A Message from AAC’s Executive Team

As students are back in school either physically or remotely, all of us are challenged by new ways of living and coping as a result of this pandemic called COVID-19. This adversity has made me ever more thankful to the AAC cadre of staff and interns under the leadership and direction of our executive director Jenny Chiang for keeping AAC moving, remaining steadfast, strong, and focused on our advocacy for and with communities. Our staff are creative, engaging, inspiring and hopeful! They provide tremendous support to commissioners in our committee work including helping to launch the new education committee headed by Commissioner Meena Bharath former chair of the Hopkington School Committee.

On the community side, I am ever more grateful for the collective action taking place in our neighborhoods, cities and towns whether it is mobilizing for mutual aid and support or highlighting and fighting injustice. I’d like to take this opportunity to highlight a local struggle in my neck of the woods, in a little town called Huntington at a store that advertises “China” Coronavirus hours on their website. To read the full article click here.

In Unity,

Vira Douangmany Cage, Chair

My second term as Commissioner is coming to a close soon. I am very proud of how the AAC has progressed over the last six years: increased staffing, programming, community outreach, advocacy, social media presence, and collaborations with community partners.  We have some awesome commissioners and a highly skilled staff that rose to the occasion and gave 200% of their time and effort during the Covid-19 pandemic and implemented many “firsts” in our programming and advocacy.  In battling institutionalized racism, I am reminded to keep our egos in check and be supportive of AAPI and Ally communities in making changes.  “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” is a folk song that became influential during the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s and it has helped me along in 2020. I would also like to urge the past and current commissioners to think about what they can do to provide a lasting legacy on the AAC.  

I am delighted to have established the Chuck Hai Lam and May Thin Suey Lew-Lam Family Scholarships to the AAC for our youth in Massachusetts, as I learned there are many deserving and talented students.  These scholarships were gifted to the Commission in 2018 by me in memory of my parents Chuck Hai Lam and May Thin Suey Lew-Lam.  In the short 51 years of her life, my mother was a strong community supporter and advocate. In his long life of 89, my father assisted many families and friends who were immigrants. In honor of May and Chuck and their work, the commission will consider applications from high school seniors or college students who wish to continue their studies towards a career in health, human, or social services and/or in civic engagement. Successful candidates will have a demonstrated passion for giving back to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Massachusetts.  As in past years, these scholarships will be presented at our annual Young Leaders Symposium (YLS), this year to be held virtually.  Be sure to check it out and share the information with your families, organizations and youth network!  I am grateful to Commissioner, Philjay Solar for chairing YLS again this year.  Additionally, the AAC is excited to announce that, with the support of past AAC Commissioner, Kenneth An, Director, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission – Boston Area Office, YLS has funding for the next five years!

– Mabel S. Lam, PhD, Vice Chairperson

Dear Asian American Commission Community,
It has been a pleasure serving as Executive Secretary so far. Although many things may have not gone the way we planned this year, our community has demonstrated resilience and unity through the pandemic. For example, through our COVID-19 Emergency Grant funds the Commission was able to provide over $5,000 to various Asian businesses and organizations for relief efforts. Additionally, as chair of the Commission’s Youth Leadership symposium, we will not be in person this year, but I rest assured that our virtual symposium will be just as impactful and empowering as ever. Furthermore, I’m excited to announce that for the first time, the Commission will be celebrating Filipino-American History Month this upcoming October. This pandemic does not seem to be going away anytime soon, but that will not stop us from moving forward and advocating for the Asian American Community. As always, stay safe!

– Philjay Solar, Secretary

As the last quarter of the year approaches and half a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us are still struggling to adjust to the “new normal” without family members and distance from our communities. It is an understatement to say that the events of the past six months have been difficult for our community. We are fighting on so many fronts: a global pandemic, an increased in racial attacks toward Asian-Americans, and fighting inequality and social injustice.

As a former Executive Director and current Executive Treasurer of AAC, I am proud to be part of the efforts to help build stronger Asian-American communities across Massachusetts. AAC takes pride in being an organization with diverse staff that speak multiple languages, and support community of all colors. I am most proud of our work on inclusion, though at times, the fight has been challenging. As an organization we will continue to educate and advocate for an end to racism and discrimination of all forms. I want us to raise our voices in support and fight for injustices everywhere not just within our Asian-American community.

-Bora Chiemruom, Treasurer

Although this year has presented new challenges to the AAPI community and our work, we’ve been able to accomplish more than ever. I’m incredibly proud of our growing staff; the resiliency in the work and dedication to the AAPI community they exemplify is insurmountable. This past year, we’ve been able to made strides in providing the AAPI community with COVID-19 relief, outreaching for census participation, creating voter resource guides in Asian languages, and transitioning our educational programming onto virtual platforms. In our pipeline includes activities to advocate for Asian specific problem gambling resources, create opportunities for cross-cultural dialogue, and build visibility for the AAPI community outside of greater Boston. We hope to be able to continue our advocacy efforts to increase access to culturally competent resources and civic engagement opportunities. While technology has provided convenience, we acknowledge that not all have equal access to digital content and we hope to be able to provide opportunities in person as soon as it is safe to do so.

In Solidarity,

Jenny Chiang, Executive Director