(Washington, DC) - Mayor Vincent C. Gray administered the oath of office to nine newly-appointed community members and 10 government agency ex-officio members of the District's Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs during a ceremony at the John A. Wilson Building on February 8, 2013.
"The District of Columbia is proactive in engaging and meeting the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, and working to ensure uniform and adequate language access," said Mayor Gray. "The commissioners and ex-officio members sworn in earlier today now join us in these efforts by working with District government agencies to ensure that the community can access services in a timely matter."
Commission members meet monthly with Soohyun "Julie" Koo, the Director of the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, to hear updates on programs, initiatives, issues, and to report back from their respective neighborhood or agency, as well as to discuss best practices to better serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Following the swearing-in ceremony, the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs held a Lunar New Year themed reception to honor the Commission, with over 100 government officials, community leaders, and guests in attendance.
"As the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs moves forward in working with other District agencies and the community to address issues such as language and cultural barriers that may be a hindrance, these new commission members with diverse backgrounds will bring unique experience and perspectives," said Director Koo.
"I am deeply honored to be chosen and confirmed as a commissioner to the DC Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs. It is a role that will give me the opportunity to serve my city and provide a voice for the DC AAPI community as the city makes decisions affecting their lives. I hope to live up to the example that was set by the commissioners before me and help move this city forward for all those who call it home," said Nicholas Lepham, a newly-appointed commissioner.
The DC Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs was established on August 12, 1986 with the signing of Mayoral Order 86-130. Each commissioner is appointed and serves without compensation. The nine public members are: Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Christopher Y. Chan, Simone E. Jacobson, Eugene D. Kinlow, Nicholas C. Lepham, Lawrence T. Liu, Ajay K. Ojha, Sapna D. Pandya, and Laura Shin.
The 10 ex-officio non-voting government representatives chosen by the Mayor are: Yi-Ru Chen (Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency), Elizabeth P. DeBarros (Department of Employment Services), Dennis O. Gobantes (Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department), Matthew Green (Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs), Sonia P. Gutierrez (Department of Housing and Community Development), William O. Howland, Jr. (Department of Public Works), Garret Lum (Department of Health), John Stokes (Department of Parks and Recreation), Sakina B. Thompson (Department of Human Services), and Leeann Turner (Metropolitan Police Department).