Meet 3 of AAPIP's Newest Chapter Co-Chairs

Wed, 2016-10-05

AAPIP's ten Chapters play an important role in advancing our mission to expand and mobilize resources for AAPI communities to build a more just and equitable society. Chapter Co-Chairs are volunteer leaders who play a critical role as our ears on the ground, helping us develop local programming addressing AAPI issues, and building partnerships with regional members, philanthropic institutions and community-based organizations.

This year, we're excited to welcome 11 new chapter leaders - and we'd like you to meet them! Over the course of the next few months, we will be featuring a short interview with each of them here on our blog. Keep checking back to meet more of our co-chairs.

Jennifer Choi (Chicago Chapter)
Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Jennifer Choi oversees the journalism grant portfolio for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation’s Democracy Program. Prior to joining the Foundation, Jennifer served as Chicago Public Media/WBEZ’s Director of Institutional Initiatives, and also held staff positions with the Illinois College of Optometry, Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago and Korean American Women in Need (KAN-WIN). Jennifer sits on the boards of Common Cause of Illinois, Access Living and Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and serves as a public policy committee member for Independent Sector. Previously, she served as grant-making co-chair for Asian Giving Circle in Chicago.

1. How and why did you get involved with AAPIP? What goals do you hope to accomplish as an AAPIP Co-Chair?

Truthfully I can never say no to my co-chair Hina Mahmood. I wanted the opportunity to work with a powerhouse like her and meaningfully contribute to our Asian American philanthropic community as her partner-in-crime.

2. What do you think are the most important issues affecting the AAPI community in your area?

We’re in an interesting political moment for Asian Americans to become a powerful constituent group for change with regard to immigration reform and other issues affecting Asian American communities. Right now there is an anti-Muslim rhetoric that has pervaded an anti-immigrant sentiment from our current Governor that we have an obligation to address.

3. If you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

The one dish I would eat for the rest of my life would be the dish I used to eat growing up, which was a small bowl of rice with a sunny-side up fried egg mixed with a tablespoon of Kikkoman noodle base or soy sauce. It’s my comfort food.


Aarati Kasturirangan (Philadephia Chapter)
Bread & Roses Community Fund

Aarati (Arthi) Kasturirangan is a long-time activist and educator in movements for social justice. Currently, she serves as the Director of Programs at Bread & Roses Community Fund, a movement fund in Philadelphia, PA. She recently became co-chair for AAPIP Philadelphia. Aarati is a mother of two children, an amateur singer-songwriter, and a sci-fi fan.

1. How and why did you get involved with AAPIP? What goals do you hope to accomplish as an AAPIP Co-Chair?

I joined AAPIP in December of 2015 and became co-chair in June of 2016.  As an AAPIP Co-chair, I hope to create safe space for AAPIP members to discuss the role AAPI people have in actively advocating for racial and economic justice both inside AAPI communities, and in the larger society.

2. What do you think are the most important issues affecting the AAPI community in your area?

The AAPI community in Philadelphia faces two major issues: immigration and customs enforcement, and a failing public school system.

3. If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

If I had a superpower it would be telekinesis, because I hate getting up to look for the TV remote!


Jon Schill (Minnesota)
InFaith Community Foundation*

Jon Schill joined the InFaith Community Foundation team in early 2014 as the Donor Services Administrator, working closely with donors and grantees to ensure everyone’s goals are met. He is passionate about community, story-telling, and building equitable relationships. Apart from AAPIP, Jon serves on the board of AK Connection, a non-profit that works with Korean-Adoptees in the Twin Cities area, and is on the Core Leadership Team for The Giving Project through Headwaters Foundation for Justice. He lives in Minneapolis with his cat where he enjoys baking, science fiction novels, and writing when he has the time.

1. How and why did you get involved with AAPIP? What goals do you hope to accomplish as an AAPIP Co-Chair?

Initially, I joined AAPIP so I could be around other Asian Americans in my field. I stuck around and engaged because AAPIP-MN brings a unique perspective to my passion for systems change and community empowerment. AAPIP-MN is already a valuable resource; my hope is that, as a Co-Chair, I can provide meaningful support to our members as we work together to serve and lift up our communities.

2. What do you think are the most important issues affecting the AAPI community in your area?

Representation is a big one. For all of the positive attention we get for being progressive and having a strong economy, Minnesota has some staggering disparities that adversely affect people of color. This is complicated by a “monolithing” of Asian American communities, which erases our diverse populations and immigrant experiences.

3. If you had a super power, what would it be and why?

Teleportation. I would use the money and time I saved on travel/commuting to start my own Foundation.

We also want to thank our former Chapter Co-Chairs for their leadership: Kashif Shaikh (Pillars Fund, Chicago), Romana Lee-Akiyama (Eisenhower Fellows, Philadelphia), and Margie Andreason (Northwest Area Foundation, Minnesota).

*Editor's note: Since publication, Jon Schill has joined the Headwaters Foundation for Justice.

Back to Stories