the 15 apa women leader spotlights: monica thammarath

15 Days. 15 APA Women. 15th Anniversary. To celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, we're partnering up with NAPAWF and Hyphen to spotlight 15 Women Warriors for 15 days, sponsored by 15 hosts. Meet today's spotlight:

Monica Thammarath
Nominated by Minhchau, Iimay and Heather.

Describe your name.
My first name is Monica and my last name is Thammarath. Monica is just an "American" name that my parents picked out for me but my last name is a little more interesting. In Laos, my family didn't necessarily have a last name so when they were living in the refugee camps in Thailand, they picked Thammarath for UNHCR processing purposes. People usually think I'm Thai because my last name is Thai but it's pretty cool because Thammarath means "righteous leader" or "good government" in Pali, which is super appropriate because I do policy work.

How do you identify?
Fierce NAPAWF Sister.

Your passion issues?
A lot of people fight for social justice because they're angry...I do it because of love. Love for the community, my family, and myself.

Best advice someone has ever given you?
This wasn't given to me personally but just generally great advice: "I'm nice. I always try to be nice. But don't fuck with me." - Peggy Saika, founding NAPAWF sister.

Who's your hero?
My grandma

Biggest lesson you've learned as an APA Woman?
There isn't enough time in the day for me to run around making everyone else happy.

What advice would you give to other Asian Pacific American women?
Live unforgivingly. Love recklessly. Laugh uncontrollably.

Why support NAPAWF?
Because NAPAWF-DC made it so I not only love my job in DC but I also love my life in DC. NAPAWF chapters all around the country are building, nurturing, and sustaining the leadership of API women and girls like me to be fierce advocates for our communities in a city near you! There's a lot of great work to be done . . so please support NAPAWF and empower API women and girls all over our country so we can get to it!

Favorite guilty pleasure?
Hot Cheetos. Especially with cream cheese. Whipped, of course.

Minhchau, Iimay and Heather say:
She's a young, badass Southeast Asian womyn sitting at the table with privileged folks fighting for the underprivileged. She refuses to be siloed into an education niche, but instead brings her whole beautiful self to the table: community organizer, daughter of Laos refugees, San Diego lady, Cal alum, Kitty-cat lover, K-12 Education, Founder and long-time supporter of the Southeast Asian Student Coalition in California.

She is one of the first people I met in DC and she has been an ally, safe space, and support system for me. Monica keeps me grounded. She has a powerful, inspiring sense of integrity and dedication to grassroots community. As the former Education Advocate for SEARAC and in her current work in the Office of Minority Community Outreach at the National Education Association, Monica helps make sure that the APA community has a voice in shaping education policy. Monica is an APA woman leader because she brings all of herself to her work, has mentored and empowered other APA women (especially young folks and people new to DC), and because she is a tireless, fierce advocate and organizer. From organizing Spa World trips to lobbying on the Hill, Monica is always warm, genuine, compassionate, and badass!

I nominated Monica because I have never met someone with more passion, commitment and dedication to a cause than she. She also sees the incredibly complex and intricate intersections of oppression that connect to the issue of education reform. Her energy, excitement and enthusiasm are infectious and her ability to mobilize is unmatched. I believe she represents the best characteristics of an organizer, teacher and policy advocate and I am grateful to have gotten the chance to know her.

Donate in honor of Monica:
Support Team Monica - Minhchau, Iimay, Heather and Meina by giving to NAPAWF today!

To see the rest of the 15 APA Women Leader Spotlights, go here.

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