Headshot of Jennifer Best

Jennifer Best

Jennifer Best

Communications and Outreach Manager

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Jennifer Best (she/her) is excited to be joining the AAPI Commission as the Communications and Outreach Manager. She graduated from Tufts University in May 2022, where she studied Political Science, International Relations, and History. She specialized in migration, 20th century history, activism, and national security. She spent her senior year writing her Senior Honors Thesis in Political Science, titled Youth Activism: Who Becomes Involved in Youth Activism and Why? A look into the demographics and opinions of youth activists in comparison to older activists. She used statistical analysis to determine the effects that race, gender, education, and income had on participation in activism among 60,000 respondents, in addition to fielding a survey of former Ed Markey for U.S. Senate Campaign Fellows. Throughout her studies, she prioritized investigating and highlighting the real world effects of policies, regimes, and events on normal people, rather than just political elites.

Jennifer has experience in advocacy both through campaigns and in government. She worked as a Policy and Communications Intern for Massachusetts State Representative Erika Uyterhoeven, where she wrote testimonies, created and executed communications campaigns, researched policy, worked on the budget, and much more. She has also worked on multiple Massachusetts-based campaigns, including the Hicks for District Six Boston City Council Campaign, where she was a Finance and Events Fellow, in addition to writing official policy platforms for the candidate. She also worked as a Field and Communications Fellow on the Ed Markey for U.S. Senate Campaign, where she spent many hours writing speeches and remarks for the Senator, hosted in-person and virtual events, and trained hundreds of volunteers. Jennifer will bring her knowledge of communications and advocacy through both intra-governmental and extra-governmental pathways to her work at the AAPI Commission.

When Jennifer is not working, you can find her working in local and student theater, cooking a new recipe, or curled up with a good book. She is excited to be joining such a passionate team and to continue advocating for AAPI communities in Massachusetts.

Headshot of Esther Kim

Esther Hwi-Young Kim

Esther Hwi-Young Kim

Program & Research Director

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Esther Hwi-Young Kim (she/hers) is the Program & Research Director of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American & Pacific Islanders Commission. Esther identifies as a second-generation Korean American queer woman who grew up in southeastern Massachusetts on the land of the Wompanoag people. Her career journey involves wearing multiple hats as counselor, K-12 educator, and non-profit program coordinator, and she is proud to be a dedicated advocate for youth and community empowerment, with a particular focus on co-creating spaces of belonging and lifting up individual and collective histories of struggle and resistance.

At Tufts University, Esther focused her undergraduate studies on child development and ethnic studies coursework, and she wrote her family oral history as an entrypoint to begin researching how forces of migration, colonialism, systemic oppression, and trauma shaped the relational dynamics between her first-generation Korean immigrant family members and self. During this time, Esther was also introduced to grassroots community organizing via the Seeding Change National Fellowship Program for Asian American Organizing and Civic Engagement. As a Seeding Change Fellow, Esther interned at Chinese Progressive Association – Boston and co-coordinated the Chinese Youth Initiative’s summer leadership program.

After graduating from college and working internationally in K-12 education and program administration roles as part of the Fulbright Korea Commission, Esther proceeded to complete the Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) in Counseling program at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she developed her counseling skills and was selected by her peers and faculty to receive the 2018 Intellectual Contribution Award. For the past three years, she has worked as part of the Lexington High School counseling staff and also supported student-faculty collaborations related to DEI initiatives, ethnic studies, and responding to community needs in light of COVID-19. Esther is excited to work together with the Commission and its constituents to celebrate and promote the well-being of AAPI communities across Massachusetts.

Yasmin Padamsee Forbes

Yasmin Padamsee Forbes

Executive Director

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Yasmin Padamsee Forbes (she/her) was selected as the Executive Director of the Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in April 2021.  She is a proud first-generation immigrant, intersectional feminist, and climate change activist.

Yasmin has had a distinguished career with non-profits and the United Nations, serving in various senior leadership and management positions in Papua New Guinea, India, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and the US.  She brings extensive experience in strategic partnerships, resource mobilization, management, and sustainable tourism.

In 2019, she was awarded an All-Star Award by the Harvard Kennedy School for co-curating “Pride and Progress,” a film festival showcasing artists and activists working on LGBTQ+ human rights struggles from around the globe. She was also awarded the 2018 Julius E. Babbitt Memorial Volunteer Award by Harvard for her exemplary public service with Kennedy School alumni in Myanmar and beyond and her ability to help alumni forge connections.

Yasmin received a full scholarship and graduated with a Masters in Communications and Film production from New York University and has a second Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University.

Yasmin served as the Harvard Alumni Representative in Myanmar and on the Alumni Board of Directors for the Harvard Kennedy School.

Yasmin proudly serves as the Chair and Commissioner for the Cambridge Human Rights Commission. Working across Massachusetts, Yasmin has been working with groups to promote sustainable tourism and mitigate climate change.

She firmly believes in the need to connect leaders and activists from multiple cultures and sectors so they can “work together to create a force for positive and sustainable change.”

Bonnie Chen

Bonnie Chen

Development & Communications Coordinator

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Bonnie is the Development and Communications Coordinator at AAPI Commission. She is a current undergraduate at Brandeis University studying Sociology and Asian American Studies. In the past, she has worked with a community initiative dedicated to promoting arts programming and youth education and a literary organization nurturing Asian American and BIPOC writers. She is passionate about education, grassroots organizing, and migration studies. Bonnie is interested in the intersection of social justice, and arts and design as a means of inspiring and advocating for social change. In her free time, Bonnie loves exploring new eating spots and has a love for mango green tea.

Abdul Haseeb Hamza

Abdul Haseeb Hamza

Youth Coordinator

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Abdul Haseeb Hamza is a senior at Bard College at Simon’s Rock double majoring in Chemistry and Social Action/Social Change. Haseeb is really passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion work. He has done a lot of work for the Council of Equity and Inclusion and the department of campus life at his college. In his work, he has advocated for the marginalized by influencing policy decisions, promoting communication between administration and students, programming to address inequality and injustice, and by creating spaces for students with marginalized identities.


At his institution, he founded and led the South Asian Student Association on campus as a space to foster community and solidarity as well as to promote cultural awareness of diverse communities on campus. As someone who is passionate about both the natural and the social sciences, Haseeb believes in the power of education and public health programs to promote equity and inclusion across society. He has been involved in mentorship and teaching for youth in his career and is also looking to pursue public health and education opportunities for his postgraduate life.