Commissioner Faitalia is a first-generation Tongan-Samoan, born and raised in California. She recently settled in Covington, WA from Los Angeles, CA. She is the owner of Modern Blueprint Construction LLC and works for United Indians of All Tribes Foundation as the Ina Maka On Track Program Manager. Before moving to the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Faitalia served her Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Community in various capacities including working for the UCLA Center for Community College Partnership and Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange Program (TLCEE).
Commissioner Faitalia joins CAPAA Commission with fifteen years of community service and advocacy experience. She completed both her Undergraduate and Graduate education from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Commissioner Lalita Uppala moved to Seattle, WA in 1990 pursuing a degree in public health (environmental toxicology) at the University of Washington. Lalita and her husband, with their two children, have made Bellevue, WA their home for the past 28 years. Following a short stint in toxicology consulting, Lalita stayed home to raise her children, volunteered in school PTSAs and the Asian Indian community organizations before joining the India Association of Western Washington board in 2007.
Lalita has served on the IAWW board in several capacities as a volunteer, Secretary, Youth Program Director, President, and currently Community Program Director and Vice President for the organization. As an IAWW board member, Lalita works on advocacy and outreach to identify and address needs of the Asian Indian community of Western Washington. Additionally, Lalita is a Trustee with the King County Library System Board of Trustees and is an ardent advocate of libraries becoming the hub of a community providing knowledge, education, awareness and connections. Lalita also sits on the board of South Asian Americans Together for Washington (SAATWA), an organization that IAWW recently established to escalate civic engagement among South Asian communities and increase representation of South Asians in the state leadership.
Lalita is looking forward to joining the Commission on Asia Pacific American Affairs and hopes to amplify her advocacy efforts and bring the South Asian voice to CAPAA while ensuring South Asian communities stay informed and aware.
Kendall Kosai is the Director of Policy for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Western Division, overseeing legislative advocacy and policy for ten states on the West Coast. His portfolio includes leading a comprehensive legislative strategy, supporting field offices in key political issues, engaging with elected officials, and strengthening the organization’s civic engagement efforts. Since starting at ADL, Kendall has led the passage of numerous state-level legislation addressing issues of social media transparency, online hate and harassment, hate crimes, support for victims of hate, domestic extremism, and symbols of terror.
Prior to his current role, Kendall was the Associate Regional Director for the ADL’s Pacific Northwest region, Deputy Director for OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, and a Senior Reporter at the North American Post.
Kendall is a Washington State Commissioner on Asian Pacific American Affairs, appointed by Governor Jay Inslee in 2021 where he currently serves on the Executive Committee the 2nd Vice Chair. He is also the current President of White River Buddhist Temple and a member of the US-Japan Council. In 2023, he was recognized as a 40 Under 40 by the Puget Sound Business Journal. He is a proud fourth generation Japanese American native to the Pacific Northwest and is a graduate of the University of Washington with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Japanese Language.
Lao American by chance, love by choice, and Lao’d by necessity; Commissioner Sisavatdy was the last in his family of 10 to be born in Vientiane, Laos and a refugee immigrant to the US in 1978. Known to many as simply Ekk, he has built a home and community in Des Moines, WA. Ekk has worked over 13 years in higher education and is currently the Project Director for the Asian American, Native American Pacific Islander, Serving Institution (AANAPISI) at Highline College. He graduated from Western Washington University with his Bachelors in Social & Political Effects on Southeast Asians in the US – Go Vikings! Ekk also completed his Master’s in Education in Higher Ed from Central Washington University – Go Wildcats!
His dad shared with him at an early age why it’s crucial to get involved and give back. He said, “If you don’t care about your community, don’t worry, they’ll be many others that do, and most will come with good intentions, but not all. Will you be okay with them speaking on your behalf and representing you in ways you may not feel is authentic and appropriate? Will you be okay that they don’t live your experiences, share the same values or truly don’t understand your community(s)?” These questions are what spurred Ekk to get involved.
He believes everyone is a teacher of humanity and all have enriching stories to share with one another. His mission is to provide space and opportunity for our communities to participate, share, and be heard. As an Asian Pacific Islander, it’s important that we support each other and give back, especially to our underserved communities. He is an active, co-founding member of the Southeast Asian Education Coalition (SEAeD). Ekk currently also serves as commissioner of the City of Des Moines Arts Commission as well as a member of the Advisory Council for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center’s (SEARAC) “Moving Mountains” Equity Summit, and a member of the Asian Pacific Director’s Coalition. Ekk has interned with SEARAC’s Leadership and Advocacy Training (LAT) program and Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) Leadership in Action (LIA). He has been a part of many clubs and organizations and has been a club advisor for the Lao Students Association, Khmer Students Association, Pacific Islander Students Association, Red Cross Club, and Cooking Club at Highline College.
Ekk believes that gratitude makes attitude, knowing our gifts is a must, mentorship is key because we can’t be what we can’t see and legacy work is truly heart work, and yes it’s all hard work! He is a self-proclaimed groupie to two notable Lao organizations which he believes embodies this philosophy – the Pom Foundation’s Kinnaly Music and Dance Troupe, and Legacies of War.
Ekk adores his team at Highline and spending time with his fiancé, parents, siblings and 15 nieces and nephews. He also enjoys hanging with friends and is a sucker for home cooked meals and road trips!
Commissioner Sam Cho is a second-generation Korean American who was raised by Korean immigrants in the state of Washington. By day, he is a staff member working in the state Legislature. By night, he runs his own business as the CEO of Seven Seas Export, a trading company that exports US commodities to Asia.
Prior to Seven Seas Export, Sam worked as a political appointee under President Barack Obama. In the Obama Administration, he was the Special Assistant to the Deputy Administrator of the US General Services Administration. There, he helped to manage a federal agency of over 10,000 federal employees and worked on agency-wide strategy and execution for its three business lines in real asset management, federal acquisitions, and technology transformation.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Sam worked for a member of the United States Congress for whom he managed a portfolio of issues ranging from Foreign Affairs, Trade, Small Business, and Banking & Financial Services. Sam has also worked as an analyst for the US Department of State and conducted economic research for the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Washington D.C.
Sam was a recipient of the Congressional Fellowship from the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) in 2014 and World Affairs Council Fellowship in 2018. He served on the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) from 2014 to 2016.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Asian Pacific American Islander Americans for Civic Empowerment (APACE) and the Korean American Coalition (KAC) of Washington.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from The American University and a master of science from The London School of Economics.
Commissioner Scott Lehrman is a Japanese American resident of Pasco, Washington where he lives with his wife Kim, and their four children. He is a Project Engineering Manager for the Hanford Tank Farms. He was raised in Vancouver, Washington, and graduated from Washington State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering.
Commissioner Lehrman has served his community of Pasco for over 20 years. He resigned from the Pasco School Board in 2023 after serving for 10 years as an elected official. During his time serving as President of the Board, the community passed two bonds and built nine schools during a time of rapid growth in Pasco.
He has a strong passion for early learning and advocated for state legislators to help fund an early learning facility in Pasco. This facility expanded early learning opportunities for Pasco children. He is a youth coach of soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball and many families and children have been positively influenced by this involvement.
Commissioner Lehrman has a life-long passion for service and for advocating for those who need help to close the achievement gap in education. While serving as a CAPAA Commissioner he will prioritize helping Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community members feel a greater sense of belonging to their community.
Commissioner Carrie Huie-Pascua is a first-generation Chinese American born in Ellensburg, WA. She graduated from Central Washington University with a B.A. and a M.S. from San Francisco State University in Clinical Psychology. She has over 35 years of experience serving people with behavioral health needs.
Commissioner Huie-Pascua has a long history of serving communities in San Francisco, Seattle, and Tacoma in addition to cities in central/eastern Washington – Ellensburg, Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and Yakima. She has served as director of behavioral health agencies in eastern and western Washington and San Francisco, California. Commissioner Huie-Pascua has focused on developing programs that provide culturally and linguistically appropriate services. She has provided training and consultation in the areas of cultural competency, cross-cultural communication, and quality interpreter services. She has served on boards and committees such as the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities, the Behavioral Health Advisory Council, the Mabuhay Foundation, and Child Care Aware of Washington.
Retired in 2016, Commissioner Huie-Pascua is active in the Filipino American Community of the Yakima Valley as a member, serves as a trustee on the Mabuhay Foundation and is currently on the Board of Directors for the Chew Lun Benevolent Association of Seattle. She continues to be involved in issues of equitable access in social services and provides consultation and training. She grew up in Ellensburg and currently lives in Yakima.
Chongsun Abbott emigrated from Korea when she was 15-years old. After she graduated from Lakes High School in Lakewood, Washington, Chongsun joined the U.S. Army to get the GI Bill to go to college. Instead, she earned a BA and an MBA from Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, while she was working full time in the Army and raising her three successful children. Chongsun retired from the Army after 21 years of service. Then she owned a restaurant; and taught Central Texas College for a few years as a part-time instructor.
For the next 14 years (1997 to 2011), Chongsun served the State of Washington: two years at the Washington State Lottery; and 12 years at the Department of Financial Institutions as a financial examiner. In August 2011, Chongsun moved on to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and worked as a senior compliance examiner for nine years before retiring in 2020. She served 45 years of public service. In January 2021, Chongsun volunteered to serve the Korean Women’s Association as the Treasurer/Finance Committee Chair. Chongsun is a strategic thinker who seeks long-term successes and resolutions. Her passion is always working to better the lives of others. Chongsun is married to Richard who is also retired from the U.S. Army.
Commissioner Ping Ping resides in Spokane, Washington. She is a tenured instructor of Sociology at Spokane Falls Community College. Ping grew up in South China and is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Since immigrating to Spokane in 2001, Ping has consistently promoted Chinese language and culture while she served as the Principal of the Spokane Chinese Language School and the President of the Spokane Chinese Association. Additionally, Ping has devoted extensive efforts to advocating for local government and community organizations to provide immigrants and refugees with language services in order to help them overcome language and cultural barriers and better engage in societal issues and economic opportunities. Ping actively participates in various community initiatives for diversity and racial justice as well as grassroots movements to prevent gun violence in the State and the nation.
Ping has been an advocate for people in her community when they have experienced harassment or discrimination. As a CAPAA commissioner, Ping will dedicate her efforts to assisting and uniting API communities in Eastern Washington, and hopes to be a part of the collective effort to change harmful stereotypes about Asians.
Kiana was appointed to CAPAA in June 2023. She is currently the Director of Policy and Civic Engagement at the Pacific Islander Community Association of Washington (PICA-WA) and began her work there in the Spring of 2020 as the lead for the Eastern WA NH/PI COVID-19 Response Taskforce. In addition to organizing with Pasifika communities, Kiana sat on the Asian Pacific Islander Coalition of Spokane (now Asians for Collective Liberation) Advisory Committee for a number of years and currently sits on many other coalitions and committees which give her the opportunity to participate in cross-racial organizing and collaborate on opportunities to advance wellness for historically excluded and underserved communities. Kiana is currently serving in her sixth year as a board member for YWCA Spokane, where she is passionate about uplifting voices of domestic violence survivors, womxn and girls of color. She also sits on Providence Health Care’s Community Mission Board for Spokane and Stevens Counties as well as the City of Spokane’s Equity Subcommittee.
Born and raised in Spokane, Kiana graduated from Gonzaga University where she earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations as well as minors in promotional marketing and psychology. Outside of work, you can find Kiana in community, with her family, or outdoors, no matter the weather. She is proud to carry the torch forward and honor her ancestors in advocating fiercely for the wellness and thriving of her community.
Nam Nguyen is an Assistant Attorney General currently representing the Washington State Department of Retirement Systems. Prior to working at the Attorney General’s Office, Mr. Nguyen worked in private practice in Bellevue, WA, and Houston, TX. He graduated from Boston University School of Law in 2010.
Mr. Nguyen has a history of serving his community. After law school, Mr. Nguyen volunteered in Bayou La Batre, AL (where Forrest Gump started the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company) to help address the economic and social problems caused by the BP Oil Spill. There, he developed, managed, and implemented youth development programs, social service programs for those with limited English proficiency, and work training/retraining programs for workers displaced by the BP Oil Spill. Mr. Nguyen has, in the past, volunteered as an assistant scoutmaster and troop leader for both boy and girl scouts troops in Alabama, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington.
Mr. Nguyen has also obtained a Master in Public Policy from the University of Michigan and an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington. He is currently serving as treasurer for Toastmaster Capitol Club # 422, located in Lacey, WA. In April, 2022, Nam was elected as a Governor on the Washington State Bar Association for a three-year term.
Mr. Nguyen grew up in the Seattle area. He currently lives in Tumwater, WA.
David is an active member of his community, volunteering his time and efforts in community building. He currently sits as Vice Chair of The Benton City Chamber of Commerce. He is an active member of his Lao community in Tri-Cities, WA and frequently visits the Buddhist temples in the area with his mom and aunts. His passion lies in preserving the Lao culture for future generations and giving back to his community. David was raised most of his life in Eastern Washington with refugee parents from Laos. His mom worked at Lamb Weston in Connell, WA for most of her life and is retired from there. She instilled in him a good work ethic and “doing good” from a very young age. David graduated from Pasco High School and received an AA degree from Columbia Basin College in Pasco, WA. He received another AA degree from The Art Institute of Seattle in Fashion Design. He lived in Los Angeles, CA for over 10 years working in the fashion industry as a men’s fashion designer. During his time in LA, he started a nonprofit with close friends that supported an orphanage in Ensenada, Mexico. He relocated back to Tri-Cities, WA in 2017 and started his own small business and food truck Ninja Bistro. After getting married and having his first-born son in 2022, he went on to complete a BA degree in Business Administration with a focus in Marketing from Western Governors University. David is a proud husband/dad and currently works as a Marketing & Capital Projects Coordinator at The Port of Kennewick. He has a vast amount of experience volunteering for various nonprofits, serving on several boards, and DEI committees. I am honored to serve as a Commissioner at CAPAA to represent and be a voice for the Asian community in Eastern Washington, representing Benton County.