Leading Asian American think tank forms new advisory board

Manish Bapna. Photo courtesy AAPI Victory Alliance
Pawan Dhingra. Photo courtesy AAPI Victory Alliance
Sangay MIshra. Photo courtesy AAPI Victory Alliance

The (Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Victory Alliance announced nine members inducted to its newly-formed advisory board, among them three Indian-Americans.

Describing itself as t”he first ever think tank to focus on AAPI policy issues,” the AAPI Victory Alliance named members who are experts in various fields, from immigration to library science to media studies to climate change, “and are eager to apply their substantive knowledge and a passion for their communities to help shape the mission and agenda of this think tank,” the organization said in a press release.

 “They are the best of what our communities have to offer and will represent the think tank well,” Tung Nguyen, chair of AAPI Victory Alliance is quoted saying in a press release.

The new advisory board members, Nguyen said, would help advance a bold agenda that propels the AAPI community towards equity.

“This is the first step towards moving out of invisibility. Today and everyday, AAPIs matter and our communities and our strategic priorities will help shape the national agenda,” Nguyen said.

The three Indian-Americans on the Advisory Board include – Manish Bapna, interim president and CEO of the World Resources Institute; Pawan Dhingra, author, professor, curator, and diversity/equity/inclusion officer, currently a professor at Amherst College; and Sangay Mishra, associate professor of political science and international relations at Drew University.

Bapna has worked at WRI since 2007, and will soon transition to be the President and Chief Executive Officer at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

According to his biography provided by AAPI Victory Alliance, at WRI, Bapna is credited with helping lead the global expansion of staff and divisions from 250 to over 1,400 across offices in the U.S., China, India, Brazil, and more. Alongside, he oversaw the organization’s program work on climate change, energy, cities, food, forests, oceans and water, while helping transform the organization’s scale, reach and impact.

He was a lead architect of several influential multi-stakeholder coalitions such as the Global Commission on Adaptation, NDC Partnership and US-China and US-India Track 2 Dialogues on Energy and Climate.

He played a key role in increasing WRI’s budget to $180 million—a six-fold increase over 14 years. He also expanded diversity and inclusion within the organization.

Dhingra has written award-winning books; his most recent is Hyper Education: Why Good Schools, Good Grades, and Good Behavior Are Not Enough (New York University Press). His earlier books include Life Behind The Lobby:  Indian American Motel Owners and the American Dream, which National Public Radio called an ‘incredible’ story.

Dhingra also is former Curator and Senior Advisor to the historic Smithsonian Institution’s Beyond Bollywood project.

A frequent invited speaker, he has been profiled in the documentary, Breaking the Bee. He was elected President of the Board of the South Asian American Digital Archive. He has been department chair and held tenured positions at Tufts University and Oberlin College.

Mishra is an Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations (August 2021) at Drew University. He specializes in immigrant political incorporation, transnationalism, and racial and ethnic politics.

His work examines political participation of South Asian immigrants in the United States as well as countries of origin with a particular focus on immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. He has also been analyzing the experiences of Muslim American communities with law enforcement agencies.

His book, titled Desis Divided: The Political Lives of South Asian Americans was published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2016 and Sage India in 2017. The book was awarded the best book on Asian America (2017) by the American Sociological Association’s section on Asia and Asian America.

Other Advisory Board members include Christine Bacareza Balance, associate professor of Performing & Media Arts at Cornell University; Silvia Lin Hanick, associate professor at LaGuardia Community College; Minh-Thu Pham, a global policy entrepreneur “working to defend democracy and empower civil society,” according to the bio. She is the founder of New American Voices a pro-Biden superPAC. Others on the board are Linda Trinh Vo, professor and former chair of the Department of Asian American Studies at University of California, Irvine; Janelle Wong, professor in the Asian American Studies Program at University of Maryland, College Park; and Tom K. Wong, associate professor of political science and founding director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Center at University of California, San Diego.




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