About 18MR.org

When we launched in September 2012, there were approximately 18 million Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States, representing nearly 6% of the total population and growing faster than any other racial group (!) Despite that, Asian Americans remain one of the most politically under–organized, under–engaged, and under–represented constituencies: only 55% of Asian American citizens of voting age are registered to vote -- the lowest rate of all races.

18MR.org was founded to promote AAPI civic engagement, influence and movement by leveraging the power of technology and social media. 18MR.org is comprised of a network of a AAPI activists, artists, organizations, and digital media influencers, ranging from community based organizations and print magazines to Asian American blogs and YouTube channels. During the 2012 election cycle, we built and distributed online voter registration tools, ran social media-fueled civic engagement campaigns, and provided up–to–date information and analysis on all things political that Asian (and all!) Americans should know about. Since election season, we've stood up for the voices and struggles of AAPIs. We even took on Google in our first quarter. And WON.

Ultimately, 18MR is about you, your friends, your cousins, your aunties, your whole community. It’s about making our voices heard...on Election Day, when a Sikh gurdwara is attacked, when an Asian American soldier or student is viciously bullied, when we’re misrepresented in the media or mainstream culture, when Jeremy Lin is called a “chink” (and when he registers his first triple double!), and when one of our AAPI elected officials do us proud. 18MR is about us, all of us.

18 Million Rising Staff

  • Christina M. Samala


    Christina M. Samala (known simply as Samala) is became 18MR.org's Founding Director after three years as The Story of Stuff Project's Director of Online Strategy & Media. Prior to that, she spent a decade as a brand strategist and designer for social impact organizations. Samala is a Bay Area based, New York raised, first generation Filipina American. She is well-versed with start-up projects, savvy with technology as a tool for social and environmental good, and a nerd for all things social media. Samala is an alumna of the Wharton and Annenberg Schools of the University of Pennsylvania. You can chat with her directly @samala. Incidentally, Samala is also a pretty bad-ass DJ. Holler.

  • PaKou Her

    Campaign Director

    PaKou comes to 18MR with 15 years of anti-racism organizing experience and after nearly two years of field organizing with MoveOn.org. She is also principal of Tseng Development Group, a firm that provides consulting, training, and coaching on anti-racist/anti-oppressive leadership development, organizational growth, and systems change. Born and raised in the Midwest, PaKou takes great pride reppin APIs living in the nation’s midsection. Some of her favorite non-campaigning activities include entertaining two young daughters, squeezing in occasional adult-only evenings with her spouse, chasing culinary adventures, and dreaming about reviving a long-lost singing career. Swap musings about race, culture, and organizing on Twitter @pakouher.

  • Cayden Mak

    New Media Director

    Cayden is finishing up a Master of Fine Arts in digital media at the University at Buffalo, New York, where they study participatory archives and games for civic engagement. Before joining 18MR, they worked as a staff organizer for SUNY's Graduate Student Employees Union, and have been deeply involved with New York Students Rising. Though they were born and raised in southeast Michigan, they're more likely to say they come from the internet. Nerd out about video games, cyborgs, and critical theory on Twitter @cayden.

  • Cynthia Brothers

    Civic Engagement Fellow

    Prior to joining as a Civic Engagement Fellow, Cynthia was also Editor & Campaign Strategist for 18MR. As a consultant, she also works with the Four Freedoms Fund at Public Interest Projects, focusing on immigrant rights, integration, and civic engagement. Recently, Cynthia also helped coordinate arts and cultural organizing strategies in the immigrant rights movement for The Culture Group and Culture/Strike, and was Agenda Development Lead for the 2013 National Immigrant Integration Conference in Miami. Cynthia is Managing Blog Editor for Hyphen, and co-founded NYU Wagner's first AAPI student group, the Asian Pacific American Student Alliance (APASA). She was born and raised in Seattle and reluctantly admits to clichés such as playing in bands and once making espresso for a living – but is proud that she went to the high school where Bruce Lee first demonstrated his famous “one-inch punch.” You can holler at Cynthia via cynthia@18millionrising.org.

  • Juliet Shen

    Social Media Coordinator

    Juliet Shen is a senior at the University at Albany, New York where she studies Political Science and Sociology. She is the Co-Chair and Co-Founder of the Coalition of API Americans Collaborating Together to Unite the Southwest (CAACTUS), blogger at Fascinasiansblog.com, and sister of Delta Phi Lambda Sorority, Inc. Formerly, she has organized with New York Students Rising, the East Coast Asian American Students Union (ECAASU), and the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). Raised in the deserts of Arizona and now living in the frigid wasteland of upstate New York, Juliet is most comfortable living online where extreme temperatures can't get her. Find her online at @Juliet_Shen.

  • Vanessa Teck

    Civic Engagement Fellow

    Vanessa is a Masters Candidate in Higher Education at the Morgridge College of Education at the University of Denver. She is passionate about scholar activism, community engagement, and addressing issues of social justice and inequity. Her research interests focus on intersectionality within the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, particularly with Southeast Asian Americans and student activists. However, much of her time is dedicated to helping in the progressive AAPI movement, both locally and nationally. She is a national speaker on Asian American collegiate activism and coalition building, recently helping to found and Co-Chair the Coalition of API Americans Collaborating Together to Unite the Southwest (CAACTUS). She loves pugs, ice cream, and having the sun out when it rains.

  • Alice Wong

    Content Crew Captain

    Alice Wong lives, works and plays in San Francisco. By day she is a Staff Research Associate at the Center for Personal Assistance Services, UCSF. Alice is also a Presidential appointee to the National Council on Disability, an independent federal agency focusing on disability policy. She serves as the President of the San Francisco IHSS Public Authority Governing Body and is a board member of Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC). Alice is a self-professed news junkie, sci-fi nerd, twitter addict, rabble rouser, cat lover, coffee connoisseur, night owl and bossy big sister.

    Find her stuff: @SFdirewolf Asian Moms w/ Knives

  • Linh Chuong

    Content Crew Member

    Linh Chuong is East L.A.-raised and Arkansas-educated -- a gender and social justice lovin', tree-huggin’ book worm -- who supports, trains, and amplifies local community voices at the state and national level in her role as Health Policy Advocate for the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center's California Office. She was formerly the Walker-Odyssey International Fellow in Taiwan, where she worked to educate and advocate for Vietnamese women, their children and families, and migrant workers. You can hear more of Linh’s API feminist thoughts and re-posts at @LHChuong.

  • Mark Putterman

    Content Crew Captain

    Mark Tseng Putterman is an aspiring activist and academic based in New York City currently completing a bachelor's degree in postcolonial studies and ethnic studies at New York University. He is passionate about immigrant rights, racial justice, and racial coalition building. You can find him popping up at the Asian/Pacific/American Institute at NYU (Programs Assistant), Asian American Writers' Workshop (Editorial Intern), DREAM Team @ NYU, and Asian Pacific American Student Collective. Drop him a line on twitter at @yellowfeverbaby.

  • Kirin Kanakkanatt

    Content Crew Member

    Kirin Kanakkanatt is a 23-year-old Ohio native. She is a proud queer, API, woman. She has worked with young people and unlikely voters in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 elections. She loves climate justice and has organized against mountaintop removal in Appalachia, fracking in Ohio, and for the green economy nationwide. She has mobilized young people around student power in Ohio through her work with the Ohio Student Association. Kirin is currently the Millennial Coordinator for All Hands on Deck and the Project Manager for the National Student Power Convergence 2013. She believes in creating collective power for collective wins to get collective liberation. You can find Kirin on twitter @kirin_rosemary.

  • Jennifer Pae

    Content Crew Member

    Born in the Bay Area and raised in California’s Central Valley, Jennifer Pae was the first Asian American woman to serve as the student body president at UC San Diego, followed by stints as president of the United States Student Association and Project Director for PowerPAC. As a trainer for the Midwest Academy, Camp Wellstone, and APIA Vote, Jennifer has trained hundreds of activists across the country to run effective and strategic campaigns. When she’s not on a plane you can catch her on twitter @jennpae. Jenn is 18MR’s campaign manager and makes runs for Oakland’s City Council in her free time.

  • Lisa Lee

    Content Crew Member

    Lisa Lee is the cofounder of Thick Dumpling Skin, a community forum dedicated to discussing body image issues and eating disorders in the Asian American community. From 2008 - 2011, Lisa served as the pro bono publisher of Hyphen magazine, an award-winning publication and website that covers Asian American arts, culture, and politics. Lisa works at Facebook as its diversity program manager and chairs the company's Asian American Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group. During her spare time, she serves as the communications co-chair for The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum San Francisco Bay Area chapter and sits on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality. Connect with her at misslisalee.com.

  • R.J. Lozada

    Content Crew Member

    R.J. Lozada is an award winning multi-media journalist, and filmmaker. Lozada is a contributor and host for APEX Express, a weekly radio magazine show in API culture and politics. Lozada is also multimedia editor for Hyphen, and Director of Photography for Among B-boys and the forthcoming Breathin': The Eddy Zheng Story. You can holler at R.J. on twitter @RJLozada.

  • Keith Chow

    Content Crew Member

    Keith Chow is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Nerds of Color. He is also one of the editors of the Asian American superhero anthologies Secret Identities and Shattered and a co-host on ACV's basketball talk show "Joy Dunk Club." An educator and writer by trade, Keith's other passions include collecting action figures, watching movies based on comic books, and karaoke rooms filled with ‘80s pop and ‘90s hip-hop. He made his television debut on a 1988 episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Currently, Keith lives outside Baltimore, Maryland with his wife and daughter.

  • Tareq Alani

    Content Crew Member

    Tareq Alani grew up in North Carolina. His politics come out of his parents’ experience as immigrants in North America as well as his own experience as an ethnic and religious minority growing up in the South. Currently, he fights for worker's rights with Working America. He likes to write, and if you're interested to read what he has to say check out http://karimtareq.wordpress.com/. You can find Tareq on Twitter @tareq_alani

  • Kham Moua

    Content Crew Member

    Kham Moua graduated in 2011 from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in Chinese and is the current Civil Rights Fellow for OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates. As the civil rights fellow, he manages and coordinates OCA's advocacy efforts on the ground and on the Hill. Kham previously worked for Hmong American Partnership and Hmong National Development. In those roles, he coordinated programming for low-income and high risk Southeast Asian youth, and he engaged in community outreach and advocacy for the Hmong community. During this time, he was also the Board Chair for Shades of Yellow, the only Hmong Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) organization in the United States.

    Issues close to him include LGBTQ rights, Asian Pacific Islander and Southeast Asian equity, and immigration reform. In his free time, Kham likes to explore the outdoors, play video games, and order large pizzas and cuddle with Netflix.

  • Tracy Du

    Content Crew Member

    Tracy is a a current sophomore attending Johns Creek High School in Georgia. As an avid policy debater, she was exposed to critical race theory last year and became interested in Asian American political advocacy since. She is interested in a healthcare profession and most recently worked at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for eight weeks in summer, as well as attending a debate camp in Michigan. Other activities she enjoys include playing the violin, sketching, and running a tumblr blog on the side (which she will never allow you to find).

  • Carson Armstrong

    Content Crew Member

    Carson Armstrong is a 16-year-old student currently attending Piedmont High School. He is interning at 18 Million Rising this summer through the Coro Exploring Leadership Program and hopes to develop his expertise and leadership skills. Carson collects and analyzes social media data with the 18MR crew. So far, 18MR has already opened his eyes to ongoing racism in the world, but also to the inspirational people raising awareness and promoting change. During his free time, Carson participates in community service, but also plays soccer, badminton, and video games with his friends.