Celebrate our Asian Pacific Islander American Partners
California Attorney General Rob Bonta
Rob Bonta was appointed as California’s Attorney General in 2021. Born in the Philippines during a mission trip to help bring more services to rural communities, Attorney General Bonta had a deep sense of service to others instilled in him from a very young age. Even as his high school’s valedictorian and the recipient of a Yale scholarship, he still paid his way through college by cleaning rooms. Never forgetting his hard-working and humble beginnings, Attorney General Bonta served nine years as the Deputy City Attorney in San Francisco and became the first Filipino-American elected to the California legislature before becoming Attorney General. He has outlawed for-profit prisons, fought to strengthen hate crime laws, and passed the nation’s strongest state-level renter protections. Notably, Attorney General Bonta has also been an ally and champion for expanding access to school lunch, authoring legislation that requires public charter schools to provide healthy meals for low-income students. Attorney General Bonta recently announced $120,000 in grants for childhood nutrition research and education in disadvantaged communities where childhood obesity, diabetes, and health issues are present.
Councilmember Mai Vang
One of 16 children of Hmong refugees who immigrated to California, City Councilmember Mai Vang is a trailblazer for young Hmong people in her Sacramento community. She started a mentorship and scholarships nonprofit program to empower talented high school students who lack the resources and support to achieve their educational goals. Councilmember Vang also teaches ethnic studies at California State University and UC Davis. As a young person, she worked as a community organizer to improve health and educational outcomes for children and families in south Sacramento. Councilmember Vang is a friend of our Growing the Table program, helping to bring regenerative and organic food from small local farms to Sacramento’s food-insecure communities.
Surina Khan is the CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California where she leads the Foundation’s work to advance gender, racial, and economic justice. The Foundation’s program strategy is focused on building community-based power through investing in nonprofit organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, connecting key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources. For over two decades, Khan has been a leader in the philanthropic and nonprofit social justice sector starting with local community-based publishing in New England and then to national and global work on an array of social justice issues including gender justice, LGBTQI rights, human rights, and democratic and civic participation. Through Khan’s leadership, the Women’s Foundation of California promoted philanthropic reform to enable more charitable donations to go to working charities and contributed to our Growing the Table Monterey Bay Region Pilot, which brought thousands of pounds of produce from small farms to communities throughout California.
Congressman Ro Khanna
Congressman Ro Khanna represents California’s 17th Congressional District and sits on the House Committees of Agriculture, Armed Services, and Oversight and Reform where he chairs the Environmental Committee. Congressman Khanna was born in Philadelphia, PA to a Punjabi family with a long history of engaging in civil rights activism alongside the independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi. Today, he continues that family legacy. Congressman Khanna is a strong advocate in government for student loan debt relief, reforming philanthropy to maximize accountability and impact for communities in need, and has led on creating job training and economic development initiatives that help working and immigrant families like his own to achieve economic prosperity. This year, with bi-partisan support, Congressman Khanna introduced the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act to close loopholes that ensure funds flow faster to charities and communities in need.
Susan Park is a published food historian, restaurateur, public speaker, and the founder of Asian Americans for Housing and Environmental Justice (AA4HEJ). AA4HEJ serves low-income BIPOC communities with in-language, culturally competent direct-aid, support, and services. Park grew up in Los Angeles as a part of the first generation of American public school children to attend rapidly desegregating, multi-ethnic, and multilingual schools. This experience had a profound impact on her understanding of racial justice and truly diverse coalition building. She cultivates older women leaders in low-income Black, Brown and Indigenous communities through her mutual mentorship program, and works tirelessly on behalf of under-resourced populations. Park has been instrumental in our Growing the Table pilot in Los Angeles, which distributed m ore than 10,000 boxes of fresh, locally sourced produce, totaling nearly 170,000 pounds of produce, to a large network of community partners.
Senator Richard Pan
Dr. Richard Pan is a pediatrician, former UC Berkeley Davis educator, and California State Senator. The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Senator Pan has always been an advocate for the well-being of others, taking up a career practicing and teaching medicine as the head of the pediatric residency program at UC Davis. He developed a nationally recognized service learning curriculum for pediatric residents and co-founded Healthy Kids Healthy Future, helping 65,000 children to get health, dental, and vision coverage. In 2019, Senator Pan brought elected officials and community groups together to launch an ambitious project of expanding the Sacramento region’s Summer Food Service Program, “Million Meals Summer,” with the goal of feeding 1 million meals to children during the summer. Senator Pan is currently the author of SB 907, legislation to bring more support to California’s farmers markets so that individuals and families that use CalFresh can purchase fresh healthy food from local farmers.
Assemblymember Phil Ting
Assemblymember Phil Ting is the former Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus and a graduate of UC Berkeley. He has represented the San Francisco area in the legislature since 2012, and before that served as assessor-recorder for the city of San Francisco. Assm. Ting brings deep knowledge and understanding of finance to his current leadership position as the first Asian-American Chair of the Assembly’s Budget Committee. A progressive champion on key policy areas, Assm. Ting has taken strong steps in his community to help build more affordable housing, reform criminal sentencing for those serving unjustly long terms, and create the first statewide drug and medical needles take-back program funded by the pharmaceutical industry. Last year, as Assembly Budget Chair, Assm. Ting ensured that child hunger was addressed in the state budget, including historical investments for School Meals For All, which offers free breakfast and lunch to all students regardless of background or economic status.
With over 20 years of community service in the Fresno area of California’s Central Valley, Blong Xiong was appointed in 2022 as State Executive Director of the United States Department of Agriculture California Farm Service Agency. Previously, Xiong served as the Executive Director for Asian Business Institute & Resource Center (ABIRC), where we met him. Growing the Table’s Fresno Pilot started at the height of the pandemic. It was Xiong’s relationship with growers in the Central Valley, especially microscale Hmong farmers that facilitated the purchase and distribution of over 500,000 pounds of produce to food-insecure families in Fresno between September 2020 and December 2021.
Sarumathi (Saru) Jayaraman
Sarumathi Jayaraman is an Indian American attorney, author, and activist from Los Angeles, California. She has been a key player in major advancement for low-wage workers across the country and co-founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC). ROC United advocates for workplace justice, living wages, and workers’ rights. The story of Jayaraman and her co-founder’s work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American. Currently, Jayaraman is the President of One Fair Wage and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Her on-the-ground knowledge and community expertise supported our San Diego Growing the Table pilot, which aims to connect healthy, locally grown food from small-scale farmers with communities in need.
Eddy Zheng is the Founder and President of New Breath Foundation. He works to mobilize resources to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders harmed by violence and the unjust immigration and criminal justice systems. We admire Zheng’s commitment to service and the New Breath Foundation’s work in offering hope, healing, and new beginnings for AAPIs new immigrants and refugees, people impacted by incarceration and deportation, and survivors of violence.