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 
  16. ^ "Executive Order 13216 (Amendment to Executive Order 13125)". epa.gov. The White House. 
  17. ^ Bong-Wright, Jackie. "Young Vietnamese Heads White House Initiative on AAPI". 
  18. ^ "Duong Will Head White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Isladners". HHS.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 
  19. ^ Chow, May. "From Houston to the White House: Eddy Badrina leads Initiative on AAPIs". Asian Week. 
  20. ^ "About Us". http://www.frssec.com/aboutus/. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 
  21. ^ "Jimmy D. Lee". 
  22. ^ "Executive Order 13339". gpo.gov. U.S. Government and Printing Office. 
  23. ^ "Executive Order 13339". Federal Register. 
  24. ^ "Executive Order 13339". Federal Register. 
  25. ^ "2009 Executive Orders Disposition Tables Barack Obama - 2009". Archives.gov. National Archives. 
  26. ^ "White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Highlights". whitehouse.gov. The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. 
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