Biden names 3 FilAms to the 23-member AAPI advisory board

President Biden has appointed 23 commissioners to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. Three of them are Filipinos. They are Amefil Agbayani, Teresita Batayola, and Luisa Blue.

In a statement, the White House said the commission will advise the President on ways the public, private, and non-profit sectors can work together to advance equity and opportunity for the AANHPI community. It is also charged with advising on policies to address anti-Asian xenophobia and violence, ways to build capacity through federal grantmaking and policies to address the barriers faced by AANHPI women, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities.

“The commission members reflect the rich diversity of AANHPI communities across the United States,” says the statement.

Amefil ‘Amy’ Agbayani is an emeritus assistant vice-chancellor for student diversity and equity at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa.

Agbayani was born in the Philippines and received her education from the University of the Philippines, East West Center and the University of Hawai’i.  She is a former chair of the Hawai’i Civil Rights Commission, conducts research on AANHPI in higher education, member of the Patsy T. Mink PAC and The Legal Clinic for immigrant justice Hawai’i. For more than 40 years, she served as the founder and director of the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. (Photo: PBS Hawaii)

Teresita Batayola is the president and CEO of International Community Health Services (ICHS), Washington state’s largest Asian and Pacific Islander non-profit health center providing comprehensive health care to all those in need, especially immigrants and refugees.

Batayola is an advocate for health care access, equity, and addressing social determinants of health. ICHS has received awards for its high quality of care, and Batayola has been recognized in the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Award for Outstanding Business & Philanthropic Contributions, Woman of Courage Undaunted from the University of Washington Women’s Center, and the Filipino Women’s Network’s Most Influential Filipino Woman in the World.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Affairs from Seattle University and a Master of Science in Urban Administration from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Prior to entering the health care field, she worked and practiced in economic development, community and international development, and strategic planning. 

Luisa Blue retired from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in August 2020 after serving as an executive vice-president for four years, one of the highest ranking AAPI officials in the labor movement. During her term she was responsible for the SEIU Asian Pacific Islanders Civic Engagement and Leadership program, a member of the Racial Justice Task Force, chair of the Environmental and Climate Justice Committee, and chair of the Ethical Culture Committee. She served on the SEIU Executive Board prior to her election as executive vice-president. Luisa continues to be active in the community and serves on the Asian Health Services Community Board, a trustee on Alameda County Health Systems Board of Trustees, and vice-president of the AAPI Victory Alliance Board.

In 1977 when she worked as a registered nurse at San Francisco General Hospital, Blue became a member of Local 400.  In 1982, she was elected president of the Local after she helped organize a successful campaign that improved collective bargaining rights for county registered nurses. She was an outspoken advocate for compassionate care of patients with AIDS/HIV in the early 1980s, successfully campaigning for AIDS/HIV education for healthcare workers.

Blue is the proud grandmother of seven grandchildren.

The other members of the commission are: Ajay Bhutoria, Kimberly Chang, Emily Chen, Kerry Doi, Grace Huang, Victoria Huynh, Mia Ives-Rublee, Kamal Kalsi, Michelle Kauhane, Daniel Dae Kim, Kevin Kim, Sarah Min, Simon Pang, Ai-jen Poo, Naheed Qureshi, Raynald Samoa, Sonal Shah, Smita Shah, Robert Underwood, KaYing Yang

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