AAPI Take the Lead: Demystifying what a board member looks like

What does a board member like look? Does the Asian Model Minority Myth hinder inclusion on boards? What does it mean have representation from the Asian diaspora on a board?

According to the City of Austin’s Asian American Quality of Life Report 2018, “Asians represent the fastest growing racial group in Austin with Asian Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos and Taiwanese making up the largest segments of the population. An estimated 110,000 to 115,000 self-identified Asians live in metropolitan Austin. Although the Asian American community has been doubling in size approximately every 12 years, not a lot is known about this vastly diverse population.”

When you look at nonprofit boards, it’s important to assess and understand the reasons why Asians may not be represented. Last week, we hosted the AAPI Take the Lead event that focused on some of these issues. We invited community leaders and members from the AAPI communities for a discussion on leadership, representation and board service. We’re grateful to our speakers that shared their lived experience and insights to our attendees:

Hailey Easley, Executive Director of Austin Asian Community Health Initiative
Phu Trinh, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, Director of Operations at Curative Pharmacy
Lesley Varghese, President and Chief Legal Officer of The SAFE Alliance

At TNP, we strive to honor the communities we work with, allow for meaningful conversations and are intentional in how we bring communities together. With that, we allow for people to feel safe to bring up issues and ask questions that will help them in their leadership journey. The learnings and insights from our conversation that evening were profound, engaging and illuminating. Here’s just a few issues we discussed…

When you don’t have representation, you perpetuate the Model Minority Myth.
There’s no such thing as voiceless, although there is such a thing as a Bamboo ceiling; where you don’t see representation of Asians at the leadership level.
Getting on the board is the first step but the harder part is feeling like you belong.
When you’re in a room, offer the difficult opinions.
It’s alot to ask for one person to represent the Asian Diaspora.
Sometimes you have to put in a mask or code-switch in order to not be “othered” in a community.
What a truly inclusive community looks like is when you can be yourself.
We need to demystify what a board member looks like.
Look for things that showcase inclusivity on a board.

We’d like to thank our sponsor for the Take the Lead Mixers – Amplify Credit Union and our community partners: Asian Texans for Justice, Austin Asian American Film Festival and Austin Asian Community Health Initiative for collaborating and being in community with us. We know these will be one of many discussions we’ll be having in our community. Join us and be part of the dialogue and change. Apply for our Board Matching Program here or donate to our mission!

Share This: