WASHINGTON — President Biden on May 28 signed an executive order to establish the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders.
The initiative will support Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities by helping to coordinate a federal response to rising anti-Asian hate crimes, addressing the lack of disaggregated data on AA and NHPI communities, expanding language access for federal programs, strengthening economic security and opportunity by empowering AA and NHPI entrepreneurs and workers, alleviating poverty, encouraging civic engagement, building a more diverse federal workforce, and more.
The White House also announced that the new executive director of the initiative will be Krystal Ka‘ai, who currently serves as the executive director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC). CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena) issued the following statement:
“From his very first week in office, when he made addressing hate crimes and COVID-19 health and economic disparities impacting Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders a national priority, President Biden has been a champion for the safety and opportunity of the whole AA and NHPI community.
“Today, with the signing of an executive order to establish the new White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, he is taking even more significant action to increase visibility, resources, and opportunity for our community.
“I’m especially pleased that, in addition to tackling anti-Asian hate, this initiative will prioritize language access and data disaggregation, which are core issues we in CAPAC have urged the administration to prioritize.
“We know that the coronavirus has had a disproportionate impact on our community, with NHPIs in particular continuing to experience some of the highest infection and mortality rates out of any racial group in several states. But this data has not been reflected in federal reporting on the virus, which also makes it harder to get aid and support where it is needed.
“I’m also grateful that this initiative will continue to encourage more Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the federal workforce as part of President Biden’s commitment to building a government that truly reflects the diversity of this country.
“I’m proud that President Biden has named our current CAPAC executive director, Krystal Ka‘ai, to head this initiative. With a decade of experience leading legislative, communications, and outreach efforts on behalf of the AA and NHPI community in Congress, Krystal has served as my trusted advisor and understands the needs of our diverse communities. She is also the first NHPI in history to be appointed to this role and will be a powerful voice for inclusion in the White House.
“I’m grateful to President Biden and his administration for taking the needs of our community seriously and for all they have done to promote a safer and more vibrant country for us all.”
Ka’ai has served as executive director of CAPAC since 2013, leading legislative, communications, and outreach strategy for a bicameral caucus composed of more than 70 members in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. She worked to advance key priorities impacting the AAPI community, including health care, immigration, education, civil rights, economic development, and more. She previously served in various roles with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the State of Hawaii.