Roland Hwang

Activist, Educator, and Public Servant

Roland Hwang is from Detroit, Michigan. He received his B.A. and M.B.A. from the University of Michigan and his J.D. and LL.M. from Wayne State University Law School. He was an attorney for the State of Michigan, Department of Attorney General for 27 years and he is now retired. He is also a lecturer at the University of Michigan Department of American Culture since 1995. 

Hwang worked as a volunteer attorney in the case of the murder of Vincent Chin. The case influenced Hwang to become involved in civil rights; he was later appointed as a civil rights hearing referee for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Hwang helped found American Citizens for Justice (ACJ) which is an advocacy organization that was created in response to the Vincent Chin case. Hwang was the first treasurer of the group and is currently the vice president. He was also appointed to the Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission.  


“Q&A with Roland Hwang,” Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA, June 19, 2017,

“Re-Elect Roland Hwang – Bio,”, accessed January 18, 2021,

Amul Thapar (1969 – )

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Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, 2017 – Present

Amul Thapar is currently a judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He was appointed by President Trump and has been serving since 2017. 

Previously Thapar served as a U.S. District Judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky (2008-2017). He was also the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky (2004-2008). 

Thapar is the first South Asian federal district court judge. Thapar is from Michigan and received his B.S. from Boston College and his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.


“Asian American Judges on the Federal Courts | Federal Judicial Center,”, 2020,

Ronak D. Desai, “Indian-Americans Are Achieving Historic Representation Across The U.S. Judiciary,” Forbes, accessed January 18, 2021,

Mark Takano (1960 – )

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California’s 41st district (D),
2013 – Present

Takano attended Harvard College and received his Bachelor’s degree in Government in 1983. Following graduation, Takano returned to his hometown Riverside, California and taught as a classroom teacher in the Rialto Unified School District.

In 1990, Takano was elected to the Riverside Community College District’s Board of Trustees and in 1991 was elected President of the board. 

In 2012, Takano became the first openly gay person of color to be elected to the U.S. Congress. During his time in Congress, Takano has served as the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and as a member of the Education and Labor Committee.


Bobby Scott (1947 – )

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“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments.”

– Congressman Bobby Scott

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia’s 3rd district,
1993 – Present

Robert “Bobby” C. Scott was born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Newport News, Virginia. He attended Harvard College and after graduating from Boston College Law School returned to Newport News where he practiced law for twenty-years before being elected to the Virginia legislature. 

In 1993, Congressman Scott became the first Filipino American to serve as a voting member of Congress and only the second African American representing the state of Virginia elected to Congress. 

During his time in the House, Congressman Scott has served on a variety of committees including the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and the Committee on the Judiciary. In 2019, Congressman Scott became the Chair of the House Education and Labor committee.


Dalip Singh Saund (1899 – 1973)

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California’s 29th district (D),

Born in India, Dalip Singh Saund was the first Sikh American, Asian American, and Indian American to be elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

After immigrating to the United States in 1919, Saund joined his fellow Indian immigrants by working as a lettuce farmer in the Imperial Valley of California where he fought for farmers’ benefits from the New Deal Program. In the early 1940s, Indian Americans were still barred from obtaining U.S. citizenship. Saund founded the grassroots India Association of America which pushed for the creation of a 1946 bill that made it possible for Indian immigrants to become naturalized; Saund became a U.S. citizen in 1949.

Often known as the “Judge”, Saund was elected to the Imperical County Democratic Central Committee in 1950 and ran for a judgeship twice after being vacated the first time and facing a barrage of racial discrimination in both campaigns.


“Dalip Singh Saund Collection,” South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), accessed January 17, 2021,

Staceychandler, “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month: Dalip Singh Saund,” The JFK Library Archives: An Inside Look, May 15, 2020,“SAUND, Dalip Singh (Judge) | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives,” @USHouseHistory, 2019,

Norman Mineta (1931 – )

U.S. Secretary of Transportation (D), 2001 – 2006

Norman Mineta is the former Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush. Mineta was the only Democratic Cabinet Secretary in the Bush administration and first Asian American cabinet member during the Clinton administration. 

During World War II, Mineta and his family spent several years in a Japanese internment camp near Cody, Wyoming. Prior to his service in presidential cabinets, Mineta served as mayor of San Jose, California and then as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. While in Congress, Mineta co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first chair.

Having spent many years in public service, Mineta has received numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest civilian honor in the United States—and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. He is well known for his work in economic development, science and technology policy, and leading the creation of the Transportation Security Administration following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.


“Norman Y. Mineta,” Mineta Transportation Institute, February 22, 2017,“Norman Y. Mineta, Former Secretary of Transportation, 2001-2006,”, accessed January 17, 2021,

Daniel Akaka (1924 – 2018)

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A tremendous amount of needless pain and suffering can be eliminated by ensuring that health insurance is universally available.

– Daniel Akaka

U.S. Senator from Hawaii (D), 1990-2013

Daniel Akaka was the first Native Hawaiian in the U.S Senate, building up a loyalty among his Hawaiian constituents and within the Democratic Party.

In his 36 years in Congress, Akaka devoted much effort for the representation of Native Hawaiians, and Asian Americans broadly. In 1993, he secured both congressional and presidential apologies for the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1983, a coup backed by the U.S, and often lamented one of the most major cultural losses.

During his early tenures as George Ariyoshi’s special assistant, Akaka developed his political interest to help the Native Hawaiian community by focusing on a “behind-the-scenes” approach. After serving in the House from 1978 to 1988, Akaka won a seat in Senate. He frequently supported bills and measures which addressed issues on agriculture, energy and natural resources, veterans’ affairs, governmental affairs, and urban affairs, participating in a number corresponding committees during his tenure. 


Joseph Cao (1967 – )

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Louisiana’s 2nd district (R),
2009 – 2011

Joseph Cao pulled through an election running as a Republican in a historically majority-Democratic district to serve in the 111th Congress (2009-2011). He became the first Vietnamese American to serve in Congress, highlighting the “new political activism of the Vietnamese Community in post-Katrina New Orleans”. His accomplishment became a point of pride for Vietnamese Americans.

He frequently crossed party lines to pursue and support measures which he thought would best meet the needs of his constituents. He was especially divergent on the Republican stance against a major health care reform.

Cao was originally from Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S at age eight, largely growing up in Texas. His Catholic faith had a strong influence on his education and interests, later shaping his political views to promote social change.


Elaine Chao (1953 – )

Secretary of Transportation (R), 2017-2021

Elaine Chao has served as Secretary of Transportation in Donald Trump’s cabinet and Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush (2001 – 2009). Following the 2021 Storming of the U.S. Capitol, Chao resigned from her position as Secretary of Transportation.

Previously served as Deputy Maritime Administrator, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission, Director of the Peace Corps, Chief Executive Officer of United Way of America, and Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Chao is the first Asian American woman and first Taiwanese American to be appointed to a President’s cabinet.


“Elaine L. Chao,” The White House, n.d.,

“Secretary Elaine Chao | US Department of Transportation,”, n.d.,

“Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao Resigns, Citing Violence At Capitol,”, accessed January 10, 2021,

Gary Locke (1950 – )

U.S. Ambassador to China, 2011 – 2014, U.S Governor of Washington, 1997 – 2005

Gary Locke served as United States ambassador to China (2011 – 2014) and is the 21st governor of Washington (1997 – 2005). In the Obama administration, Locke served as the Secretary of Commerce (2009 – 2011).

Locke is the first governor of East Asian descent in the continental United States. He is also the only Chinese American to have ever served as governor of any state and first Chinese American to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. As governor, Locke strengthened economic ties between Washington State and China more than doubling Washington’s exports to China to over $5 billion a year.

Locke was the first Chinese American Secretary of Commerce and one of three Asian Americans in Obama’s cabinet, the other two being Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki.


“About Governor Gary Locke,”, accessed January 10, 2021,“Gary Locke,” The Institute of Politics at Harvard University, accessed January 10, 2021,