iOS app Android app

Kiran Ahuja
Kiran Ahuja was appointed on December 14, 2009 to the position of Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), housed in the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, DC. In this capacity, she is responsible for directing the efforts of the White House Initiative and the Presidential 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. The White House Initiative on AAPIs works with these entities to improve the quality of life and opportunities for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through increased access to, and participation in, federal programs in which they may be underserved.

For almost twenty years, Ms. Ahuja has dedicated herself to improving the lives of women of color in the U.S. Well-known as a leader among national and grassroots AAPI and women's rights organizations, Ms. Ahuja served as the founding Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) from 2003-2008. Through her leadership, Ms. Ahuja built NAPAWF from an all-volunteer organization to one with a paid professional staff who continue to spearhead successful policy and education initiatives, expanded NAPAWF's volunteer chapters and membership, and organized a strong and vibrant network of AAPI women community leaders across the country.

Ms. Ahuja grew up in Savannah, Georgia, where her understanding of race, gender and ethnicity was formed as a young Indian immigrant. She attended Spelman College, an historically black college, and the University of Georgia School of Law. Following law school, she was chosen as one of five Honors Program trial attorneys for the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, where she litigated education-related discrimination cases and filed the Department's first peer-on-peer student racial harassment lawsuit. In addition, she participated in the Division's National Origin Working Group as part of a core group of attorneys who organized response efforts for the Division after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Entries by Kiran Ahuja

100 Years of Action: Celebrating Grace Lee Boggs

(0) Comments | Posted June 30, 2015 | 6:39 PM

Ed. note: This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.

A 100th birthday in itself is a remarkable achievement, but to have used the vast majority of those years serving and advocating for the rights of others is a legacy to be remembered and honored. Today, we...

Read Post

A Historic Gathering: The White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

(0) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 10:50 AM

Ed. note: This blog is cross-posted from the White House Blog.

View more photos from the Summit here.

This week, on May 12, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders hosted the first-ever...

Read Post

Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

(0) Comments | Posted May 10, 2015 | 4:35 PM

This blog post was originally posted on the White House Blog on May 1, 2015.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the incredible diversity within our community and the significant contributions of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders...

Read Post

Register for the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

(0) Comments | Posted March 23, 2015 | 1:48 PM


Please join us for the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders on May 12, 2015, at The George Washington University in Washington, DC! Register today!

Held during Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month,...

Read Post

Recap: 2015 National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout

(0) Comments | Posted March 5, 2015 | 5:08 PM

On Feb. 25, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders held its second National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community Google+ Hangout. I was joined by Aditi Hardikar, Associate Director at the White House Office of Public Engagement; Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; and Billy Dec, member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs.

During the Hangout, Konrad shared the AAPI Heritage Month theme, #APAEverywhere, and we also highlighted the White House Summit on AAPIs on May 12 and our new Federal Agency Accomplishments Report.

AAPI Heritage Month Theme: #APAEverywhere

During the Hangout, Konrad expanded upon the #APAEverywhere theme for AAPI Heritage Month:

Signed into law in 1978, the commemorative legislation of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a living recognition of America’s Asian Pacific heritage. In essence, it recognizes that the diverse, multiracial, and multiethnic Asian Pacific American experience is a long, expansive, and quintessentially American story full of inspiration, often discovered rather than generally known.

Asian Pacific Americans are everywhere.

Asian Pacific Americans are the faces of American history—the Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander laborers who built America’s farms and laid its railroads, contributed to advances in American life and fought to preserve our most cherished American values, affirming what it means to be an American citizen in the courtrooms and on the streets, on the battlefield and in public office.

Asian Pacific America is discovered in cities and small towns across the country, and part of the nation’s highest recognitions and accolades across the arts and sciences, in athletics, cuisine, commerce, and service, and are the faces of those in search of advocacy, care and dignity. Asian Pacific America is discovered around the world, in sports and culture, and as diplomats, soldiers and aid workers, or as family members, entrepreneurs, scientists, and more.

Asian Pacific America is everywhere.

White House Summit on AAPIs: May 12

To both recognize and amplify the growing influence of the AAPI community, we are hosting the first-ever White House Summit on AAPIs on May 12 during AAPI Heritage Month to celebrate President Obama’s leadership, showcase Administration policies and programs that have supported the AAPI community over the past six years, and outline priorities for the next two years and decades to come.

The Summit will be an unprecedented and historic convening of senior federal officials and AAPI leaders. Participants will have the opportunity to connect with these leaders from across the country, share their own stories, and gain tools to mobilize their communities. Stay tuned for registration starting March 12, and please subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates. 

Federal Agency Accomplishments Report

Since the beginning of the Administration, the Initiative has been working with 24 federal agencies and offices outlining plans on how each agency will address the needs of the AAPI community. During the Hangout, we were proud to release our fifth accomplishments report. From collecting unemployment data by ethnic subpopulation to forming an AAPI employee resource group to supporting Pacific Islander students to travel to Washington, D.C. for a summer program, agencies have made significant progress in improving the quality of life and opportunities for AAPIs across the country. 

During the Hangout, Billy also contributed his thoughts on the theme and shared what he looks forward to with the White House Summit in regards to the artists, celebrities, and senior government officials who will lead and engage in dialogues around entrepreneurship, immigration, education, civil rights, and health equity. Billy also shared his excitement on our bullying prevention efforts in which we have begun hosting listening sessions across the country.

We look forward to continuing with you. If you have any questions or feedback, please email or engage with us on Twitter with

Read Post

Calling All Students: Apply for the Summer 2015 White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Internship Program

(0) Comments | Posted February 23, 2015 | 1:57 PM


As America’s population becomes increasingly diverse, it is important to have this diversity reflected in the federal workforce. Although Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) comprise 6 percent of the U.S. population, they make up only 3 percent of the Senior Executive Service (SES),...

Read Post

National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout: February 25

(0) Comments | Posted February 10, 2015 | 8:59 PM


Please join the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. ET for our second National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout! After the great engagement from last year’s...

Read Post

Domingo Carino's #GetCovered Story

(0) Comments | Posted January 30, 2015 | 12:47 PM

Domingo Carino arrived in the U.S. from the Philippines in 1998. Domingo recently developed a health condition that he desperately needed medication for but couldn’t afford without health insurance. He applied for Medicaid, but after waiting two months, he was denied coverage. Discouraged, Domingo wondered if there was anything or...

Read Post

Kalwis Lo's #GetCovered Story

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2015 | 11:48 AM

Kalwis Lo remembers the day that the Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Barack Obama. While the other students he had worked with to support the Affordable Care Act went out to celebrate, he stayed in, feeling exhausted. 


Read Post

Peter Yang's #GetCovered Story

(0) Comments | Posted January 29, 2015 | 11:42 AM

As a college student, studying is par for the course. However, when Peter would head to the library to study, he found himself overwhelmed by feelings of drowsiness. Finally, after talking to a friend and learning about sleep disorders in a class,...

Read Post

2014: Year in Review for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

(0) Comments | Posted December 25, 2014 | 11:39 PM

This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog on December 23, 2014.

In 2014, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) celebrated its 15th anniversary and five years under President Barack Obama. It has been a year of many milestones,...

Read Post

Empowering AAPI-Owned Businesses Through Federal Resources

(0) Comments | Posted December 11, 2014 | 9:20 AM

This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.

AAPI Businesses

With the holidays coming up, it is an opportune time for us to recognize the businesses that support and help our economy grow healthier and make the season more special. The White...

Read Post

Strengthening the AAPI Community Through New Bullying Prevention Efforts

(0) Comments | Posted November 18, 2014 | 9:30 AM

Hines Ward, retired NFL wide receiver and former member of the President's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, shares his story on bullying.

Watch on YouTube

More than one-quarter of students between the ages of 12 and 18 reported being bullied at school during the 2010-11 school year — nearly 7 million students. Some Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) students face bullying and harassment based on their immigration status, such as Micronesian students whose families have recently immigrated to the continent and Hawaii. Others are bullied for the way they look, such as turbaned Sikh youth, or for their English language skills. 

Students who are bullied don’t feel safe, and students who don’t feel safe can’t learn. Students involved in bullying are more likely to have challenges in school, to abuse drugs and alcohol, and to have physical and mental health issues. Being bullied endangers students’ academic achievement and ultimately their college and career readiness. And in some areas, bullying of AAPI students is rampant. For example, one 2014 study found that over two-thirds of turbaned Sikh youth in Fresno, California reported experiencing bullying and harassment. And another recent study found that half of the 163 Asian American New York City public school students reported experiencing some kind of bias-based harassment in a 2012 survey, compared with only 27 percent in 2009. 

When children are singled out because of a shared characteristic — such as race, sexual orientation, or religion — or a perceived shared characteristic, the issue not only affects that individual but the entire community. Policymakers believe that AAPI students who are bullied face unique challenges, including religious, cultural, and language barriers. In addition, there has been a spike of racial hostility following the September 11 attacks against children perceived to be Muslim. The classroom should be the safest place for youth, but for some AAPI students, it can be a very dangerous environment.

Unfortunately, this issue of AAPI harassment is nothing new. In 1982, Vincent Chin became a household name in AAPI homes when he was attacked and killed because he was mistakenly perceived to be Japanese. To facilitate a conversation on this issue, in 2011, under the leadership of Amardeep Singh, former member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) hosted a Bullying Prevention Summit in New York City.

However, more work needs to be done. Earlier this month, on the fifth anniversary of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the White House announced several efforts to address hate crimes, including a new Interagency Initiative on Hate Crimes. As a part of these efforts, WHIAAPI, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is launching the AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force to proactively address bullying in the AAPI community. In the wake of increasing concerns about the high rates of bullying among Sikh youth and incidents such as the attacks on as many as 30 Asian American students at South Philadelphia High School in December 2009, the AAPI Task Force will help ensure that the AAPI community is aware of federal resources and remedies available to them.

The AAPI Task Force brings together federal experts in civil rights, language access, education, community relations, public health, mental health, and data to find creative solutions to help the AAPI community. These experts will coordinate the efforts of their federal agencies to work closely together with stakeholders to better understand the impediments to seeking relief and support, analyze data regarding the prevalence of bullying in the AAPI community, improve outreach, develop training and toolkits for schools, students, and parents, and explore and recommend policies to address the AAPI community’s growing concerns about bullying of AAPI youth. 

Building upon previous efforts and working closely with federal representatives and community leaders, I look forward to seeing the AAPI Bullying Prevention Task Force make much needed progress on this very important issue in the AAPI community and furthering our commitment to improving the quality of life of AAPIs.  

Join the conversation on AAPI bullying prevention on Twitter using hashtag

Read Post

President Obama Extends Warmest Wishes for Diwali

(0) Comments | Posted October 22, 2014 | 5:05 PM

This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.

Today, President Obama wished a Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate the festival of lights.

In 2009, President Obama became the first U.S. president to celebrate the festival of lights, a time of rejoicing for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and across the world.

Below is the transcript of the President’s video message:

I want to wish a Happy Diwali to all those who are celebrating the festival of lights here in the United States and around the world.  For Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists, lighting the lamp—the diya—is a chance to remember, even in the midst of darkness, that light will ultimately prevail.  Knowledge will defeat ignorance, and compassion will triumph over despair.  Diwali is also a reminder that we must each do our part to achieve that victory, by dedicating ourselves to service to others.  If we affirm our commitments to one another and strive to lift each other up, then together, we will continue moving closer to that brighter future we all seek. 

America is a great and diverse nation, strengthened by the contributions of all our people.  I was proud to host the first Diwali celebration at the White House back in 2009.  Since then, we’ve continued to mark this holiday to honor the rich traditions that define the American family.  And I know Michelle and I will never forget the wonderful time we had celebrating Diwali in Mumbai with food, dancing, and the company of friends.  

So, to all the families gathering together this Diwali to reflect on all the blessings of the past year, I wish you a joyous celebration and Saal Mubarak. ...

Read Post More Than Just Numbers

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 12:27 PM

Ed. note: A version of this blog was posted on the White House Blog.


Did you know that 3 in 4 Asian Americans speak a language other than English at home? Or that Pacific Islanders have among the highest unemployment rates...

Read Post

September 30: Stakeholder Call on the Launch of

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 11:35 AM

A version of this blog was originally posted on the White House Blog on September 24, 2014.

The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and are launching a new resource that aims to consolidate data on the Asian American, Native...

Read Post

Recognizing the Critical Importance of AANAPISIs

(0) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 9:41 AM

Higher education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity for a talented few; rather, it is a prerequisite for the growing jobs of the new economy. In this decade, employment in jobs requiring higher education will grow more rapidly than employment in jobs that do not. Of the 30...

Read Post

Announcing New Partnerships to Expand Opportunity for AAPIs

(0) Comments | Posted September 15, 2014 | 2:11 PM

This blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.

Earlier this year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) announced partnership opportunities during our National AAPI Community Google+ Hangout. The Challenge invited individuals and organizations to...

Read Post

Reflecting on 50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

(0) Comments | Posted July 2, 2014 | 9:18 PM

Ed. note: A version of this blog was posted on the White House Blog.

President Barack Obama delivers remarks as First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and LBJ Presidential Library Director Mark Updegrove, listen at right at the...

Read Post

Navigating Federal Grants, Training, and Resources

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 12:04 PM

Ed. note: A version of this blog was originally posted on the White House Blog.


The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) is pleased to announce our new Grants and Resources website dedicated...

Read Post