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APAHM Filled with Amazing Celebrations and Thoughtful Discussions

A picture of Minority Business Development Agency Acting National Director Edith McCloud and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Holly Ham signing a memorandum of understanding. They are seated at a table in front of an American flag and banners for each of their groups. Ms. McCloud sits at Ms. Ham's right. To their right is a man standing and to their left are a woman and a man standing.As May came to an end so did this year’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (APAHM) festivities. This month was full of amazing celebrations and thoughtful discussions. In DC alone there were many events hosted at federal and local government offices.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (Initiative) kicked off APAHM activities at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on May 3rd. Hosted by the DOE Asian American Pacific Islander Network, the theme for this month’s focus was “Unite our Vision by Working Together”.

I delivered the keynote address, noting the President’s Proclamation of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and the many contributions that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) have made in the arts, sciences, government, military, commerce, and education in the United States. The address highlighted Paul Chu, a scientific hero and pioneer in the field of superconductivity, Founding Director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston, and the ways he helped pave the path for others in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.

The Initiative also participated in other APAHM events across federal agencies including at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.

The Asian American Government Executive Network celebrated its Senior Executive Service Development Program Induction and Graduation Ceremony. I keynoted the ceremony, discussing the importance of having mentors and coaches and the role that networking with quality plays in professional development. The speech also shared ways to stand out so others will appreciate and take note of your hard work.

Our intern, Sai-kit Jeremy Lee, participated in the U.S. Department of Education’s heritage month observance with Neel Saxena, Executive Director of Asian American LEAD in a discussion moderated by Okhee Shim with the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity Services. They discussed issues that AAPI youth are concerned about.

On May 15th, the Initiative co-hosted the 2018 AAPI Business Summit in partnership with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) and National ACE. This summit convened AAPI business leaders from across the nation to discuss growth strategies as well as federal resources available to them. There was also a panel of young business leaders discussing challenges and obstacles that the newer generation of AAPIs is facing. Acting National Director Edith McCloud from MBDA and I signed a memorandum of understanding committing our offices in support of AAPI businesses and the economy.

On May 17th, the Initiative hosted our own Community Leaders Forum. This forum provided an opportunity for community leaders to engage with senior level federal officials to discuss issues impacting the AAPI community. We also rolled out the strategic areas of focus to the community. Keep an eye out for our blog page to read more about this event.

A picture of a group of well-dressed audience members seated in front of the stage in the Department of Education's auditorium. On the stage a woman wearing a black dress with large white flowers with a large white flower in her hair is dancing.

Attendees enjoy a cultural performance at the WHIAAPI Community Leaders’ Forum.

The month wrapped up with events hosted by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Department of Commerce where I sat as a panelist discussing AAPIs in the workplace and AAPIs in the Administration.

While APAHM may have come to a close, the achievements and history of AAPIs all across the United States will continue to be noted and celebrated by the Initiative, the Department or Education and the Administration.


Holly Ham is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Photo at the top: Minority Business Development Agency Acting National Director Edith McCloud and White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Executive Director Holly Ham sign a memorandum of understanding.

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