WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 17, 2011) – Sefa Aina, a leader in the Pacific Islander community and an associate dean of students at Pomona College, will serve as the vice chairman of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders. Aina, a member of the Commission, was selected by Commission chairwoman Daphne Kwok to serve as vice chairman.
President Obama re-established the Commission as part of a White House Initiative to improve the lives of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities underserved by federal resources.
Aina’s experience as an advocate and leader for Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth make him an invaluable asset to the 17-member Commission, said Kiran Ahuja, executive director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“His ability to work across ethnic lines, bring student communities together and support student retention, completion and achievement for all students has garnered much admiration for Sefa from across a diverse segment of the AANHPI community,” she said.
Prior to his time at Pomona, Aina worked at the UCLA Asian American Studies Center as a counselor, organizational advisor and instructor. He was a founding member of the Pacific Islander Education and Retention, a tutoring and mentoring group for Pacific Islander youth, the National Pacific Islander Educators Network, and the Empowering Pacific Islander Communities.
Commission chairwoman Daphne Kwok said Aina has identified obesity among Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander youth as a key focus issue, and is coordinating a major health and fitness event next month that targets youth within the community.
“Sefa is a stalwart of the Pacific Islander community with his work spanning from empowering youth through education and leadership development to health care access for all ages,” she said. “I’m eager to continue to work with Sefa to advance the Initiative’s work and address the needs of the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community.”
As vice chair of the Commission, Sefa will work closely with Kwok and the White House Initiative to increase public- and private-sector collaboration and community involvement in the effort. He also will work closely with Ahuja and the Initiative co-chairs, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, in addressing issues critical to the AAPI community.