Our Mission

We cultivate healthy, long-lasting, and vibrant Asian and Pacific Islander communities through grassroots organizing.

Our Vision

We want a world where Asian and Pacific Islander communities – and all communities of color – have full power to access good health and a healthy environment.

Our Story

API Forward Movement (APIFM) was founded as the Asian and Pacific Islander Obesity Prevention Alliance, or APIOPA, in 2007. The founders were a group of community advocates who saw that Asians and Pacific Islanders were being left out of public health efforts to address the obesity epidemic, which is why our organization’s name centered obesity prevention at the time.

Since then, the organization’s focus has broadened to ensure APIs are served and represented in efforts to address a range of community health and environmental justice issues. This work has included collaboration with local Asian American farmers and other small farmers of color, building a local food hub to distribute produce from these farmers to small corner stores in LA’s low-income neighborhoods and to the general public via Community Supported Agriculture, as well as environmental justice leadership development with high school youth in San Gabriel Valley. Over the years, we’ve also offered dynamic active living programs, like monthly hiking groups and community bike rides that integrate physical activity with education about the cultural history of LA’s Asian enclaves. More recently, we have also been working on transportation and parks, to ensure that discussions on these key issues include API faces, voices, cultures, and languages. With the support of LA County Department of Public Health’s Champions for Change grant, we’ve also rolled out culturally responsive nutrition education and neighborhood-based advocacy for healthy food access for immigrant communities in Little Tokyo, Koreatown, Historic Filipinotown, and Chinatown.

Our team is passionate about amplifying and addressing the needs of our communities, and moving API community-based leadership forward. That’s why, in 2017, we changed our name from APIOPA to API Forward Movement, and unveiled our new mission statement: to cultivate healthy, long-lasting, and vibrant Asian and Pacific Islander communities through grassroots organizing.

Our Team

API Forward Movement is driven by advocates who are passionate about health equity, the environment, food access, and social justice. Our core staff collaborates closely with community members, organizational partners, youth activists, researchers, and other local leaders on a daily basis. We believe in doing the work collectively!

Clarissa

Clarissa Choy (she/her)

Clarissa is a Community Engagement Coordinator for APIFM’s Tobacco Control and Prevention team. Based in Alhambra, Clarissa is a cheerful and enthusiastic individual who is passionate about creating healthier local communities through education, engagement, and empowerment. She recently graduated from Cal State LA with a B.S. in Public Health—PRAISE THE LORD!—and is so grateful that she now gets to spend time working with amazing people who are zealous about tackling public health and environmental justice issues. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, playing the piano, reading, watching anime, checking out cafes, and spending precious time with friends…...Read more.

duke poster

Duke Choi (he/him)

As the Program Manager for the Tobacco Control and Prevention team, Duke works to ensure a healthier community through advocacy, community engagement, and service. In the future, Duke hopes to eliminate chronic diseases that continue to burden the population. Prior to joining APIFM, Duke worked in corporate wellness as a team lead, where he managed a diverse team of healthcare professionals to implement wellness programs for companies and underserved communities. He also has extensive experience overseeing on-site health screenings, health coaching, and educational programs. Duke is a proud alumnus of USC where he received a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology…...Read more.

Corina Penaia

Corina Penaia (she/her)

Corina is passionate about working with the AAPI community, improving healthy equity, and simply helping folks in any capacity. She is interested in finding innovative ways to increase access to quality health care for underserved communities through education, advocacy, and community outreach. Corina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Pitzer College and Master’s degree in Public Health from CSUF. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, traveling to new places, and learning more about new cultures and traditions....Read more.

Miko Jao

Michelouis “Miko” Jao (he/him)

In addition to working as the Project Specialist for APIFM’s HEAL Program, Michelouis “Miko” Jao is an artist who writes poetry, film, and music. A graduate of Houston Baptist University with a B.A. in Government and a minor in Latin, he has worked with various Filipino-American organizations to educate, empower, and unite Filipino-American communities nationwide. He is currently a mentor to the Southern Intercollegiate Filipino Alliance (SIFA), involved with the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) as an EPYC Coach, and serves as an adviser of UniPro Texas. In his free time, he enjoys listening to hip-hop music, watching anime, and…...Read more.

lisa

Lisa Thong (she/her)

Lisa Thong leads the policy work for APIFM’s clean air efforts in the San Gabriel Valley where she was born and raised. With more than ten years of experience in government, nonprofit and private sectors, Lisa has extensive experience collaborating with and building coalitions alongside communities. The daughter of Chinese refugees from Vietnam, Lisa believes in building access to systems and institutions that often leave behind communities of color. In addition to her role with APIFM, Lisa consults for nonprofit organizations and companies on strategic marketing, communications, and public affairs. In a volunteer capacity, Lisa currently serves as President of the…...Read more.

Mark Vega

Mark Vega (he/him)

Mark is a dynamic community advocate from El Sereno, Los Angeles. As a project specialist for Food Roots, Mark ensures that produce grown by our local network of small farms makes it to corner stores, community centers, offices and restaurants across Los Angeles. In past years, he also played a key role on the HEAL team, providing Spanish language interpretation, outreach, and education to community members in our nutrition education workshops. Mark is also a talented musician and avid cyclist who likes long treks on the road with friends....Read more.

Nola Rodriguez

Finola Rodriguez (she/her)

Finola, aka Nola, works as our Project Specialist for the Tobacco Control and Prevention team. She strives to uplift and empower those unjustifiably denied adequate health resources by delivering lessons that inspire self-care, mindfulness, and small, sustainable changes that last a lifetime. She is fueled by the reality that there are still cunning and powerful marketing techniques behind the Tobacco Industry, unfortunately targeting youth and people of color living in low-income neighborhoods. At APIFM she leverages her spunky, upbeat attitude to help community members feel heard and important. It is her hope to see other members discover the power in…...Read more.

Farrah Su

Farrah Su (she/her)

Born in Taiwan, raised in New York, and now based in Los Angeles, Farrah Su finds joy in meaningful relationships, expressive storytelling, and a good cup of tea. As Project Specialist for Food Roots, she looks forward to connecting with small local Asian American farmers and to building more opportunities to bring fresh, sustainably grown, and culturally relevant produce to the various communities of Los Angeles. Inspired by her experiences in working with non-profits and filmmaking, Farrah works to use various forms of art to uplift the stories and voices of disenfranchised communities and to create visual language to empower…...Read more.

Courtney

Courtney Shojinaga (she/her)

Courtney Shojinaga is a Health Educator for a preschool in Koreatown, who helps the students engage with the school garden and learn to be brave with their eating habits through classroom food demonstrations. She is currently a fourth-year at the University of California, Los Angeles and is pursuing a Geography/Environmental Studies Major and a Food Studies Minor. Her desire to increase access to fresh foods and educate young palates stems from her classes at UCLA and a mission trip she took to Chicago. In both LA and Chicago, she volunteered at community gardens and worked with local residents to foster…...Read more.

Nare Park

Nare Park (they/them)

Nare Park (they/them pronouns) is an outreach specialist for the amazing HEAL team at API Forward Movement (APIFM). They provide community outreach, develop gardening curriculum, and facilitate collaborative, fun, and culturally rooted nutrition / cooking and gardening workshops alongside co-facilitator Charleston Daulo. They provide English – Korean, Korean – English translation and consecutive interpretation support at APIFM workshops and in partnership with various community groups. Prior to working at APIFM, Nare was a Program Associate at the Healthy Neighborhood Market Network (HNMN) of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. There, they worked with small market and corner store owners who want to…...Read more.

kevin

Kevin Liao (he/him)

Kevin has been a supporter of APIFM since 2013 as a participant of the Bike to China program. The following summer, he was hired as a project specialist and assisted in coordinating Bike to Japan. Since then, Kevin has volunteered for nearly all of APIFM’s bike rides as a bike marshal to provide a safe buffer between riders and cars on the road as well as repair and fix any bicycle issues encountered on the road. In 2017 Kevin was brought back as a Project Specialist to work on the Oral Health Equity Project to connect the needs and wants…...Read more.

Linda Huynh

Linda Huynh (she/her)

Linda’s involvement with APIFM started years ago, when she supported the organization’s environmental justice leadership development work with the students of Mark Keppel High School. With those youth leaders, she promoted safer bike routes and cleaner air in Monterey Park, especially around the classrooms of Mark Keppel (which is right next to the 10 freeway). Now as a full-time staff member, Linda leads outreach, engagement, and nutrition education for the Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) project in Chinatown, Little Tokyo, Koreatown, and Historic Filipinotown. In her free time, Linda loves traveling, taking pictures, visiting museums and gardens, and eating…...Read more.

Kyle Tsukahira

Kyle Tsukahira (he/him)

Kyle Tsukahira is currently an interim co-director of API Forward Movement. Previously, as an APIFM program manager, Kyle led Food Roots, a program that partners with small local Asian American farmers to distribute fresh, sustainably grown, and culturally relevant produce to the community through a Community Support Agriculture (CSA) program and wholesale distribution to local corner stores, restaurants, and other community partners. Kyle was born in Los Angeles and raised Temple City, CA. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Asian and Asian American Studies from California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State L.A.). Outside of work he enjoys biking, snowboarding,…...Read more.

Diyana Mendoza-Price

Diyana Mendoza-Price (she/her)

Diyana first got fired up about health equity and social justice through her involvement in reproductive rights and anti-violence work in college. Since then, she has spent almost a decade coordinating nonprofit programs, communications, and advocacy. Diyana has also nurtured a skill set in workshop facilitation and popular education, and has a special interest in community leadership development and movement-building. She is a proud alumna of UCLA’s Asian American Studies master’s degree program (’12) and Barnard College, Columbia University (’06). Her favorite self-care rituals include reading sci-fi/fantasy, drawing, hiking, walking her dog, and cathartic karaoke....Read more.

Advisory Board

Our highly active advisory board provides vision and fundraising support across our work. Their energy and dedication help drive us!

Viet Bui – Chair

Passion for APIFM: I’m passionate about all of the work that APIFM does that encompasses progressive and positive lifestyles for Asian Pacific Islander Americans. Involvement in the outdoor activities put together by APIFM, specifically the biking and hiking events, have made a difference in my life that I am grateful for each and every day. Work Affiliation: I work at the USC Thornton School of Music as an academic advisor for both undergraduate and graduate students. Bio: I was born and raised in Orange County from a family of Vietnamese-American refugees. I completed by Bachelor’s degree at UCLA in 2008 and spent four years afterwards working in commercial banking and loan underwriting. Eventually, I decided to do a career switch to focus on work in higher education, and completed my Master’s degree in Education at USC in 2014. Since earning my Master’s, I’ve worked at USC and am currently in the final stages of completing my doctorate degree in Education. Throughout my years of professional experience, I have always found ways to stay involved in supporting the Asian Pacific Islander community. Fun fact: Though I’m an avid cyclist, I didn’t know how to ride a bicycle until I was 12…...Read More.

Sisi Zhang – Vice Chair

Passion for APIFM: I love that APIFM introduces healthy living and sustainable life skills to our community, which is often overlooked. The focus on healthy eating with Food Roots, HEAL cooking classes, and the Farm to Chopsticks event are some of my passion points and I love the direct impact it has on our community. Work Affiliation: After spending 7 years at IW Group guiding the creative excellence and direction of key international brands, I’m now settling in to my role as a Creative Marketing Consultant while looking for my next foray. Bio: Having moved from China to Canada to Texas and now to California, identity has always been a big questions for me. Whenever people ask “Where are you from?” my answer changes based on context, but my patchwork heritage also gave me a deep understanding of Asian American culture and society’s need for our voices to be heard and our community to be upheld. That’s why I’m so passionate about the work that we do at APIFM.  Fun Fact: I’m ambidextrous....Read More.

Henry Ngo – Secretary

Passion Point:  Being involved in health and wellness from an API perspective, and APIFM’s overall vision and direction align with my passion for the community Work Affiliation: Hong Kong Tourism Board (US Market) Bio: Henry was born and raised in Los Angeles and completed my bachelors degree in Business Marketing in 2004.  Since then, he has worked in a variety of different fields in Marketing, from sports, utilities, luxury vehicles and now tourism.  He currently works for the Hong Kong Tourism Board in charge of all digital and social efforts in the US national market for the past 2.5 years.   Fun fact: I jumped off the highest bungee jump in New Zealand (134 meters)...Read More.

Naomi Iwasaki

Passion for APIFM: APIFM brings a critical voice to the public health/built environment conversation that represents the diverse and differing needs of Asian Pacific Islander communities. And I love rethinking our cultural and community food and how we can encourage healthy habits without compromising who we are! Work Affiliation: Investing in Place Bio: Naomi joined Investing in Place in 2017,  managing the organization’s policy staff, strategic partnerships, and external communications. Previously, she served as Director of Neighborhood Services and Great Streets in the Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, overseeing eight City departments and the Great Streets Initiative. Before that Naomi worked at Community Health Councils (CHC) analyzing mobility policies impacting community health in South Los Angeles and the New York City Department of Transportation Bicycle Program. Naomi holds a Master’s of Urban Planning from New York University and B.A.’s in Ethnic Studies and Social Welfare from UC Berkeley. She also serves on the boards of the City of Los Angeles Affordable Housing Commission, LA-Más, and the Kaiser Permanente Research Bank. Her greatest joy is proudly raising two fifth-generation Angelenos in her hometown.  Fun Fact: Naomi’s likeness as a young girl is on a mural in Little Tokyo....Read More.

Joanna Lee

Passion for APIFM: I was the first subscriber for the ROOTS CSA and I have have watched Scott and the team develop APIOPA and now APIFM into an organization that is doing groundbreaking work. Work affiliation: USC (Program for Environmental and Regional Equity/Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration) Bio: Joanna has worked in the non-profit sector for nearly two decades and has been doing progressive research for and in partnership with communities of color for nearly 15 years, as the research director at SCOPE in South Los Angeles, as the senior research analyst at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, and now as a project manager at USC PERE/CSII. She is currently working on research projects that focus on economic justice, regional inclusion, social movement building, and immigrant integration. Joanna holds a Masters in Urban Planning from UCLA and a Bachelors in Journalism from Northwestern University. Fun fact: I really enjoy podcasts and have produced, hosted, or have been a guest on several podcasts as well....Read More.

Brian Kim

Passion for APIFM: Brian is excited to be part of APIFM due to the real impact it makes in people’s everyday lives in the local community. Brian is especially enthusiastic about the healthy food education and active living opportunities APIFM provides which empowers individuals to become more involved in their health and local communities.       Work Affiliation: OnPrem Solution Partners Bio: Brian graduated from Williams College and started his professional career as a technology consultant for non-profits in the healthcare industry. His work took him from Boston, DC, Virginia, and Hawaii. While working in Hawaii, it reminded Brian how much he hated the cold and prompted him to relocate to Los Angeles. He continues to be involved in the technology space but this time, within the media and entertainment industry. Fun Fact: His quest for healthy eating has earned him the nickname, Big Salad....Read More.

Eddie Ramos

Passion for APIFM: What I love about APIFM is that we drive communities to be healthy not in just one way, but through multiple avenues. Whether it’s teaching healthy cooking, eating, and living an active lifestyle, it all ties together. RunAPI <3 Work Affiliation: United States Navy Bio: Eddie’s has spent his career in service of people, safe guarding national security assets, and protecting the most “at-risk” families in the world. Eddie is currently in service with the U.S. Navy Reserve and has participated in multiple military operations across the world. In conjunction with his military service, Eddie has led multiple protection details and has operated alongside many federal agencies such as the Department of State, United States Secret Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. Fun fact: Want a milk-tea like drink at Starbucks? Try ordering a iced grande, black tea, no water, 4 pumps white mocha, 2 pumps classic, shaken. You’re welcome....Read More.

Ralph Degala

Work Affiliation:  Kendo Brands (a LVMH company)  Bio:  Ralph started his career in public accounting as an auditor for Ernst & Young and transitioned to industry accounting with experiences in Oil & Gas and Retail/Footwear & Apparel. He and his wife (Michelle) are big foodies and also enjoy creating content (make-up & beauty, as well food) on YouTube and Instagram. . Ralph is a graduate of the Bauer College of Business @ The University of Houston (Accounting), where he co-founded the UH ABSA (Asian Business Student Association) and is the current Chairman of the Board of Directors.  Fun fact:  Ralph’s a true-to-heart Texan and loves all his home teams – Houston Astros, Houston Rockets,  Houston Texans, and Texas BBQ.  He was also one of the top 40 home cooks that beat out tens of thousands of people across America to cook for Gordon Ramsay in the most the recent season of hit cooking show, MasterChef USA. ...Read More.

Connie Lee

Passion for APIFM:   I am passionate about serving the API community in health and environment. Work Affiliation:  Citi Community Capital  Bio:  Connie graduated UCSB double major in Global Studies and Asian American Studies in 2005, and worked as a political staffer out of college then moved onto political campaigns for Hillary in 2007 and various other local LA races.  She also graduated at NYU Wagner with a Masters in Urban Planning in 2011. During her time studying at NYU, she worked on various urban planning projects relating to affordable housing, zoning, transit oriented development, and land use projects covering unused government land into pocket parks. She currently works at Citi in Los Angeles in the affordable housing lending division. Fun fact:  Enjoys hiking, skiing and baking...Read More.

Carol Lee

Passion for APIFM:  Introduced to APIFM during its early years of APIOA, I participate in many different hiking events they put together Work Affiliation: Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Bio: Carol Lee has devoted her entire professional career to the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors, and is currently a grants manager at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. In this role, she partners with the program team and others to facilitate the Foundation’s grant making, monitors compliance, and manages discretionary and matching gifts programs. Prior, Carol served as a program officer at the Liberty Hill Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s donor advised funds and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the world’s largest provider of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, where she managed a program to address school-based harassment and violence motivated by anti-LGBT bias. Carol earned a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies, with an emphasis on race and culture, from Occidental College. Fun fact: I’ve been a Yelp Elite for 11 straight years...Read More.

Donors & Supporters

We want to thank the following donors and supporters for their generosity, and for helping make our work possible.

Foundations

  • Aetna Foundation
  • Annenberg Foundation
  • California Community Foundation
  • Chinatown Firecracker Run
  • Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
  • Dignity Health Community Benefits – Long Beach
  • First 5 Los Angeles
  • FreshWorks Fund
  • Kaiser Permanente – Los Angeles
  • Kaiser Permanente – South Bay
  • Nissan Foundation
  • W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • SoCalGas Foundation
  • St. Joseph’s Foundation
  • The California Endowment

Government

  • Board of Supervisors – Hilda Solis
  • California Environmental Protection Agency
  • Center for Disease Control
  • Metro
  • North American Association for Environmental Education
  • US Environmental Protection Agency
  • US Department of Agriculture
  • Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Education

  • California State University, Fullerton
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • Pepperdine University
  • Pitzer College
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Southern California

Business

  • Dahon
  • Elite Graphics
  • HealthFit
  • Metro
  • Timbuk2

Funder Groups

  • Circle of Change
  • Asian Pacific Community Fund