APA Spotlight: Kent Wong, Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA

Kent Wong is Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, where he also teaches Labor Studies and Asian American Studies.

APA Spotlight is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Kent Wong is Director of the Center for Labor Research and Education at UCLA, where he also teaches Labor Studies and Asian American Studies.

Kent previously was staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union, representing Los Angeles County workers. He was also the first staff attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.

Kent served as the Founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first national organization of Asian union members and workers. He has also served as the President of the United Association for Labor Education, and the University and College Labor Education Association, national organizations of union and university labor educators. He is currently a vice president of the California Federation of Teachers.

Kent has published numerous books on labor unions, organizing, immigrant workers, and popular education. His most recent publications include:  Underground Undergrads, UCLA Undocumented Immigrant Students Speak Out, Miguel Contreras:  Legacy of a Labor Leader, and Organizing on Separate Shores:  Vietnamese and Vietnamese American Union Organizers.

The mission of The UCLA Labor Center is to promote research, education, and policy change to improve the lives of workers, students, and their communities.

What is the mission statement of your life?

I don’t have one. It is hard enough developing a mission statement for my work place, the UCLA Labor Center.

But I do enjoy life to its fullest, I feel fortunate to have a wonderful family and great friends, and I feel privileged to have a job that allows me to work for social justice.

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APA Spotlight: Ken Tanabe, Loving Day

Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day. Loving Day is an educational community project that fights racial prejudice through education and builds multicultural community.

APA Spotlight is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Ken Tanabe is the founder and president of Loving Day. Loving Day is an educational community project that fights racial prejudice through education and builds multicultural community. Loving Day Celebrations commemorate the legalization of interracial couples in America. In 2009, there were Loving Day Celebrations in 31 cities in 3 countries. The celebrations and the LovingDay.org website have been featured in Time, the Washington Post, NPR, BBC World, and many other major national/international media outlets. Ken Tanabe has been an active member of the multiethnic community since the launch of Loving Day in 2004. He served on the 2008 board of directors of the Association of MultiEthnic Americans (AMEA).

In addition, Ken Tanabe is an art director, designer, and animator, that works in motion, identity, print, experience design, and interactive media. He earned a master’s degree from the Design and Technology program at Parsons the New School for Design. His professional experience includes freelancing as an art director for Imaginary Forces, as well as staff positions as a Senior Designer/Animator at Freestyle Collective and as an Interactive Designer at AKQA. Ken Tanabe has done work for Lincoln Center, Thomson Reuters, Comedy Central, BET, Polo Ralph Lauren, Ford, and many others. He has also written several tutorials for the Pro section of Apple’s website. Currently, Ken Tanabe divides his time between freelance work and independent design contracts in New York City.

What is the mission statement of your life?
An artist named Matt Jones did a version of the classic British “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster that has been altered to read “Get Excited and Make Things” That feels pretty close to the mark. Also, I do spend a lot of time working on Loving Day. One could argue that I have internalized its mission statement, which is to fight racial prejudice through education and to build multicultural community.

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APA Spotlight: Shinae Yoon, Visual Communications & The Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

APA Spotlight is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Shinae Yoon is Executive Director of Visual Communications (VC) and Executive Producer of the annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival.

As an active member of the non-profit arts community for the last 10-years, Shinae has worked in youth development, media education, arts programming, and organizational development. Integrating media, art and culture into her work, Shinae has produced original programs, creative collaborations, online initiatives and built sponsorships and endorsements platforms for high profile events. Her focus has been on implementing innovative management practices in creative not-for-profits.

She has been on staff at the Chicago International Film Festival and the Three Arts Club of Chicago. She was also co-Director at Street-Level Youth Media, an award-winning community-based media arts organization working in Chicago’s inner city. Prior to joining Visual Communications, she was Executive Director of Young Chicago Authors, a non-profit organization that encourages self-expression for youth through creative writing workshops, publishing and performance opportunities.

Before working in arts management, Shinae received a liberal arts degree in International Relations and the Humanities from Boston University. She had a previous life as a writer and filmmaker. She has written and produced several short scripts and continues to write in her spare time.

Visual Communication’s mission is to promote intercultural understanding through the creation, presentation and support of media works by and about Asian Pacific Americans.

What is the mission statement of your life?

Eat, Pray, Love.

Just kidding.

My mission in life is to work hard, be fearless, and try to be kind and generous to everyone. I also love to laugh, and I’ve learned that a good dose of humor is a great antidote to many of life’s challenges.

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APA Spotlight: Tom Ikeda, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project

Tom Ikeda is the founding Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

APA Spotlight is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Tom Ikeda is the founding Executive Director of Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project. Using web technology, Densho provides access to over 400 video testimonies, 10,000 historical photos and documents, and in-depth teacher resources to explore principles of democracy by examining the World War II experiences of Japanese Americans.

Densho — a Japanese term meaning “to pass on to the next generation,” or to leave a legacy — seeks to educate young people and inspire them to act in defense of liberty and the highest values of our country. Continue reading “APA Spotlight: Tom Ikeda, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project”

APA Spotlight: Jennifer Sanderson, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment

Jennifer Sanderson is the director of The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). She has dedicated her time to create opportunities for APIAs in the entertainment industry through networking and education.

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Jennifer Sanderson is the director of The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE). She has dedicated her time to create opportunities for APIAs in the entertainment industry through networking and education.

In addition to her work at CAPE, Jennifer is also a filmmaker. She draws from experiences growing up with an Asian Mother and Norwegian “Redneck” Father from Montana.

Jennifer spent many years in San Francisco, where she established herself as a voiceover agent and actor. In 2005, she moved to Montana, where she taught short-form narrative script writing and pre-production while attending graduate school. In 2009, she won a Montana ADDY Award for best television advertising campaign that she co-wrote, directed and produced.

Since moving to Los Angeles in 2009, Jennifer has enjoyed various production roles for the 81st and 82nd Annual Academy Awards, MTV Movie Awards, AC360, Radio Disney, Yahoo Music, and Larry King and in the story department at Magical Elves.

Jennifer graduated with from the Lundquist College of Business at the University of Oregon. She is also a Disney College Program Alumn. She holds a MFA in Filmmaking and a MA in Fine Arts from the University of Montana. She is still active with the University of Montana’s Business School, helping to recruit guest instructors and promote their Entertainment Management Program. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys fly-fishing, boating, and hiking.

CAPE is dedicated to advancing diversity and creating social change by actively developing, promoting and positioning Asian Pacific Americans for key artistic and leadership roles in the entertainment industry and media arts.

What is the mission statement of your life?

Enjoy people and life. Don’t stress out…it only gives you wrinkles.

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APA Spotlight: Angela E. Oh, Western Justice Center Foundation

Angela E. Oh serves as the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation (WJC)

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Angela E. Oh serves as the Executive Director of the Western Justice Center Foundation (WJC), a non-profit organization that advances peaceful resolution of conflict. She has worked as an attorney, public lecturer, and teacher of Zen meditation. In addition to her job with the WJC, she remains Of Counsel to the Century City law firm of Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert, Nessim, Drooks & Lincenberg, where her law practice involves monitoring consent decrees, providing mediation services, and training about the laws related to discrimination in the workplace. She continues to be engaged in matters that involve parties interested in resolving their disputes, outside of litigation.

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APA Spotlight: Konrad Ng, University of Hawaii & the Smithsonian Institution

Konrad Ng is a professor of creative media at the University of Hawaii and Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution.

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Konrad Ng is a Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, Senior Advisor to the Under Secretary for History, Art, and Culture at the Smithsonian Institution and to top it off, brother-in-law to President Barack Obama. He recently completed a term as Acting Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program. Before joining the University of Hawaii, Konrad was the Curator of Film and Video at the Honolulu Academy of Arts (a fine arts museum in Hawaii) and a film programmer for the Hawaii International Film Festival. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Center for Asian American Media and the Global Film Initiative. Konrad’s dissertation examined constructions of Asian identity in narrative, experimental film and video. He is a happy husband and proud father of two girls.

What is the mission statement of your life?

Do no evil. Remember the importance of empathy. Lead by example. Be a good father, husband, family member, friend and citizen. Help others. Contribute to the communities around me.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

Stayed true to my mission statement while nurturing my interest in cinema/digital media and the politics of community representation and organization.

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APA Spotlight: Athena Mari Asklipiadis, Mixed Marrow

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APIA) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APIA community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Athena Mari Asklipiadis, who is of Japanese, Greek, Armenian, Italian, and Egyptian descent, was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She is a graduate of Pepperdine University with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting. In 2002, Athena first stepped onto the multiracial/multiethnic scene by writing for Eurasian Nation and in 2004 she was an intern for the podcast and website, Addicted to Race. After college, Athena worked in radio production and promotions for CBS and Clear Channel in Los Angeles.

She simultaneously worked as a freelance voice-over actor and as a site leader for WeAreHapa.com where she is now Community Manager. In 2008, Athena recognized the need for multiethnic donors in the national bone marrow registry and began as a volunteer with A3M, Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches. In 2009, she started Mixed Marrow as an outreach through A3M and Be The Match, the national registry. Athena currently operates Mixed Marrow and works as Assistant Sales Manager in Los Angeles for Imperial Hotel Tokyo. She is also a member of MASC, Multiracial Americans of Southern California, and JAO, Japanese American Optimists.

Mixed Marrow is dedicated to finding bone marrow and blood cell donors to patients of multiethnic descent. Our outreach concentrates on this minority due to the desperate need for registered donors as well as the lack of public knowledge regarding this topic.

What is the mission statement of your life?

I try to enjoy every single day and live each to the fullest. I think about a life with no regrets of what you coulda, shoulda, or woulda done. I also think living a life helping others is one that brings more happiness than anything else and I strive to work harder at that every day.

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APA Spotlight: Lee Ann Kim, San Diego Asian Film Foundation

Lee Ann Kim is the founding executive director of the San Diego Asian Film Foundation

APA Spotlight is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APAI) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the APAI community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Honored by San Diego Magazine as one of the Top 50 People to Watch in 2009, Lee Ann Kim is the founding executive director of the San Diego Asian Film Foundation, which serves more than 30,000 people each year. Lee Ann worked for nearly 12 years as a news anchor/reporter for KGTV Channel 10 where she earned numerous awards for her journalism including a regional Emmy for investigative reporting.

She was recently honored by KGTV as a 10News Leader, as well as the KPBS Hero of the Month for May 2010, San Diego Metropolitan Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2007, as well as Director of Excellence from the 2008 International Film Festival Summit.

Lee Ann also serves on the San Diego County Television Cable Commission, and on the boards of Orchestra Nova, Korean American Coalition in San Diego, and the Korean American Foundation for Educators.

The mission of the San Diego Asian Film Foundation is to connect audiences with the human experience through the Pan Asian media arts. Learn more about Lee Ann Kim’s work on the foundation, after the cut.

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APA Spotlight: Chris Aihara, Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander (API) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the API community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Chris Aihara is the Executive Director of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC), one of the largest ethnic cultural centers of its kind in the U.S. She was the former Chair of the Little Tokyo Community Council, a member of the Mayor’s Little Tokyo Community Advisory Committee, and member of the California Japanese American Community Leadership Council. She has written several publications on Japanese American culture and has served as a member of the City of Torrance Cultural Arts Commission for six years.

The JACCC is dedicated to the promotion and presentation of Japanese and Japanese American arts and culture to diverse audiences.

What is the mission statement of your life?
To not be afraid to live because I’m afraid to die.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?
I totally “ended up” doing what I’m doing. It has been a journey of self-discovery: who am I as a post-war Sansei woman growing up in the ‘50s, experiencing the ‘60s & ‘70s, and emerging through the rest of it. I landed in places that fed my interests and provided opportunities to learn and be challenged. For me, it’s always been very personal. I am of the ilk that was not career savvy. I never anticipated nor set a goal to  run an organization. Timing is everything, and at this time in the JACCC’s history, I was the person to step forward.

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APA Spotlight: Craig Ishii, Japanese American Citizens League Pacific

8Questions is a bi-monthly interview of Asian Pacific Islander (API) community leaders. It is a spotlight on individuals who have dedicated their careers to issues surrounding the API community with the goal of bringing much deserved recognition to their work and cause(s).

Craig Ishii is the Regional Director with the Japanese American Citizens League Pacific Southwest District (JACL Pacific Southwest District). Craig is a 2007 graduate of UCLA, majoring in history and economics. He was an active member of the Nikkei Student Union (NSU) at UCLA where he was involved in a variety of cultural, political, and community issues. During his junior and senior years, he served as Internal Vice President and the Board President of the NSU.

The mission of the Japanese American Citizens League is to advocate for civil rights and community preservation for the Asian and Pacific Islander community through empowerment and activism.

What is the mission statement of your life?

I would actually say “enjoying myself” and finding happiness in simple pleasures. I’ve never felt like I need to go on extravagant trips or have nice things (although I don’t mind a few nice suits and some cool shoes); instead I really like a simple ice-cream cone when I crave it, or gummi bears when I want them, simple things. I would say so far that I’ve been pretty true to my mission; but it’s really easy to stay on track when you have good people surrounding you and supporting you in whatever you do…. or in some cases not supporting you when you do something dumb.

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