On October 28, 2014, the Region 7 Interagency Working Group, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Rights and Drake University, hosted its first community roundtable in Des Moines, IA.
Professor David Skidmore of Drake University and San Wong from the Iowa Department of Human Rights opened the event to welcome federal representatives and community leaders to the roundtable. Federal agency members from the Social Security Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Small Business Administration, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the International Trade Administration shared their experiences working with the AAPI community and the wealth of resources, programs, and services their agencies and offices offered. Community members voiced key issues challenging the AAPI community in this region, learned about available federal tools for addressing their needs, and connected with federal officials from agencies across the board.
The breakout sessions, which followed the opening remarks, focused on: immigration; health care and elder affairs; small business, business and employment; and housing. Out of these breakout sessions, federal agencies took steps to create lasting relationships to serve the community and solicited feedback on how to improve their outreach and resources to best serve the community. Community members shared their concerns on language access across the entire federal sector. USCIS representatives reaffirmed their commitment to serving the AAPI community and discussed next steps for planning an AAPI-focused USCIS workshop.
Linda Phan, a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, closed the event highlighting the new WHIAAPI Grants and Resources webpage, the newly launched Data.gov/AAPI hub, and WHIAAPI’s E3! Ambassadors Program and youth workshop.
Working with our partners in Iowa, we were able to gather a substantial number of participants from all sectors of the community to come out and build relationships with federal agency representatives. Community roundtables serve as unique opportunities to build strong, supportive networks between federal agencies and local members. They are crucial in understanding the unmet needs of the AAPI community, and at the same time, leveraging dynamic community assets for positive change.
Dave Hung is a Program Expert at the Social Security Administration and serves as region lead for WHIAAPI’s Region 7 Interagency Working Group.