Bio – Dr Kaikai Liu

Dr. Kaikai Liu

Associate Professor and Cisco Corporate Chair Professor in the Department of Computer Engineering, San Jose State University.

Kaikai Liu is an Associate Professor and Cisco Corporate Chair Professor in the Department of Computer Engineering. His research interests include Intelligent and Autonomous Systems, Mobile and Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS), Artificial Intelligence of Things (AIoT), Smart Sensing, Data Mining, Next-Generation Communication and Sensing Systems.

He has published over 40 peer-reviewed papers in journals and conference proceedings, 1 book, and holds 4 patents (licensed by three companies). His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Health of Hawaii, Knight Foundation, and many industry companies including Intel, Arista, and Cisco. He was a member of the NSF Big Learning Center (previously Scalable Software Systems Laboratory).

He received a Ph.D. degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Florida (UF) under the direction of Dr. Xiaolin (Andy) Li. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Achievement Award at UF (four times), the Apple WWDC Scholarship (2013 and 2014), the Innovator Award from the Office of Technology Licensing at UF (2014), the Top Team Award at NSF I-Corps Winter Cohort (Bay area, 2015), the 2015 Gator Engineering Attribute Award for Creativity at UF, IEEE SWC 2017 Best Paper Award, IEEE SECON 2016 Best Paper Award, ACM SenSys 2016 Best Demo – Runner-up, 2016 CoE Kordestani Endowed Research Professor, 2017 and 2018 CoE Research Professor Award, Faculty Mentoring Award for CSU Student Competition 2018, and 2020 College of Engineering Award for Excellence in Scholarship. He served as the technical program chair for IEEE Mobile Cloud 2020, 2023 and as a TPC member and technical reviewer for many IEEE/ACM conferences and journals.

Bio – Dr Joanne Rondilla

Dr. Joanne L. Rondilla

Assistant professor of Asian American Studies and Sociology at San Jose State University.

Hello! I am Dr. Joanne L. Rondilla and I’m an honored to serve on the team that is organizing the AANHPI Ohana Center of Excellence. As a daughter of Filipino immigrants, I was born and raised on Guam. This project means the world to me because at a young age, someone dear to me suffered from depression and eventually took their own life. Growing up, I did not have the education or awareness of mental health issues, or how this experience would impact me well into adulthood. This is among many of the motivations behind participating in this work.

In addition to this project, I am an assistant professor of Asian American Studies and Sociology at San Jose State University. Recently, I served as a Public Voices fellow at The OpEd Project. An award-winning educator, I am the co-author of Is Lighter Better?: Skin Tone Discrimination Among Asian Americans and co-editor of Red & Yellow, Black & Brown: Decentering Whiteness in Mixed Race Studies. My research interests include colorism, popular culture, and media representations.

Bio – Kyoung Mi Choi

Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi

Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at San José State University.

Dr. Kyoung Mi Choi is a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at San José State University. She earned her Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision from Syracuse University and has been teaching counseling and higher education courses for over ten years. Her research interests focus on culturally sensitive counseling approaches, mindfulness-based counseling interventions and programs, social connectedness among Third Culture Kids, international student adjustment and academic success, LGBTQ college students, and the integration of technology in Counselor Education.

Dr. Choi has been recognized as an International Fellow in the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) and as a recipient of the NASFA Diversity Impact Program. She’s also been a Public Voices Fellow and regularly contributes to Psychology Today. Dr. Choi’s Queer Educators and Counselors Network (QECN) received the Community Advocacy Award for AD 27 Pride Celebration. She has served on the board of directors for Families in Global Transitions (FIGT) and as a member of editorial boards for various journals, including the Journal of Counseling and Development (JCD), Journal of College Student Development (JCSD), and Journal of LGBT Issues in Counseling.

In The Child Behind the Bushes, Kyoung Mi Choi leads readers on a healing journey that spans three generations and three continents.

Bio – ‘Atalina Pasi

‘Atalina Pasi

Population health specialist at Papa Ola Lōkahi.

Malo e lelei, I’m ‘Atalina Pasi. My family comes from Ha‘alaufuli and Koloa on the island of Vava‘u. Also from Ha‘apai, Ha‘afeva, and Tongatapu on Tonga island. My mom came to Hawai‘i pursuing higher education at BYU-Hawaii. My mom put her education on hold and worked 2 full-time jobs to bring her 6 brothers, 3 sisters and parents here. My mom then met my dad and settled in Kahuku, Hawai‘i where I was raised. I live in Kahuku with my husband, my 6 children and my mom in the house I was raised in. I work at Papa Ola Lōkahi as a population health specialist over chronic disease.

I am honored to be part of this project to ensure that Pacific Islander voices are represented and heard throughout our engagement with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. I hope to accomplish equity and inclusion as we build a repository for behavioral health resources that are culturally centered and in-language.

Bio – Dr Meekyung Han

Dr. Meekyung Han

Photo of Dr Meekyung Han

Professor & Co-Director of Child Welfare Partnership for Research and Training
School of Social Work, San Jose State University, California.

Dr. Meekyung Han is a professor and co-chair of the Child Welfare Partnership for Training and Research at the School of Social Work at San José State University (SJSU). Originally from South Korea, Dr. Han pursued her master’s in social work (MSW) as an international graduate student pursuing her MSW at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. After completing her master’s degree, she worked as a social worker in St. Louis before relocating to California to pursue a doctoral program in social welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Following the completion of her Ph.D., she joined the faculty at SJSU.

Dr. Han’s research focuses primarily on mental health issues, family violence, and the impact of trauma, with a special emphasis on Asian American Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). In recent years, she has worked to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health disorders and provide support for caregivers of those with mental illnesses. Her scholarship has had a profound impact on addressing inequities and disparities within the mental health system. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her extensive scholarly work and contributions to understanding mental health issues.
 
Her academic pursuits are deeply rooted in the Transcultural Perspective (TCP) framework which prioritizes diversity, human well-being, and social justice. She incorporates a TCP perspective into every step of her scholarly work. Dr. Han is also a dedicated educator who integrates her scholarship and the TCP framework into her teaching to enhance students’ learning experiences. In recent years, she has received multiple honors and awards, including the Senior Excellence Scholarly Award for her excellent scholarship and an award from the National Association of Social Workers South Bay Chapter for her exceptional teaching.

As demonstrated by her extensive research, Dr. Han recognizes a pressing need within the AAPI community: a dearth of mental health resources and culturally and linguistically competent services. This realization fuels her deep sense of privilege and honor in joining the ‘Ohana CoE. As a part of the ‘Ohana CoE, Dr. Han is dedicated to expanding her contributions to the behavioral health field to advance the interests and well-being of AANHPI.

What is ‘Ohana?

‘Ohana – what is an ‘ohana?

‘Ohana, Aiga, Kainga, Kopu tangata, Magafaoa, Whanau—Family, is central to Pacific communities and is part of our Pacific people’s cultural identity. While we understand the Pacific is not monolithic, there are some cultural values like family that are shared throughout. We have chosen to use the Native Hawaiian word ‘ohana and will define family through its use. ‘Ohana is most often translated as “family, relative, kin group, or to be related to”. But it can also mean “to gather for family prayers, lineage, race, tribe, or those who dwell together and compose a family.” As we makawalu—look deeper, into this concept, we can look to the concepts and root words within ʻohana.

Native Hawaiians much like other Pacific Islanders can trace their genealogical lineage back to the birth of their islands and people. Papahānaumoku earth mother, and Wākea sky father, together birthed the islands and Hoʻohōkūkalani stars. Wākea and Hoʻohokukalani together birthed a child who was still. In their sadness, they named their child Hāloa, meaning long or eternal breath. After burying Hāloa, a plant grew from the same space where they had buried their child. This plant had heart-shaped leaves and was the first kalo (taro). Their second child was also named Hāloa in honor of his older brother. Hāloa became the first Hawaiian person, and all those descended from him were fed and sustained by the kalo, his older brother. This relationship highlights the importance of teu le vā /tauhi vā an important Pacific value that describes the ongoing cultural obligation one has to tend to, look after, or nurture our families, our villages, and our environment.

When we break down the word ‘ohana – ‘oha + na. The ‘oha refers to the corm of the kalo. Native Hawaiians view the ‘oha as the root of all. We see this linkage through the genealogical story of Papahānaumoku and Wākea. After planting, the kalo can create many keiki (children) or small offshoots, yet all are descendants of the same ‘oha. This concept illustrates that in Hawaiian and Pacific Islander thinking, it does not matter how we are related; we all descend from the same lineage and are connected. Our ʻohana includes not only those who are related by blood, but all those that we come in contact with including the animate and in-animate relationships we have with ʻāina (land), elements, rocks, trees, ʻaumakua (family spiritual guardians), akua (gods, higher power), and all animals on land, in the air, and the ocean.

For Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders within ‘ohana, there are no barriers; everyone should feel safe and cared for. ‘Ohana, fosters the reciprocal relationship between kānaka (people), ‘āina (land), and akua/pili ‘uhane (spirituality). We are all one ‘ohana.

“Every cloud, rainstorm, lightning flash, ti plant, and maile vine was a body form of Kane. Rainclouds, rain, lush ferns, aholehole fish and certain types of seaweed revealed the god Lono. The god Kanaloa was represented by the deep ocean depths by squid, octopus and certain kinds of seashells” (William Pila Kikuchi, “Heritage of Kaua‘i,”

—The Native Hawaiian, February 1979, Vol. 111, No. 4, page 4).

Pono Shim, a beloved Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner, and kumu shared the teachings of Aunty Pilahi Paki concerning ‘ohana, she said, “The world will turn to Hawai‘i as they search for world peace because Hawai‘i has the key… And that key is Aloha!” Pono Shim further explained that another root of the word ‘ohana, is hana. While hana is translated as “work”, and when understood through a Hawaiian and Pacific Islander lens, hana much like teu le vā /tauhi vā is the call to act or do something.

To break down the word further, ha-na, “when we ha, breathe, we na release, set free, through akahai, grace, leaving it better than you found it. ‘O refers to of or eternal/eternity. So, when we na, we unleash never-ending grace..”

“All the members of an ‘ohana, hana forever. The concept is to honor each person’s hana. We have space for people to expand, recover, discover, innovate, and improve their hana. We Honor and need each other’s hana—that’s ‘ohana”

The term ‘Ohana has been adapted by many Asian Americans living in Hawai‘i or the West Coast of continental United States as a term more fitting than the English word “family” which tends to imply a nuclear family.

Kalo Connections across the Pacific and Asia

Kalo was not native to Hawai‘i. In fact, some of the first written records of kalo came from China, around 200 BC. The first Polynesian voyagers who traversed the oceans and settled in Hawai‘i may have carried kalo plants on their double-hulled canoes to help sustain them wherever they would travel (citation).

Kalo, also known as taro is an ancient food crop first domesticated 9000 years in Asia. Historically, taro has been a subsistence crop cultivated throughout Asia, Hawai‘i, Associated Pacific Islands, and West Africa.

Photo credit: Kumu Hula Kapuaokalani “Stacey” Kaʻauʻa – Hālau Unuokeahi

Bio – Tenly Biggs

Tenly Pau Biggs, MSW, LMSW

Deputy Director at the Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Tenly Pau Biggs, MSW, LMSW, is the Deputy Director at the Office of Behavioral Health Equity (OBHE) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). She is coordinating SAMHSA’s efforts to reduce disparities in mental and substance use disorders across racial, ethnic, LGBTQ+ and other underserved populations.

She is a member of a workgroup dedicated to implementing the HHS response to the Memorandum on Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in the United States.

Prior to joining OBHE, she was the Grants Coordinator for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) and the lead for the disparity impact statement and strategy (DIS) work pertaining to the access, service use, and behavioral health outcomes of discretionary grants at SAMHSA.

Tenly was the former primary and behavioral health care integration lead for CMHS grant programs. Previously at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health, Tenly was the mental health lead and provided technical assistance on achieving health equity to health plans, health systems and networks, hospitals, and primary care providers. She also updated CMS’ Disparity Impact Statement for health plans and providers review their disparities data and create an action and implementation plan to close the identified gaps.

Tenly is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Niger (West Africa). She continues to build upon her areas of interest in leadership, management, and training opportunities within the AAPI communities. She is a licensed social worker in Maryland and received her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the University of Southern California.

Tenly Pau Biggs, MSW, LMSW is a featured guest speaker at the event, Culture and Language Matters! Re-Centering Behavioral Health for AANHPI Communities.

To accommodate all time zones, there are two dates available.

1pm HST
4pm PDT
May 24, 9am ChST

9am HST
12pm PDT
3pm EDT

Bio – Kathleen Wong(Lau)

Kathleen Wong(Lau), PhD

photo of Kathleen Wong(Lau)

University Diversity Officer at California State University East Bay.

Kathleen Wong(Lau) is the University Diversity Officer at California State University East Bay, where she leads the Office of Diversity providing vision, strategic direction, and support for university-wide efforts to ensure a welcoming environment and systemic equity for members of campus and in its relationship with the surrounding communities. Prior to her current appointment she served in a similar role as Chief Diversity Officer at San Jose State University for six and a half years.

She served as the Executive Director of the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education (NCORE) and as Director of the Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to that she served as faculty at Western Michigan University and as a research associate in the national Multiversity Intergroup Dialogue Study at the University of Michigan. Her noteworthy accomplishments include co-founding the Journal of Commitment to Social Change on Race and Ethnicity (JCSCORE), and serving as a faculty associate and facilitator for Campus Women Lead, a transformative leadership initiative of AAC&U. As a graduate assistant she helped co-found the Asian Pacific American Studies Program at Arizona State University. She received her PhD in Communication Studies from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication. She is a first-generation college student having worked in community-based organizations in San Francisco Chinatown and as a union butcher in Oakland, CA who entered higher education as an older returning student.

She is a bilingual second-generation Chinese American descending from working-class immigrants from Hong Kong who migrated to California in the 1950s under Asian Exclusion.

Bio – Dr Lesther Papa

Dr. Lesther Papa

photo of Lesther Pap

(he/him/his)

Assistant professor of psychology at San José State University’s (SJSU) Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

Dr. Lesther A. Papa (He/Him/Siya/Esuna) is an assistant professor of psychology at San José State University’s (SJSU) Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. He was born and raised on the westside of the island of Kauai to immigrant Filipinx parents. As an undergraduate at the University of Hawai’i Mānoa (UHM), he was actively involved with the Filipino language program and organization, Katipunan. He participated in a Fulbright-Hays program (Advance Filipino Abroad Program) to learn Filipino language and literature after graduating from UHM and received a Master’s degree from Northern Arizona University before heading to Utah State University (USU) to pursue a doctoral degree. The combined clinical/counseling/school psychology program at USU provided excellent training in providing mental health services to diverse populations. In addition, Dr. Papa has participated and facilitated workshops and presentations on multiculturalism, cultural competence, and allyship (https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/ies/2020/all2020/1/) at USU, which has also informed his clinical practice.

He completed his predoctoral internship in clinical psychology at the University of California – San Francisco’s (UCSF) Multicultural Clinical Training Program where he was trained in trauma-informed mental health treatment for youth and their families. He was also a postdoc at UCSF providing trauma-informed mental healthcare in schools during the COVID-19 pandemic before starting at SJSU. Dr. Papa now uses his clinical expertise to provide consultation to students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.

Dr. Papa’s research focuses on the experiences of minoritized people in the form of microaggressions and examines racial/ethnic microaggression detection in higher education, misgendering of trans/non-binary individuals, colorism within the Filipinx community, and intersectional microaggressions toward queer/trans Black, Indigenous, people of color (QTBIPOC). His lab also focuses on training students who have minoritized identities as well and together they focus on making a difference in the lives of minoritized people. He has also come full circle and is now the faculty advisor for SJSU’s Filipinx organization, Akbayan, and Pilipinx Graduation, which recognizes and celebrates graduates for their baccalaureate achievement.

When Dr. Papa is not teaching or engaged in research, he often spends time sipping, strolling, and shopping, spending time with his community, and gaming.

Bio – John Oliver

John Oliver

(he/him/his)

Public Health Program Manager, Maui County Branch Chief, State of Hawai‘i Department of Health, Behavioral Health Administration

John Oliver is with the Hawai‘i Department Of Health’s Behavioral Health Administration. Working within Adult Mental Health Division, he is a Public Health Program Manager / Service Area Administrator and oversees Maui County Community Mental Health Center’s locations on Maui, Molokai, and Lana‘i. He is also the Project Director for the Maui County Certified Community Behavior Health Clinic (CCBHC), a project funded by a planning, development, and implementation grant from SAMHSA.  

In addition, he is also the Project Director for the newly formed Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander (AANHPI) ‘Ohana Center of Excellence. Funded by SAMHSA, the purpose of this Center of Excellence (CoE) is to advance the behavioral health equity of AA, NH, and PI communities. The AANHPI ‘Ohana Center of Excellence is a resource for mental health and substance use disorder providers, health care providers, and AANHPI communities in the U.S., U.S. Associated Pacific Islands, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands.