About the APA
2011 AWARD JUDGES
DAPHNE KWOK was appointed in July 2010 by President Barack Obama to chair the white House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with the mission to provide advice to the President on improving the quality of life for AAPIs through federal programs. Professionally, Daphne is the Executive Director of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for AAPIs with disabilities. Over the years, Daphne's illustrious career includes her service as Executive Director in the following organizations: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies in Washington, DC, and prior to that, 11 years at OCA (Organization of Chinese Americans,) one of the largest national APA civil rights and education organizations with over fifty chapters in the country. A founding member of the APIA Scholarship Fund, Daphne has also served on the board of numerous community organizations, including APIAVote, National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, Southeast Asian Resource Action Center and the Coalition of Asian Pacific and American Community Development. A graduate of Wesleyan University in East Asian Studies and Music, Daphne is the first Asian American serving on its Board of Trustees.
NITASHA KAUR SAWHNEY was appointed in 2006 to serve on the California State Commission on APIA Affairs, and reappointed in 2010. An attorney by profession, Nitasha is a partner in the San Francisco Bay Area office of GCR, LLP, specializing in education, labor and employment law. A dedicated civil rights advocate, some of the community organizations Nitasha has served on include the advisory council of South Asian Americans Leading Together and the Sikh Coalition. A frequent speaker on issues of employment discrimination, hate crimes and bullying in the schools, Nitasha was featured as an expert in a Post 9/11 award-winning documentary Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath. Nitasha has received a number of awards for her community service, including the Public Interest Award from the South Asian Bar Public Interest Foundation of Southern California and the Spirit in Action Award from the Interfaith Councils of the cities of Garden Grove, Stanton, and Westminster for her work in raising funds and awareness to aid victims of genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Nitasha received her juris doctorate from the University of California, Davis and her BA degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
DILAWA SYED is President and CEO of Yonja Media Group, a leading emerging markets social media company based in Silicon Valley and Istanbul, Turkey. Prior to joining Yonja Media Group, Dilawar was at Yahoo! where he was head of strategy and business operations for Yahoo!'s Platform Division and oversaw Yahoo!'s investments in next-generation platforms and shared technologies. Earlier in his career, he held leadership roles in various Fortune 100 companies including SAP, Siebel Systems, Deloitte Consulting and Ernst & Young. Dilawar has played a leadership role in a broad range of civic efforts. Dilawar serves on President Obama's Advisory Commission on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders and drives engagement with the entrepreneur and small business community as Chairman of the Commission's Economic Growth. In 2008, Gov. Howard Dean appointed Dilawar National Co-Chair of the Democratic National Committee's South Asian Leadership Council. He is past president of entrepreneurship non-profit OPEN Silicon Valley and serves on the steering committee of Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education. Dilawar received his M.B.A. from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin.