Meet the Woman Now Representing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the White House

The Department of Education officially named Holly Ham as the new executive director for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

As the executive director, Ham is responsible for directing the efforts of the White House Initiative and the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs to advise federal agency leadership on the implementation and coordination of federal programs as they relate to AAPIs across executive departments and agencies, according to the Department of Education.

The White House Initiative also works with these groups to help improve the quality of life as well as opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by giving them increased access and participation in federal programs.

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A couple of her immediate priorities include touring across the U.S. to meet with community leaders as well as filling the President’s Advisory Commission.

I am excited to step into this role at a time when Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are now the fastest growing racial group in the country, she said. This is a wonderful opportunity to connect this diverse community to federal programs and resources, and I look forward to meeting with community members across the country.

Ham was the assistant secretary for management for the U.S. Department of Education before being appointed as the new executive director of the initiative. She has been in the department since January 2017.

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Prior to joining the Department of Education, Ham spent most of her early career as a management consultant for Fortune 100 companies. She is also a fellow at the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute (APAWLI) through the Center for Asian Pacific American Women.

Ham takes over the position once held by Doua Thor, the previous executive director appointed in November 2015, NBC News reported.

Thor officially resigned from her position as the executive director of WHIAAPI sometime in January 2017, just a month before two-thirds of the President’s Advisory Commission handed out a mass resignation to Donald Trump in February.

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The WHIAAPI was first established by former President Bill Clinton back in 1999. It then focused its shift in 2001 under former President George W. Bush’s administration on business and economic issues. Former President Barrack Obama then moved the WHIAAPI to the Department of Education during his presidency.

Featured Image via Twitter / @WhiteHouseAAPI, Wikimedia Commons / Matt Wade (CC BY-SA 3.0)

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