Anne Im was born in South Korea and immigrated to the U.S. with her family when she was 2 years old. Serving others was a big part of her family growing up but she began to learn more about issues affecting the Asian community as such as race, gender, immigrant status, LGBT issues, and domestic violence during her college years. This propelled her down a path of serving minority communities throughout her career.
Early in her career while working in Congress, she realized that there were so few API voices at the table. “We still have to continue fight and advocate for the voice of Asian Americans, we have to be at the table, to have our community represented in every single sector, from the government, to private sector, to the nonprofit sector, we need good people everywhere – our voice needs to be there.” This experience drove Anne to advocate for the voices of marginalized groups.
Anne has also been involved in the last three Census cycles, first in Congress, then at AACI engaging community members directly and now at Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) as a convener and funder.
When asked why she cares so deeply about the Census Anne said, “Everyone that is here should be counted, whether you’re undocumented, educated, you have a home or not. It’s an important part of civic participation and recognition of each person that’s here in our country – especially as we live in a in a challenging time with forces that often make immigrants feel like we shouldn’t be here. It’s about our humanity, an act of courage and, for me, an act of resistance to say that I am a part of this community and I count.”
Thank you Anne for using your voice to uplift oppressed communities and helping them claim a seat at the table.
Thu Quach came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam when she was 4 years old. From a young age, she was the primary interpreter for her parents, especially for her mother when she was ill and needed to go to the hospital. This led Thu toward a career in the health field and also gave her a passion for helping other immigrants. She is currently the Chief Deputy of Administration at Asian Health Services (AHS), a community health center in Oakland.
Thu is driven to honor her parents who overcame tremendous hardships as refugees and lift up the low-wage workers and patients she serves. This motivation is evident in the many accomplishments Thu has achieved throughout her career. From helping to build the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative; to her engagement with PIVOT – The Progressive Vietnamese American Organization, Thu has always boldly advocated for the voices of underserved immigrants and refugees.
Most recently, Thu helped form the One Nation Coalition, a group working to galvanize the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) community around the issue of public charge and to bring awareness to the damage this policy has on immigrant families. One Nation Coalition has mobilized tens of thousands to show up and speak out about the issue of public charge, both locally and in Washington D.C. “We will keep continuing until we shift the narrative that this country is built upon the strength of immigrants rather than being hurt by immigrants coming in,” said Thu.
As a mother of two young boys and the child of immigrants herself, Thu sees great value in cultivating the next generation of leaders. “It really does take the younger generation to push for change. In the work that we do, it has really been driven by the energy of the children of workers to make the change on behalf of their parents…often it’s a culmination of both the seasoned and young spirits to build this important multigenerational achievement,” Thu explained.
Thank you Thu for your advocacy for the API community and inspiring the next generation of leaders!
Tom Izu is a civil rights educator, community organizer and retired Executive Director of the California History Center at De Anza College.
Tom was raised in the South Bay and from an early age, he felt isolated and could not understand why. “Growing up here…during that time there were very few Asians. Out of my graduating class, I think it was 400 and there were maybe seven Asian Americans…Even being called an Asian American was not typical. That was considered radical and odd.”
At the time, ethnic studies were not a part of the California Public School curriculum, so the opportunity to explore topics surrounding ethnicity or identity was never present until he became involved with the movement demanding reparations for Japanese Americans unjustly removed and incarcerated during World War II.
“It was initially very controversial and a struggle to get the Japanese American community to support it since many wanted to keep a low profile and just fit in due to what they had gone through. It was especially difficult to get those that directly experienced the incarceration to speak out. But the right to petition for redress is in the Bill of Rights and we told them that if they didn’t want it to happen to anybody else ever again, then we have to do something about it. That is what convinced them to become powerful advocates by telling their stories.” From gathering testimonials and support from many others, including ethnic groups such as the African and Mexican American communities, reparations and education for the Japanese internment became legislation.
For Tom, protecting vulnerable minority groups facing what had historically happened to Japanese Americans during the internment were a top priority. When asked why organizing is so important, Tom explains “There are still a lot of things that aren’t resolved in our community. There are so many stories that have still yet to be uncovered, but it’s also a way to get my community to understand and have more empathy with other communities that are suffering similar injustices.”
Through education, we know to not make the same mistakes in our past. History also proves when all marginalized groups take a stand for one another, we all win.
Sachin Radhakrishnan is an advocate for the homeless and co-founder of the nonprofit, In Their Shoes. He was born in Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf, and grew up in Toronto surrounded by a vibrant and diverse community. Sachin’s family later immigrated to San Jose to find opportunity.
When he was young, Sachin saw his father share a meal with a homeless man, even when his own family was finding stability in a new country as immigrants. “He showed me in a very simple way that that’s what you’re supposed to do…You don’t know what they are thinking inside. Just do what you know is best…I think that’s where people can start.” This experienced sowed the seeds for Sachin’s future advocacy work.
He saw how easily one can become homeless when his close friend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, “with mental health, it’s really, really tough in Asian communities. People don’t get diagnosed, they don’t get the proper treatment, and when they are adults it’s really difficult at that point…Someone who is schizophrenic, bipolar…I saw him burn lots of bridges, but I refused to let him burn the bridge with me. That’s all I could do. I’m here to be his friend and help him regain his confidence.”
His experiences led to the founding of In Their Shoes. From his work as a Policy Aide for two councilmembers in the City of San Jose, he saw many ways he can change the homeless community for the better through Advocacy. Since its formation, In Their Shoes has already done significant work from housing a homeless pregnant woman before she gave birth to serving on the City of San Jose Homeless Task Force. As he describes, “[my] work builds confidence. Everyone has their own thoughts about themselves that weighs them down and In Their Shoes supports, provides a safe space, and empowers the homeless.”
Through his work, Sachin reminds us that our actions speak volumes. His many accomplishments are a shining example that any ordinary person, like you and I, can change lives.