Miriam Yeung, Executive Director
Miriam W. Yeung, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) guides the country’s only national, multi-issue, progressive organization dedicated to social justice and human rights for Asian and Pacific Islander women and girls in the US. With offices in NYC and DC, and chapters in 12 cities, NAPAWF’s current priorities include winning rights for immigrant women, advocating for nail salon workers rights and safety, leading community-based participatory research with young API women, conducting national API opinion polling and winning reproductive justice.
Prior to NAPAWF, Miriam held many positions during her 10-year career at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (the Center) in New York City, the last of which was Director of Public Policy & Government Relations where she oversaw policy matters on the local, state and federal level and was responsible for raising over $40 million dollars in capital campaign and programming funds over three years. She started her career at the Center as a Youth Worker responsible for empowering young people to fight bullying and create safer schools.
Miriam is published in diverse publications in print and online and is a sought after speaker and workshop presenter. In 2012, Miriam was recognized by the National Council for Research on Women (NCRW) with a Making A Difference for Women award. In 2007, Miriam received special recognition from the New York City Council for her work with the LGBT youth community.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in the projects of Brooklyn, Miriam is a proud queer Asian-American immigrant woman activist who is committed to social-justice movement building and raising her two young daughters to be fearless. Miriam holds a master’s in public administration from Baruch College and a bachelor’s from New York University.
Wida Amir, Immigrant Rights Program Director
Wida Amir joins NAPAWF with over a decade of non-profit leadership experience in youth development, public policy change, social justice advocacy, and immigrant rights advocacy.
Most recently, Wida was the Policy Specialist at Rescue Social Change Group where she helped expand city and district tobacco-free school policies. Wida joined Rescue after her role as the Borough Manager for Brooklyn Smoke-Free Partnership, a health policy advocacy coalition. In both roles, through innovative community education and mobilization, advocacy, and strategic collaborations, Wida’s leadership efforts made a significant impact on city-wide public policy shifts including the historic victory of New York City’s Smoke Free Parks and Beaches law in 2010. Prior to that, as a Program Director at South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!), Wida led programming efforts for the community-based youth development and immigrant advocacy organization. She played a key leadership role in the organization’s growth from a single-site program center to a nationally recognized multiple-site agency serving over 500 immigrant youth and families annually.
Wida feels passionately about community development, civic engagement in immigrant communities, and fighting for equal rights regardless of sex, gender, or race. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from University of California, San Diego, and two management certificates from the Institute for Non-profit Management at Columbia Business School. She was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has also lived in India, Germany, California, and New York. She is currently a resident of the Washington DC metro area.
Shivana Jorawar Reproductive Justice Program Director
Shivana coordinates the organization’s reproductive justice policy priorities. She is passionate about uplifting the status of women in communities she identifies with, and has a background in legal advocacy and community education around issues of gender-based inequity and violence. Her experience includes working with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as a legal clerk, working with the the anti-domestic violence organization Sakhi for South Asian Women, co-chairing a chapter of Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and co-founding the Indo-Caribbean women’s organization Jahajee Sisters, where she is now a member of the Steering Committee. In August, 2012, Shivana completed a one-year fellowship with NAPAWF through Law Students for Reproductive Justice. Originally from New York, she now works out of NAPAWF’s Washington, D.C. office.
Shivana holds a B.A. in Political Science from Fordham University and a J.D. from Emory University School of Law.
Christine Poquiz, Reproductive Justice Fellow
Christine is a second year Reproductive Justice Fellow through Law Students for Reproductive Justice (LSRJ). A California native, Christine received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Irvine and earned her J.D. from the University of California, Davis School of Law. At UC Davis, Christine served as the chair for the LSRJ chapter and the Health Law Association (HLA). Under HLA, Christine co-founded a Medical-Legal partnership between the UC Davis Law School, UC Davis Medical School, and Legal Services of Northern California (LSNC), where law students provide legal referrals at the student run medical clinics for underserved communities. During law school, Christine interned at the LSRJ National Office, where she was awarded the 2011 Sheila Kuehl Award for Outstanding Summer Intern. She also interned with the Center for Reproductive Rights’ government relations office in Washington D.C. Christine was a member of the UC Davis team competing in the 2012 Beazley Institute National Health Law Transaction Competition. Christine was also an active member of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) and the Filipino Law Students Association (FLSA). Prior to law school, Christine interned in rural Uganda with the Uganda Village Project (UVP), a public health non-profit organization where she focused on HIV/Aids, comprehensive sex education, and reproductive health. Christine later served on the governing board for UVP in 2009-2010.
Melissa Kwon, Research Coordinator
Melissa Kwon, PhD, Research Coordinator of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) leads the organization’s research efforts on AAPI women and girls in the US. She also serves as Faculty for the Minnesota Young Women’s Collaborative (MYWC), which is currently hosted at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Additionally, Melissa is currently Co-Chair of the newly founded Twin Cities Chapter of NAPAWF.
Dr. Kwon has over 10 years of experience conducting health and educational research with the AAPI community and has worked with numerous programs that aim to eliminate health disparities and increase access to higher education for AAPIs. She is Affiliate Faculty in Asian American Studies and a Research Associate for the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Campus. She has been a researcher and evaluator at the University of California at Irvine, University of California at Santa Barbara, and WestEd. She is currently serving as Chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Health Coalition (AAPIHC), a coalition of AAPI serving nonprofit community organizations in Minnesota. She also volunteers her time to local community organizations and has served as the Executive Director of the Midwest Asian American Students Union (MAASU), a Board Member of Neighborhood House, Member of the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership’s (MMEP) Research Collaborative Table, Board Member of United Cambodian Association of Minnesota (UCAM), and Board Member of The Cambodian Family. She is currently located in the Twin Cities Metro Area in Minnesota.
Dr. Kwon earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley. She earned her M.A. in Education-Research Methodologies and Ph.D. in Education Cultural Perspectives and Comparative Education from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Melissa Cariño, Field Organizer
Melissa is a proud Filipina-American who was born in San Francisco and grew up in the Bay Area. As part of a hard-working family and a child of immigrant parents, she knows what it is like to struggle in America and understands the importance of critical education, equality, and giving to the greater community. Her passions lie in social / economic / global justice, systemic change, grassroots organizing, progressive philanthropy, transformational processes, and community empowerment. She has over 15 years experience within community-based organizations and the not-for-profit sector. Her former workplaces include The Open Pantry of Greater Lowell, the Funders Network on Transforming the Global Economy (now EDGE Funders Alliance), Boston Women’s Fund, and the United Teen Equality Center.
Melissa holds a B.A. in Legal Studies/City Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters in Regional Planning/Community Development from Cornell University. Melissa works mostly from Massachusetts, but she also travels to and works from various chapter sites and the NAPAWF offices.
Melissa is excited to focus on building strong relationships and partnerships as we strengthen our movement. She finds her role at NAPAWF important by serving as a bridge between chapters and the National office as we all continue together on this important work that is necessary for API women’s justice in America and beyond.