Vice President Kamala Harris Swears In President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders

Vice President Kamala Harris swore in 23 members of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (PACAANHPI) on Feb. 3.

As authorized by President Biden’s Executive Order 14031 in May 2021, the PACAANHPI was created within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to advise the President on ways to advance equity, justice and opportunity for the AAPI and Native Hawaiian communities.

The commission is co-chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai. Sonal Shah, Founding President of The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) and previous Deputy Assistant to former President Barack Obama, will serve as the Chief Commissioner.

The other members include:

  • Amy Agbayani, Emeritus Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Diversity and Equity at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, former Chair of the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission
  • Teresita Batayola, President and Chief Executive Officer of International Community Health Services (ICHS), received Puget Sound Business Journal’s Award for Outstanding Business and Philanthropic Contributions
  • Ajay Bhutoria, Silicon Valley technology executive, advocate for the South Asian and AAPI communities in small businesses, education, immigration and technological advancement
  • Luisa Blue, previous Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Vice President of the AAPI Victory Alliance Board
  • Kimberly Chang, board-certified family physician at Asian Health Services, received the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health 2020 Emerging Public Health Professional Award
  • Emily Chen, Chief of Research at Olshan Realty, previous Vice President in Institutional Sales at Goldman Sachs
  • Kerry Doi, leader at Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), Chair of the California Community Economic Development Association
  • Grace Huang, Director of Policy at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, serves on the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence
  • Victoria Huynh, Senior Vice President of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS), advocate for equal language access, local civic engagement and protected immigrant rights
  • Mia Ives-Rublee, Director of the Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress, recognized as one of She the People’s 20 Women of Color in Politics to Watch in 2020
  • Kamal Kalsi, founded the Sikh American Veterans Alliance (SAVA), Senior Advisor for Policy Vets, Fellow of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council
  • Michelle Kauhane, Senior Vice President of Community Grants and Initiatives at Hawaii Community Foundation, previous President and Chief Executive Officer of the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement
  • Daniel Dae Kim, award-winning actor, director and producer, Co-Chair of The Asian American Foundation Advisory Council
  • Kevin D. Kim, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS), first Korean American to serve as a Member of the Board of Trustees of the City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Sarah Min, promotes organizations that use technology, media and person-to-person outreach to change perceptions about women and people of color, previous Executive Vice President for Marketing and Corporate Development at ScrollMotion
  • Simon Pang, Executive Vice President and Co-Founder of Royal Business Bank, California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs member
  • Ai-jen Poo, Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Director of Caring Across Generations, award-winning organizer and author
  • Naheed Qureshi, Head of Policy Partnerships at Instacart, previous Co-Chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Hate Crimes and Bigotry Task Force
  • Raynald Samoa, technical assistance lead for the Healing Association of Pacific Islander Physicians, previous Lead for the National Pacific Islander COVID-19 Response Team
  • Smita N. Shah, President and CEO of SPAAN Tech, Inc., engineer, entrepreneur and civic leader
  • Robert A. Underwood, former Member of Congress representing Guam, previous Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, founding Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund
  • KaYing Yang, served in the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center, the International Organization for Migration, the International Finance Corporation and the Coalition of Asian American Leaders in Minnesota

You can read more about the commissioners here.

Secretary Becerra commented on the contribution to culture, economy and society that the Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities have made to the United States, which has led to a greater, stronger nation.

“Systemic barriers to equity, justice and opportunity have put that American dream out of reach for so many,” he said. “Racism, nativism and xenophobia against the Asian Americans and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders continue, and it threatens their safety and their dignity. The pandemic has only exacerbated these threats.”

Ambassador Tai said, “This is why the Biden-Harris Administration is prioritizing values of equity, equality and opportunity and the Build Back Better Agenda.” Speaking of unified advancement, she added, “Our pandemic recovery must bring along all of our communities.”

According to HHS, the PACAANHPI will work together to develop recommendations in seven priority areas:

  1. The development, monitoring and coordination of executive branch efforts to advance equity, justice and opportunity for AA and NHPI communities in the United States, including efforts to close gaps in health, socioeconomic, employment and educational outcomes
  2. Policies to address and end anti-Asian bias, xenophobia, racism and nativism, and opportunities for the executive branch to advance inclusion, belonging and public awareness of the diversity and accomplishments of AA and NHPI people, cultures and histories
  3. Policies, programs and initiatives to prevent, report, respond to and track anti-Asian hate crimes and hate incidents
  4. Ways in which the Federal Government can build on the capacity and contributions of AA and NHPI communities through equitable Federal funding, grantmaking and employment opportunities
  5. Policies and practices to improve research and equitable data disaggregation regarding AA and NHPI communities
  6. Policies and practices to improve language access services to ensure AA and NHPI communities can access Federal programs and services
  7. Strategies to increase public and private-sector collaboration and community involvement in improving the safety and socioeconomic, health, educational, occupational and environmental well-being of AA and NHPI communities

Day two focused on systemic issues affecting AA and NHPI communities, including data disaggregation and language access. The meeting closed with a discussion on how to approach recommendation development.