In May, AARP is celebrating the immeasurable contributions of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community on our nation’s culture and history as part of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. As AARP honors the history of AAPI resilience, there is an esteemed ensemble of AAPI members within the organization who are currently making progress through exemplary leadership.
There’s an equal commitment in working to address the recent rise in anti-Asian violence directed toward AAPI elders. AARP is committed to the fight for social justice and ending intolerance, embracing a culture of innovation and advocating for health care, financial resilience and personal fulfillment for all.
This month is the perfect time to recognize the strength of AARP’s AAPI leaders. Here are a few 2022 Top 15 AARP leaders — individuals who are worth getting to know, as they are moving the needle and making positive change for families and communities.
Vice President, Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Asian American and Pacific Islander Audience Strategy
Daphne Kwok’s work empowers Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to choose how they live as they age.
She brings to AARP her experience as a “leader of leaders” through her community service in promoting and empowering the AAPI community. For 11 years, she was the executive director of the Organization of Chinese Americans, a national membership-based civil rights organization, where she addressed hate crimes, campaign finance, immigration, Census 2000, English-only and affirmative action.
She was also the first elected chair of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, a network of national APA organizations. In addition, Kwok served as executive director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.
Kwok’s board service includes chair of APIAVote, a member of the Comcast-NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Advisory Council, co-chair of the Nielsen External Asian Pacific Advisory Council and board member of the Asian American Advertising Federation.
Senior Vice President, AARP Research
Indira Venkat is the senior vp of AARP Research. She previously led the Consumer Insights function consisting of several issue-focused teams — financial resilience, health security, personal fulfillment, strategic and local issues and brand and membership.
She is responsible for designing a research agenda that yields actionable insights and fosters innovative thinking about AARP’s current and future consumers. Most recently, she led the strategic insights function at the Weather Channel, supporting all facets of programming, digital product and sales strategies.
Prior to that, as a member of Travel Channel’s executive team, Venkat oversaw the Audiences and Research function covering research, program strategy, digital and short-form studios.
Director, AARP Oregon
As state director, Bandana Shrestha leads the day-to-day operations of AARP Oregon and is responsible for carrying out AARP’s vision of health security, financial resilience and community engagement for over 500,000 members and Oregonians 50-plus and their families across the state.
During her 20-plus year career as a leader in local, national and international organizations, Bandana has worked to drive people-powered solutions to affect positive social change, improve lives and transform communities.
Before her appointment as state director, Bandana served as AARP Oregon director of community engagement and led outreach and advocacy efforts on hunger, prescription drugs, caregiving, long-term care, grandparents raising grandchildren, as well as multicultural and volunteer engagement.
Most recently, Bandana led AARP’s livable communities work in the state, including growing and supporting the Network of Age-Friendly Communities, advocating for affordable and accessible housing and transportation options at the state and local levels.
To learn more about AARP’s commitment to the AAPI community and see the full list of AAPI leaders being honored at AARP’s AAPI Community’s Facebook page, visit https://www.facebook.com/AARPAAPI/ and website at aarp.org/AAPI.
Scott Tanaka is a member of the JACL Washington, D.C., chapter and is a policy, research and international affairs adviser at AARP.