Regional Interagency Working Group: Community Engagement Partners at the Grassroots Level

Members of the White House Initiative on AAPIs Regional Interagency Working Group.  December 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chang)

Members of the White House Initiative on AAPIs Regional Interagency Working Group. December 4, 2013. (Photo courtesy of Paul Chang)

With jackets off, sleeves rolled up, and ready for action, members from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) Regional Interagency Working Group (RIWG) gathered in Washington, DC last week to plan future engagement efforts with the AAPI community across the country. Members of the RIWG include over 100 Regional Administrators, District Directors, Assistant District Directors, and staff from over 20 federal agencies and sub-agencies. More importantly, RIWG members are members of your community. We are your neighbors and we understand the issues that you face every day.

The RIWG was created to better coordinate community engagement efforts across federal regional offices and to share information and resources between agencies and with the AAPI community.  In just a few short months, the RIWG has already organized community events in New York, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. At these events, RIWG members heard directly from the AAPI community about their challenges, tried to demystify the federal government and its programs and services, and created new partnerships with community leaders.

The meeting in Washington, DC connected RIWG members with others in our region and from across the country. We had a chance to strategize within our regions on community roundtable plans for 2014.  We learned strategies related to capacity building that will help grow and sustain our community partners.  And we learned about the demographic landscape of the AAPI community in our regions.

The RIWG helps address the AAPI community’s needs in their communities. I left the meeting with great excitement and hope that the RIWG can help bolster direct government engagement with the AAPI community and serve as a model to effectively connect with all communities.

Paul Chang is Assistant District Director for the Wage and Hour Division at the U.S. Department of Labor. He is also a member of the White House Initiative on AAPIs Regional Interagency Working Group.

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