Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director
Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Stewart Kwoh is the founder, President Emeritus, past president, and past executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles. Stewart, an avid fisherman, is a nationally recognized leader and expert in race relations, Asian American Studies, nonprofit organizations and philanthropies, civil rights, and legal services. In 1998, he was named a MacArthur Foundation Fellow, becoming the first Asian American attorney and human rights activist to receive this highly prestigious recognition, often referred to as the “Genius Grant.”
Stewart earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, and J.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law. He has taught at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Department, and was an instructor at the UCLA School of Law. He is also a past expert in residence at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Stewart has three honorary doctorates from Williams College; California State University, Los Angeles; and Suffolk School of Law.
 
After retiring from her job as a cloud infrastructure principal lead, Patricia Kwoh volunteered to lead the curriculum development project for Untold Civil Rights Stories: Asian Americans Speak Out for Justice. Patricia also served as the project director for curriculum development for the 2020 PBS docuseries Asian Americans. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Patricia is married to Stewart Kwoh. They have two sons, Nathan, and Steven who is married to Jing and have two children. Patricia’s great-grandfather was the first family member who came from China to the United States in the early 1900s, working on farms in California, and thus began her family’s migration to America.
 
Virginia Loh Hagan
Co-Executive Director
Virginia Loh Hagan
Virginia Loh Hagan is also the inaugural Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) Center at San Diego State University, and the author of over 350 children's books, mainly on APIDA content. She previously was a teacher educator, curriculum designer, and a K-8 teacher. Virginia received her B.A. in English and Masters in Elementary Education from the University of Virginia, and Ph.D. in Education from SDSU.
Virginia identifies as Chinese American. Her family’s immigration story consists of escaping from the Japanese occupation of China and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. Born in the Year of the Dragon on Flag Day, she was the first of her family to be born in the United States. Virginia’s hobbies include crafting, playing piano, reading, and watching television shows. She currently lives in San Diego with two naughty dogs and a loving husband.
 
Sandy Sakamoto
Director of Creative Development, and General Counsel
Sandy Sakamoto
Sandy Sakamoto is a 3.5 generation Japanese American, growing up surrounded by the richness of California’s diverse communities; yet a short generation ago Sandy’s father, grandparents and other family members were incarcerated during World War II at Manzanar, California just for being Japanese American. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School, M.S.A from California State University, Dominguez Hills, and B.A. from the University of Utah (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa).
Sandy is a community leader and legal professional with decades-long experience serving in leadership roles on the boards of nonprofit organizations promoting social and economic justice, civil rights, equity, community, culture and the arts. She serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment; Board Member and former Board Chair of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles; and Board Member and former Chair of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center. As a retired partner at the law firm of LimNexus LLP, Sandy has experience in a breadth of practice areas, and served as General Attorney and Assistant General Counsel for the law department of a global Fortune 50 telecommunications company prior to joining LimNexus.
 
Kate Lee
Program Manager
Kate Lee
Born and raised in San Diego, California, Kate Lee has been a middle school teacher in Connecticut for over ten years, and is an advocate for inclusive curriculum in K-12 schools. Kate earned her M.A. in Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language from Middlebury College, and B.A. in Chinese & Economics from University of California, Davis. Prior to joining The Asian American Education Project, Kate was a curriculum editor for the 2020 PBS docuseries Asian Americans.
Kate began unpacking her identity as a Taiwanese American woman after taking her first Asian American Studies class as an undergraduate during freshman fall quarter at UC Davis. She hopes to help create spaces for students to learn about their own histories much earlier than she did. Kate is a traveling foodie and is always on the search for a bowl of bún bò huế. She loves spending time at Yu & Me Books, New York City’s first female-owned Asian American bookstore in Manhattan’s Chinatown.
 
Jayson Chang
Professional Development Manager
Jayson Chang
Jayson Chang is also a curriculum writer, and workshop trainer for The Asian American Education Project and a social justice activist, high school social science educator in San Jose, California. He is active within the California Teachers Association (CTA) and National Education Association (NEA), participating in a wide range of capacities including the Instructional Leadership Corps, Institute for Teaching, and the Racial Equity Affairs Committee. He also currently serves as the Treasurer of the CTA Pacific Asian American Caucus, and the Northern California Regional Director of the NEA Asian Pacific Islander Caucus.
Born in Monterey Park, California, Jayson is of Cantonese-Fukien heritage. He is descended from ethnic Chinese Vietnamese parents, part of the boat people diaspora. His grandparents and great-grandparents were from China. Jayson’s interests include thematic teaching and culturally relevant pedagogy. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking with a penchant for seafood, coastal foraging, and fishing.
 
Prabhneek (Niki) Heer
Curriculum Developer, Research Analyst
Prabhneek (Niki) Heer
Prabhneek (Niki) Heer is the daughter of immigrants from Punjab, India who settled in California's Central Valley in the 1980s. Her commitment to racial and economic justice has been heavily influenced by where she was raised and her immediate and extended family. This commitment has only grown and reinforced by her concentration in Race, Ethnicity and Politics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and subsequent experiences in organizing spaces.
Niki is also a collective member of Chicago Desi Youth Rising, and member of Chicago's PIC abolitionist movement. She loves the outdoors, reading, puzzles, and spending time with all the children in her life.
 
Lorine (Erika) Saito
Consulting Instructor
Lorine (Erika) Saito
Lorine (Erika) Saito, Ph.D., is a fourth generation Japanese American with California roots. Erika is an Assistant Professor and Course Lead in Social Emotional Learning (SEL) at National University, and serves as a Subcommittee Chair for the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. She is actively involved in CATESOL, AERA, and CIES, and is an article and associate editor for peer-reviewed journals.
Erika’s background includes over 15 years as a California credentialed teacher with a reading certificate, and has worked in a range of K-12 educator roles from classroom teacher to ELD/Sheltered Programs Department Chair, and U.S. Department of State English Language Specialist. Her research focuses on Asian Pacific Islander Desi American history, education, ethnic social/cultural capital, SEL, and ethnic identity. Erika spends her spare time with her two daughters, driving to their extra-curricular activities and cooking some of their favorite meals including korokke (croquettes), salmon, miso shiru (from scratch of course!), and gohan.
 
Shirlie (Mae) Peralta
Consulting Instructor
Shirlie (Mae) Peralta
Shirlie (Mae) Peralta is a 1.5 generation Filipina American residing on Tongva land (Los Angeles). Mae is a faculty member at Mount Saint Mary’s University where she also serves as the co-coordinator for the General Counseling Psychology (GCP) master’s program, and coordinator of the Ethnic Studies minor. She has degrees in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and University of California, Los Angeles; and Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University.
Mae has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector in the areas of grant writing, program development, cross-cultural mediation, anti-bias training, and creative writing. Her primary research area is on the identity and career development of students and professionals of color in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. During her down time, Mae enjoys watching Broadway shows with her family in San Diego, geeking out over numerous pop culture fandoms with friends, and cross-stitching.
 
Courtney Wai
Consulting Instructor
Courtney Wai
Courtney Wai joins The Asian American Education Project as a Consulting Instructor. Courtney also works as a Professional Learning Facilitator with Learning for Justice, a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She began her career as a public-school teacher and eventually worked for Teach For America, City Year, and Relay Graduate School of Education. She earned her Bachelor’s from Scripps College and her Masters of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas – San Antonio.
Courtney grew up in Hawai‘i, where educators, elders, and family members affirmed her identity as a young Asian American Pacific Islander woman through counter narratives that centered the AAPI experience. In joining the Asian American Education Project, Courtney hopes to equip teachers to create affirming, inclusive spaces for all students. Currently, Courtney lives in San Antonio, Texas and enjoys playing soccer, surfing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and dog.
 
Sonya Raj Urs
Consulting Instructor
Sonya Raj Urs
Sonya Urs (she/her) is a Consulting Instructor for The Asian American Education Project. Sonya’s parents immigrated from South India to the U.S. in the 1980s where their careers took her family all over the country, exposing her to an array of schools in multiple states. During the summer, Sonya traveled to India to spend time with family and learn about her roots.
Growing up primarily in the Pacific Northwest, Sonya has lived and worked in Washington for the last twelve years. Attending the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, her passion for racial justice blossomed from several African American History courses—focused on understanding her identity as a person of color within the black-white binary of the U.S. Later she attended Seattle University and obtained her Masters in Teaching.
Sonya currently teaches Ethnic Studies in Seattle. As an educator who champions racial equity work, she has been involved in social justice projects over the past decade. For her, representation is important as she believes students should be able to see themselves reflected in their educators. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her wife, son, and dog.
 
Cody Uyeda
Communications and Program Associate
Cody Uyeda
Cody Uyeda is a 4th generation Japanese American from Orange County, California. He has a B.A. in English and Communication and a J.D. from the University of Southern California, as well as an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Cody is also the program and administrative coordinator for Okaeri, a Los Angeles organization that centers Japanese American LGBTQ+ voices. His prior experiences have been in the nonprofit, education, and legal fields. Cody’s interest in the Asian American community began with exploring his own family’s history and traditions, and he is interested broadly in the intersection of ethnic identity, culture, education, and using research and advocacy to advance knowledge and social justice. In his free time Cody enjoys reading, cooking/baking, and being outdoors.
 
Samantha Chang
Social Media Specialist
Samantha Chang
Samantha Rui Xue Chang is a 1.5/2.5 generation (depending who you ask) Asian American based in the Bay Area. Samantha is currently a 4th grade educator and enjoys reading, rituals, and rest. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology with minors in English and Education, and a Masters of Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
According to family legend, Samantha’s paternal great-grandfather came to America in the 1800s to work on the railroads, eventually leading to the rest of her family immigrating in the 1970s. This story, like a few others, has gone through many iterations and it is unclear where the truth ends and fable begins. According to her great-grandfather's headstone, he was born in the late 1800s, so it is clear that the filters of memory may have seeped into her family’s American origin story. Nonetheless, her family history has led to four generations that still comes together to share stories.
 
Antony Wong
Editor
Antony Wong
Antony Wong is Program Coordinator at the Asian American and Asian Research Institute, of The City University of New York. Born in Long Island and raised in Manhattan's Chinatown, Antony received his B.A. in English from Hunter College/CUNY, and M.B.A. in Accountancy from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College/CUNY. He also serves on Manhattan Community Board No. 2 as Board Treasurer and member of the Traffic & Transportation and State Liquor Authority committees, and is a former Co-Chair of the Chinatown Working Group. He was honored in 2018 at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Celebration for his activism and achievements. His interests include digital photography and running.
 
JL Mayor
Copyeditor, Proofreader
JL Mayor
JL Mayor worked on the Untold Civil Rights Stories: Asian Americans Speak Out for Justice book project in 2009 for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and the 2020 PBS docuseries Asian Americans. JL has also copyedited various volumes of CUNY FORUM: Asian American / Asian Studies, published by the Asian American / Asian Research Institute, of The City University of New York. He is an avid hiker and has hiked the Colorado and Arizona Trails with his beloved dogs. Currently a resident of Denver, Colorado, JL has previously lived in Manila, Moscow, New York City, Los Angeles and Houston.
 
Esther Lee
Web Developer, Web Designer, Graphic Designer
Esther Lee
Esther Lee is the Web Developer and Designer launching The Asian American Education Project’s website in 2021. Esther worked on this project in order to teach new and current generations about what actually happened in Asian American history by providing students an understanding of how history affected their relatives, and to spark curiosity in discovering their own family roots and recognizing the importance of keeping traditions.
After obtaining a B.A. in Fine Arts with a focus in programming, graphic arts, and teaching, Esther is grateful to have received opportunities to work for various industries including education, hospitality, non-profit, and politics. Visiting different parks and trying new fast casual takeout from small business owners are just a few activities that she, her husband and their two sons look forward to on weekends.
 
Name
Title
Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Details
Details
 
Details
Details
 
Name
Title
Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Details
Details
 
Details
Details
About Us

The Asian American Education Project
The history of Asian Americans in the United States is an integral part of American history. Since their arrival as far back as the 1800s, Asian immigrants have contributed and shaped the way the country is today. From labor activism to fighting for school integration and citizenship rights in the courts, and against model minority and perpetual foreigner stereotypes, Asian Americans have faced adversity and fought for opportunities to create roots here in the U.S. From building coalitions with other minority groups, Asian Americans have been a vital part of major historical achievements including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, and Title IX. Today, as one of the fastest–growing populations, Asian Americans continue to make further positive and effective changes towards a better future for the United States, together with all their fellow Americans.
The history of Asian American is deeply intertwined together with America’s own history, yet often forgotten or ignored within today’s classrooms and public discourse. Our online lesson plans here provide a tailored K–12 curriculum for educators to teach this rich history to students. These lessons are but just a brief snapshot into the long journey of Asian immigrants and their native–born children within America’s timeline—both dark and bright, from exclusion to acceptance. By showcasing the struggles and triumphs of Asian Americans over the course of two centuries, our lesson plans amplify the importance and voices of this growing, integral segment of the U.S. population in building the country into what it is today and can become tomorrow, together as Americans. It is important for all Americans, young and old, to join in on this learning experience.
 
History
In 2005, Stewart Kwoh, a civil rights activist, saw a dire and essential need to tell the stories of Asian Americans in K-12 learning. Both he and Russell C. Leong of UCLA, were co-editors of a project to tell the stories of how Asian Americans impacted civil rights in the United States. They organized a team of writers that included Julie Su, Helen Zia, Dale Minami, Angela Oh and Casimiro Tolentino, among others. The stories told included that of Fred Korematsu, Philip Vera Cruz, Vincent Chin, Joseph Ileto, Asian American Pacific Islander Women, and Amric Singh Rathour. Through these stories, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center co-edited the book Untold Civil Rights Stories: Asian Americans Speak Out for Justice.
In 2009, Untold Civil Rights Stories was published utilizing generous contributions from friends and colleagues to the Beulah Kwoh Memorial Fund. The Fund, in honor Stewart’s mother, was established to teach young people about Asian Americans. In 2014, Patricia Kwoh managed a team of teachers to develop 12 lesson plans with the stories from Untold Civil Rights Stories.
During 2014, the executive producers of Asian Americans, a docuseries for PBS, CAAM (Center for Asian American Media) and WETA (Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association), approached Stewart on the production of their film project. Subsequently, Stewart and Patricia were engaged as partners to produce 36 lesson plans based on the stories and topics that took place from the 1850s to 2000s in Asian Americans, for PBS LearningMedia and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. Now 36 lesson plans have been developed between WETA, CAAM, and The Asian American Education Project, as the engagement and education partners.
In 2020, Stewart and Patricia engaged the Stanford University Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education (SPICE) to develop a teacher’s guide with five thematic units based on the 48 lesson plans from Untold Civil Rights Stories and Asian Americans. Waka Takahashi Brown, Curriculum Specialist, from Stanford SPICE created the teacher’s guide.
In 2021, Stewart and Patricia formed The Asian American Education Project, using the learning resources created in partnership with the UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Stanford University SPICE and PBS LearningMedia, in order to bring the history, contributions, challenges and triumphs of Asian Americans to students across the country.
The value of Asian American and other ethnic studies cannot be underestimated. “The (2010 to 2014) Stanford study (with SFUSD) found that the attendance for those enrolled in ethnic studies classes increased by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points and credits earned by 23. It also found significant effects on GPA specific to math and science achievement suggesting that exposure to ethnic studies could increase performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).”*
The Asian American Education Project is a non-profit organization. Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC is the fiscal sponsor for The Asian American Education Project.
 
*“Stanford University Study Affirms Ethnic Studies,” 3 Feb 2016. San Francisco State University. https://ethnicstudies.sfsu.edu/content/stanford-university-study-affirms-ethnic-studies
 
Stand Against Hatred
The perpetual foreigner stereotype is a form of systemic racism against Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI). AANHPIs have been scapegoated in the past by their fellow Americans: Vincent Chin, mistaken for Japanese, was murdered for the downturn of the auto industry in Detroit during the 1980s. In the 1940s, Japanese Americans, many U.S. citizens, were incarcerated in concentration camps after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. South Asian Americans and Muslims were attacked and unjustly surveilled after the events of September 11, 2001.
And now in 2021, AANHPIs have once again been scapegoated, being blamed and attacked for the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationwide, AANHPI teachers and students have faced harassment and microaggressions from other students—due to no fault of their own. This anti-Asian hate is learned from adults.
AANHPI teachers and students have reached out to our team for help. We are working with school administrators, teachers and unions on solutions to the current challenges. We have to design innovative strategies to solve this current problem because AANHPI teachers and students are going through a lot pain and trauma right now, while also struggling to survive the pandemic.
 
Meet Our Team
Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Stewart and Pat Kwoh
Co-founder and Co-Executive Director
Virginia Loh Hagan
Virginia Loh Hagan
Co-Executive Director
Sandy Sakamoto
Sandy Sakamoto
Director of Creative Development, and Counsel
Kate Lee
Kate Lee
Program Manager
Jayson Chang
Jayson Chang
Professional Development Manager
Prabhneek (Niki) Heer
Prabhneek (Niki) Heer
Curriculum Developer, Research Analyst
Lorine (Erika) Saito
Lorine (Erika) Saito
Consulting Instructor
Shirlie (Mae) Peralta
Shirlie (Mae) Peralta
Consulting Instructor
Courtney Wai
Courtney Wai
Consulting Instructor
Sonya Raj Urs
Sonya Raj Urs
Consulting Instructor
Cody Uyeda
Cody Uyeda
Communications and Program Associate
Samantha Chang
Samantha Chang
Social Media Specialist
Antony Wong
Antony Wong
Editor
JL Mayor
JL Mayor
Copyeditor, Proofreader
Esther Lee
Esther Lee
Web Developer, Web Designer, Graphic Designer
 
Advisory Board
Sefa Aina
Associate Dean and Director, Draper Center for Community Partnerships, Pomona College
Angela Glover Blackwell
Founder in Residence, PolicyLink, Founder in Residence
Gemma Chan
Actress, Producer
Joan Chen
Actress, Director
Andrea Cherng
Chief Brand Officer, Panda Restaurant Group
John Cho
Actor
Judy Chu
Congressmember
Denise Dador
Journalist
Snehal Desai
Artistic Associate, East West Players
Deena Ileto
Social Justice Activist
Ismael Ileto
Social Justice Activist
Lisa Ling
Journalist, Producer
Melvin Mar
Director, Producer
David Ono
Filmmaker, News Anchor
Manuel Pastor
Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity and Turpanjian Chair in Civil Society and Social Change, USC
Sonal Shah
President, The Asian American Foundation
George Takei
Actor, Social Justice Activist
Tamlyn Tomita
Actress, Singer
Janet Yang
Producer
 
Generous Funding Provided By: