Richard T. Chu

Richard T. Chu

Commissioner

Richard T. Chu was born and raised in the Philippines where he received his A.B. from Ateneo de Manila University, and completed his M.A. from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. from University of Southern California. His research and numerous publications focus on the history of the Chinese and Chinese mestizos in the Philippines and of the different Chinese diasporic communities in the world, centering on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, empire, and nationalism. He has also co-edited an anthology of LGBTQ studies pertaining to the Philippines.

He teaches courses on US empire and Philippine colonial history, as well as on the history of the Chinese diaspora and of Asian Americans. In 2018, he received the Community Hero Award from the Asian American Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the work he has done in collaborating with Asian American communities in Western Massachusetts through the oral history project that his students conduct when taking his Asian American history course. In 2021, UMass Amherst conferred on him the Provost’s Distinguished Civic Engagement Teaching Award.

Leo L. Hwang

Leo L. Hwang, Ph.D

Commissioner

Dr. Leo L. Hwang is the Assistant Academic Dean in the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Hwang is particularly interested in using participatory action research and asset based community development as a model for enhancing how we engage in racial justice work in higher education. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts in Geosciences, an M.F.A. in fiction writing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and his B.A. in English and Fine Arts from the University of the South.


His work has appeared in The Racial Equity & Justice Institute Practitioner Handbook, The Handbook of Diverse Economies, Human Being & Literature, The SAGE International Encyclopedia of Travel and Tourism, Route Nine, Rethinking Marxism, Solidarity Economy I: Building Alternatives for People and Planet, Meat for Tea, The Massachusetts Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Rivendell, Fiction, Gulf Coast and other journals and publications. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Mount Holyoke College; Greenfield Community College; and Westfield State University; and he served as Dean of Humanities, Engineering, Math, and Science at Greenfield Community College.

Ekta Saksena

Ekta Saksena

Secretary

Ekta Saksena is a first-generation Indian-American, proud daughter of immigrants, intersectional feminist, and public health enthusiast. She grew up in Massachusetts, with strong ties to the local Indian community and culture. 

Ekta received her Master’s degree in Public Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in 2018 and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Public Health from Boston University in 2014. She has a broad range of expertise pertaining to healthcare marketing, strategic communications, and research-based advocacy and is deeply passionate about racial justice, women’s empowerment, community health, and health equity. As a public health practitioner, Ekta strives to put equity and justice at the forefront of all that she does.

Currently, Ekta is a Senior Health Communications Specialist at FHI 360, an international non-profit organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated, locally driven solutions. As part of the Social Marketing & Communications team, Ekta provides communications strategy and support for various chronic disease prevention efforts through the CDC’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. She is also collaborating on a number of racial equity projects, with both internal and external partners.

Previously, Ekta worked at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, as a Health Communications Specialist within the Bureau of Community Health and Prevention. In her role, she managed all health communications efforts for a number of statewide chronic disease management and prevention programs, including Diabetes, Hypertension, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, and Community Health Workers. During her time at DPH, Ekta was a leader within the Department’s Racial Equity Movement, serving as an active member/facilitator of the Racial Equity Leadership Team, Racial Equity Strategic Planning Team, Racial Equity Policy Work Group, and Racial Justice Lunch & Learn.

 

Dimple Rana

Dimple Rana

Commissioner

Dimple’s advocacy for Revere, Massachusetts spans across neighborhoods, sectors, and generations of Revere residents. As Director of the City’s Department of Healthy Community Initiatives and Co-Director of Revere On the Move, she has worked with residents, businesses, and stakeholders to increase access to opportunities for active living, healthy eating, civic engagement, and youth leadership. She is a recent graduate of Tufts University’s, with a Master in Public Policy from the Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program. Dimple’s commitment to building a vibrant, engaged, and active Revere also extends to her work as a champion of small businesses and a longtime civic leader.

Dimple is the first woman of color to run for office in Revere. She ran in 2017 for 1 of 5 seats as Councillor At-Large. She will run again in 2019 and is hopeful in being elected.

A first generation Indian American, Dimple grew up in Revere, attending public schools and working in her family’s small, independent convenience stores in the North Shore. At the stores, she learned the value and struggles of a small family-owned business, from the unique perspective of immigrant families. In high school, she worked as a peer leader at a youth organization that fostered her love for youth leadership and organizing. After graduating from Hofstra University in Community Health and Education in 2002, she returned to Greater Boston and became a community organizer, working with many organizations focused on HIV/AIDS prevention, and LBGTQ and immigrants rights.’

From 2001 to 2010, she worked independently with grassroots and advocacy organizations as a community organizer and leader on the issue of deportation of Cambodians, other green card holders, and refugees within the National Immigration and Anti-Deportation Movement.

In 2012 she returned to Revere and founded a youth leadership organization, Revere Youth in Action, where young people worked to ensure they had opportunities to grow, lead, and promote a safe, and inclusive community in Revere. In 2016, the Revere Chamber of Commerce named her Youth Mentor of the Year.

In 2013 she joined the Women Encouraging Empowerment, Inc. board where she continues to serve as the Vice-Chair. WEE is the only organization in Revere that works with immigrant and refugee women and their families through organizing, leadership development, and service delivery.

Also, in 2016 she was appointed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo as a commissioner to the Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission. In 2018, she served as the Secretary of the AAPIC. Currently, Dimple is serving her second term with the AAPIC.

Dimple loves and is deeply committed to her family, especially her young niece and nephews. Dimple looks up to the older and younger people around her who continue to push, ask questions, challenge the status quo, and who are the change we want to see in our world.

Her passion for organizing and grassroots change is expressed through a quote by Audre Lorde “If I cannot air this pain and alter it, I will surely die of it. That’s the beginning of social protest.”

Megha Prasad

Megha Prasad

Treasurer

Megha Prasad is an undergraduate student at Northeastern University studying Political Science and Business. As a second generation Indian American, Megha grew up experiencing many of the struggles surrounding identity and adaptation that minority families often face. Through her education, she gained familiarity with critical race literature and public policy, the intersection of which prompted her to become involved in electoral politics.

She previously served as an intern to Senator Ed Markey in his Washington, DC office and aided in his re-election campaign in 2020. As Megha gained more campaign experience, she also became acutely aware of the issues impacting AAPI communities in the Commonwealth and looks forward to finding ways to push for legislation in the State House. Primarily, she seeks to reduce barriers to voting and make other public services more accessible to English-language learners. Recently, Megha worked alongside fellow Northeastern students to increase support for AAPI individuals on campus. This involved working with university administrators to begin the development of an Asian American Studies program as well as increase financial support for the Asian American Center on campus.

Megha is excited to begin her second year on the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission and have the opportunity to focus on AAPI issues in the Commonwealth.

Nina Liang

Nina Liang

Commissioner

Nina Liang is the first Chinese-American City Councilor in her hometown of Quincy. Born in Quincy and raised by immigrant parents, she has experienced first hand the challenges minority children and families face.  Over the years, she has had the opportunity to be a part of community organizations dedicated to addressing the needs of those who are new to both the language and customs of American culture.  Having worked as the office manager and helping to manage operations with her family’s restaurant group, Nina also has the experience and perspective of a small business owner, creating jobs and opportunity in the communities in which they operate.  Nina understands that it takes collaborative efforts among these local organizations, businesses and public service facilities to better address the needs of the diverse residents Quincy has.

Gary Y. Chu

Gary Y. Chu, OD, MPH, FAAO

Commissioner

Dr. Gary Y. Chu is the Vice President of Professional Affairs at the New England College of Optometry. He received his Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the New England College of Optometry in 1995 and his Masters of Public Health (MPH) in 2002 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

He has been in practice and optometric education for over twenty-five years and is involved in the changing landscape of eye care, health care and public health during this span of time. Dr. Chu has been in the forefront of eye care innovations through the development of collaborative partnerships with health systems, federally qualified health centers, social service agencies, local and state government, school systems, health payors, ophthalmic industry and optometry employer groups.

Dr. Chu has been involved in issues of diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging for over ten years and has served on the diversity and cultural competency committee for the Association of Schools and College of Optometry (ASCO) from 2011-2020. He is the founding chair of ASCO’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) SIG and was the Guest Editor for the Journal of Optometric Education’s theme issue on diversity and cultural competency in 2017. In 2021, he was presented the ASCO’s Dr. Jack Bennett Innovation in Optometric Education Award.

Mary K. Y. Lee

Mary K. Y. Lee

Commissioner

Mary K. Y. Lee is a litigation attorney based in Boston. An immigrant of Indonesian-Chinese ancestry, advocating for the interests of Asian Americans is among her passions. She served on the Commission to Plan, Develop, and Implement Strategies to Support and Promote Minority-Owned Real Estate and Financial Services Organizations in the Commonwealth; Co-Chaired Immigration Section of the Boston Bar Association; served on the MA Trial Courts Language Access Advisory Committee and  named by Super Lawyers from 2015-2019. She is a regular lecturer at Asian Community Development Corporation  of Boston and an active Board Member of Central Boston Elder Services..

Nate Bae Kupel

Nate Bae Kupel

Vice Chairperson

Nate currently serves as the Vice Chairperson of the AAPIC and is in his second three year term as an Attorney General appointee. 

Over the course of Nate’s career, he has worked primarily in the nonprofit sector at organizations with missions dedicated to addressing racial and economic inequities through education, leadership development, healthcare and mental health and more. He has worked and served at organizations such as YouthBuild USA, the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Friends of the Children, The Institute for Asian American Studies, and Crescendo Consulting Group. Currently, Nate serves as the Director of Youth Programs at YouthBuild Just A Start, an organization that works with out of school youth to finish their high school educations, build job readiness skills, as well as leadership and career development.

Mr. Kupel has held a number of community leadership positions including serving as President of Boston Korean Adoptees, Inc., President of the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition, and Board member of the International Association for the Advancement of Social Work Groups – Massachusetts. Presently, he is a board member of Boston Post Adoption Resources. 

In 2021, Nate ran for the City of Malden City Council in Ward 8 and despite coming short of securing a seat on the council, was instrumental in the development and passage of the city’s first Racial Equity Commission. He is currently the Mayor of Malden’s appointee to the City of Malden’s Racial Equity Commission. 

Nate received his BA in Sociology and Certificate in Asian American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and holds a Master of Social Work from Simmons University (formerly Simmons College), and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and Leadership from the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, in affiliation with Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.
Nate currently lives in Malden, Massachusetts with his wife, QJ and their cat Cookie Dough.

 

Betty King

Betty King

Commissioner

Betty Lim King (Chinese name: Kong Mei-ling) is author of “Girl on a Leash: The Healing Power of Dogs, a sociological memoir” about how her Chinese Confucian leash became a lifeline in the company of abandoned dogs. She also wrote “Healing with my Dogs,” “From America to Africa, Voices of Filipino Women Overseas” about how dogs break down barriers of race, class, gender, religion, politics, and other human distinctions, making us share our humanity with each other. 

She is co-founder of AAPI Action Group, a coalition of diverse, grassroots Asian American and Pacific Islander groups promoting a common American culture based on fairness, understanding and humanity. She is Executive Director of Seniors Helping Seniors, a creative and innovative program where senior people give comfort to senior animals and receive comfort at the same time. As a DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) speaker, Betty believes that E pluribus unum is the true American way. 

She was Development Director and Board member of various community-based nonprofits. She was moderator of “Finding the Gold Mountain: Lessons Learned From Failures,” for the First annual Asian American Pacific lslander Civic Forum held at the Federal Reserve Plaza. She was restaurant critic for the Charlotte Observer, lifestyle columnist for the Catawba Valley Neighbors and a sociology instructor at the Lenoir Rhyne College in North Carolina. While living in Paris for 10 years, she was President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization UNESCO International Cooking School. She has a certificate from La Varenne French culinary school and Acadamie du Vin oenology. 

Betty graduated magna cum laude in economics and obtained two Master degrees: Asian Studies from the University of the Philippines and Development Economics from the University of Manchester, England. She also studied agricultural economics at the University of Tokyo, Japan and did graduate studies on nonprofit management at Harvard University and Boston University. At Harvard, she was awarded the prestigious Derek Bok Public Service Award and Citation for Management of Nonprofit Organizations. She was also Class Marshall, graduating top three. 

Among her numerous published academic papers are: Japanese colonialism and Korean Economic Development, 1970 Sino-American Rapprochement, Art As Cultural Identity. 

Above all, Betty is extremely proud of her lifelong work in promoting respect for all sentient beings and nature. Towards this goal, she has been rescuing and adopting homeless and disposable 4-legged sentient beings. Her animal family includes 6 rescue

dogs, a farm pig who escaped a slaughterhouse, and 3 rescue horses including a Mustang.