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2023 Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Honorees

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2023 AACI’s Founding 12 Honorees

AACI was founded in 1973 by 12 community advocates to support and advocate for Southeast Asian refugees and began in the living room of one of the founders. We started by providing culturally competent mental health services and over the past 50 years our services have expanded to meet the needs of the community. Today, AACI continues to serve immigrants and refugees of all backgrounds and our current programs include behavioral and primary health services, substance abuse prevention and treatment, center for survivors of torture, shelter and services for survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, senior wellness, youth programs, and community advocacy.

Jeanette Arakawa

In partnership with Eimi Okano, Jeanette led statewide advocacy to establish landmark California Education Code that requires all public school instructional material to be free of racist and sexist content and portrayals.

Robert “Bob” Kam

Robert led efforts to support Asian Americans wrongfully treated in their employment, chairing the Affirmative Action/Employment Standing Committee in AACI’s early days.

Edward Kawazoe

A visionary who understood power dynamics, Ed helped structure AACI as a powerhouse organization. Gifted with uncommon writing skills, Ed wrote AACI’s original grant proposals, driving AACI’s financial stability in its early years. He also advocated for mental health services for Asian and other residents.

Leo Lowe

Leo provided invaluable credibility, protecting AACI in its infancy during a time when many grassroots minority groups advocating for social change were undermined as being subversive organizations.

Eimi Okano

In partnership with Jeanette Arakawa, Eimi led statewide advocacy to establish landmark California Education Code that requires all public school instructional material to be free of racist and sexist content and portrayals.

Nilo Sarmiento

Nilo served on AACI’s Affirmative Action Committee and contributed critically important human resources and affirmative action expertise, helping others navigate race-related issues in the workplace.

Paul Sakamoto

As a renowned superintendent in K-12 public education, and later an associate dean at San Jose State University, Paul brought credibility, gravitas, and deep educational experience to AACI.

Allan Seid

Allan brought tremendous vision, leadership, courage, and inspiration to create AACI and launch culturally sensitive and therapeutic services for Asian Americans.

Mary Seid

Mary was key in the conception and establishment of AACI, and AACI’s first 22 years of service. She founded AACI’s Asian Women’s Home for survivors of domestic violence.

Paul Wong

A veteran community organizer from San Francisco’s Chinatown, Paul provided knowledgeable consultation on mobilizing community members and helped recruit program participants.

Victor Wong

A veteran community organizer from San Francisco’s Chinatown, Victor provided advice on AACI’s advocacy strategies and remained a dedicated volunteer for AACI’s seniors for many years.

Connie Young Yu

An eloquent and popular speaker at AACI’s numerous conferences and programs, Connie raised the consciousness of AACI members on the power of media in reporting on Asian communities. Her expertise as a historian has been instrumental in documenting the history of the Asian American movement in Santa Clara County.