the apa women leader spotlights: lisa hasegawa

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:

Lisa Hasegawa
Nominated by Sandy Lee and Angela Lam.

Describe your name.
Lisa, not Elizabeth. My parents kept my and my brother's names short and sweet since we have a long last name. My middle name is Masako, after my grandma (my Mom's Mom). Mary Masako Kanase is 92 years old still rockin’ and rollin’ in Orange, California! Her birthday is November 9th, so this is all for her! She was very active in the Fujinkai, an international network of Buddhist Women's Associations. I have memories of seeing her up at the podium speaking to all the temple leaders - she has certainly been an inspiration to me. She worked in a garment factory in the San Fernando Valley for decades, and designed and sewed one of the first AIDS quilt panels with me for a Japanese American gay man who passed away in the early 90s. I am proud to have her name!

How do you identify?
Lifetime social justice advocate for Pacific Islander and Asian Americans.

Best advice someone has ever given you?
FAMILY first! Or as [my husband] Sandy would say, "You are not the Executive Director of this house!" Balancing work and family has made my activism sustainable. Thanks to the entire Lee/Eng/Kong family for keeping me grounded!

Who's your hero?
All the garment workers and seamstresses, past and present!

Biggest lesson you've learned as an APA Woman?
We all stand on the shoulders of our moms, grandmoms and fierce Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian and Asian American sisters who have paved the way for the work we do today at NAPAWF! There are so amazing women activists in our families and communities who are an unlimited source of continued inspiration. They give us the courage and responsibility to do the work we do!

What advice would you give to other Asian Pacific American women?
There is no magic that makes big things happen, just hard work and commitment! No matter where you work, or what your field of expertise, there are opportunities everyday to empower our communities and the women in our lives.

Why support NAPAWF?
The network of women in NAPAWF have been a constant source of inspiration, friendship and support over the past 15 years. Support NAPAWF because it is a powerful network of amazing women who are a force and voice for progressive values! I am honored and proud to have been a part of the National Transition Team and National Governing Board.

Favorite guilty pleasure?
All the zombie games for the Droid and beating friends on Wordfeud. Yes, it's really true.

How do you serve your community?
Good question! Unfortunately, at CAPACD, I don't get to do much direct work as I used to, but ever since I started in nonprofit work as the program coordinator for one of the first AAPI teen pregnancy prevention/reproductive health education programs at the Asian Pacific Health Care Venture in Los Angeles, I have been committed to advocating and raising resources for non-profit community based organizations who do amazing work to improve the lives of people living in lower income neighborhoods.

If you weren't doing what you're doing, your dream vocation would be...
Owner of an Asian American bookstore/dessert shop (yes, I LOVE all things mochi and tapioca!)

Angela says:
Lisa is an amazing fierce fierce sister, a huge supporter of the NAPAWF-DC chapter being one of the founders, and has led National CAPACD for 10 years with extreme devotion and passion. She’s wacky, hyper, fun-loving, caring, always laughing, inclusive of all Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian communities, everybody’s sister, friend, and advocate. Lisa completely deserves this spotlight and may her fierceness live on!

Sandy says:
Upon contemplating my wife, Lisa Hasegawa, I am at somewhat of a loss to define her. She knows no time zone, often working several coasts, but it is community, not destruction that follows in her wake. Saying, "no" to Lisa is like asking the waves to stop washing up on the shore. It could happen, but it takes a stronger being than myself to do so. Not because she is stubborn, but because she accepts your protests and compels you to do more, be more, and demand more.

She is a rock-climbing, mountain skiing, scuba diving, jet setting warrior. She has climbed pyramids in Chiapas and hiked through the jungles of Sapa in Vietnam. Fearless leader you say? I'm inclined to agree.

Her mother was born in an internment camp stable during the darkest period of American civil rights. Her drive serves as a catalyst to her vision and experience and National CAPACD has grown from its humble beginnings as a two-person closet operation into a bi-coastal organization budgeted for over $1,000,000, and spawning the careers of many wonderful community activists along the way.

Some say, "use the Force." Instead, Lisa forces herself.

Donate in honor of Lisa, Sandy and Angela:
Support this team by giving to NAPAWF in their honor.

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

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