Asian Pacific Americans for Progress (APAP) is a national network of progressive Asian Americans and allies. Our goals are to increase APA involvement in local and national politics and to increase awareness of APA issues. A separate PAC supports progressive candidates and elected officials.
Our roots: In our first stage, we were known as Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Dean and organized to support the candidacy of Gov. Howard Dean, M.D. for President of the United States. Gov. Dean inspired us, and we are proud of his campaign that gave Democrats their voice back and ignited the grassroots all over this country – and we are proud to have played a role in that movement.
As Gov. Dean ended his campaign and went on to lead the Democratic National Committee, the many volunteers around the country decided to stay together and launch a new organization, Asian Pacific Americans for Progress. The new name was decided on a conference call of the leaders and ratified by the first official meeting in Washington, DC on March 26, 2004.
Highlights from 2004-6:
January 25, 2004 Houseparty Project: One of our first efforts, in support of Governor Howard Dean's 2003-2004 presidential campaign, was a series of APA-hosted houseparties nationwide. Called the "Lunar New Year Parties" and held in the Year of the Monkey, AAPIforDean grassroots volunteers hosted 65 parties with 5 to 50 participants at each, and we raised over $40k in support of Governor Dean's campaign, Dean for America. Houseparties were held in Arizona, California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michian, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
March 26, 2004 Inauguration: Our inaugural meeting was pulled together within two weeks by APA for Progress members Curtis Chin (West Coast) and Bruce Lee and Peter Kim (East Coast). Activists were invited to Washington, D.C. to attend the DNC "Unity Dinner" and an all-day meeting with more than 40 APA for Progress grassroots volunteers and representatives from more established organizations. Our goals statement was ratified at this meeting and our internet relationships were cemented through face-to-face interaction.
April 11, 2004 Event with Swati Dandekar: Gautam Dutta, a regional coordinator of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, honored Swati Dandekar at a Los Angeles event. Swati Dandekar is the State Representative from District 36 in the Iowa House and the first APA elected in the state of Iowa. She is an Indian-American immigrant, elected from a heavily Republican district, and she introduced and passed a bill for the first Asian Pacific American Commission in Iowa.
April 25, 2004 March for Women: Nina Ahmad, Peter Kim, and Dewita Soeharjono, APA for Progress local contacts, organized an APA for Progress delegation at the March for Women's Lives on the National Mall in Washington, DC, joining over 1 million women marching for women's rights.
May 12, 2004 Progress Report Launches: The first issue of The Progress Report, a semi-monthly e-newsletter goes out to over 2000 listmates with a challenge to continue to grow our movement and find our first 250 paid charter members.
June 18, 2004 APIA Gala Dinner: Individual APA for Progress members played a leadership role in the planning, organizing, and fundraising for an Asian Pacific Islander American Gala Dinner held in Washington, DC. This gala dinner, a salute to the Democratic Presidential Nominee John Kerry, raised $1 million and was attended by over 1,000 participants, including APA elected officials, board members and staff of APA organizations, and community members. APA for Progress also hosted an after-party for the late-night revelers at the Numark Gallery, with an exhibition of photographs by world-renowned Korean-American artist Nikki S. Lee and catering by Cafe Asia.
June 18, 2004 Houseparty Project: APA for Progress contributed to the national APIA Organizing Day for John Kerry by arranging APA-hosted houseparties nationwide. In one week, APA for Progress confirmed 33 houseparty hosts, with an additional 15 added the next week and an additional 26 in the third week. Over 100 Houseparty hosts and guests, with 5 to 50 guests per party, were invited into a phone conference call with APA elected officials Kumar P. Barve of the Maryland House of Delegates, Representative Mike Honda of California and Governor Gary Locke of Washington as well as Senator John Kerry. A grassroots-powered followup conference call allowed participants to continue the discussion of current and planned organizing efforts.
June 28, 2004 Event with Bobby Scott: Dewita Soeharjono, a regional coordinator of Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, and Bruce B. Lee, a national coordinator, helped honor Bobby Scott at a Washington, DC event. Bobby Scott represents Virginia's Third Congressional District. He is progressive, was among the few representatives who voted against the Iraq War, is conservative on the budget, and is a champion of civil rights and womens' rights. For more information on his voting records, please go to http://www.house.gov/scott/legislative_info.htm. He is the first African American to be elected to Congress since Reconstruction and the only African American Congressman in Virginia. Bobby Scott is also the only Congressman with Filipino heritage.
July 23-26, 2004 Grassroots Training in Boston: The Massachusetts APA for Progress group hosted a hundred APA activists at Regis College and the Hynes Center in Boston at the same time as the Democratic National Convention. Participants attended Democratic GAIN trainings on campaign strategy, messaging, coalition building, and Get-Out-The-Vote techniques. APA for Progress also hosted a pan-APA, culturally-specific training, with a keynote by John Chiang of California, including workshop discussions about building community, working in politics, grassroots action, and lobbying to create policy change. A luncheon and discussion with leaders Rep. David Wu, Rep. Bobby Scott, Rep. Stan Matsunaka, and Iowa State Rep. Swati Dandekar and Jun Choi (running in 2006 in New Jersey) followed.
May 2006 – Where Do We Stand? Panel on Immigration Panel:: APAP/LA co-organized a townhall on immigration in Los Angeles Chinatown with over 250 participants. Panelists included John Trasvina of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund and Kent Wong of the UCLA Labor Center.
Highlights from 2007:
March – Premiere of Tre in SF: APAP San Francisco hosts a premiere party for the film Tre during the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival. Over 200 attend, including the director and stars of several films. The event continues our mission of working with artists and community organizers to advance progressive issues.
April/May – Local Endorsements: APAP chapters in Chicago and Philadelphia endorsed local Asian Americans running for city council (Naisy Dolar in Chicago and Andrew Toy in Philadelphia) and provide additional volunteer support.
May - Conference Call with Elizabeth Edwards: In honor of APA Heritage Month, APAP organized a national house party with the Edwards campaign. Almost 70 homes across the country participated. Check our Youtube videos for audio of our conference call specific to Asian American issues featuring Elizabeth Edwards.
May - We Do, Too: In anticipation on the CA Supreme Court Ruling and the upcoming ballot initiative, APAP co-organized a special panel on Marriage Equality in Los Angeles. Panelists included Helen Zia, actor James Sie and Rev. Mark Nakagawa.
June and July – National Townhall on Hate Crimes: On the 25th Anniversary of the death of Vincent Chin, APAP organized a series of 14 film screenings and panel discussions around the country in 2007 to commemorate his death. Key participants included California Board of Equalization member Judy Chu, California Assemblymember Mike Eng, Helen Zia, Stewart Kwoh, Hamid Khan, Frank Wu, and NYC City Councilman John Liu.
August – Revisiting SA-I-GU in New York: On the fifteenth anniversary of the L.A. riots, APAP-NY co-organized a special screening of the documentary with film maker Dai Sil Kim-Gibson and others.
August - DNC’s Majority Partnership Meeting: APAP sent a 20-person delegation to the historic meeting in Las Vegas. In addition, APAP hosted a well-attended reception at the hotel.
(picture by Timothy Yu)
August - Midwest APA Activist Training in Chicago: Over 125 APA's from across the Midwest attended a training at the Field Museum led by the DNC's Director of Training, Parag Mehta, as well as staff from the Tammy Duckworth and Naisy Dolar campaigns and filmmaker Eric Byler.
November – Phonebanking for Warren Furutani: APAP/LA helped organize several phonebanking days for the CA-55 Special Election with Warren Furutani.
December – Voices to Votes: Asian/Latino Presidential Forum in LA: APAP/LA organized a standing-room-only event of more than 250 individuals for an Asian/Latino Presidential Forum in Los Angeles in December 2007, featuring Obama for America surrogate Yolie Flores Aguilar of the Los Angeles Unified School District board. Special appearance by actress Kelly Hu.
Highlights from 2008:
January to December – GOTV and Voter Registration Drive: As an early supporter of President Obama, APAP organized GOTV efforts throughout the election cycle, targeting AAPI communities in such battleground states as Nevada, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. For our efforts, President Obama cited our efforts in public twice.
May – AAPI Training in Philadelphia: Following up on successful trainings in Boston and Chicago, APAP organized an all-day, multiethnic leadership training in Philadelphia for more than 150 activists from the Mid-Atlantic region. Participants learned about the DNC’s 50-State Strategy, case studies featuring electoral strategies and efforts of local Democratic candidates, and the Democratic Party’s game plan for the November election.
August – AAPI Training and Strategy Session in Denver::During the Democratic National Convention in Denver, the Democratic National Committee invited APAP to co-organize a AAPI grassroots training as well as an AAPI Strategy Session where individuals could connect with partners around the country and organize swing-state projects. Special guests included Maya Soetoro-Ng, Konrad Ng, CA State Controller John Chiang and Cabinet Secretary Norm Mineta.
October - December – Vincent Who? Sneak Peak Screenings:: APAP scheduled over thirty special screenings of our upcoming Documentary, Vincent Who? Screenings were held all over the country including Texas, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois, New York and more.