APIENC is powered by queer and trans Asian and Pacific Islander people. We are led primarily by young, trans and non-binary folks, for the entire QTAPI community. Our work is powered by volunteer members who directly understand how our lives have been shaped by different oppressions and legacies of resistance. Programs are led by leaders in volunteer committees, strategy is created by our Core Committee, and staff help to guide and facilitate our collective learning.
Sammie Ablaza Wills, Director
Photo from Brooke Anderson Photography [Image Description: Sammie, wearing overalls, stands in front of a line of marching people. They hold a megaphone up to their mouth, while looking to the side.]
Sammie is an enthusiastic, queer, non-binary Pilipinx organizer and death doula passionate about supporting people in reclaiming their inherent power and dignity. Their political journey started with witnessing xenophobia against their family, fighting budget cuts in public schools, and learning about trans Pilipinos fighting colonization. It’s from these knowledges that Sammie has worked to trained hundreds of young, trans, queer, Asian people to lead from values of abundance and interdependence. Originally starting at APIENC as a Summer Organizer, Sammie has served as the Program Assistant, Community Organizer, and now Director. Their current role of Director involves supporting all those at APIENC, ensuring the organization stays a stable one rooted in abundance, and uplifting the next generation of organizers through APIENC’s Leadership Development program. Sammie has served as a fellow for the Trans Justice Funding Project, was honored by the Mario Savio Young Activist Award, and sits on the board of Movement Generation: Justice & Ecology Project. Outside of their organizing work, Sammie enjoys looking at community archives, telling stories, making song parodies, and lifting weights. They believe that anything can be turned into a chant and brought onto the streets (literally and emotionally).
Jasmin Hoo, Community Organizer
Image description: Jasmin is smiling and looking up. Visible on her right ear is an earring with a drawing of Yuri Kochiyama.
Jasmin is a mixed race, queer, cisgender woman raised outside of Boston and re-located to San Francisco in 2005. Jasmin’s work has ranged from training theater artists in social justice pedagogies as the American Conservatory Theater’s Associate Director of Education & Community Programs to leading workshops on creating liberating and affirming spaces for youth as co-founder of The Remix Cultural Consulting Collective. Currently, Jasmin brings her experience and drive to APIENC, alongside organizations such as Asians4BlackLives and the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective. She continually works to heal her own wounds, transform old patterns, and vision new ways of being, and to bring this same opportunity for growth and change to the community. Outside of her organizing endeavors, Jasmin delights in the culinary (both cooking and eating), astrology, watching and creating live theater, moving herself through dance or a good hike, and laughing with friends.
Yuan Wang, Community Organizer
Image description: Yuan is sitting outdoors amongst green and orange plants and smiling at the camera.
Yuan is a transgender, non-binary Chinese-American born in Fremont, California and raised in New Jersey. She was shaped by the organizing communities she worked with in New York City, where she supported housing justice campaigns at CAAAV, led queer-inclusive sex-ed at the Masakhane Center in Newark, and organized after-school programs for Asian immigrant youth at the Teen Resource Center. They bring this wealth of experience and belief in the strength of communities to APIENC, embracing relationships and uplifting those around them. After starting as a Summer Organizer in 2018, Yuan’s current role in APIENC focuses on Trans Justice, organizing alongside trans and non-binary APIs. Her time at APIENC has transformed her, and constantly affirms their commitment to lead with care and vulnerability. Outside of APIENC, Yuan finds joy in playing guitar, climbing rocks, and exploring the Enneagram.
Leo Hegde, Community Organizer
Image description: Leo is outdoors and smiling while looking slightly away from the camera.
Leo is a trans, second generation, Indian-American who was raised in Edison, New Jersey. While attending school in Nashville, Tennessee he studied engineering and music, and since 2019 has been living and learning in Oakland/Ohlone Land. Leo started their work with APIENC as an active member of the Trans Justice and Core Committees, and he is an alumni of Parivar’s Advisory Committee and ASATA’s Bay Area Solidarity Summer. Previously, as an acoustics consultant at Arup, Leo leveraged their technical skills and network to support community engagement in the built environment, partnering with organizations such as Designing Justice+Designing Spaces, Chinatown Community Development Center, and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust. In all of his work, relationships, and community, Leo strives to bring compassion and care. Now, as one of APIENC’s Community Organizers, Leo’s role focuses on building systems for true community safety by supporting our members to develop alternatives to harmful institutions such as police and prisons. Alongside organizing, Leo loves listening to, playing and writing music. They are a multi-instrumentalist; playing the trumpet/flugelhorn, tabla, ukulele, guitar and a sprinkling of bass and keys. He also likes to beatbox!
Paige Chung, Program Assistant
Image Description: Paige wearing a tie-dye blue jumpsuit, smiling at the camera with teeth, makeup, and hair gently falling over face.
Paige is writer, poet, skater and turntablist-in-training. She’s from Los Angeles but rolls everywhere. Growing up, Paige moved around the U.S. met all walks of life and discovered her superpower is building friendships wherever she goes. Afterschool, she’d go to the nail salon where her parents worked. There she witnessed relationships between customers and technicians but also the class, gender, and racial nuances of the space. Eventually, this space became a deep inspiration for her writing and organizing. Paige keeps coming back to APIENC. As a freshman in college, they arrived as a POP participant when they were still Q for Questioning (the Q is no longer in question). Returned as a Wintern in 2017, a SOP in 2018, and stayed as a volunteer. During her Kalamazoo College years,the trifecta of majoring in Critical Ethnic Studies and English Literature, working at the Writing Center, and organizing at APIENC grew their political consciousness. Now, Paige is the Program Assistant at APIENC and Program Advocate at AACRE. You can catch her crate digging or hunting down the best party.
2021 Summer Organizers
Dylyn is standing in front of a white brick wall and smiling at the camera.
Dylyn Turn-Keener: Talofa! Malo e lelei! Dylyn is originally from Santa Cruz and is a nature girl at heart. Today, she is mainly based in Oakland. Dylyn identifies as either a Black multiracial (Samoan and Tongan) queer woman or as a queer Afro Polynesian woman. Her passion is rooted in education and social activism specifically around higher education access, Black Lives Matter, dismantling the prison industrial complex, and more. Dylyn received her BA from Mills College in PEPL (Policy, Economics, Politics, and Law) with an emphasis in Politics and a minor in Urban Education. Lastly, she will be entering graduate school Fall of 2021 to gain a Masters in Public Policy with a concentration in Education. Ofa Atu!
Image description: Jenica is outdoors slightly smiling and looking at the camera. There are trees and a house behind her.
Jenica Rose Garcia: Jenica is a Filipino artist and animator born and raised in Concord, California. Jenica’s passion for queer justice was largely shaped by her work with the queer community at Loyola Marymount University, where she received her Bachelors in Animation along with a minor in Asian Pacific American Studies. Her dream has always been to spread love and joy through art, which she hopes to also do with APIENC. In her free time, Jenica loves to eat anything ube, rewatch Pride & Prejudice (2005), and scour the internet for Pompompurin merchandise.
Image description: Kevin is outdoors squatting on the ground full of fallen leaves. His head is bent down and toward the camera. There are trees and a fence behind him.
Kevin Thor: Kevin is a first-year college student attending Stanford University. Originally from Fresno, CA, he is a first-generation, low-income, queer, Hmong youth who is excited to be apart of APIENC’s 2021 Summer Organizer Program! He loves listening to music (particularly BTS), watching anime (Studio Ghibli movies are superior), hanging out with friends and family, and learning about Asian American history.
Image description: Lily is outdoors smiling and kneeling next to a dog wearing a hat. There is snow and trees behind her.
Lily Brossus: Lily is a rising 4th year at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies Social Welfare and Legal Studies with a minor in Education. She is a mixed race Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) born and raised in Long Beach, CA (Tongva land) but living in Berkeley, CA (Ohlone land) today. Lily is passionate about the collective liberation of all people through an abolitionist politic that centers queer and trans POC. She organizes within communities of Oceania on UC Berkeley’s campus through the Pacific Islander Initiative and the Asian American Pacific Islander Standing Committee. In her free time Lily enjoys morning yoga, playing with her dog Jojo, dancing, and finding the best spots in the Bay Area to see the sunset.
Image description: Sajneel is slightly smiling at the camera. There is an abstract orange border around him with a yellow/orange circular background behind him.
Sajneel Naicker: Sajneel is a first-generation, queer, social justice advocate. Through high school, he has tackled budget cuts in his district by becoming an events commissioner. Through networking with brands and hosting creative events, he has fundraised over $25,000 for his high school’s art program. He is passionate about uplifting marginalized communities through activism and liberation. Today he has his own start-up business, Avant-Garde, selling homemade, eco-friendly, and sustainable candles. He is interested in further studying business, marketing, and the perfumery industry.
Image description: Theresa is outdoors in a wooded area. They are smiling at the camera, with one hand up to their cheek.
Theresa Gao: Theresa is a Libra Ox and a queer disabled Chinese community organizer and cat lover born and raised on occupied Ohlone land who is passionate about ethnic studies education, disability justice, and movement tech. They are also a former Seeding Change Fellow, having committed to community work with organizations such as Chinese Progressive Association and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago. In their free time, you can find them trying to replicate favorite childhood dishes while listening to jazz.
Huanvy Phan Jessica Mitchell Junior Claros Kyle Ching
Michelle Wang Mioi Hanaoka Ralph Leano-Atanacio
Image description: APIENC Core (including staff) and Wildfire Facilitator Michael, pose in a group photo outdoors, smiling at the camera.
Andy Wong Anirvan Chatterjee Chay Tadeo Desiree Thompson Dipti Ghosh Elliott Fukui Jenna Rapues
Rai Dang Sine Hwang Jensen Steve Lew Total Nguyen Tracy Nguyen Vince Crisostomo
Fundraising Dragon Fruit SKATE Crew (Leadership Development) Trans Justice Ecological Justice League (fka “TTAC”, Think and Take Action Cohort)