Conversation with 25 Leaders in Action: Taylor and Ayden Her

Thu, 2015-09-03

To commemorate AAPIP’s 25 years of building a more democratic philanthropic sector, we asked you to help us identify 25 leaders who are making a difference in your local community and/or nationally. The 25 Leaders in Action honorees represent a diverse group spanning a wide range of organizations, years of experiences, roles and sectors.  We invite you to learn about these outstanding leaders, their inspiring work and what keeps them going in our blog post series.

 

Ayden Her

1. Why are you passionate about advocating for AAPI communities?

I am passionate about advocating for AAPIs because I believe that no matter how young you are, the role you have in life, or your status, your voice matters.  Everyone has a voice and they should use it to make sure that everyone has the same opportunities and representation.

2. What do you believe are the most critical issues facing AAPI communities today?

I think there are many critical issues facing AAPI communities but the one I think is most important to me is that not enough people in the AAPI community are being recognized for their contributions to society, past and present, and when they are visible, like in the case of the American Girl Doll Ivy, they get taken away.

3. In what ways do you strive to address the unmet needs for AAPI communities?

I want to do as many things as possible for the AAPI community.  To do so, it helps me to know what AAPI needs are.  To learn what these needs are, I attend community events, participate in community initiatives, and talk about current events with my parents.  Once I gather this information, I listen to what issues and causes move me and then I act.

4. What keeps you inspired?

What keeps me inspired is knowing that I am learning so many new things and knowing that I am helping other people (and hoping I am inspiring other people as well).

5. What’s a favorite activity you enjoy during your personal time?

I really love doing gymnastics.  I completed in level 8 last year and hope that my work this summer will put me at a level 9 competition.  I train 22 hours a week and when I am not in the gym, I like to perform.  I have been in theater productions, commercials, and print.  I hope to do more of this in the future.

 

Taylor Her

1. Why are you passionate about advocating for AAPI communities?
I am passionate about advocating for AAPI communities because I believe that each individual has a voice that should be heard and honored.  Due to my love for performing, I believe that AAPI communities deserve to see real and wholesome characters in the media, such as in advertisements, film, performing arts, etc., while also providing an ample amount of these positive roles for them to play as well.

2. What do you believe are the most critical issues facing AAPI communities today?

I believe that of the multitude of issues AAPI communities face, the most critical is the allocation of philanthropic funds.  I find it extremely alarming how organizations geared towards helping these communities receive less than 1% of all philanthropic dollars.  AAPI communities are extremely diverse and as a result, each community faces their own specific struggles and hardships as well.  The giving circle that my family is a part of tries to aid those communities by providing microgrants for non-profits who actively try to solve issues in AAPI communities through their work. 

3. In what ways do you strive to address the unmet needs for AAPI communities?

I strive to address the unmet needs of the AAPI communities by being a positive role model for other young AAPI girls.  I have a first degree black belt in the martial art Kuk Sool Won.  I have been blessed with the opportunity to do demonstrations and performances at Asian American events, such as the Dragon Festival held at Lake Phalen.  I want to provide exposure to young AAPI girls in order to show them that they can be strong, smart, capable young ladies in everything that they do, whether it be in school, at sports, or in the arts.  Instilling these traits in young AAPI girls means they will have the confidence to pursue endeavors that will change people and communities not only locally but also globally.

4. What keeps you inspired?

My mother is the biggest source of inspiration for me.  Since the day she was born, she has been such an extremely strong, outspoken, and independent woman.  She always strives to be the happiest and most compassionate version of herself and has always been there to give me a motivational push or all of her unconditional love when I needed it most. She shows me the hardships and struggles I will inevitably face in my lifetime, but also provides me the tools, resources, and connections needed in combating those challenges.  My mother, and women like my mother, inspire every day, all the time.  My only hope is that I can live my life in a way that honors them while also serving as an inspiration for other young girls as well. 

5. What’s a favorite activity you enjoy during your personal time?
Whenever I have any down time, people can find me curling up with a book and reading.  Reading has always been the primary source of relaxation and entertainment for me.  I find great joy in reading due to its amazing ability to expand my worldviews while also allowing me to explore and question the human mind.  The author transports me into their world of words, ultimately providing an entertaining escape from our current reality while simultaneously teaching and educating me on their views and beliefs. 

Ayden Her is 12 years old and will be going into the 7th grade at Farnsworth Aerospace Middle School.  In addition to Ayden’s philanthropic work with the giving circle Building More Philanthropy with Purpose (BMPP), she also advocates for issues she cares about like the American Girl Doll Campaign and engages in the civic process by campaigning for candidates she believes in.  When Ayden is not doing this work, she likes to read, draw, and travel.  In her free time, she enjoys downhill skiing, playing her guitar, roller blading, singing, and performing. 

Taylor Her is 15 and will be going into 11th grade at Central High School.  Taylor’s first love is musical theater.  She has performed with multiple Twin Cities theatres, including Bloomington Civic Theatre, Mixed Precipitation, Mu Performing Arts, Ordway, and Steppingstone.  She also dances Latin & Ballroom, is a pianist for the Hmong United Methodist Youth band, and has a black belt in Kuk Sool Won Korean Martial Arts.  Taylor’s second love is social justice.  Her work includes being a member of the Building More Philanthropy with Purpose giving circle, creating awareness for amendments on the ballot for voting, and volunteering for organizations such as Feed My Starving Children.

 

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