AAPI Equity Alliance leader wins James Irvine Leadership Award

Civil rights leader Manjusha Kulkarni of the AAPI Equity Alliance in Los Angeles is one of nine people to be honored this year with the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The award goes to leaders recognized for their innovative solutions to critical state challenges.

Kulkarni turned an organization known for its behind the scenes work to one that leads a coalition of 40 organizations that serves 1.6 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles.

Formerly known as A3PCON, she joined the 40-year organization in 2017 to work in such areas as health care access, interpersonal violence and mental health.

In 2020 she co-founded Stop AAPI Hate in response to the growing anti-Asian racism that spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AAPI Equity Alliance has worked hard to build bridges within the AAPI community and with other groups.

“We’ve always been a coalition that works with other marginalized communities. That’s really for us about building power,” Kulkarni said. “There’s a lot of work to be done to know and understand what’s happening in our communities and then bring about belonging for significant populations.”

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