Staff

Cathy Dang, Executive Director
With roots in New York City and Los Angeles, CA, Cathy has been a community and worker center organizer leading campaigns for just living and working conditions in immigrant and communities of color for over a decade.  Her former work in the labor movement organizing restaurant and retail workers for racial, gender, and economic justice is what sustains her true love and passion for community organizing in working-class Asian immigrant communities. She is originally from Ridgewood, Queens and Los Angeles, California, and a daughter of Chinese-Vietnamese refugee parents who raised her in their nail salon in Downtown Brooklyn.

Krystal Portalatin, Interim Deputy Director
Krystal is a Queer Femme Nuyorican. As as long time ally of CAAAV she is honored to support the team as the interim Deputy Director. Krystal’s former work has included a mix of organizing, service provision, and consulting and is centered around a social justice and anti-oppression framework.  Her 15 years of organizing history has focused addressing the issues at the intersections of gender & sexuality, police violence, and gentrification.  Having witnessed and experienced the impact of rapid gentrification, rising xenophobia, and targeted policing, she maintains her commitment to ensuring that NYC remains a place for all low income, people of color, and immigrant communities. She believes this is possible by utilizing organizing strategies and leadership development to build and sustain the power of our people to demand their rights while maintaining their dignity.

Seonae Byeon, Public Housing Organizer
Seonae organizes public housing tenants at CAAAV to build grassroots power across low-income Asian immigrant communities in New York City. Experiencing generational displacement through the Korean War and IMF financial crisis in Korea, sparked Seonae’s vision to fight for larger reforms on international crimes, capitalism, patriarchy, and structural racism in order to realize full equality of the oppressed. Additionally, Seonae is a co-chair at RAISE: Revolutionizing Asian American Immigrant Stories on the East Coast which works to build the power and visibility of Asian immigrant voices in the fight for immigration policies. Seonae is also an artist, filmmaker, and writer advocating for human rights and social justice. She earned a BA in International Criminal Justice and a minor in writing through the Honors Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Melanie Wang, Lead Chinatown Tenant Union Organizer
Melanie made the move from her native Massachusetts to New York City to join CAAAV in 2016. She has worked in both the domestic worker and retail worker organizing movements and studied labor history and gender studies as an undergraduate. Raised in a first-generation, Mandarin-speaking Chinese family, she believes deeply in intersectional feminism, multilingual justice, and the immense power of organizing to create social change.

Sharmin Uddin, Program Associate
Sharmin is originally from the Lower East Side. She attended primary and secondary schools in the Lower East Side, and this allowed her to experience and see the issues that are prevalent in this neighborhood. She was part of nonprofit organizations that support low-income and people of color, and this increased her interest in community-building. Her experience centers around youth and education in New York City’s public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Sharmin received her BA in Political Science and Religion and minored in Human Rights. She recently received a Master’s in Public Administration and plans to work with under-served and underrepresented communities.

Sabrina Jalal, Public Housing Organizer
Sabrina was born and raised in East New York, Brooklyn and has seen a lot of injustices happening in her community of Muslim-Americans. She didn’t know how to bring change in her neighborhood or support her community in ways that targeted the root cause of injustice until she found CAAAV. CAAAV is her first political home and it is where she learned to express herself in a space that was safe, welcoming, and judgement-free. Sabrina started as a youth intern and fell in love with how CAAAV was helping build youth organizers and leaders. She has been a part of CAAAV for two years as a youth, and now organizes the Bangladeshi tenants at Queensbridge.

Emily Mock, CTU Membership Organizer
Emily is the Chinatown Tenants Union Membership organizer at CAAAV. Originally from San Francisco, she was a Center for Neighborhood Leadership Community Organizing Apprentice and holds a BA from Smith College in Art History and Government. She is also an educator and artist and is currently working on a paper cut children’s book about an immigrant community of color’s fight against gentrification and displacement.

Zhi Qin Zheng, Chinatown Tenant Union Organizer
Ms. Zheng has been a member of CAAAV since 2005 and is one of the founding members of the Chinatown Tenants Union.  She became part-time staff in July 2010.  Ms. Zheng has lived in Chinatown for more than 20 years, and prior to becoming involved with CAAAV has worked in the garment industry for 20 years.

KahEan Chang, Volunteer Staff
KahEan first became involved in CAAAV’s youth program in 2001 while she was a sophomore in high school.  Over the years she became a trainer and is currently volunteering her time as leadership in CAAAV’s programs.

The work of CAAAV is made possible through the dedication of its members and volunteers. REGISTER NOW to volunteer.