Staff and Board full bios

APEN’S STAFF

Eric Chan, Oakland Operations Associate | eric [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Eric was born and raised in San Francisco to Chinese immigrant parents. He studied Molecular Environmental Biology and minored in Environmental Justice at U.C. Berkeley ever since he discovered his passion for environmental sciences in high school. Since then, he has spent his time and effort at Sierra Club’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program that focused on creating inclusive spaces in the work environment while providing educational tools and resources for racial, social, and economic justice for public use. Eric is thrilled to join an environmental justice focused organization that shares the same values as he does and is excited to contribute to the larger environmental movement. In his spare time, Eric likes to hike the outdoors, play volleyball and tennis, and attend concerts.

Puja Dahal, Richmond Operations Associate | puja [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Puja immigrated to San Pablo, CA with her family from Nepal, and in college, she had the opportunity to return to work closely with women and children in the rural villages.  Through her involvement, Puja noticed one common pattern in both countries. She saw that many youth were suffering from mental health issues as a result of their internal and external environment, and how that was affecting their overall well-being and their presentation as individuals. Puja graduated from UC Berkeley in 2016 with a degree in Social Welfare and Global Poverty & Practice. As an APEN youth member, she helped lead APEN’s voter registration campaign along with local measures and proposition work in 2016. She also participated in her first lobbying work with APEN in Sacramento with her 10-year-old brother to advance environmental and climate justice. Puja’s passion continues to be working with marginalized communities, so that they can have access to equal, equitable, and healthy environment where they can thrive mentally and physically.

Jing Jing He, Oakland Community Organizer | jingjing [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Jing Jing was born in TaiShan, GuangDong, China. She immigrated to the United States when she was 13. She speaks fluently in TaiShanese, Mandarin, Cantonese and English. She graduated last year with a Social Welfare degree from UC Berkeley. Jing Jing’s role at APEN as a community organizer helps fight for social and environmental justice. Previously, Jing Jing has also participated in APEN Action, a program designed to help organize and educate API voters.  As a community organizer, she hopes to first educate herself, then bring her knowledge about grassroots organizing to the community and learn from the community. She wants to help generate power in the Asian community into having greater influence in where they live and work.

Rachel Lee Holstein, Development Director | rachellee [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Rachel Lee joined APEN with 10+ years worth of experience in nonprofit fundraising and communications. She has raised donation dollars to fund mural art, elderly services, employment programs for formerly incarcerated men and women, international hunger relief, and fair trade for farmers and farm workers. She has creative produced and project managed micro-documentaries, online campaigns, and events of all sizes. A rainmaker for social justice, she loves working with passionate people at organizations that are making waves and manifesting positive change. Like APEN.

Anya Huang, Anti-Displacement Organizer | anya [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Anya is a first generation Chinese-American originally from Hong Kong and raised in the Bay Area. After graduating from Cornell University, she worked for NGOs in Europe that fostered community building through sports. When she returned home for a master’s degree in public health, she became aware of the injustices in her community as she saw how real estate developers were harassing and evicting low-income Chinese tenants who didn’t know their rights. This led her to APEN where she first started as a canvasser on the state team, and is now the anti-displacement organizer in the Chinatown office. 

Vivian Yi Huang, Campaign and Organizing Director | vivian [at] apen4ej [dot] org
APEN organizes API community members to advance an environmental, social, and economic justice agenda.  Prior to working at APEN, Vivian spent seven years advocating for statewide policy, legislation, and budget funding for immigrants, communities of color, migrant farmworkers, and women.  She was Director of Legislative Advocacy at Asian Americans for Civil Rights & Equality (the Sacramento office of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian Pacific American Legal Center, and Asian Law Caucus), as well as Deputy Director of Policy at the California Primary Care Association (the statewide organization representing community health clinics). Vivian also worked on federal policy a as  Presidential Management Fellow.

Ratha Lai, Our Power Campaign Coordinator | ratha [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Ratha holds a Bachelors of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies Field from UC Berkeley. He brings experience in community and political organizing, public policy, and community development. He is a mission-driven individual, who has worked for mission-driven organizations focused on marginalized communities. He has experienced first-hand how poor urban planning, unsafe air and water quality lead to compounding social and health complications. These experiences make him deeply rooted in the initiatives and programs APEN focuses on.

Maria Morales, Finance Coordinator | maria [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Maria Morales grew up in Minnesota where the values of environmental justice, immigrant, women’s and labor rights were impressed upon her at an early age. She brings to APEN over 15 years of non-profit administrative experience working with Bay Area API immigrant communities.  Maria is proud to support APEN’s work to advance equity and environmental justice and she appreciates the organization’s ability to flex its network in larger regional and national coalition spaces while still developing ladders of engagement for a local base of marginalized immigrant communities. She has a BA from Oberlin College and speaks English, Spanish and conversational Chinese (Mandarin). 

Torm Nompraseurt, Richmond Community Organizer | torm [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Torm was born and raised in Laos where he completed his teacher college training and worked as a director of a community development and education project. He escaped to Thailand in May 1975, and arrived in the U.S as one of the first Laotian refugee families to settle in Contra Costa County. He has deep connections with the Laotian community and has co-founded and served as a board member to several Laotian non-profits. He has extensive experience in both social services and the non-profit sector working as an eligibility worker with the Contra Costa County social services for over a decade, providing consulting services to governments and non-profits, and providing interpretation and translation services in Lao, Khmu, and Thai. Torm has been with APEN in different roles since 1995, and believes in compassion, love and care for a strong a visionary future. 

Amee Raval, Policy and Research Associate | amee [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Amee is a first-generation Indian American, who was born and raised on the East Coast. Her personal experiences have supported her awareness of how inequalities in the workplace, as well as the built and natural environment, influence community health. As a recent master’s graduate from UC Berkeley School of Public Health, her studies have focused on the intersection between worker health, climate resilience, and environmental justice. She previously worked with the Natural Resources Defense Council to support international policy advocacy efforts protecting vulnerable urban communities in India from extreme heat due to climate change as well as worsening air pollution. Prior to attending Berkeley, she spent a year in India supporting research and educational outreach on the social and environmental costs of the electronics industry. In her new role at APEN, Amee is committed to building a stronger understanding of California’s political landscape and the policy strategies by which APEN supports the environmental and climate justice movement. In her free time, she enjoys supporting radical South Asian community groups and exploring the Bay Area on her bicycle!

Shina Robinson, Local Policy Associate | shina [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Shina has a deep commitment to environmental justice as the intersection of human rights, equity, health, and ecological sanity. She has experienced the link between environmental health and poverty at a young age between visiting family in the Philippines and growing up in the shadow of a Los Angeles area oil refinery. Shina began work with human rights campaigns while pursuing undergraduate degrees in International Studies and Political Science at Long Beach State and focused on climate disaster relief and food justice. At APEN, Shina has served as Executive Assistant, building and supporting sustainable infrastructure for the organization. As Local Policy Associate, she now organizes our member leaders to pass and implement policies for community resistance and resilience in Oakland, Richmond, and with statewide partners..

Laiseng Saechao, State Organizer | laiseng [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Born and raised in Richmond, Laiseng grew up noticing the deep inequalities that existed in her community. A serendipitous enrollment in the course, “Ecological Justice” taught her about the work of APEN and their organizing efforts in her own backyard. This inspired her to become engaged with on campus organizing through her programmatic work on topics including race, gender, class, and disability at the social justice center, Scripps Communities of Resources and Empowerment. It also meant spending two summers at APEN as an intern learning about local campaigns, and grassroots organizing in 2013 and 2015. In order to tie her academia to her passion for equity, Laiseng graduated from Scripps College with a degree in Politics and International Relations where her concentration was Power and Justice. This allowed her to combine political theory, public policy, and personal narratives to understand the ways we fight against systems of oppression and build power from it. Laiseng is extremely excited to find her political home at APEN and is looking forward to working alongside members and allies for healthy communities we can live, work, and play!

Lio meng (Sandy) Saeteurn, Richmond Community Organizer | sandy [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Sandy was born in Thailand and came to the United States at the age of 3 months. Her family is from Laos and her native tribe and language is called Mien. Sandy comes from a big family. She has a mother, 5 sisters, 2 brothers, 13 nieces and nephews, and 2 children.

Sandy grew up in Richmond, California. At the age of 14, Sandy was introduced to environmental justice and organizing through APEN’s youth program Asian Youth Advocates (AYA). Sandy’s been with APEN for 15 years, and has played a variety of roles such as, Youth Advocate, General Support Associate, Youth Organizer, LOP (Laotian Organizing Project) Community Leader, and currently is Community Organizer. Her passion is to organize and empower Asians to fight for their rights. For work, Sandy organizes the community, for play, she organizes her family, she is a true organizer!

Parin Shah, Senior Strategist | parin [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Prior to APEN, Parin was with Green For All where he worked with cities and counties on equity and environmental policy.  In 2004, he founded the Urban Accords Institute, which in 2005 co-hosted the UN World Environment Day in San Francisco out of which was developed the Urban Environmental Accords-a road map for creating green cities. From 2000-04 as the President of the Commission on the Environment for the City and County of San Francisco, he co-authored ground-breaking legislation on climate change, environmental justice, wetlands conservation & restoration, zero waste, green buildings and food security. Parin has also developed and managed habitat restoration projects, horticultural education and job-training programs for formerly incarcerated youth and adults in San Francisco. He began his community work in Tunisia as a Peace Corps Volunteer where he led community development projects, taught, and supported the organization of a local women’s weaving cooperative. 

Seng So, State Organizer | seng [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Seng has been a youth organizer in California’s immigrant communities since 2007, most recently with the Young Men’s Empowerment Program at Khmer Girls In Action. He has previously served as a youth organizer for Youth Together around issues of educational justice across racial, ethnic and generational lines and with a grassroots organization called Serve the People, an organization dedicated to the liberation of Asian Pacific Islander communities through organizing. In the 1980s Seng’s parents fled the Khmer genocide and settled in the Bay Area. It is from this history — the struggles and sacrifices of his ancestors — that paves his path today. At the heart of his life and work are three principles — community, love, liberation.

Joty Sohi, Executive Assistant | joty [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Joty is a first generation Indian American, who was born and raised in New York. Recognizing social injustices from a very early age, Joty is driven to advance social and economic rights.  Joty is joining APEN with over 6 years of experience in international development. Prior to APEN, Joty worked at Open Society Foundation, supporting efforts to strengthen women’s right organizations and movements, advancing reproductive rights and justice, and promoting economic rights. Joty also had the the opportunity to work as a Peace Fellow in Nepal. Where she worked with a local community organization; she was involved in the development and implementation of a major sustainable child educational project. Joty holds a BA in Sociology and Political Science, and a MA in International Politics and Human Rights.  

Kenneth Tang, Oakland Community Organizer | kenneth [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Kenneth joined as APEN staff in April 2015. He never, in his wildest dreams, thought he would be working for a non-profit transformative organization. He grew up with a capitalist mindset and really didn’t know about environmental justice movement until he started coming to APEN. At the invitation of his peers, he was able to realize how extractive our economy is with the current system. Before he was hired, Kenneth started out as an APEN volunteer and became a member shortly after. As a immigrant from Hong Kong, he is passionate about connecting with the Chinese community, and he enjoys spending times with seniors for they are full of wisdoms and advices that we can all learn and benefit from.

Chiravann Uch, Operations Coordinator | chiravann [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Chiravann is a first generation Cambodian American from Oakland, California. After working with youth organizations like AYPAL and Forward Together throughout high school, she began to see the power and resilience of Asian/Pacific Islander communities. Through youth organizing, she became exposed to environmental justice work through conducting interviews with nail salons about healthier work conditions and facilitating community workshops on climate justice. Before graduating from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Asian American Studies and Sociology, she coordinated a 3-year mentorship for low-income Oakland and Richmond high school students and served as Executive Director for REACH!, the Asian/Pacific Islander Recruitment and Retention Center on campus. As she continues to (re)discover her own roots coming from an immigrant refugee background, she is grateful to come full circle back to environmental justice and have the opportunity to bring her leadership to APEN.

Malcolm Amado Uno, Senior Advisor | amado [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Before joining APEN, Amado served as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Labor in the Office of Public Engagement where he expanded opportunities for community participation in the grants and regulatory process, served on the interagency implementation team of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and assisted in the Department’s efforts to engage organized labor.  As the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, he created strong labor and community partnerships, advocated for multi-generational leadership in the labor movement, helped to train the next generation of AAPI union organizers and implemented APALA’s Every Vote Counts political program.  Amado is a recipient of the Public Policy and International Affairs Fellowship and the Coro Fellowship and received his graduate degree in Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

Mei-ying Williams, Operations Director | mei-ying [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Mei-ying has served as the Operations Director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) since 2008. She is committed to helping to establish and further support strong organizations advancing our collective struggles for justice. Prior to beginning her tenure at APEN, Mei-ying worked for five years at the School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL), three years of which was as Co-Director. She has also worked as an 8th grade English and History teacher in Oakland, and is the proud mama to a joyful and energetic 4-year old who teaches her lessons daily. Mei-ying currently represents APEN on the coordinating committee for the Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. She also sits on the Board of Directors at the Rockwood Leadership Institute.

Alvina Wong, Oakland Organizing Director | alvina [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Alvina Wong is the Oakland Organizing Director at the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. In her role, she fights the displacement of low-income and working-class Chinese immigrants and secures opportunities for clean, quality and sustainable jobs for immigrant families. She has led campaigns to stop evictions of SRO tenants, win community benefits to preserve Oakland Chinatown, and build the leadership of impacted immigrants to fight for environmental justice. Recognizing the role policies can play to protect the most impacted and vulnerable communities, she leads her team to continue intergenerational organizing towards building power and community governance at the neighborhood, city, and regional levels, ensuring the leadership of local communities. Alvina began organizing in the Chinese immigrant community as an Eva Lowe Fellow at Chinese Progressive Association, SF and prior to this, she spent eight years developing and organizing young people around education, incarceration and violence prevention.

Miya Yoshitani, Executive Director | miya [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Miya has an extensive background in community organizing, campaign strategy, leadership development and training, organizational development, and fundraising, and a long history of working in the environmental justice movement. In her twenties she was the executive director of the largest student environmental network in the US, the Student Environmental Action Coalition, SEAC, and worked broadly in international environment and development networks organizing for environmental and economic justice. Miya was a participant in the First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit in 1991, and was on the drafting committee of the original Principles of Environmental Justice, a defining document for the environmental justice movement. Miya first joined the APEN staff in the mid-90’s as a youth organizer, and has served as lead organizer, development director and spearheaded APEN’s strategic planning. APEN has been fighting – and winning – environmental justice struggles for the past 18 years and remains one of the most unique organizations in the country explicitly developing the leadership and power of low-income Asian American immigrant and refugee communities. APEN has been a trailblazer in bringing the voices of APA communities to the forefront of environmental health and social justice fights in the Bay Area, winning real policy solutions for the community across a gamut of issues including occupational safety of high-tech workers, affordable housing, transportation and land-use, and challenging multinational corporations to mitigate pollution that is devastating the health and well-being of countless low-income communities of color.

Megan Zapanta, Richmond Community Organizer | megan [at] apen4ej [dot] org
Megan started her environmental activism in high school by organizing recycling drives and Hurricane Katrina relief funds. As a Black Studies major at Amherst College, she deepened her commitment to fighting for racial and economic justice. After college, she organized workers for Unite Here Local 30 in her hometown of San Diego before she moved to Oakland to work as APEN’s Development Associate. Over 2 1/2 years, Megan helped throw many APEN events from happy hours to Galas and expanded the organization’s grassroots fundraising capacity and social media presence. In her new role as a community organizer, she is proud to support Richmond residents in advancing local solutions to climate change. Outside of work, Megan practices martial arts, plays soccer, reads science fiction and serves as the chair of Anakbayan East Bay.

APEN’S BOARD

Daniel Kikuo Ichinose M.A. directs the Demographic Research Project at Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, the nation’s largest legal organization serving Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities. He oversees the organization’s Census Information Center (CIC) and is lead researcher on several projects, including ongoing studies of Asian American political participation. He is a veteran of two statewide redistricting campaigns, working with stakeholders throughout California to construct the Asian American and NHPI community’s first statewide redistricting proposal in 2001 and the state’s first majority Asian American legislative district in 2011. He holds a M.A. in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Joanne Kim sets the strategic priorities for business development, housing and transportation projects for the Los Angeles City Council District Eight. She also advises Council Member Marqueece Harris-Dawson on planning, land use, and economic development. Before joining City Hall in 2015, Joanne served as the Chief Operating Officer of Community Coalition, one of the nation’s leading community organizing institutions. She was responsible for setting the strategic vision for the organization, overseeing the executive management team, and building up the human resources infrastructure. Joanne received her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Master of Public Health from University of California, Los Angeles. She resides in the West Adams area of South Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Hao T. Lam is a hands-on CPA with over 20 years of experience managing accounting and finances in both the private and public accounting sectors. For four years Hao worked in a small start-up with global experts in energy efficiency financing to develop innovative energy-based financial mechanisms to support clean technology.

Prior to this, Hao served as the CFO and Controller for a very entrepreneurial company where he led in creating, implementing, and managing the accounting systems and controls for multiple non-profit and for-profit entities. Hao has Big Four accounting experience and has worked in both tax and audit. Hao is comfortable with high-profile, high-energy industry leaders and enjoys presenting complex financial information in a simple, elegant way.

Nayantara Mehta is a Senior Staff Attorney at the National Employment Law Project in Berkeley. She works on eliminating unfair barriers to employment for people with criminal records and expanding the employment rights of other vulnerable workers. Prior to working at NELP, she was Senior Counsel at Alliance for Justice and a Fellow with the Women’s Policy Institute, a lobbying and leadership development program of the Women’s Foundation of California. She has advised and worked on policy campaigns related to reproductive justice, immigrant rights, and many other social and economic justice issues. She also provided trainings and technical assistance to nonprofits and foundations on the legal issues related to lobbying and election-related activities.  Nayantara has a BA from the College of William and Mary, an MA from the University of Chicago, and a JD from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. 

Vu-Bang Nguyen is a program officer focused on SVCF’s regional planning grantmaking strategy. He was previously an associate director of land use and housing at Urban Habitat, where he was site lead for the Great Communities Collaborative, working on regional planning initiatives and local transit-oriented development campaigns. He also co-authored Moving Silicon Valley Forward — research on the costs of inequitable development in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — and Moving to Work, which examines  the intersection between workforce development, economic development and equitable transit-oriented development.

Vu-Bang also has worked for the City of Berkeley’s Department of Planning, the Town of Los Gatos Planning Division and for a real estate development company working on infill residential development projects in Fremont, San José and Los Gatos. Vu-Bang holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of California, Berkeley, where he created a community engagement handbook for the San José Redevelopment Agency to increase Vietnamese American participation in local government decisions. He also earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture at Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design. He is a longstanding member of the American Planning Association (APA) and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Catherina “Cat” Nou has been a public policy leader for more than a decade. Cat currently serves as the Chief Consultant for the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. She previously served as Chief of Staff for a California State Assemblymember. Prior to joining the California State Assembly, Cat worked as the California Policy Advocate for a national civil rights organization where she focused on policies impacting Southeast Asian Americans in California.

Cat is the daughter and sister of refugees from Cambodia and was recognized for her work advancing the human rights of Cambodian women and girls with the Courage and Leadership Award by Devata Giving Circle. She graduated from the University of California, Davis and later obtained a Master of Arts in Higher Education at Sacramento State.

Shiree Teng has worked in the social sector for 30+ years as a social and racial justice champion—as a front line organizer, advocate, network facilitator, capacity builder, grantmaker, and evaluator and learning partner. Shiree brings to the work a lifelong commitment to social change and a belief in the potential of groups of people coming together to create powerful solutions to entrenched social issues.