APAMO Past President Urges Leaders to Embrace Growing Asian Community

By Duvall, Cherie | Nation's Cities Weekly, April 10, 2006 | Go to article overview
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APAMO Past President Urges Leaders to Embrace Growing Asian Community


Duvall, Cherie, Nation's Cities Weekly


To inform local leaders of the growing Asian American population, a nonprofit organization working to improve the livability of communities released a report last week to help officials prepare their leadership and infrastructure for their changing communities.

Four panelists discussed the Partners for Livable Communities' report, "A Blueprint For Change: Diversity as a Civic Asset," at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The panel shared statistics of Asian Americans and uncloaked myths about the community.

Included on the panel was a former NLC constituency group leader--Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials (APAMO) Past President Gordon Quan, former councilmember at-large in Houston.

With Asian American populations growing more than 100 percent in places such as Raleigh, N.C., and Delaware County, Ohio, Quan revealed that the Asian American community is the second-fastest growing minority in the country.

To ease the transition for local leaders, the report seeks to help them understand Asian Americans and their general concerns, and communicate the most important steps to take in order to integrate this diverse group into their civic conversation.

The development of the blueprint began at an NLC conference.

"The genesis of this [report] happened two years ago at a National League of Cities convention where I had the opportunity to meet with Robert McNulty (president of Partners for Livable Communities) as well as Daphne Kwok, who was then the executive director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies," Quan said. "Both expressed their desire to work together on how to reach other communities as we see diversity changing in America, especially with the growth of the Asian American community."

The framework looks at seven broad categories: economic assistance, civic participation, cultural preservation, health, housing, youth and education, and civil rights.

It also provides a "model in practice" of the City of Houston. The city was chosen for this case study, called "Cities in Transition," due to its initiative in using civic and cultural assets to better its race relations.

Quan, who was Houston's first Asian American mayor pro-tern and councilmember-at-large, says there are two key opportunities that the report focuses on.

"One is the need for disaggregated data," he explained. "What does that mean? It means we're not all the same. The Asian community is made up of so many different groups and the problems of people from Pakistan may not be the same as those from Vietnam or from Indonesia. So we need to look at data as groups evolve. And we need to look at cultural competence.

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