We aspire to transform public and private systems to ensure that all Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities are recognized, valued and prioritized.

We believe in the power of data as a foundation and catalyst for systemic change.

We uplift narratives that increase community recognition and prioritization.

We strive to power collective action toward enduring solutions and policies.

We are a group of dedicated and talented individuals who are passionate about working at the intersections of data, research, and partnerships that amplify and support Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, Ph.D.

Founder & Executive Director

Karthick Ramakrishnan (he/him) is the founder and executive director of AAPI Data and a professor of public policy at the University of California, Riverside. A highly-accomplished scholar and political scientist, Karthick has served in leadership roles that span academia, government, public policy and philanthropy.

Karthick is also the Strategy Lead for the Americas at the School of International Futures, and Senior Advisor at States for the Future. He previously served as Executive Director of California 100, a transformative statewide initiative focused on building a shared vision and strategy for California’s next century. Karthick also serves as president of the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni and serves on the Boards of The California Endowment, the U.S. Census Bureau’s National Advisory Committee (NAC) and served as chair of the California Commission on APIA Affairs for six years.

Karthick founded and led the Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside for six years and founded and led the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics, an official section journal of the American Political Science Association.

A sought-after expert voice and spokesperson, Karthick has written dozens of op-eds and has been featured in nearly 3,000 news stories. He has published many articles and 7 books, including most recently, Citizenship Reimagined (Cambridge, 2020) and Framing Immigrants (Russell Sage, 2016). Karthick was  named to the Frederick Douglass 200 and is currently working on projects related to racial equity in philanthropy and regional development.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Brown University and a doctorate degree in politics from Princeton.

Fontane Lo, MPP

Deputy Director

Fontane Lo (she/her) serves as the Deputy Director of AAPI Data, bringing more than 15 years of experience in applied research, strategy and community partnerships. She has built her career around a deep commitment to using data in service of marginalized communities – to amplify their voices and fuel their advocacy efforts.

Prior to AAPI Data, Fontane led evaluation and learning efforts at Blue Shield of California Foundation and The James Irvine Foundation. As a funder, Fontane has partnered with researchers to translate rigorous research into actionable change. She brings expertise in communicating with a diverse array of audiences through a blend of storytelling, strategic framing and creative data visualization.

In her career as an evaluator, Fontane has led a broad range of research projects and partnered with stakeholders across nonprofits, philanthropy and public agencies. She brings expertise in a breadth of issue areas, including systems change, economic mobility, political opportunity, public health, early childhood and organizational development.

Fontane has a Master of Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley where also received undergraduate degrees in Economics and Psychology.

Fontane is based in the California Bay Area.

Akil Vohra, J.D.

Director of Policy

Akil Vohra (he/him) serves as the Director of Policy for AAPI Data, overseeing federal and state strategies to ensure collection, analysis, publication, and utilization of data to advance understanding and support of AANHPI communities.

Before joining AAPI Data, Akil was the Executive Director of Asian American LEAD, and previously served at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) for eight years.

At WHIAAPI, Akil led the team that guided federal government policy on a range of substantive areas including data, education, civil rights, bullying and harassment, workforce diversity, religion, language access, and My Brother’s Keeper. Akil also served as the principal liaison to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and has developed strong partnerships with community-based organizations, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and trade associations to advance this work. Akil also served as counsel at Muslim Advocates where he created and developed the national Muslim Charities Work Campaign to advocate for reforms on the USA PATRIOT Act and the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA).

In addition to his work at AAPI Data, Akil serves on the board of the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network.

Akil has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Irvine; and a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School. Akil is also a Rothschild Fellow, and studied international human rights law at the University of Oxford.

Akil is based in Washington, D.C.

Nicholas Turton, M.A.

Director of Communications
Nicholas Turton

Nicholas Turton (he/him) serves as the Director of Communications for AAPI Data, overseeing the development and implementation of communications strategies that support AAPI Data’s mission.

Nicholas has a diverse array of experience leveraging strategic communications as a powerful tool to shift the needle on pressing social and civic issues. Before joining the team at AAPI Data, Nicholas was a Communications Manager at The Trevor Project, where he oversaw rapid response efforts to combat anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and rhetoric in the media; amplified intersectional polling and peer-reviewed research on LGBTQ+ young people; and led Trevor’s It’s Still Happening campaign, drawing attention to the continued prevalence of conversion therapy practitioners in the U.S.

Prior to that, Nicholas served as a Senior Account Executive at Fenton, a social change agency, working across a number of social justice issues. Notably, he served as the  communications strategy lead on the agency’s work to support Stop AAPI Hate’s media, messaging, and public relations efforts — which contributed to prestigious recognition and awards including TIME100, a Webby Award, and PRWeek Award.

Nicholas has a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Antioch University Los Angeles and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nicholas is based in Los Angeles, CA.

Connie Tan, Ph.D.

Senior Research Analyst

Connie Tan (she/her) serves as a Senior Research Analyst at AAPI Data. Connie has a strong mixed-methods research and evaluation background, with a particular focus in education issues.

Connie’s graduate research focused on understanding youth development in the context of poverty and the immigrant experience. In her previous professional roles, she has led applied research and evaluation projects examining student success and equity in the California Community Colleges and California State University (CSU) systems and has worked in institutional research to support college-wide planning and decision-making. Connie also has experience working with various stakeholders to understand how the use of research and data can help inform policy and practice.

As a first-generation college student growing up in a Chinese immigrant family, Connie has been drawn to AAPI Data’s commitment to research and policy that affect diverse AANHPI communities.

Connie received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and her master’s and doctorate degrees in Education from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Connie is based in Southern California.

Patricia Gasaiwai, B.A.

Social Media and Web Design Specialist

Patricia Gasaiwai (she/her) serves as a Social Media and Web Design Specialist for AAPI Data, supporting the organization’s digital communications efforts.

Patricia is the youngest daughter to parents who come from the villages of Waitabu and Taveuni in the Fiji Islands — and was raised in Southern California. Outside of her work at AAPI Data, Patricia has a passion for content creation and social media platforms as vehicles for increasing representation of Pacific Islanders, and to shed light on important issues in the community. Her personal YouTube channel, which she created in 2018, has accumulated over 800k+ views and 18k+ subscribers.

Patricia received her bachelor’s degree in media and cultural studies from the University of California, Riverside. While there, Patricia received the Grace Jean Mee Yoo Unity Award  for her service and leadership to the university’s Asian and Pacific Islander communities. She also served as a Student Program Coordinator for Asian Pacific Student Programs (APSP) and President of the Pacific Islander Student Association (PISA).

Patricia is based in the Inland Empire region of Southern California.

Whitney Hadiwono Ibarra, M.Ed.

Programs and Special Initiatives Coordinator

Whitney Hadiwono Ibarra (she/her) serves as the Programs and Special Initiatives Coordinator at AAPI Data, where she supports the organization’s special projects, partnerships, and key programs, such as the inaugural DNA Fellows program.

Whitney brings to AAPI Data a diverse professional background across higher education, administration, special events, research and program development. Prior to AAPI Data, Whitney served as a Student Services Advisor at the USC Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where she grew their undergraduate pharmaceutical program and developed new programs still in place today.

As a first-generation, Chinese-Indonesian American woman, Whitney has a strong passion for prioritizing AANHPI communities in her work. Whitney’s past research with USC’s Asian Pacific American Student Services (APASS) on Southeast Asian American students’ sense of belonging led to the establishment of the Southeast Asian Initiative at USC, which initiates  specialized programming for the Southeast Asian student population. Whitney also serves as the Special Interest Fund Coordinator for the NASPA Asian Pacific Islanders Knowledge Community (APIKC), where she coordinates with organizations and designs programs to increase funding for AANHPI professionals in higher education.

Whitney has a master’s degree in education in postsecondary administration and student affairs from the USC Rossier School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from California State University, Fullerton.

Whitney is based in Riverside County, California.

We work in close partnership with publicly engaged scholars and experts on issues that affect Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Janelle Wong, Ph.D.

Professor, American Studies, University of Maryland

Janelle Wong (she/her) is Professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland and a core faculty member in its Asian American Studies Program. From 2001-2012, Wong was in the Departments of Political Science and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC. She received her Ph.D. in 2001 from the Department of Political Science at Yale University.

Wong is the author of Democracy’s Promise: Immigrants and American Civic Institutions (2006, University of Michigan Press) and co-author of two books on Asian American politics. The most recent is Asian American Political Participation: Emerging Constituents and their Political Identities (2011, Russell Sage Foundation), based on the first national, multilingual, multiethnic survey of Asian Americans. She is a Co-Principal Investigator on the 2016 National Asian American Survey, a nation-wide survey of Asian American political and social attitudes. Her current research is on growing numbers of Latino and Asian American evangelicals and their role in U.S. politics.

Jennifer Lee, Ph.D.

Professor, Sociology, Columbia University

Jennifer Lee (she/her) is Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where she received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees. She has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and a Fulbright Scholar to Japan.

Lee is the author of four award-winning books, including The Asian American Achievement ParadoxThe Diversity ParadoxCivility in the City, and Asian American Youth. She has also written op-eds for a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, CNN, The Guardian, TIME, and Los Angeles Magazine, and has appeared on NPR, CBS News, Fusion TV, and Tavis Smiley.

She is a Co-Principal Investigator on the 2016 National Asian American Survey, a nation-wide survey of Asian American political and social attitudes. In her current project, she is studying how stereotypes affect Asian Americans, including their support for affirmative action.

Ninez Ponce, MPP, Ph.D.

Professor, Health Policy & Management, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health

Ninez A. Ponce, MPP, PhD (she/her) is Professor of Health Policy and Management in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Director of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, and Principal Investigator for the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). CHIS is the nation’s largest state health survey, recognized as a national model for data collection on race/ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identity and immigrant health.

She is a health services researcher most interested in reducing transaction costs levied on consumers and providers that produce racial/ethnic disparities. Her research areas in health disparities focus on promulgating health equity frameworks in research and practice, implementing population-based health surveys in diverse populations, and examining the intersection of social factors and health policy.

Dr. Ponce will serve on the Board of Directors at AcademyHealth from 2021-2023 and was recently appointed on the editorial board of JAMA Health Forum.  Her portfolio includes a mixture of scholarly work and real-time knowledge diffusion studies, with over 120 peer-reviewed publications, over 60 policy reports, and various creative data access tools to democratize health data. Her articles have been one of the most downloaded papers in Health Services Research and selected as top ten Editor’s pick for Health Affairs.

Dr. Ponce earned her bachelor’s degree in science at UC Berkeley, her master’s degree in public policy at Harvard University, and her PhD in health services at UCLA.  She is a naturalized citizen, married, 2 adult daughters and lives in Los Angeles.

Sara Sadhwani, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Politics, Pomona College

Sara Sadhwani (she/her) is an assistant professor of politics at Pomona College specializing in American politics, racial and ethnic politics, and public policy. Her research has been published in scholarly journals such as the Journal of Politics, Political Behavior, California Journal of Politics and Policy, and the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics. Her analysis of Asian American and Latino voting behavior has been featured in the Washington PostVox, NBC News, HuffPost and many others.

Prof. Sadhwani earned her doctorate in political science from the University of Southern California, where her dissertation was supported by a fellowship from the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation. She is a faculty fellow at the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy. She currently serves on the 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission for the state of California, responsible for redrawing district lines for Congress, the state legislature and board of equalization.

Prior to academia, Sara worked for nearly a decade advocating for the rights of immigrants at social justice organizations such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA, and the California Immigrant Policy Center.

Richard Pan, MPH, M.D.

Senior Policy Advisor

Dr. Richard Pan (he/him) is a pediatrician, former UC Davis faculty and former State Senator representing the Sacramento region.

He is the first Asian American to represent the City of Sacramento in the California legislature. Dr. Pan is Immediate Past-Chair of the Asian American Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus (AAPILC) and was Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Asian Pacific Islander Affairs and Co-Chair of the Senate Select Committee on the 2020 U.S. Census. As AAPILC Chair, Dr. Pan led passage of the $165 million API Equity Budget in 2021. Dr. Pan authored legislation to establish the state Racial Equity Commission; prohibit discrimination by business establishments on the basis of citizenship, primary language, and immigration status; and championed Medi-Cal coverage for all low-income undocumented Californians by 2024.

Prior to serving in the legislature, Dr. Pan was a UC Davis professor and Director of the Pediatric Residency Program where he established a nationally recognized service-learning curriculum on child advocacy and social determinants of health, Communities and Health Professionals Together. He was the principle investigator for over $2 million in grants in health professions education and health services research and authored numerous research and policy articles published in peer-reviewed publications.

Dr. Pan co-founded and served as chair of Healthy Kids Healthy Future, where he helped secure health, dental and vision coverage for over 65,000 children in the Sacramento area. He helped create the Sacramento Health Improvement Project, bringing together doctors, hospitals, clinics and community leaders to ensure that all Sacramento County residents have access to primary health care. Dr. Pan also serves on the United Way California Capitol Region Board and served on the Sacramento First Five Commission.

Dr. Pan received several awards for his community and professional leadership including the UC Davis Chancellor’s Award for Diversity and Community, the Medical Board of California Physician Humanitarian Award, the American Academy of Pediatrics Abraham Jacobi Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in pediatrics and Child Health Advocate Award, the Asian Pacific State Employees Association Foundation Community Leadership Award, and the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Staff API Staff Champion Award.

Dr. Pan earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biophysics from Johns Hopkins University, a Medical Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh and a Masters of Public Health from Harvard University. He is a child of immigrants from Taiwan, and he practices as a volunteer physician at the Sacramento County Health Center caring for children on Medi-Cal or who are uninsured.

Fulfilling our transformational vision is only possible when we work together collectively. Learn about our impactful cross-sector partnerships on our Community page.

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