Sasha Wijeyeratne, Executive Director (They/them)
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.

Sandra Chen, Deputy Director (She/her)
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.

Julie Xu, Chinatown Tenants Union Membership 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.

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.

Alina Shen, Asian Tenants Union Lead 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.

Kit Lee, Public Housing Organizer (She/her)
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 (They/them)
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 (She/her)
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.

Onindita Sarker Onadi, Bangali 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 colour. There is nothing scarier than being alone. She also understands that most generational and personal trauma in working-class people of colour is the fruit of decades and the only way to fight that and unite is through organising. It was because someone took that first step with her that she now has the beliefs that she does. Therefore Onindita’s organising and role in movement comes from a place of familiarity, empathy and finding empowerment in her roots and culture.

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