Speakers, Facilitators, Moderators and Conference Staff

Dale Asis is the Director of Capacity Building & Membership at the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). He earned his Masters of Arts degree in Social Sciences (MAPSS) at the University of Chicago, received the Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award and has been a Chicago Community Trust Fellow for Community Leaders. He is the founder of two other coalitions, the Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois (CAAAELII) and United Congress of Community and Religious Organization (United Congress). Mr. Asis is the current President of the Bayanihan Foundation Worldwide, a public charity dedicated to promoting Filipino diaspora philanthropy. In 2009, he established a network of over 150 diaspora donors in Chicago that donate to over 50 countries worldwide. He has spoken extensively on immigrant and diaspora philanthropy issues over the last 18 years. Dale teaches about race and policy advocacy at the Loyola University Chicago Graduate School of Social Work. He also provides capacity building and organizational consulting to many ethnic community organizations in Chicago.

George Cheung is Senior Program Officer for the Joyce Foundation’s Democracy Program. He is an active member of the Funders Committee for Civic Participation and the Donors Forum. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2012, George was the executive director at the Win/Win Network, founder and executive director of Equal Rights Washington, and an independent public affairs consultant. He also worked in civil rights law enforcement, focusing on fair housing compliance for state agencies in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Washington. George holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Brown University and a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School.

Melany de la Cruz-Viesca is the Assistant Director of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center (AASC) and the Managing Editor of AAPI Nexus, a nationwide journal focusing on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, policy, practice, and community issues. She also serves as the Director of the AAPI Community Development Census Information Center, a joint partnership between UCLA AASC, the National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD) and the U.S. Census Bureau. Her research focuses on Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) demographics and policy, in relation to asset building, housing, community and economic development, and education. She has 15 years of experience in providing training and technical support on using census data, developing articles, fact sheets and reports on AANHPI subpopulation groups, and mapping services to meet the specific needs of community-based organizations. She is a member of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development's Experts of Color Network. Melany was appointed by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in 2008 and re-appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2014 to the City’s Human Relations Commission. She holds a master's degree in urban planning from UCLA and a bachelor's degree in ethnic studies and urban studies and planning from UC San Diego.

Maria J. Ferrera is an Assistant Professor in the Social Work Department of DePaul University in Chicago. She received her PhD and MA from the University of Chicago- School of Social Service Administration (SSA), and BS/BA in Psychology and Social Work from Loyola University. She has served for over 15 years as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the areas of child welfare and medical social work, and continues to do work in the Filipino American and other immigrant communities. Her areas of practice and research involve: decolonization methods; the influence of colonization on ethnic identity development; community-based, socially just practices and mixed methods research with ethnic minority youth; health disparities and the impact of healthcare law on new and undocumented immigrants in Chicago. She has co-founded DIWA, a collective movement of Filipinos and Fil Ams concerned with attending to the emotional, social, psychological, and physical wellbeing within our community through dialogue, networking, elderly and youth outreach. She is currently working in partnership with CSF (Centro Sin Fronteras), utilizing a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach to examine the impact of a youth led, health promotion program that is trying to address the healthcare dilemma of uninsured, undocumented and new immigrants.

Ami Gandhi has served as Executive Director of South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI) since 2011. SAAPRI is a non-profit, non-partisan organization established in 2001 to improve the lives of South Asian Americans in the Chicago area, by using research to formulate equitable and socially responsible public policy recommendations. Ami is an attorney who is passionate about advocating for minority and immigrant communities. She was named as the 2012-2013 Balgopal Lecturer on Human Rights and Asian Americans by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ami previously served as the Legal Director of Asian American Institute (AAI), now called Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago, and before that was a litigation attorney at Freeborn & Peters LLP. Ami serves on the Advisory Council for the City of Chicago’s Office of New Americans, the Task Force on Opportunities for DREAMers at University of Illinois at Chicago, and multiple advisory councils on language access to government services. She is the board chair of Common Cause Illinois and serves on the board of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. She earned her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and her B.A. in psychology and cognitive science from Indiana University.

Rooshey Hasnain, Ed.D., is a visiting clinical assistant professor with the Asian American (ASAM) Studies Program and the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently is leading UIC’s ASAM Community Engagement Project, which aims to strengthen community- university partnerships that address disparity issues in pan-Asian communities. Her primary professional interests revolve around the lives, challenges, and strengths of people with disabilities, especially those from refugee and immigrant backgrounds. Her research focuses on finding ways to bridge the cross-cultural service gap between social service systems and hard-to-reach people with disabilities/mental health condition and their families.

Lori Kido Lopez is an Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she is also an affiliate of Asian American Studies and Gender & Women's Studies. Her work examines the way that minority communities use media in the fight for social justice, with a particular focus on Asian Americans. She is the editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Asian American Media (with Vincent Pham) and articles in journals such as the International Journal of Cultural Studies, New Media and Society, Journal of Communication Inquiry, and Media, Culture and Society.

Adriel Luis is a self-taught musician, poet, curator, coder, and visual artist who believes imagination is key to transforming cultural paradigms. Originally from the California Bay Area and recently living in New York City and Beijing, Adriel is currently based in Washington DC as the Curator of Digital and Emerging Media at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. He is also a part of iLL-Literacy – a digital funk band that has been featured at SxSW, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and scores of stages nationwide. Prior to his work at the Smithsonian, Adriel helped pilot OneBeat – a U.S. State Department initiative that engaged artists from dozens of countries to convene in cultural diplomacy through music, and Bombshelltoe – an online platform dedicated to bridging nuclear issues with pop culture. Adriel frequently travels to different parts of Asia with particular interest in how digital space shapes global communities, and how varying levels of freedom of expression channel artistic political imagination. Adriel can be found across online platforms as @DRZZL.

Theresa Mah served as a Senior Policy Advisor and Director of Asian American Outreach in the Office of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn until January, 2015. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she studied history and ethnic studies at the University of California at Berkeley before attending the University of Chicago where she earned her Ph.D. in U.S. history. She has researched and written about housing segregation in the United States and has taught history, ethnic studies, and Asian American studies at various universities, including Northwestern University, New York University, Bowling Green State University, University of Illinois Chicago and the The University of Chicago. While on staff at an advocacy coalition in Chicago’s Chinatown, she led a successful redistricting effort for the Chicago Chinatown community; helped pass the Illinois Voting Rights Act of 2011; conceived the effort to establish an Asian American Caucus in the General Assembly; and spearheaded the passage of the Asian American Employment Plan Act. In her recent position, she oversaw the implementation of policies that promote diversity and inclusion at all levels of state government, paying particular attention to the recruitment, hiring,

retention and promotion of Asian Americans in order to better reflect the diversity of the state’s population. She worked closely with the Governor’s cabinet to ensure that state agencies provided adequate outreach and services to the Asian American population. She served as the Governor’s representative in the Asian American community and advocated for the state’s 600,000+ Asian Americans, bringing their issues and concerns to the highest levels of state government and promoted policies to address them.

Angela Mascarenas is one of the founders of CIRCA-Pintig, a Filipino-American theatre company based in Chicago, and currently serves as its Executive Director. She received her doctorate degree in Sociology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her scholarly work focused on social movements, race & ethnic relations, and cultural organizing. Her article entitled “Marching in March: Early Participation in Chicago’s Immigrant Mobilizations”, co-written with Prof Cedric Herring, appears in the book “Reinventing Race, Reinventing Racism” from Brill Press. Angela is also a Board member of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE).

Zon Moua identifies as a young Queer Hmoob womyn who is a community organizer at Freedom Inc in Madison WI. Since 16 years old, she has worked on issues of gender equality, queer and youth justice. Currently she is the Southeast Asian girls/teens and LGBTQ Program Director at Freedom Inc. Her most innovative work has been connecting young people with art, music and dance to social justice movements.

Joyce Moy is currently the Executive Director of the Asian American and Asian Research Institute (AAARI), of the City University of New York (CUNY). Her field of expertise is economic development and entrepreneurship. She was the first Asian American director of a New York State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) funded by the US Small Business Administration and New York State located at LaGuardia Community College. She developed a team of counselors that spoke, English, Spanish, Korean and 3 dialects of Chinese to address the needs of the underserved immigrant business community. Later, as Director of Economic Development at the College, she oversaw the SBDC, a Procurement Technical Assistance Center and a Center for Corporate Education. Joyce teaches at the City University and has developed entrepreneurship curriculum, conferences and experiential workshops for business owners. She has conducted numerous research projects on entrepreneurship and immigrant communities, and has been instrumental in guiding Fortune 500 companies on the subject of market penetration through specific research projects and staff training on these markets, infrastructure needs, cultural insights and marketing materials.

Paul M. Ong is Professor at UCLA’s School of Public Affairs, Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and Department of Asian American Studies, and has a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Washington and a doctorate in economics from UC Berkeley. He is the current director of the Center for the Study of Inequality and senior editor of AAPI Nexus: Asian American and Pacific Islander Policy, Practice and Community. He was the chair of UCLA’s Department of Urban Planning, director of the Lewis Center for Regional Policy Studies, acting director of the Institute for Industrial Relations, and founding director of UC AAPI Policy Program. He has conducted research on immigration, civic and political participation, economic status of minorities, welfare-to-work, health workers, urban spatial inequality, and environmental inequality. He has served on advisory committees for California’s Employment Development Department and Department of Social Services, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the Getty Research Institute for the History of Art and the Humanities, the California Wellness Foundation, the California Community Foundation, the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Research Council, the California League of Conservation Voters, Asian Pacific Legal Center, and PIU of the British Cabinet.

OiYan Poon is an Assistant Professor in Higher Education at Loyola University Chicago. Her research interests include racial inequalities in college access, affirmative action and selective admission policies, and Asian Americans in higher education. Dr. Poon has been involved in advocacy, research, and institutional development efforts related to AAPIs in education for over a decade. She was a key advocate for the establishment of federal AANAPISI designation, and a primary organizer in developing the UC AAPI Policy Multi-campus Research Program. She earned her Ph.D. in Education with a certificate in Asian American Studies from UCLA.

Ester Sihite is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Higher Education program at Loyola University Chicago. Her research interests include multicultural approaches in community colleges, first-generation immigrant adult learners, low-income Asian Americans, AANAPISIs, and racial stratification in higher education. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Washington and her M.A. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University.

Paul Y. Watanabe is currently Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Paul is Chair of the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic, and Other Populations; President of the Board of Directors of the Nisei Student Relocation Commemorative Fund; a member of the Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts; a member of the Advisory Board of the New Americans Integration Institute; and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Harry M. Dow Memorial Legal Assistance Fund. He is the author of Ethnic Groups, Congress, and American Foreign Policy and principal author of A Dream Deferred: Changing Demographics, New Opportunities, and Challenges for Boston. His scholarly articles have appeared in Asian American Law Journal; Asian American Policy Review; Asia-Pacific Journal of Oncology Nursing; Business in the Contemporary World; Journal of American College Health; New England Journal of Public Policy; Political Psychology; PS: Political Science and Politics; Public Perspective; Western New England Law Review; and World Today. He regularly contributes analysis and commentary to national and local media. Paul received his B.S. in Political Science from the University of Utah and Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University.

Janelle Wong has served on the Board of the Association of Asian American Studies since 2014. She received her PhD in Political Science from Yale University in 2000. She is currently Director of Asian American Studies and Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland. Her research is on race, ethnicity and politics with a focus on Asian American political behavior and attitudes.

Kathleen Yang-Clayton is the Director of Policy and Programs at Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Chicago and brings extensive academic and applied policy experience to her work with Advancing Justice – Chicago. Recent campaign and policy work has focused on winning state funding for Hepatitis B for foreign-born populations in IL, voting rights campaigns and language access. Her cross-movement work on voting rights resulted in the passage of landmark legislation in Illinois that expanded access to underserved communities through Same Day Registration and other fundamental election system reforms. She has given presentations and participated on panels related to voter rights and redistricting for the IL Campaign for Political Reform, the IL Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the Midwest Democracy Network. She also speaks to corporate HR mid-to-senior level mainstream staff and leaders on Asian American diversity – what some of the current issues that face AAPIs in the workplace and within society and how to better understand how those issues influence the perception of AAPIs. Dr. Yang-Clayton received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago. She also holds a M.S. in Natural Resource and Agricultural Economics from the University of Arizona and has worked as an agricultural economist for the World Bank in Sub-Saharan Africa. She serves on numerous committees and commissions for the City of Chicago, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and the Institute for Translational Medicine at the University of Chicago. Kathleen’s current focus is on multi-ethnic coalition development and youth program development to strengthen the civic engagement infrastructure of Asian American communities in the Midwest.

David K. Yoo is Professor of Asian American Studies and Director of the Asian American Studies Center at UCLA. His current research project is a co-edited book, Handbook of Asian American History (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). He teaches a service-learning course at UCLA in partnership with many of the leading Asian American community-based organizations in the greater Los Angeles area. In addition, he serves on boards for the Little Tokyo Service Center, the Korean American Scholarship Foundation, the Chinese American Oral History Project (California State University, Los Angeles) and the Huntington Library.