Staff

Sasha Wijeyeratne, Executive Director
Sasha is a queer, South Asian, Sri Lankan with organizing roots and homes in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Madison, and DC. Before becoming the Executive Director of CAAAV, Sasha was the Organizing Director at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, working to build the power of LGBTQ API communities towards a world where all queer and trans people of color can thrive. The core of Sasha’s work is a belief that we have what we need to win, that the margins of our communities will lead us towards liberation, that we can transform ourselves and our people to build real power, and that we can must organize towards a  world without borders, prisons or binaries. Sasha has also been part of a variety of organizing and political education projects including: South Asian Youth Movement, No Dane County Jail Coalition, VigilantLove, Asians for Black Lives, LASSI: Los Angeles Solidarity Summer Institute, Queer South Asian National Network, and more.

Sandra Chen, Deputy Director
Sandra grounds her intersectional and anti-oppression power analysis in her experiences as a queer first generation college student and daughter of low income Chinese immigrants. She believes that restorative healing and building power and accountable relationships in community are key to our shared liberation. As a New York transplant via San Francisco, she is particularly mindful of centering the experiences, voices, and leadership of the communities we serve. Prior to joining CAAAV as Deputy Director, Sandra worked at the American Civil Liberties Union and Open Society Foundations. She served as Treasurer on CAAAV’s Board of Directors and has volunteered with the organization since 2014.

Sharmin Uddin, Development and Operations Manager
Sharmin is originally from the Lower East Side and lived in a rent-stabilized apartment down Allen Street and this experience allows her to closely relate to the issues that are prevalent in the Lower East Side/Chinatown, such as gentrification, illegal evictions, and displacement. She supported nonprofit organizations that serve low-income, people of color, and immigrants, and this increased her interest in community-building and serving her very own Asian community. Sharmin comes to CAAAV with development and operational experience and has a knack for organizational development and providing infrastructure to an organization. Sharmin received her BA in Political Science and Religion and minored in Human Rights. She received a Master’s in Public Administration and plans to work with under-served and underrepresented communities.

Emily Mock, Chinatown Tenants Union Lead Organizer
Emily is the Chinatown Tenants Union Lead 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.

Julie Xu, Chinatown Tenants Union Membership Organizer
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.

Mr. Chen, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer
Mr. Chen been a member of CAAAV for several years and transitioned to staff in 2019. Mr. Chen has lived in Chinatown for more than 20 years, and prior to becoming involved with CAAAV has worked in the construction industry.

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.

Alina Shen, Asian Tenants Union Lead Organizer
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.

Kit Lee, Public Housing Organizer
Kit is a queer, Korean, immigrant born in Busan and raised in Los Angeles. As a transplant (and a settler on Lenape territory), Kit is deeply committed to the class struggles waged in NYC – to make housing a right for all, for prison abolition and dissolution of the police state, and the rejection of imperialism and its violent appendages. She believes in the necessity and power of an organized working class, and hopes to build with other working class immigrants during her time at CAAAV. When she’s not CAAAV, she is working as a peer counselor for young people with psychosis, poring over Twitter & Criterion, or dreaming of films she wants to make.

Em He, Public Housing Organizer
Em is a Cantonese/Chinese immigrant and settler who grew up on unceded Coast Salish Territories (Vancouver, Canada) and has been living on Lenape land (New York City) and volunteering with CAAAV since 2017. Em deeply believes in the power of community organizing to transform and heal our communities through relationship-building and growing strong, loving movements. Em was introduced to community organizing through intergenerational anti-gentrification efforts in Chinatowns and believes in a world where people can self-determine and stay connected to their homes. Em can usually be found being goofy, enjoying snacks, and dreaming.

Farihah Akhtar, Intergenerational Leadership Development Coordinator
Farihah joins CAAAV with six years of experience organizing and building power. She grew up in Southeast Queens and takes inspiration from the resiliency of her immigrant mother. She is a graduate of Binghamton University, where she studied Sociology & Political Science—delving deep into the impact of racial capitalism globally. She learned to organize while building two grassroots organizations in Upstate New York. Prior to joining CAAAV she was the Westchester organizer at Community Voices Heard. Farihah is dedicated to building power with working-class Black, brown, and Asian people because she believes a different world is necessary and possible.

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