Sasha Wijeyeratne, Executive Director
Sasha Wijeyeratne is an organizer who has been lucky to call Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Madison, DC and Queens home at different points in their life. Sasha is currently the Executive Director of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities. Sasha has led CAAAV to sharpen strategy, develop working class leadership, and build power to disrupt real estate’s practices of speculation, financialization and gentrification in NYC, specifically in Chinatown and Queens. Under their leadership, CAAAV has doubled in size across staff, membership and budget. Most recently, CAAAV kicked Amazon’s headquarters out of Queens, helped pass NY’s historic 2019 rent laws, and is currently fighting for a community-led rezoning that would intervene in speculation and displacement on NYC’s waterfront. Sasha has also been part of various kinds of queer and trans organizing, racial justice organizing and political education projects, including the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), DC Desi Summer (DCDS), No New Jail Coalition in Dane County, Asians for Black Lives, hotpot! and more. In their free time, Sasha enjoys hiking with their dog Rain, playing soccer and creating elaborate food concoctions in their kitchen.
Eugenia Lee, Deputy Director (She/her)
Eugenia is a proud Taiwanese American Buddhist, abortion doula, and mother. Before joining CAAAV, Eugenia worked in philanthropy organizing progressive donors as well as in international development, working to shift structures in favor of grassroots leadership. She has lived and worked in various parts of the world including in Nairobi, Kenya, and led projects throughout East Africa and South Asia. Eugenia holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service. She currently serves on the advisory council of Third Wave Fund. She is a proud Queens resident.
Jaydee Lee, Finance and Operations Manager (She/they)
Originally from the Bay Area, Jaydee has worked throughout the United States in pursuit of the liberation of queer, black and brown communities. Rooted in an understanding of the power of community, her work has centered around prison abolition, migrant justice, and education equity. Jaydee comes to CAAAV after working in education, and brings with her the skills and experience to manage CAAAV’s fiscal and administrative operations. In their free time, Jaydee is organizing with DegrowNYC, taking long walks with dog, and critically analyzing pop culture.
Julie Xu, Senior Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer (She/her)
Julie was born in Sichuan Province and grew up in Michigan. She joins CAAAV after her experiences in student organizing in Chicago around sexual assault survivors, police accountability, and economic justice. She most recently organized nail salon workers across New York City for health, dignity, and justice as a part of the labor movement with Workers United. She has her BA from the University of Chicago in History and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies writing her senior thesis on Interracial Relationships in Chicago’s Chinatown 1850-1930. She is inspired and fueled by all the people and women throughout history we cannot name. She is excited to join CAAAV in jamming the gears of private property and fighting for true housing justice.
Alina Shen, Lead Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer (She/her)
A lifelong New Yorker and proud Queens resident, Alina is passionate about the worker-led labor movement, our right to the city, and youth organizing. Her belief in member-led community organizing comes from years of working with CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities as well as the Laundry Workers Center. Prior to joining CAAAV, she organized subway and bus riders in Queens with the Riders Alliance. She received her B.A. in Critical Social Change from the City University of New York. Alina currently serves as a Program Adviser for Chinatown Literacy Project.
Ren Ping Chen, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer (He/him)
Ren Ping Chen been a member of CAAAV for several years and transitioned to staff in 2019. He has lived in Chinatown for more than 20 years, and prior to becoming involved with CAAAV has worked in the construction industry.
Farihah Akhtar, Lead Astoria Organizer (She/her)
Farihah joined CAAAV in 2020, as the Leadership Development Manager and Youth Organizer. She has been organizing and building power since 2014. Born and raised in Queens, she takes inspiration from the resiliency of her immigrant mother. She studied Sociology & Political Science at Binghamton University—delving deep into the impact of racial capitalism globally. She learned to organize while building a grassroots organization in Upstate New York. Farihah is dedicated to building power with working-class Black, brown, and Asian people because she believes a different world is necessary and possible.
Onindita Sarker Onadi, Astoria Membership Organizer (She/her)
Onindita is a queer woman of colour organising Bangali people in public housing in the western Queens region. Before CAAAV she did activism in Bangladesh and most of her roots and beliefs come from that time. Onindita understands that we can only thrive and have the lives we rightfully deserve if we work together and defend ourselves together as working-class people of color. There is nothing scarier than being alone. She also understands that most generational and personal trauma in working-class people of color is the fruit of decades and the only way to fight that and unite is through organizing. It was because someone took that first step with her that she now has the beliefs that she does. Therefore Onindita’s organizing and role in the movement comes from a place of familiarity, empathy and finding empowerment in her roots and culture.
Nazish Tisha, Astoria Membership Organizer (She/her)
Tisha was born in Chittagong, Bangladesh and moved to Dhaka when she was 10 years old. She grew up in a middle class family with middle class struggles. She has a passion for art and painting and studied Fine Arts in Dhaka University. During her time in university she realized how deeply corrupt and depressing our education system is. She had to leave her bachelors degree unfinished in order to immigrate to NY right before the pandemic started. With her dad’s loans and an unclear future in Bangladesh her family decided it’s better to leave than to stay. She moved to New York for a better future but the rent and expenses are too high. To meet up the expenses she worked in a hazardous environment in a chain food store named KFC. There she realized no matter where you are, rich people exploit the working class for profit and luxury. She believes in social equality and justice for all. Tisha has a strong urge to change the world and knows it is not possible alone, she believes together we can change the world.
Ying Yu Situ, Chinatown Tenants Union Youth Organizer (She/her)
Ying is a community organizer who proudly traces her roots to Kaiping, China. She learned about the power of organizing and life-affirming relationships through her time developing youth leaders at the MinKwon Center for Community Action, where she fought for immigrant rights and tenants’ right to stay. She believes that the legacies of oppression and harm we’ve lived through are deeply historic, and is a circle keeper with The Restorative Center in the hopes of finding our way to healing justice. She comes to CAAAV with a deep love for Chinatown, the place where she grew up and first learned about the working class’ long history of activism and resilience (it was also the topic of a fanzine she made in middle school!).
The work of CAAAV is made possible through the dedication of its members and volunteers. REGISTER NOW to volunteer.