Fierce Advocate | Spring 2011 Edition

In February, 46 NAPAWF members gathered in New York City for the annual Chapter Leaders Training. Read more about the CLT»

napawf updates

Notes from the grassroots: Chapter updates

The Yale chapter has been doing a lot of great work in 2011! We had an amazing board retreat with a special visit from Kathy Huynh, where we made some key organizational and mission statement adjustments and set an agenda for 2011. We decided to focus on our Nail Salon Initiative and started researching and gathering information about area nail salons and possible projects. We worked with different women’s groups around campus, including the Black Women’s Coalition and the Native American Cultural Center, to collaborate on a forum on colorism and cultural beauty practices. Our “Perceptions of Beauty Forum” was incredibly successful, and brought us closer with the different women’s ethnic groups on campus. We also collaborated with UNICEF on a film screening on South Asian Women and joined the Yale Social Justice Network, a group of other social justice oriented organizations on campus. This year was also special because we reconnected with NAPAWF and became more active in the amazing network of sisters! We hope to become more involved with NAPAWF this coming year and also to become a stronger voice on campus!

(above) The revitalized Yale chapter held a board retreat, where they made key organizational decisions and set an agenda for the year.

Bay Area
The NAPAWF swagger is still happening on Sundays of every month! March’s Sunday Swagger is dedicated to a theme of LGBTQ issues for queer API women, with lunch in Japantown and an outing to see Tales of Waria, a documentary that profiles the lives of four transgender Indonesians in their journeys toward identity and love. The Bay Area chapter is also gearing up for a two-part chapter retreat in April – the first focusing on wellness and balance and the second being a strategic planning meeting. The Bay Area chapter is never without activity!

Seattle chapter has been making remarkable impact in the Northwest! With great recognition as a progressive voice for API women and girls, NAPAWF-Seattle was key in convincing API state legislators to support a bill that calls for regulatory measures on Crisis Pregnancy Centers. The Seattle chapter was also invited to make two public presentations, including a talk on the intersections between human trafficking and labor rights in regards to human rights violations against sex workers. Lastly, with many months of collaboration and strategic planning, NAPAWF-Seattle is now part of a women-of-color-led coalition and nonprofit organization called Surge Northwest, which aims to stand with communities whose bodies and lives have been subject to control.

New York City
With increased momentum in reviving the New York chapter, Hanh Tran and Amy Chou are organizing an evening tea and discussion on reproductive justice at HousingWorks Café, which is run by a nonprofit organization that aims to end the twin crises of HIV/AIDs and homelessness, in April. Stay tuned on NAPAWF’s website!

Orange County
OC chapter is gearing up for their first public event! The founders of the OC chapter, who are alums of NAPAWF’s California Young Women’s Collaborative program, will host an afternoon tea and meet-and-greet on Sunday, March 27. After attending NAPAWF’s Chapter Leaders Training, Sabby Leng has taken up a fundraising idea and will organize a birthday drive in April! NAPAWF-OC is on the rise!

St. Cloud
St. Cloud Chapter’s 2nd Annual Teen Retreat: “We Are the Ones We Were Waiting For”
The May 2009 issue of the American Journal of Public Health includes a study that links perceived racism with mental health issues in young children. API women and girls, particularly those of us living outside of major urban areas, have to battle overt racism, sexism, isolation, violence, and harassment. For Minnesota:

  • The proportion of Asian American girls with mental and emotional health problems that have NOT received treatment is the highest in the state (85%) among girls who are often unhappy and depressed.
  • The proportion of Asian American girls who are ninth graders with suicidal thoughts or who have attempted suicide is 33.2%, compared to 25% for Blacks and 29.8% for White girls (2007).

Through St. Cloud chapter’s teen retreats, API women and girls do not battle alone – we aim to build self-esteem, self-efficiency and community, as part of our mission is to build a movement to advance social justice and human rights for API women and girls. In 2008, our teen retreat served 22 young API women.

For the past six months, we have been gearing up for another teen retreat in May 2010. Primarily funded by the Okura Foundation and co-sponsored by the State Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, this year’s retreat, entitled “We Are the Ones We Were Waiting For,” hopes to build visibility, create a comprehensive understanding of API history and female identity, and cultivate activists.

NAPAWF’s Chicago chapter is shaking things up in the Windy City, with the addition of new Chicago Chapter Chair Karin Lee and Reproductive Justice Chair Eileen Rosete, who are taking the reins from stalwart NAPAWF activists Diana Lin and Rose Olea.

Building off of several afternoon teas last fall, NAPAWF Chicago hosted a high-level gathering of API women leaders in January to discuss reproductive justice, co-sponsored by the Chicago Foundation for Women’s Asian American Leadership Council and the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health. The January gathering identified a clear need for a more cohesive and prominent API women’s voice in Chicago on reproductive justice, and will be followed by a reproductive-justice-focused workshop in the spring. Coming out of the January gathering, Chicago is also working to develop a community survey tool to better understand the needs of the community, and the resources currently available to community members as related to reproductive justice.

Chicago is excited to grow its membership and leadership base in 2011, and has revamped its chapter communications strategy to include bi-monthly e-newsletter announcements. Beyond updates on NAPAWF-Chicago activities, the newsletters also include the latest API women-related updates and news that runs the gamut from relevant job and grant opportunities to information on trainings, conferences, community events and more.

If you know a fierce sister in Chicago who might be interested in getting more involved, send them to “NAPAWF Chicago” on Yahoo Groups or Facebook, or have them contact

Washington, DC
February Afternoon Tea: Tiger Mother
Our February Afternoon Tea was centered on Amy Chua’s controversial book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. One of our LGBT co-chairs, LiJia Gong, hosted the discussion at her house. Around 15 members gathered to share their experiences and thoughts over tea and snacks. The conversation flowed quickly and touched on a number of themes, such as immigrant parents’ expectations and punishments, American perceptions of a rising China, gender norms for mothers vs. fathers, and interracial relationships. The attendees ranged from undergraduates and working professionals to a mother of a young child. Sisters were encouraged to share their own personal experiences and also examine the structural forces that color the way we perceive “tiger mothers.”

Membership Meet and Greet
On March 16, 2011, the DC chapter will hold its first Membership Meet and Greet. Current, new, and potential members will get the chance to meet with this year’s board chairs and learn how to become involved in committees, with planning events, and advancing our mission. This event kicks off our year!

Go Go SacramentO! Throughout April, we’re helping some high school seniors look fabulous by collecting prom dresses and accessories for a program called Cinderella’s Closet organized by a local community organization, Asian Resources, Inc. Sacramento was so excited to bring back the energy of the Chapter Leaders Training, so we’re hosting a meet and greet with new and potential members on March 31 at 6:30pm at Sol Collective (2574 21st Street, Sacramento, CA). We’re looking forward to the May Membership drive and keeping our bragging rights!

Baby Lexi is here!

We are excited to welcome a new addition to the NAPAWF family! Alexandra arrived on March 10, 2011, at 8:43pm. She weighed 6lbs 15oz and was 19.25 inches long. Congratulations to Miriam Yeung, Executive Director, and Abby Shaw for their long-awaited baby! Penelope now has a lovely sister.

Chapter Leaders Training

On February 19 and 20, 46 fierce Asian and Pacific Islander women gathered together in New York City for NAPAWF’s annual Chapter Leaders Training. This type of gathering was what originally gave rise to NAPAWF, and this type of gathering is what sustains a sisterhood that leads the progressive movement for API women and girls in the US.

The training was a first-time meeting for most, and a reunion for some. It included chapter leaders, staff, National Governing Board members and, unique to this year’s CLT, NAPAWF sisters from the Chapter Task Force. Saturday was filled with activities that ranged from getting acquainted with NAPAWF as an entity and political trainings on right-wing attacks on birthright citizenship and race and sex selection abortion bans to organizational bonding. Sunday marked the end of CLT and concluded with presentations and discussions on organizational development, FUNraising, and a physical layout of our events for the upcoming year. Although our days together were packed, we also managed to laugh hard and pose for a group photo!

In summary, from stating the preferred gender pronoun that we want others to acknowledge us by, to glimpses of where we came from, an LGBTQ caucus in the kitchen, policy trainings, ongoing snacking, and exchanges of marbled beads and love, it is certain that this tradition of “gathering” will continually mark a space of introductions, questioning, learning, familiarizing and revolutionizing — a space where progressive API women live tradition and make tradition happen.

Onward with our movement until next time!

Student power: California Young Women’s Collaborative

As Winter quarter draws to an end…
by Deanna Thoi, 5th year and CYWC member

As Winter quarter draws to an end here at UC Irvine, the CYWC UCI cohort would like to share what we have accomplished thus far. For the past eight weeks, we have been analyzing and organizing the data results that were collected from the women’s health survey we administered last November. We did not realize just how cumbersome data analysis was until we delved into it, but with 16 of us, including Professor Sang Leng Trieu and our teaching assistant Nina Nguyen, not only were we able to tackle it together, but it taught us to value the meaning of true teamwork.

Additionally, we are all currently working on developing fact sheets which will serve to educate fellow UCI students and the broader community (and hopefully be useful to NAPAWF), so please be on the lookout for them as soon as they are published!

For the duration of this quarter, our class has been focusing on important issues concerning API women such as abortion, HIV/AIDS, and health care. We also had our first class retreat in January where we bonded over good food, fun games, a heartwarming slide show about our families, and a sleepover, as well as waking up to watch the sunrise in Newport Beach. On our upcoming class retreat, we’ll be preparing for the Spring quarter’s social action and brainstorming creative ideas to spread our research findings through the campus, community, and media/outreach. Furthermore, we have started a CYWC UCI cohort blog page and have been uploading vlogs, so please tune in to that to stay updated on what we have been doing each week!

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program
by Denise Tran, 4th year and UROP Research Fellow

Branching out from the CYWC cohort at UC Irvine, four students – Jedrek Chua, Christine Lee, Allison Nguyen, and Denise Tran – were awarded a fellowship from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), with near-matching funds from NAPAWF, to conduct a qualitative study to examine the association of gender preference and sex selection and how that affects Asian American women’s self-esteem and self-perception.

The project first began in January when Allison and Christine got together to discuss the content of our study, and eventually Jedrek and Denise joined in. Throughout our planning meetings, we created a GANTT chart which outlined the course of our research. This has been such an interesting experience because the four of us learned the logistics behind planning and conducting a qualitative study using focus groups. Upon completion of our data analysis, we will present our findings at the API Policy Summit in Sacramento and the UROP Symposium in May. Our group has made much progress through our long nights of planning and discussions.

It has been a lot of fun having Sang as our mentor to guide us through this process – especially while writing our IRB (Institutional Review Board) application. We have also created video documentaries of our progression throughout this project, which can be viewed here. In the upcoming weeks, we will be recruiting students on campus to participate in our focus group discussions and look forward to learning how to transcribe, analyze, and interpret the data. It is interesting to see how in a matter of two months, we once considered each other classmates, but now we are co-investigators and good friends. We hope that this research will contribute to the work that NAPAWF is doing by spreading awareness of factors that may affect Asian American women’s self-esteem and self-perception, such as sex selection and gender preference. Stay tuned!

NAPAWF seen and heard

  • NAPAWF is the chosen national philanthropy project of Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority Inc. (KPL). On January 8, Miriam Yeung gave a keynote speech on why we, as Asian and Pacific Islander women, should continue raising our voices for the community that we come from at KPL’s annual banquet in Flushing, New York.
  • On February 10, Miriam Yeung represented a progressive voice for API women and girls when she firmly stated in her speech that “we know more about our uterus than Rep. Smith […] more about our ovaries than Rep. Pitts[…] and more about our family planning than Rep. Pence” at a congressional briefing on anti-reproductive rights legislation — otherwise known as the Smith, Pitts and Pence Bills.
  • Immigrant status is often one of the key factors determining why immigrant women do not report violence that they experience — either within the home, workplace, or elsewhere. In an ad-hoc February 10th congressional hearing on the barriers to ending violence against immigrant women and families, Miriam Yeung is seen here emphasizing the need for human rights protection, regardless of immigration status. This is especially true for detention centers, as women’s immigrant status overshadows abuse inflicted upon by enforcement agencies. To read Miriam’s official testimony, click here.
  • On February 10, Christine Soyong Harley gave a talk at the White House Council for Women and Girls on NAPAWF’s nail salon initiative. Christine advocated for reproductive justice by emphasizing the importance of regulating chemicals that nail salon workers are exposed to on a daily basis and their impact on API women’s health.
  • On February 26, Kathy Huynh and Christine Soyong Harley facilitated a training-of-trainers program for Kappa Phi Lambda Sorority’s national board on NAPAWF’s core values and prioritized issues.
  • Brooklyn Law College’s Reproductive Rights Committee organized a talk on gender-selective abortions on February 28. Specifically, the panelists for the talk, including Miriam Yeung, discussed how the value or devaluation of females in a society is expressed in policies and practices regarding reproductive health and gender-selective abortions.
  • On March 1, Law Students for Reproductive Justice at Temple University hosted a forum on the toxic industry that many API women depend on for their income. This forum featured NAPAWF’s very own Christine Soyong Harley. Christine spoke about the connection between immigration and reproductive health and the devastating consequences of unregulated nail salons.
  • On March 3, The University of Washington’s Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies Department invited NAPAWF-Seattle’s chair, Mary Nguyen, to serve as a panelist for a conversation on a human rights approach to sex worker issues in the US. Mary brought a unique lens to the space, as she focused on the intersections between labor rights and human trafficking.
  • In support of NAPAWF’s work, Kappa Phi Lambda at Rutgers University held a charity ball to fundraise and spread awareness on anti-human-trafficking issues on March 6. Gabriela Villareal, an expert on human trafficking and a former National Governing Board member, served as the keynote speaker.

policy and action

Policy corner: Updates from Capitol Hill

Happy Birthday, Affordable Care Act!
March 23 is the one-year anniversary of the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In honor of this momentous law, NAPAWF has launched a new Health Care page to provide our members with a one-stop location to find out more! Advocates have also planned March 21-25 as a week of celebration. There will be webinars, educational toolkits, and even ACA birthday parties for NAPAWF members to learn more about this important law!

Reproductive Rights Lobby Day!
Women are fired up and ready to go! Join activists from around the country on April 7 for a Lobby Day on Capitol Hill to oppose anti-choice legislation that threatens to block women’s rights to access abortion services, imposes penalties on insurance plans that include abortion care, allows hospitals to deny care to pregnant women, and a House budget that threatens to cut all Title X family planning funds! Join us in opposing the anti-choice agenda! Contact Jaspreet Chowdhary for more information about local and national efforts at

Immigrant Women, Front and Center!
The National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights hosted a roundtable discussion with leading experts on March 16 to take a look at the impact of immigration policies on women, their children, families, and communities. Using an intersectional perspective, experts from the worker rights, environmental justice, reproductive justice, human rights, and immigrant rights arenas took a comprehensive look at these policies and possible solutions. This event was intended to be a starting conversation to lead towards the creation of immigration policy that centers the experiences of immigrant women and strengthens our communities!

May sneak peek…
Stay tuned! Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which is the month of May, is shaping up to be a busy month for NAPAWF. Use the opportunity to highlight important issues for API women!

  • May 8 is Mother’s Day. Join NCIWR to celebrate the lives and contributions of immigrant women!
  • May 8-14 is National Women’s Health Week! Let’s celebrate the achievements of the Affordable Care Act and highlight the health care needs of API women!
  • May 16-20 is the National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance Week of Action! Let’s create an “echo chamber” to highlight the health & safety of nail salon workers and advocate for the Safe Cosmetics Act!

Join our National Governing Board team!

The National Governing Board of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum seeks energetic, visionary, fabulous, and fierce nominations for new board members! NAPAWF’s current priorities are to expand the membership and visibility of the organization by building our grassroots membership, supporting strong chapters, and continuing to advocate and organize on policies that affect the lives of API women and girls. Having completed a strategic plan in 2008, as well as a successful leadership transition, the organization is poised to take advantage of the current political moment to expand our influence and profile. Let us know if you’re interested! For more information, click here!

NAPAWF is hiring!

Do you know of any fierce NAPAWF sisters or allies who want to work for social justice and human rights for API women and girls? If so, our Brooklyn office is looking for an Administrative Assistant. The position is currently available, so send them our way!

Full details of the job can be found at Opportunities at NAPAWF, or click here to download the job description.


Reflections from the Community Organizer

Of all the helpful feedback that we received about the Chapter Leaders Training (CLT), what stood out the most to me was the need for more intentional spaces where chapter members can connect. I found this feedback to be really helpful. I can see how a space that allows people to be together is very different from a space that allows people to connect with one another. Through the introductory activities, like self-identification in regards to gender pronoun, “I Am From” poem, and a Q&A session in groups of threes, we hope that at the very least, CLT attendees got the chance to learn about each other, or learn something new from sisters of familiarity. I still hear you, though, on the concept of intentional spaces for connection.

What has also been echoed throughout my conversations with chapter members is the desire to have more discussions and support for one another’s work. A tool and resource that is already in place to let connections and discussions happen more frequently are Chapter Leaders Calls (CLC). As a national organization, our contact is already limited to the virtual sphere and telecommunication. What we want is to take full advantage of spaces where NAPAWF sisters are together for fruitful interaction.

Intimate and face-to-face conversations are what I find truly valuable for how I approach my work to support the grassroots movement at NAPAWF. Let us continue to communicate to have more thoughtful conversations on how we can create connections — not just for a stronger sisterhood, but also for a more coordinated movement that leads toward progressive change.

Much love,

Feature: I Am From

At our 2011 Chapter Leaders Training, NAPAWF sisters shared their background and experiences with one another through a self-written poem entitled, “I Am From.” To highlight the commonalities and diversity of the NAPAWF sisterhood, we will feature an “I Am From” poem for each issue. We hope that through these poems, we are able to give a picture of where we, as NAPAWF, come from.

If you would like to contribute to this section, please contact Kathy ( for submission details.

I Am From….
by Lan Nguyen

I am from my grandmother’s house in Sai Gon, Viet Nam. My first home and where my heart will always be, no matter where in the world I end up.
I am from the daughter of boat people, but not successfully one myself, because my mom was pregnant with me when my dad escaped.
I am from the sunny beaches of Southern California. A second, more reluctant home, but one I came to love.
I am from food stamps and cramped apartments, locked doors and violent voices. And refusing to let that define me.
I am from running away to find myself and returning closer to home.
I am from learning how much I’m loved in my anti-affectionate family.
I am from a financial aid/scholarship student status at an elite liberal arts college, an environment that forced me to face my identity and recognize that I was in the minority.
I am from bad tea rolls, fried oreo-sundaes, group hotpots, and a newfound community of “others” — others like me.
I am from swerving off set paths and becoming happier and fiercer for it.
I am from multiple homes, families, and communities.
I am an API woman, Vietnamese American daughter, Vietnamese granddaughter, motherly sister, and the best is yet to come.

Acknowledgments and thank you’s

A big thank you to all of our new and renewing members and supporters who gave between December 16, 2010, and March 14, 2011. Your financial support helps NAPAWF in our efforts to achieve human rights and social justice for API women and girls.

Michelle Abrenilla, Berkeley, CA
Vibiana Andrade, Monterey Park, CA
Celina Chan, Astoria, NY
Gail Chang Bohr, St. Paul, MN
Kelley Cheng, Naperville, IL
Lynn Faria, Brooklyn, NY
Lora Jo Foo, Oakland, CA
Marlene Fried, Somerville, MA
Margaret Fung, New York, NY
Danielle Geong, Washington, DC
Juneyong Hahm, Washington, DC
Anne Harley, Arnold, MD
Sharon Hing, Los Angeles, CA
Jenny Huang, Oakland, CA
Michelle Huynh, Storrs, CT
Deeana Jang, Takoma Park, MD
Sujatha Jesudason, Oakland, CA
Hannah Jurowicz, Chicago, IL
So Yeon Kang, Greensboro, NC
Mary Kong, Silver Spring, MD
Kalpana Krishnamurthy, Portland, OR
Jill Kunishima, Oakland, CA
Tiffany Lacsado, Oakland, CA
Jenny Lam, San Francisco, CA
Siu- Leung Lee, Columbus, OH
Nicholas Lepham, Washington, DC
Tam Ma, Sacramento, CA
Julie Mayer, Seattle, WA
Anuja Mendiratta, Berkeley, CA
Julie Merseth, Chicago, IL
Gwendolyn Mink, Washington, DC
Marily Mondejar, San Francisco, CA
Tu-Uyen Nguyen, Fullerton, CA
Kim Nguyen, Iowa City, IA
Nancy Otto, San Francisco, CA
Helen Paik, Baltimore, MD
Anh Phan, Alexandria, VA
Eileen Rosete, Chicago, IL
Jeanette Takamura, New York, NY
T. Stephanie Tanny, Washington, DC
Sharon Tomiko Santos, Seattle, WA
Ashley Tomisek, Woodbridge, VA
Sang Leng Trieu, Rowland Heights, CA
Silvia Yee, Berkeley, CA

NAPAWF gratefully acknowledges donations made in honor of the following individuals between December 16, 2010, and March 14, 2011 (listed in alphabetical order by honoree’s last name).

Julianne Hing from Sharon Hing, San Francisco, CA
Monica Thammarath from Rany Ath, Oakland, CA
Monica Thammarath from Gabriela Baca, Washington, DC
Monica Thammarath from Mark Beyersdorf, San Diego, CA
Monica Thammarath from Darlene Cayabyab, New York, NY
Monica Thammarath from Irene Ching, San Francisco, CA
Monica Thammarath from Mattea Dibble, Anchorage, AK
Monica Thammarath from Malisa Thammarath, Denver, CO
Monica Thammarath from Jenny Troung, San Diego, CA
Sang Leng Trieu from Jacob Chang, Fullerton, CA
Sang Leng Trieu from Darrell Young, San Francisco, CA
Azania Tripp from Michael Tripp, St. Cloud, MN
June Tsang from Judy Norsigian, Chestnut Hill, MA
Miriam Yeung from Donnie Roberts, Brooklyn, NY

Every effort was made to ensure the accuracy of the above listings. If you notice an error, please contact Wen-Hua Yang at or 202-470-3170 x31 for assistance.