Meet the 2014 Fellows!
  • Jenny Chhea
    Rosemead, CA
  • Katrina Cortes
    New York, NY
  • Amanda Em
    Long Beach, CA
  • Esther Kim
    Hanover, MA
  • Vida Kuang
    San Francisco, CA
  • Jeffrey Lau
    Boston/NY
  • Anna Lei
    San Francisco, CA
  • Korinna Li (Li Ke)
    Chengdu, China
  • Zizi Li
    ShenZhen, China
  • Lauren Liu
    San Mateo, CA
  • Pamela Ng
    San Gabriel, CA
  • Katharine Pong
    Burlingame, CA
  • Stanley Pun
    Oakland, CA
  • Kasey Shen
    Boston, MA
  • John Tieu
    New York, NY
  • Nancy Truong
    San Francisco, CA
  • Maria Vallarta
    Los Angeles, CA

Meet the 2014 Fellows

Jenny Chhea
Hometown: Rosemead, CA
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
I am a third year undergraduate student at UCLA, majoring in History, with a double minor in Political Science and Asian American Studies. I became interested in advocacy and social justice after joining UCLA’s student government but soon became interested in Asian Pacific Islander issues after getting involved with the Chinatown Community for Equitable Development, interning for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, and being co-community outreach director for UCLA’s Asian Pacific Coalition. I hope to someday go to law school to become a civil rights lawyer or policy advocate and plan to use my organizing skills to help in fighting for my community.
Katrina Cortes
Hometown: Jackson Heights, New York
Placement: Filipino Community Center
As I write this bio, I’m a graduating senior at Oberlin College. I’m a queer mixed Filipina and Costa Rican woman, and proud! I’ve been thinking a lot about connecting visions with logistics, and would like to gain more skills around how this all plays out in organizing. I’m at this point in my life where I’m questioning a lot about myself so I hope that my time as a Fellow will help me have a better understanding about the ways I have room to grow and transform, and also the ways I should be more confident in myself. For the long-run (or in the future year or two), I’d like to be more involved in arts-based community work, specifically with women of color and queer people of color communities. I also hope to bring the skills and resources I learn out in California to my communities back at home in New York, for some awesome intergenerational, multicultural, cross-coast skill sharing!
Amanda Em
Hometown: Long Beach
Placement: Khmer Girls in Action
I have been apart of Khmer Girls in Action for about 5 years now. I love the work that Khmer Girls in Action does. I love being apart of a bigger picture. I applied to the Fellowship because of the love and commitment I have for my community. I really started doing community work, and community organizing because I saw all the things that were going wrong in my community: like the high rates of high school drop outs, the low rates of high school graduates among people of color. I noticed that a lot of people place the blame on us as youth and students, but when i started doing community work, I realized that there was something bigger than us, that there were factors that we couldn’t control that affected our ability to be successful. What I hope to gain by being a fellow is some training, political education, and strategies, on how to become a better organizer. I want to take what I learn from the fellowship and take it back to my community to really make a difference in people’s lives.
Esther Kim
Hometown: Hanover, MA
Placement: CPA – Boston
I’m a second-generation Korean American woman, born and raised in Hanover, Massachusetts. Currently, I am a junior at Tufts University, studying Clinical Psychology and Child Development, and minoring in Asian American Studies. As a Fellow, I hope to gain a lot of experiences and imagine greater visions for empowering Asian American communities to work towards social justice for all. I hope to build connections with people who are committed to (and are already working within) Asian American communities & their empowerment in participating in/creating social justice movements. I hope to use the organizing skills gained through this fellowship when I go back to Tufts & wherever I’ll be post-graduation. I hope to become more politically active on campus and join my peers in organizing around various issues.
Vida Kuang
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I graduated in 2013 from the University of Chicago, where I studied Art History and sociocultural Anthropology. However, my education did not begin in college, but came earlier from growing up in my family store in Chinatown. There in the storefront, I was exposed to a myriad of stories from the community, which cultivated my appetite for narrative. I believe storytelling is one of the most fundamental ways people across all identities can engage with one another. Since volunteering with CPA, my idea and sense of community has expanded beyond the physical boundaries of Chinatown into other communities in the City and Bay Area who are working on similar issues. Through the fellowship, I hope to learn more about strategies to implement social change through political and cultural organizing.
Jeffrey Lau
Hometown: Boston/New York
Placement: CAAAV – Organizing Asian Communities
After moving to Boston, I quickly became involved in Boston’s Chinatown through the Chinese Progressive Association – Boston. As a member of CPA’s youth program, I learned that I could help Asian American youth like myself through community organizing. While organizing with other Asian American high school youth around community issues such as access to city-funded youth jobs and affordable public transportation, I saw the impact grassroots organizing had on creating systemic change for youth and our communities. During my time at Boston CPA, I realized more and more that in order to support and improve the lives of Asian American youth like myself, I needed to make change both on interpersonal and institutional levels. Through the National Fellowship for Asian American Organizing, I can continue to improve the skills needed to organize with Asian American youth and their communities.
Anna Lei
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I am a rising Sophomore at Tufts University and am originally from San Francisco. I am so excited to come back to the Bay Area after so many months in New England (I love you too, Boston <3). I applied to be a fellow because I have seen and have been affected by the effective work of fellows in the past. As a member of CPA San Francisco’s youth program, Youth MOJO, I got a glimpse into the fellowship and this helped me realize that it is a program that I definitely want to be involved with. As a fellow, I want to learn more about the history of social movements, myself, current local issues, and skills that I can bring back to my own campus. I also want to be able to build national and intercollegiate connections (I want to make beautiful friendships with my fellow Fellows)! Next year I will be External Political Action Co-Chair of Tufts Asian American Alliance. Looking forward to a great summer!
Korinna Li
Hometown: Chengdu, China
Placement: CPA Boston
I was born in Sichuan, China. I immigrated to Toronto, Canada when I was 7 with my parents, immigrated to Boston in middle school. For the last 4 years, I have been in San Diego for college. I will be graduating this May with a BA in Ethnic Studies. I applied to the fellowship because I wanted to find opportunities to dive right into organizing, not only honing organizing skills, but also really understanding the dynamics of organizing. I want to be ready to be an effective organizer, and really get things done. I am also super excited to be working with Boston CPA on the community stabilization campaign because fighting (mal)urban development is my main area of interest, and I hope to one day learn enough about planning, policy, geography etc. to be able to organize communities in China.
Zizi Li
Hometown: Shenzhen, China
Placement: CPA San Francisco
Currently, I am studying at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. I paid a lot of attention to social justice, human rights, and freedom of speech back in China but did not really have any opportunity to do some real things. After reading Iris Chang’s “The Chinese in America”, I became more and more interested in Chinese immigrants and want to try my best to help. One of my biggest dreams is to help working class Chinese immigrants to live better lives. The fellowship offers a perfect chance for me to get closer to my dream. I hope to fully engage in Chinese immigrant community, learn and reflect from real immigrant experiences with all other Fellows.
Lauren Liu
Hometown: San Mateo, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I applied for the fellowship because I couldn’t shake the strong pull and anxiousness I felt towards the thought of doing work in the low-income Asian immigrant community. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been doing mostly direct service in predominantly black/brown communities, which is important, but doesn’t change systems or build collective power. The fellowship is an opportunity to get back to the roots of how I got politicized and reconnect to what really grounds me in this work – my great grandma/grandma/mama’s struggles and resilience, growing up in a low-income single mama household and immigrant family, understanding my hxstory as an Asian American womxn of color, and my intersecting identities.
Pamela Ng
Hometown: San Gabriel, CA
Placement: Chinatown Community for Equitable Development

I am a second generation, working class, Asian American cis-gendered womyn who attends Scripps College. I am majoring in Asian American Studies and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and am very active in my campus community.I grew up in a low-income, single parent household in Alhambra, CA, where I attended public school. I applied for this fellowship because I wanted to continue doing community work – specifically in a community with which I was familiar and had connections. I knew I wanted to work with CCED, and I knew that I wanted to continue to grow the skills that I was beginning to develop. I wanted to take what I had learned from my work and in the classroom, and apply those skills into the real world. To me, there is so much to gain by being a Fellow – learning how to work with different generations, to work with a variety of people with a range of experiences and skills. I hope that whatever I gain from this fellowship I can pay it forward to my communities on campus and off – whether it is with a more efficient system of organizing, or connections to organizations and people that I will work with.

Katharine Pong
Hometown: Burlingame, CA
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
I’m a rising junior at Tufts University majoring in American Studies and English and minoring in Asian American Studies. On campus, I am a member of the swim team and section editor for the Tufts Observer, which is a biweekly student-run magazine. Other things I like include cooking, exploring new places, and words. Having participated in the Chinatown Community Development Center’s Urban Institute last summer in San Francisco, I wanted to participate in this fellowship to keep developing personally and engaging my learning through social justice work. This summer, I’m looking forward to furthering my advocacy and leadership skills while getting to know a new community. I’m especially drawn to the way in which APEN addresses issues of environmental injustice in the context of Asian America, because these are two issues that are very important to me but aren’t always addressed in the same space. I am excited to learn more about community organizing and apply it to my work as an External Political Action co-chair next year for Tufts’ Asian American Alliance!
Stanley Pun
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
I have always had a passion for social justice and fighting for equality. Growing up in a low income neighborhood and attending a diverse public school sparked my interest to look for ways to improve my community. My work with other organizations showed me that real change is possible through organizing. I hope to gain and develop new leadership skills and deepen my organizing repertoire, to become involved in new communities and work with new cohorts and become a better organizer. I apply the skills I have learned from the fellowship to my passion for education. Developing campaigns and educational materials, public speaking, and brainstorming ways to make information engaging and digestible will help me develop skills to become an educator.
Kasey Shen
Hometown: Boston, MA
Placement: Asian Pacific Environmental Network
I’m a Boston-area-native with a love for making handcrafts to exploring the sciences and especially working in social justice and community organizing. I love spending time in Boston Chinatown and really enjoy the people around me. I applied for the fellowship because I really wanted to delve further into the parallel issues that affect many communities across the nation. After working in Boston’s Chinatown for ~4 years with the Chinese Progressive Association – Boston, I knew that the problems were not just one community’s but an entire community’s across the United States. I hope to learn more about how different issues adapt to each individual area while also maintaining its same core problems. By working with the people, I hope to gain more “tools” to be able to help communities that deal with the same difficulties. I especially believe that I will learn new approaches to situations and I will definitely bring that with me to wherever I go.
John Tieu
Hometown: New York City, NY
Placement: CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities
I am from the housing projects in the Two Bridges neighborhood of New York City. I’m currently studying economics at Bard College in upstate New York. During my time here I became very interested in developing my identity, as well as understanding the contemporary issues that Asian Americans across the country face today. My studies here also led to an interest in urban development topics, from zoning policies in American cities to discrimination and racial segregation practices in the housing markets. Through this fellowship, I hope to learn more about community organization and development, as well as understand how non-profit and advocacy organizations function.
Nancy Truong
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Placement: CPA San Francisco
For most of my high school education, I never had the chance to participate in discussions about social activism or social justice. I have learned a lot more about these ideas since coming to college. I see the fellowship as a way for me to learn about the history of activism in the API community, specifically in San Francisco, as well as the challenges we are currently facing. I hope that this hands-on experience will give me the skills to do work in communities at school and spread awareness about API issues. I also hope to find my role in the API community in the future.
Maria Vallarta
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Placement: Filipino Community Center
My background in community organizing and student activism has inspired me to apply for this fellowship. I hope to learn more about the Bay Area’s Asian American community as well as improve and further develop my organizing skills and strategies. I hope to use my background in the arts and higher education to inspire and empower others. This fellowship will greatly prepare me for my future career endeavors and solidify my identity as a scholar-activist.

Learn more about the 2014 Host Sites