LOS ANGELES (Dec. 9, 2021)—Recognizing its 45 years of service to the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, today the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON) announced a new name: AAPI Equity Alliance. Learn more about the organization and its mission at aapiequityalliance.org.
“Our new name reflects our inclusive coalition committed to community strengthening and equity for all,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, Executive Director, AAPI Equity Alliance. “We are proud to represent more than 40 community-based organizations that advocate for the rights and needs of Asian American and Pacific Islanders. As we move into the future as AAPI Equity Alliance, we remain committed to justice and equity, with particular focus on low income, immigrant, refugee and other vulnerable populations in our community.”
The organization was founded in 1976 as the “Asian Lunch Bunch”—an informal gathering of leaders from Asian community-serving organizations in Los Angeles. “We were focused on the needs of our diverse AAPI community, including health and mental health services, older adults, housing and economic development,” said Ron Wakabayashi, Founding President (1978-1980), founding director of the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP), and held positions as Regional Director, United States Department of Justice Community Relations Service, National Director of Japanese American Citizens League, and Director of L.A. County Human Relations Commission. “This new chapter emerges at a time of growing health and social disparities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the unacceptable rising violence and hate targeting our communities.”
“Rising to these challenges, our new name centers equity at the very heart of our identity and reinforces our continued commitment and investment in empowering our communities and galvanizing deeper civic participation to achieve a more equitable life for our Asian American and Pacific Islander communities,” said Kulkarni. “We will build on the grassroots foundation set by our founders and the work of our current member organizations to continue to be a leading voice on local, state, and national issues related to gender-based violence and social, racial, environmental, health, and economic justice for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.”
“Our legacy is strong, and our future is bright,” said Rachelle Arizmendi, President of the AAPI Equity Alliance Board of Directors. “Through the pandemic, our member organizations have remained steadfast and committed to meeting the needs of our communities. As AAPI Equity Alliance, we understand the diverse needs of the 1.5 million Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Southern California and will continue to advocate for the rights of all people and to ensure the sustainability and viability of our member organizations.”
At the dawn of the pandemic, AAPI Equity Alliance joined with Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University to form Stop AAPI Hate, a collaborative dedicated to fighting anti-Asian racism awakened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The effort earned Kulkarni and other Stop AAPI Hate founders the recognition of “Top 100 People of 2021” by TIME magazine for their work fighting violence and hate crimes directed against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Our efforts with Stop AAPI Hate constitute just one aspect of our mission, but it has helped shine a light on the need for equity for all Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” Kulkarni said. “Our most important work is advanced by our member organizations, namely improving the lives of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through civic engagement, capacity building, and policy advocacy.”
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For more information about AAPI Equity Alliance, visit aapiequityalliance.org or @AAPIEquityAlliance on Facebook and Instagram, and @AAPIEquity on Twitter.