AANHPI Community Shines at the White House: Onchantho Am’s Memorable Experience

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Onchantho Am
On May 10, 2024, Onchantho Am attended a White House briefing on behalf of her role as co-founder of Asian American Pacific Islanders Coming Together.

Never underestimate the power of one. Whether seated on a metal folding chair at a community event in the humid Florida weather or on a wooden chair in the nation’s capital in the crisp 50s, your impact creates a ripple effect.

On May 10, 2024, Onchantho Am attended a White House briefing on behalf of her role as co-founder of Asian American Pacific Islanders Coming Together. She was invited to the White House with a few dozen members of the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community from all over the United States to honor AANHPI Heritage Month. She attended a White House briefing, which allowed us to engage with senior administration representatives and discuss important issues affecting our local community. These conversations will contribute to a meaningful dialogue that creates a ripple effect that benefits members of the AANHPI community and the greater community. 

Some of the topics included: 

  • Expanding and building capacity for disaggregated data. In April 2022, the White House released recommendations for increasing data collection to measure equity and better represent the diversity of the American people, including AA and NHPI communities. In March 2024, the White House Office of Management and Budget revised the Standards for Maintaining, Collecting, and Presenting Federal Data on Race and Ethnicity for the first time in 27 years, helping ensure that AA and NHPI individuals can more fully self-identify by specific ethnicity.
  • Confronting the scourge of hate. President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act into law in 2021 and issued new guidance to raise awareness of hate crimes during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the rise in incidents targeting AA and NHPI communities. According to FBI data, hate crimes targeting Asian Americans fell by 33 percent from 2021 to 2022. DOJ has also expanded its United Against Hate Initiative to all 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices nationwide to improve the reporting of hate crimes and incidents. These efforts will support AA and NHPI communities that continue to face barriers and underreport hate incidents.
  • Increasing federal contract awards to small disadvantaged businesses. In 2021, President Biden set a bold goal to increase total federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs) to 15% by 2025, including AA and NHPI-owned small businesses. In 2023, federal agencies awarded SDBs a record-breaking $76.2 billion – or 12.1% of all contract dollars. 

Thank you to Judy Fong, Kota Mizutani, Marayln O’Brien from the Office of Political Strategy & Outreach, and the Office of Public Engagement, who planned the event. 

The event was graced by a diverse range of speakers, each bringing their unique perspectives and expertise. The list included: Arati Prabhakar, Ph.D., Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology; Deeana Jang, Policy Director at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders; Christian L. Tom, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Digital Strategy; Nani Coloretti, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Amanda Mansour, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Partnerships & Global Engagement at the National Security Council, The White House; Ali Zaidi, Assistant to the President and White House National Climate Advisor; Daniel Arrigg Koh, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President; Erika L. Moritsugu, Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison; Meena Seshamani, Director of Center for Medicare at Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Ali Khawar, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Employee Benefits Security Administration; Maralyn O’Brien Office of Political Strategy and Outreach; Keone Nakoa, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular and International Affairs.