After months of wondering if the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders would continue to exist in the Donald Trump administration, a new executive director has been named.
The advisory commission is assured to continue within the U.S. Department of Education after the announcement naming Holly Ham as executive director.
In this capacity, she is responsible for directing the efforts of the White House Initiative and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs to advise federal agency leadership on the implementation and coordination of federal programs as they relate to AAPIs across executive departments and agencies. The White House Initiative on AAPIs works with these entities to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through increased access to, and participation in, federal programs in which they may be underserved.
“I am excited to step into this role at a time when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are now the fastest growing racial group in the country,” says Ham. “This is a wonderful opportunity to connect this diverse community to federal programs and resources, and I look forward to meeting with community members across the country.”
Two of Ham’s immediate priorities include filling the President’s Advisory Commission and touring across the country to mend fences with AAPI community leaders.
Sixteen of the 20-member commission resigned in February citing differences with the new administration on sanctuary cities, refugee bans, increased border and immigrant enforcement and attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The vast majority of the AAPI voters did not support the Republican candidate or the new president’s actions since he took office.
Chris Lu, former Deputy Secretary of Labor and former co-chair of the commission said Trump’s position on issues have been “destructive” toward the AAPI community.
Prior to joining the Trump campaign, Ham had an extensive career in private enterprise focused on increasing organizations’ productivity through technology. Ham is a fellow at the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute (APAWLI) through the Center for Asian Pacific American Women.