Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API Institute) is a national resource center on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. It serves a national network of advocates, community-based organizations, national and state programs, legal, health, and mental health professionals, researchers, policy advocates and activists from social justice organizations working to eliminate violence against women. It analyzes and addresses critical issues; provides consultation, technical assistance and training; conducts research; and engages in policy advocacy.
Its mission is to build gender equality and prevent domestic violence in Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Its vision of gender democracy drives its goals to strengthen culturally-relevant advocacy, promote prevention and community engagement, and influence public policy and systems change.
The API Institute works to eliminate domestic violence in Asian and Pacific Islander communities by
Since the early 1980s, Asian and Pacific Islander activists in the battered women’s movement have struggled to address the problem of domestic violence in their ethnic communities, and services and advocacy to support Asian and Pacific Islander battered women began to emerge. In 1981, the first shelter program for API women and children started in Los Angeles, followed by similar efforts in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, San Jose, New Jersey, Boston and Seattle. Soon, community interest increased and activists and agencies began to organize. In California in 1997, Asian Women’s Shelter in collaboration with Nihonmachi Legal Outreach, Narika and Cameron House, organized a statewide conference on domestic violence in Asian communities. Over 400 advocates and activists attended the conference. Additional efforts have followed: a Korean conference in Los Angeles, a South Asian conference in New York, and a pan-Asian one in Ohio.
In 1997, a partnership formed between the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Futures Without Violence (formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund), and the Asian Women's Shelter (AWS) to address the need for a national vehicle to bring together the many local efforts by Asian anti-domestic violence activists to address the problem of domestic violence in their ethnic communities.
In 1998, members from this partnership met for the first time in Washington, D.C. They strategized to build a network that would facilitate sharing ideas about service models for Asian battered women and children; influence data collection and research from a participatory action model, and to impact policy, fund development and research at the national level. Members also identified the need to promote national discussions on critical issues such as community perceptions of domestic violence, community responses to the problem, and the cultural values that intersect both.
On August 28, 1999, over 80 people attended the first national meeting of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence in Chicago; in conjunction with the Next Millennium Conference: Ending Domestic Violence.
October 2000 marks the formal establishment of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API Institute), initially as a part of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.
Firoza Chic Dabby, Executive Director
Firoza Chic Dabby is the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She served as Director of the Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence from 2001-2013. Before that, she was Narika’s Executive Director and at the Psychological Services Center for 17 years.
Ms. Dabby has been in the field of gender-based violence for over thirty years acquiring expertise on domestic violence against Asian immigrant and refugee women; violence over the lifecourse and its effects on health, mental health, economic security, and help-seeking; international and domestic sex trafficking; intimate homicide; child custody; strategies for advocacy, community engagement, systems change, and movement building; program design and implementation; forced marriage; trauma-informed care; elder abuse; battered mothers in the child welfare system; and sexual violence, particularly in conflict and disaster zones. She writes, trains, and presents extensively about these and many other issues.
Ms. Dabby speaks Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi and French with varying degrees of fluency. Between Bombay and Berkeley, she has lived in London, Cambridge, Paris and Kathmandu.
Beckie Masaki, MSW, Social Justice Capacity Building Director
Beckie Masaki is the Social Justice Capacity Building Director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. In this role, she continues to weave together her international, national, statewide and local work that ranges from movement building, capacity building and program and organizational development. Ms. Masaki has worked in the movement to end violence against women for over twenty-eight years. She co-founded one of the first programs in the nation that could meet the language and cultural needs of Asian survivors of domestic violence and trafficking, Asian Women's Shelter (AWS) in San Francisco, and served as its founding Executive Director for over twenty-one years. She has extensive experience in providing multilingual, multicultural services to domestic violence and trafficking survivors and their children, innovative program development, prevention, community building, policy-making, and institutional advocacy.
Beckie has provided peer-based training, technical assistance, and facilitation to groups on local, state, national, and international levels. She currently serves as faculty and advisor with CompassPoint Non Profit Services/ Blue Shield Against Violence Strong Field Project, Futures Without Violence, Praxis International, and the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence. She is on the advisory committee for the NoVo Foundation in shaping a VAW movement building initiative. Past advisory and steering committee roles include Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence, California Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, and a founding member of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence.
She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work including the 2010 Flame of Justice Award, Chinese for Affirmative Action; 2009 Roselyn C. Swig Award, Domestic Violence Consortium/ Partners Ending Domestic Abuse; 2009 Extraordinary Woman Award, Flyaway Productions; 2005 Sister of Fire Award, Women of Color Resource Center; 1999 Next Millennium Award for Community Organizing; and 1998 California Peace Prize from The California Wellness Foundation.
Grace Huang, J.D., Policy Director
Grace Huang is the Policy Director at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, and is responsible for coordinating the Institute’s legislative, administrative and court policy advocacy. Prior to her position at API-GBV, Ms. Huang worked at the state level to advance the interests of survivors of gender based-violence in the Washington State legislature. She worked at the national level to address the needs of victims in the federal Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Services and Prevention Act, and to ensure that financial resources authorized in federal legislation are accessible to domestic violence programs providing services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence. Ms. Huang previously worked as an attorney, both in private practice and in civil legal services, representing clients in immigration, family law, government benefits, and housing cases.
Ms. Huang represents the Asian Pacific Institute on the steering committee of the National Taskforce to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, and serves on the Washington State Gender and Justice Commission of the Washington Supreme Court. Ms. Huang is the recipient of several awards: American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence 20/20 Vision award (2015); University of Washington School of Law Distinguished Alumnae Award from the Law Women’s Caucus (2013); and an inductee of the UW Law School Public Interest Law Association Hall of Fame (2008). She was recognized by the Washington State Bar Family Law Section as “Professional of the Year” (2005); received the Cynthia Gillespie Award from the Northwest Women’s Law Center recognizing her work advancing legal rights for women (2000); and, along with her colleagues received the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project "Golden Door Award" (1999) for her advocacy on behalf of immigrants.
Bo Thao-Urabe, Director of Strategy
Bo Thao-Urabe is the Director of Strategy at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, providing leadership to determine the direction of the organization, ensuring organizational cohesion and strategic initiatives towards implementing its mission. Her programmatic expertise is applied to advocacy and community engagement on abusive international marriages, movement building, organizational development, and integrating a gender analysis into changing community norms. She has a long history of community building using an asset-based approach to build infrastructure and capacity of groups and organizations to advance social justice. At Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), she led philanthropic incubation work for almost 10 years, creating processes and systems for grant-making and capacity building in AAPIP's social justice philanthropy initiatives. Bo has held a variety of leadership positions, including serving as Executive Director of Hmong National Development, Senior Project Manager for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Executive Director of the Women's Association of Hmong and Lao. Bo co-founded the Coalition of Asian American Leaders; Building More Philanthropy with Purpose Giving Circle; Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence; Hmong Women Achieving Together; Sisterhood Laos; Building Our Future: A Global Community Campaign; and RedGreen Rivers, a social enterprise connecting women artisans from Southeast Asia to global markets, where she serves as Chief Operating Officer. She has been recognized locally and nationally for her work and contributions to community.
Monte Meyers, CMA, Finance Director (Part-Time Consultant)
Monte Meyers is the Principal at Shining Star Consulting, LLC, and has over 30 years of experience as an accounting professional. Through his firm, Monte has been providing accounting consulting services to a variety of nonprofit organizations since 2006. He has grown his firm during this time and now has 7 employees and 3 contractors serving a wide variety of organizations from very small start-up nonprofits to very large nonprofits. He has performed a range of duties including establishing accounting systems and procedures from scratch, new accounting software implementation, month-end and year-end closes, monthly financial reporting and dashboards, audit support, Form 990 tax return preparation, budgets, cost allocations, and government contract compliance and billing.
He served as the CFO at the Cal Alumni Association for over 8 years, the independent nonprofit serving the alumni of UC Berkeley. He was responsible for all aspects of the finances, accounting, human resources, facilities, and information technology as the organization grew from $4 million to $10 million in revenue. He serves on the Board of Directors of three nonprofit organizations (NatureBridge, Balanced Rock Foundation, and the UC Alumni Chorus) and is a member of their Finance or Audit Committees. He earned his MBA from St. Mary’s College of California, and is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA).
Cannon Han, J.D., Senior Project Manager, ITARC
Cannon Han is the Senior Project Manager at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. He is responsible for managing the Interpretation Technical Assistance & Resource Center, which provides technical assistance and training on complying with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prior to joining the Institute, he was a Senior Court Services Analyst with the California Administrative Office of the Courts Court Interpreters Program. He was responsible for oversight and training on California court interpreter ethics and professional standards, interpreter recruitment, language access in the courts, and interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing. He also worked as a direct legal services attorney and in private practice.
Wendy Lau, J.D., Program Manager, Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative and ITARC
Wendy Lau currently manages the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative and the Interpretation Technical Assistance and Resource Center (ITARC) at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She is responsible for providing technical assistance and training on implementing strategies and initiatives to ensure Title VI compliance, accessibility and cultural responsiveness for law enforcement, courts, and domestic violence programs.
During law school, she interned at the D.C. Language Access Coalition in Washington D.C. and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in New York City. Prior to law school, she was the Program Coordinator at the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center where she was responsible for managing the Legal Interpreter Project and provided insight in the creation of the nation's first community interpreter bank in Washington D.C. She was awarded the 2009 Asian Pacific American Bar Association Education Fund’s Robert Wone Fellowship for her commitment to community, making a difference in public policies, and improving the circumstances of those around her.
Hai Chan, Accounting Manager
Hai Chan is the Accounting Manager at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She manages the full accounting cycle and payroll, prepares on-going financials and financial budgets and cost reports for federal and foundation grants. She is responsible for preparing the federal drawdown and quarterly, semi-annual and annual cost reports. Hai coordinates the organization’s annual independent audit, and other program audits as required. She works closely with Executive Director and Finance Director.
Hai has 16 years of accounting experience, eleven of which are in non-profit accounting and financial management. She has a BS degree in Accounting and Finance. Before joining the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence in 2015, she was Senior Accountant at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum for nine years.
Susan Ghanbarpour, DrPH, MA, Project Specialist, Evidence-Based Practice
Susan Ghanbarpour, DrPH, MA, is the Project Specialist for Evidence-Based Practice at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. In this role, she provides training, technical assistance and capacity-building, evaluation and research resources to advocates serving Asian and Pacific Islander survivors of gender-based violence. She focuses on strengthening advocates’ capacity to evaluate their programs and services, engage in community-based participatory research, and incorporate evidence-based and trauma-informed practices into their work. Her expertise in program evaluation and qualitative research methodologies and their applicability to culturally-specific programs serves to inform local and national projects.
Dr. Ghanbarpour is a public health professional with two decades of experience in program planning and management, community outreach, capacity-building, and research and evaluation. She has successfully led complex multisite projects, forged collaborations with diverse stakeholders, and developed culturally-responsive programs for underserved communities. Her research has focused on improving access and services for marginalized populations, including low-income women and children, communities of color, and survivors of gender-based violence. Her research and evaluation expertise and interests include gender-based violence, women’s health, culturally-responsive evaluation, health disparities and inequities, and the intersectionality of race, gender, and other identities. Dr. Ghanbarpour received her DrPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, MA in Health Policy from New York University, and BA in Chemistry from Cornell University.
Sarah Khan, Project Specialist,
Sarah Khan is Project Specialist at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She is responsible for coordinating and implementing training and technical assistance to grantees of the Culturally Specific Service Programs, funded by the Office on Violence against Women. She works closely with culturally specific agencies serving Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Before that, she led the Institute's economic security program, Building Economic Security Together, a pilot project designed to build the financial capability for survivors of South Asian survivors of domestic violence. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director at Maitri, a South Asian Agency serving survivors escaping violence and human trafficking. She currently serves as a Board member of the state coalition – California Partnership to End Domestic Violence.
Ms. Khan has a longstanding passion for grassroots activism, domestic violence advocacy, and community education and empowerment, with 15+ years of working in the field.
Originally from Kashmir and settled in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family, Sarah is fluently multilingual in Urdu, Hindi, Kashmiri, and Tamil. She has a BA in History (Hons.), an MA in Political Science and an M. Phil in International Relations from New Delhi, India.
Ruvani Fonseka, MPH, MSW, Resource Center Specialist
Ruvani Fonseka, MPH, MSW, is the Resource Center Specialist at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She is responsible for analyzing and presenting program data for the Institute, as well as maintaining the organization’s website and communication strategies. She has worked for over 10 years on addressing the lifetime spiral of gender-based violence by designing and evaluating programs, fundraising and proposal-writing, and conducting research on gender inequities. In addition to her work in the United States, Ms. Fonseka has worked to advance global gender equity as a National Institutes of Health research fellow in India, a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, and an Asia Foundation LankaCorps fellow in Sri Lanka.
Ms. Fonseka received her Master of Public Health (in Epidemiology/Biostatistics) and Master of Social Welfare (in Management and Planning of Nonprofits) degrees from University of California, Berkeley’s dual degree program, where she received the Jim Fahey Safe Homes for Women Award, Foreign Language Area Studies (FLAS) Awards to study Sinhala and Tamil, and the Henrik L. Blum Award for Distinguished Social Action. Ms. Fonseka received her Bachelor’s degree in the History of Science with a certificate in Global Health and Health Policy from Harvard University.
Ada Palotai, Project Coordinator, Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative
Ada Palotai is currently the Project Coordinator of the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. Representing API-GBV as a Culturally Specific Technical Assistance Provider on a national White House-driven initiative to prevent domestic violence-related homicides, she coordinates targeted training and technical assistance on culturally specific issues in homicide prevention affecting Asian communities and on cultural competency best practices.
Ada began her career working to end violence against women in 2001, at a shelter-based victim advocacy organization in Los Angeles. During her tenure there, she served in a number of capacities, starting as front-line staff implementing new protocols to screen new welfare applicants for domestic violence and connect those identified to services, and moved quickly into management positions where she developed and oversaw critical programs, supervised and trained staff, wrote and administered grants, and ensured compliance with multiple contracts. With a talent for thinking of old problems in new ways, she was charged with identifying and filling gaps in services, often completely redesigning programs to implement best or promising practices, or creating new and innovative programs centered around primary prevention of violence and related social problems. She developed and pioneered cutting edge programming, and revamped agency policies and practices, so that the organization could have a more targeted focus - driven by root causes rather than symptomology - and to be more responsive to the evolving community. Most recently, Ada worked with leaders of multiple governmental and non-governmental organizations in Santa Monica, California, to implement a city-wide initiative aimed at changing cultural norms around masculinity and violence. Ada now lives in Oakland with her two dogs, and pursues fashion as a hobby in her free time.
Deborah Son, MSW Capacity Building Associate
Deborah Son, Capacity Building Associate at the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, provides culturally-specific technical assistance and training in the Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative to implementation sites nationwide. She also works to support California-wide initiatives to inspire leadership, community, and meaningful access to services for members of racially and ethnically diverse communities.
Deborah has participated in violence prevention and health advocacy initiatives since 2007. She led advocacy services for the Contra Costa County Domestic Violence Homicide Prevention Initiative, acting as the primary trainer for a local California domestic violence service provider, developing programs and service provision in accelerated service access for high-risk victims. Prior to this, she managed medical-legal partnerships at Alameda Health System, leading a team of over one hundred interns to address the social determinants of health within the county health care system, advocating for the power of trauma-informed practices and treating and recognizing the etiologies of root psychological and social conditions.
Deborah received her Master in Social Work from the California State University, East Bay and her B.A. in English from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently a Graduate Professor in social work at her alma mater of CSUEB, and acts as a Steering Committee member of the Asian Pacific Social Work Council and a Board member of the Korean Coalition to End Domestic Violence. She was the Regional Director for the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter from 2014 to 2016. In her spare time, Deborah enjoys practicing mindfulness through hiking, meditation and yoga.
Deborah J. Lee, Chair
Senior Vice President | Futures Without Violence
Debbie Lee is the Board Chair of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. She has been at Futures Without Violence (formerly, Family Violence Prevention Fund) for 30 years. Her work focuses on prevention including directing the Early Childhood Initiative; and Building Healthy Teen Relationships to promote prevention to decrease relationship violence and increase positive, protective relationship skills. She designed and directed the National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence – strengthening the health care response to domestic violence and forging partnerships in 27 states working with public health departments and domestic violence programs and 25 health centers in Tribal communities across the country.
In 2010-2012, Ms. Lee was appointed to the Department of Justice National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women. She was a founding board member of the San Francisco-based Asian Women's Shelter, the National Network on Behalf of Immigrant and Refugee Women, two California state coalitions, The Women's Foundation and the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence. Ms. Lee was the recipient of the first annual California Office of Women’s Health, Helen Rodriguez-Trias 2002 Award for Excellence in Community-based Women’s Health Leadership. In 2012, she was one of the 20 Movement Makers in Move to End Violence.
Annika M. Gifford Brothers, MA, Secretary/Treasurer
Senior Director of Programs | Break the Cycle
Annika M. Gifford joined Break the Cycle as the Senior Director of Programs in September 2015. Prior to that, she was the Senior Director of Policy and Research at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) where she provided leadership to the NRCDV’s policy advocacy and research initiatives, including the Building Comprehensive Solutions to Domestic Violence and the Domestic Violence Evidence Project. Annika also spent four years working in Croatia for the Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb focusing on gender mainstreaming, capacity building, human rights and justice, cross-border reconciliation, and anti-violence against women. She also co-founded a Croatian non-profit and non-governmental organization for children and youth with disabilities.
Annika has a Master of Arts in Gender and Peace Building from the United Nations mandated University for Peace in Costa Rica. In fall of 2012, she was selected as one of 20 Movement Makers in Move to End Violence, a 10-year program of the NoVo Foundation which aims to strengthen leaders, organizations, and ultimately the movement working to end violence against girls and women in the United States. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence since March 2013.
Retired, formerly Senior Vice President | Futures Without Violence
Leni Marin served as Senior Vice President at Futures Without Violence, a national organization dedicated to ending violence against women and girls, where she worked for 30 years. She directed the organization’s Rights and Social Justice Department. An immigrant from the Philippines, she provided advocacy and education efforts to improve the lives of abused immigrant women and children. She developed public policy to improve the rights of immigrant women, including a major provision within the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 and its reauthorization in 2000 and 2005. She also provided technical assistance to shelter workers, immigrant women’s rights activists, and social workers to make services more accessible to battered immigrant women.
Ms. Marin represented Futures Without Violence at international conferences, including the 1993 United Nations World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna where she organized the workshop, “Women on the Move: Human Rights Abuses Against Immigrant and Refugee Women;” and the 1995 United Nations World Conference on Women non-governmental organization (NGO) activities in China where she organized and presented in panels and workshops entitled "From Private Problem to Community Concern: Preventing Domestic Violence Before it Begins," and "Migrant Women’s Human Rights in G-7 Countries." In addition, Ms. Marin initiated global projects and partnerships on ending violence against women with NGOs in China, India, Mexico and Russia. Ms. Marin retired from Futures Without Violence in December 2013.
Sujata Warrier, Ph.D.
Training and Technical Assistance Director | Battered Women's Justice Project
Sujata Warrier is the Director of Training and Technical Assistance at the Battered Women’s Justice Project. Previously she was the Director of the Community Response Policy and Training of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. She trains at local, state, national, and international levels and provides technical assistance to professionals in various systems such as health care, law enforcement, justice, social services on the issue of gender based violence, and cultural competency – delivering numerous keynotes on the issue of culture, competency, relativism, and violence against women. She provides assistance on legislative and policy issues regarding battered immigrant women. She received her Ph.D. from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She has written and published articles on violence against women in the international context.
In addition to her work on the board of the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Sujata continues to advocate on behalf of immigrant survivors of gender-based violence in Manavi, a pioneering South Asian women's organization in New Jersey and on the board of ASISTA, a resource for advocates and attorneys. She serves as faculty on the National Judicial Institute of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.
Her international work includes serving the Country Director for the American Bar Association’s Rule of Law Initiative in Bangladesh; working with Chemonics International and the Egyptian government to help develop a national Egyptian strategy to address violence against women in Egypt; consulting for a domestic violence institute hosted by UNDP in Amman, Jordan; and working with CEHAT and Masum in India on women’s health and gender violence.
Her awards include: The Rev. Cheng Imm Tan Visionary Award; AWAKE Award for South Asian Women’s Advocacy; the Indian Chamber of Commerce Award honoring Women Achievers; and the New York 30 Women Leaders Award.
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