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The Regional Network: Bringing the Federal Government to Every Corner of the Country

Courtney Chappell reflects on the successes of the AAPI Regional Network this year.

On December 2-3, 2015, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders’ Regional Network, which is housed within the Department of Education, held its third annual National Gathering at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency building in Seattle, WA, bringing together more than 150 working group members and community leaders from every region of the country. Established in 2013, our Regional Network of regionally based federal officials works to connect local communities to the federal government through outreach activities. During the National Gathering, the Regional Network engaged in activities around leadership development; skill-building specifically focused on data collection, capacity building, and media; and strategic planning so that each region has a vision for 2016 and beyond. The Regional Network was also joined by several members of the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, community leaders appointed by President Obama who serve as the eyes and ears of the Administration, as well as E3! Ambassadors, young leaders across the country working to educate, engage, and empower their local communities. 

The meeting was the largest to date for the Regional Network, and was a culmination of an exciting year of accomplishments for the working group. Specifically:

  • Since it was first established in May 2013, the Regional Network has convened over 80 community roundtables, trainings, and events in 34 cities across the country, from Boston to Honolulu to Salt Lake City, empowering over 6,000 AAPI community members and stakeholders by increasing access to key federal regional officials and programs;
  • The Regional Network expanded its membership over the past year from 180 to more than 250 members and from 35 to 44 agencies;
  • The Regional Network partnered with a national AAPI organization to provide critical technical assistance trainings and overall capacity-building support to over 500 community members across the country;
  • In April 2015, the Regional Network rebranded the working group to more easily share its mission and work with the community;
  • And finally, at the National Gathering, the Regional Network introduced an Advisory Council as a way to begin institutionalizing the working group and providing a more sustainable governing structure. 

In addition, over the past year, the Regional Network recognized the importance of engaging with emerging pockets of the AAPI community outside of major metropolitan hubs, and made it a priority to establish relationships in several new cities.  Most recently, on October 24, the Initiative’s Southeast Regional Network hosted its first community roundtable in North Miami, FL, at the National Alliance to Nurture the Aging and Youth.  The 50 participants heard from various federal agency representatives on issues critical to the largely immigrant and limited English-speaking AAPI community, including language access, Affordable Care Act enrollment, and small business.

In addition, on October 31, the Regional Network hosted its first summit for AAPI communities in Phoenix, AZ, focused on critical issues impacting AAPI women and their families, including health care and language access, workers’ rights, and combating gender-based violence and trafficking.

As 2015 comes to a close, the Regional Network used its National Gathering as a way to celebrate its many achievements, but also prepare for the years to come.  The conversations that took place in Seattle, WA will become the foundation for 2016 and beyond.  

To learn more about the Regional Network, check out this video:

Courtney Chappell is Regional Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at the Department of Education.