Letter from our Chair

May, 2020

Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2020! 

In recognition of and inspiration by the stories we hear from one another and the wonderful PBS special that provided an introduction to the immigration of our communities, starting from the 1800s. It is clear that our place in society has been marked by challenges and often actions that prevail today in terms of portraying AAPIs as the villain. 

We recognize that these portrayals reflect a society that may not know the history of how Asian immigrant and Pacific Islander groups are treated differently and how our place in history has demonstrated tremendous loyalty to our homeland….America.  As Asian Americans, we have a long and tremendous history of contribution and I challenge all of you to understand that the monolithic term of being Asian American really embeds stories of each of the Asian subethnic groups  worth celebrating during AAPI Heritage Month.  

This year it is a bit challenging not to have the opportunity to see all of you in person and to observe and celebrate our heritage because of COVID19.  And, while there may be backlash for some of you being of Asian descent, know that this is truly a public health crisis and no matter its origin, it is impacting everyone.  So despite the ignorance or misdirected blame, the virus is universal in that it can impact you like a cold or flu. 

As I work from home, like many of you, I have had time to reflect on so many things.  As said by Ben de Guzman, Director of the Mayor's Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, “know that our communities are no stranger to resilience. We have crossed oceans and overcame hardships, racism, and xenophobia, all in the hopes of building a better life for our families and communities.“

I had the honor of being on a panel with Deputy Secretary of Labor, Acting Director of OPM, FAPAC, and Missouri Dept of Labor on Wednesday to address the WHIAAPI Webinar on Workforce Development & Advancing AAPIs in the Federal Government.  The fact that we were all able to be recognized as a force in promoting federal employee workforce development attests to the value we provide one another in leadership development.  While it will take time to see if our recommendations for expansion and inclusion, including building the pipeline will be acted upon, I am optimistic that there are discussions at the highest levels of the agencies responsible for promoting workplace development.  In addition, the Director of Civil Rights at DoL assured us that if anyone experiences or observes xenophobia in the workplace, that they report it to her so to make sure everyone is accountable for their actions. 

While we remain practicing social distancing, take the time to honor yourself, reflect and celebrate the contributions of AAPIs and yourself to improving the communities we serve.   Find a new normal for reaching your professional goals by connecting to webinars and trainings that are now being offered.  Our reliance on video conference meetings has allowed us to be more comfortable, I hope, with our interdependence for the computer.  Since we are unable to meet in person to sponsor leadership seminars, we are posting links to professional development training that you can access at this time to assist you in your leadership development.  I thank the many partners we have made such as the SEA, Arbinger and American University Executive program for opening up their training to us.  Likewise, when we learn of an SES job announcement, we do place it on our website.  If you need any support, call a member.  We always love hearing from you!

I encourage you to take this time to observe the end of AAPI Heritage Month and to remember to stay protected from this invisible virus by staying at home as much as possible and to always observe social distancing and mask protection.  As one says, “Stay Calm and Protected.” Take care….hope to see you on video or when we are open for gathering in person again. 

Respectfully, Your Humble Chair

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