Asian representation has been anticipated in different social sectors, most especially in government offices. Recent years have exhibited a wide range of local Asian-American leaders with various social causes who deserve to have a platform in order to address concerns and issues within their respective communities.

This year’s midterm election results have shown us that more Asian-American leaders are stepping up the mantle in service to the local community. Get to know these leaders as they take the AAPI community to the next level.

KEVIN OLICKAL - First Indian Catholic in the IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Kevin Olickal’s Website

He is the Executive Director of Indo-American Democratic Organization (IADO) where he headed many forums and meetups that elevated the civic engagements between Democratic candidates and minority groups.
Olickal’s plans for the state include children and women’s safety against gun violence, lowering property taxing, and creating a safer workplace abolishing sexual harassment among others.

HOAN HYUNH - First Vietnamese in IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Hoan Hyunh’s Twitter

He has been a proponent for immigrant rights and AAPI advocacies through his works with Chinese Mutual Aid Association and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
During his term, Hyunh aims to fight for small businesses, better pay for caregivers, childcare workers, and teachers, culturally sensitive reproductive healthcare for women in BIPOC and AAPI communities, increase resources and protection for those who work with and for the LGBT+ community, and many more.

ABDELNASSER RASHID - First Palestinian American, First Muslim Man in IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Abdelnasser Rashid’s Website

He fought for immigration reform rights when he was a part of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Recently, he helped pass a legislation that makes senior exemption done automatically instead of obliging seniors to apply yearly.
As part of IL State Legislature, some reforms Rashid wants to prioritize are legalizing abortion, lowering property taxes, and banning the sales of assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.

NABEELA SYED - Youngest, First Indian Woman, First Muslim Woman in il House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Daily Herald

Being an active member of Islamic Society of Northwest Suburbs, she is an advocate of encouraging Muslim women to lead and having interfaith dialogues.
Facing the world of demanding world of politics, Syed will champion the rights of women to a safe abortion, protect workers’ rights, give priority to students’ mental health, and deal with various issues in public safety, environment, equal rights, and more

TAMMY DUCKWORTH - US Senate 2nd term

Photo Courtesy of Britannica

A veteran in the Army National Guard, a Purple Heart recipient, a bipartisan bill creator of Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM) Act which allows mothers to have access to a safe and clean lactation room around the airport, and a strong advocate of “common-sense solution”, are just a tiny portion of her long list of achievements. Tammy Duckworth has been the very definition of public servant showcasing multitudes of support for women and her fellow veterans in different sectors. She is part of committees and caucuses such as the Senate Democrat’s Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, Environmental Justice Caucus, US Senate Armed Service Committee, US Senate Committee on Environmental & Public Works, US Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, and US Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship. 

JENNIFER GONG-GERSHOWITZ - Chinese-American, IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Illinois House Democratic Caucus

A re-electionist, she has been assigned to the committees on Immigration & Human Rights and Judiciary - Civil. She has worked as a litigation associate and as director of immigration law practice before pursuing public service. As an advocate for the welfare of children, she is one of the founders of the Illinois Unaccompanied Children's Task Force. This is only one of the many testaments of her being a determined fighter for the voiceless and the vulnerable. Her priorities include long-term financial stability, education, environment, women’s rights, and immigration and human rights. 

THERESA MAH - Chinese-American, IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of The People’s Lobby

Making history as the first Asian American elected official to serve in the Illinois General Assembly in 2016, Theresa Mah has been instrumental in some of the key changes happening around the community. A former college professor with a PhD in modern American history combined with teaching experiences on subjects relating to history, ethnic studies, and Asian American studies. She played a part in drafting the first Asian American Employment plan and she worked with various advocacy groups relating to immigrant rights, worker rights, voting rights, language access, and health care. She also worked with numerous governmental agencies to improve minority representation and diversity in the state government when she was a senior advisor in former Governor Pat Quinn’s administration. Safe to say, Theresa Mah has been vocal on representing the Asian American community in various causes.

JANET YANG ROHR - Taiwanese-American, IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of Janet Yang Rohr’s Website

Earning her MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business, Janet Yang Rohr’s investment expertise has been widely quoted and cited. She was also key in helping pass a key public legislation bolstering public safety through the SAFE-T Act.

SHARON CHUNG - First Korean-American, IL House of Representatives

Photo Courtesy of WGLT

Was elected to the McLean County Board in 2018 where Sharon Chung represented the residents of District 7. Her service has garnered her many endorsements from her colleagues on the board as well as from various organizations, committees, and fellow government officials. An advocate for common sense solutions, Sharon served under the Land Use and Development, Health, and Justice Committees. From there she and her colleagues fought and brought increased transparency and accessibility to the board and county government. Being a representative, Sharon is an advocate for working families and a compassionate ally for the marginalized of the 91st District. 

RAM VILLIVALAM - Indian-American, IL State Senate

Photo Courtesy of News India Times

He served as the former President of Indo-American Democratic Organization (IADO) and was the previous Director on the Board of Gun Violence Prevention Political Action Committee. His public service continued as he later on became the first Indian-American in IL General Assembly and the first Asian American in the IL Senate.
Villivalam continues to fight against the current issues and has expressed solutions for them. Some of which are increasing the minimum wage to a livable wage, requiring licensure for gun dealers, and creating long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities.

FULL DISCLAIMER: Chicago Asian Network is in no way affiliated with any of these public servants/leaders. This article is in no way shape or form a campaign for the public officials mentioned above. Our goal is to share and give valuable information to the public and to highlight Asian Representation in all the different sectors of society.

Dec 6, 2022

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