Sasha Wijeyeratne, Executive Director
Sasha Wijeyeratne has been lucky to call Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Madison, DC and Queens home at different points in their life. 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. 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 and more. Sasha has been published in Our Stories: An Introduction to South Asian America, Q&A: Queer in Asian America, and Queer and Trans Migrations: Dynamics of Illegalization, Detention, and Deportation. In their free time, Sasha enjoys hiking with their dog Rain and creating elaborate food concoctions in their kitchen.
Eugenia Lee, Deputy Director
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.
Originally from Los Angeles, Kit joined CAAAV in 2020 with experience building an organization for undocumented Asians & Pacific Islanders, providing immigration legal services to Koreans in NYC, and being part of the No New Jails campaign. They are deeply committed to building and being part of organizations that harness & wield the power of the working class to construct a future where the working people have seized control over our labor, resources, and destiny. When they are not organizing, they like taking long walks, trying restaurants they’ve never been to, and going on solo dates to the cinema.
Chinatown Tenants Union
Alina Shen, Lead Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer
Alina was born and raised in New York City. She joined CAAAV’s staff in 2019 with experience in labor organizing, researching historic migration of Chinese workers in Cuba and modes of resistance, and creating a critical geography project based in Chinatown. Alina’s first engagement with CAAAV was as a high school student and has since been thrilled to play a part in building CAAAV’s culture of warmth and rigor. She is a graduate of the City University of New York Baccalaureate (BA) at City College, Macaulay Honors College, and Union Semester.
Julie Xu, Senior Membership Organizer
Julie was born in Sichuan Province and grew up in the Midwest. She joins CAAAV with experiences in student and labor organizing with nail salon workers, service workers, and massage workers. She has her BA from the University of Chicago in History and Ethnic Studies writing her senior thesis on Chicago’s Chinatown in 1850-1930. In her work at CAAAV she has seen the power of transformational relationships and is inspired and fueled to build organization and commitment with our people. She likes to adventure with her pup Iskra, learn new skills, and spend time with friends.
Em He, Policy Research Economist
Em was brought to CAAAV through leftist anti-gentrification organizing in Unceded Coast Salish Territories/Vancouver, Canada’s Chinatown. Arriving in NYC/Lenape land in 2017, they started building power with CAAAV and witnessed the transformation and wins made possible through base-building organizing. They also build power with Lavender Phoenix, the Chinatown Art Brigade, and the W.O.W. Project.
Ying Yu Situ, Chinatown Tenants Union Youth Organizer
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!).
Ren Ping Chen, Chinatown Tenants Union Organizer
Ren Ping Chen grew up in Fujian province in the countryside and has been a member of CAAAV since 2005 and transitioned to staff in 2019. He has lived in Chinatown for more than 20 years. Prior to becoming involved with CAAAV, he worked in the construction industry for more than four decades. Ren Ping Chen is a logistics whiz/problem solver, enjoys daily exercise on the waterfront, and watching Bruce Lee movies.
Tomie Arai is a public artist born and raised in NYC. Through a framework of community-led collaborations, Tomie brings over 40 years of experience working with activists and Chinatown residents to her new role as CAAAV’s first Artist in Residence. Tomie is a founding member of the Chinatown Art Brigade, a cultural collective that believes in the power of art and culture to advance social justice. CAB has partnered with CAAAV since 2015.
Farihah Akhtar, Lead Astoria Organizer
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
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 Azad Tisha, ATU Membership Organizer
Nazish Azad Tisha is from Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is an immigrant who moved to New York City shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. Previously a Fine Arts student studying sculpture in Dhaka University, she had to leave her studies in order to survive in a new country. Now that she has found her place at CAAAV, she believes in people power and is practicing and building a strong Bengali working Class network in Astoria. She has a passion for art, nature, music and adventure.
Tahia Islam, ATU Membership Organizer
Tahia Islam is an organizer, cultural worker, and educator raised in Jackson Heights. Her upbringing as a first-generation Bangladeshi in one of the most diverse working class neighborhoods in the country has informed her internationalist and socialist politics and commitment to fighting for what our communities deserve. Prior to CAAAV, Tahia developed political education and cultural programming at The People’s Forum, organized the Jackson Heights Community Fridge, researched K-12 curriculum with NYU MetroCenter, and taught at NYC public schools. Tahia is also passionate about garment worker and labor rights in the Third World and styles artists with secondhand and vintage.
Jaydee Lee, Finance and Operations Manager
Originally from the Bay Area, Jaydee comes to CAAAV after a history of working around prison abolition, migrant justice, and education equity throughout the United States. Jaydee believes in the power of people to organize and transform their communities and themselves. In their free time, Jaydee is organizing with DegrowNYC, taking long walks with her dog, and having fun picking apart pop culture phenomenons.
Julie Chen, Institutional Giving Manager
Julie Chen is from San Jose, CA. She comes to CAAAV with experiences fundraising for a nonprofit immigration bond fund, researching Chinese labor in Italy, and providing case management services to Mandarin-speaking parents in Brooklyn’s family court system. She likes biking, climbing, and making food and art with friends, and is pursuing an MFA in Poetry at Brooklyn College.
Irene Hsu, Communications Manager
Irene grew up in the Bay Area and first came to CAAAV as an interpreter in 2022 during CTU’s Two Bridges campaign. As a poet and cultural worker, they are dedicated to wielding culture as a weapon of struggle and a site of deep transformation. As a former graduate student worker, they researched U.S. and Japanese overlapping imperialisms, settler colonialism, and military infrastructure. They have been involved in publishing projects for Wendy’s Subway, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and the Asian Prisoner Support Committee, among others.
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