30+ leadership resources for Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders

30+ leadership resources for Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islanders

We know that diverse teams are more innovative, more profitable, and can make better business decisions faster. Today’s employees crave diverse leadership. According to data from Glassdoor, more than three in four employees say a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers. And nearly a third say they wouldn’t even consider working for a company with a lack of diversity.

But despite the proven benefits of diverse leadership teams, the Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AANHPI) community continues to face major barriers to leadership opportunities. AANHPI white-collar professionals are the least likely to be promoted into management positions—less likely even than other minority groups, including Blacks and Hispanics. Asian Americans represent 13% of the professional workforce but just 6% of executives. And while there are more than 24 million Asian Americans in the U.S., less than 1% of elected leadership are members of the AANHPI community. 

This year’s AANHPI Heritage Month theme, chosen by the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), is Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration. This theme was chosen specifically to highlight the FAPAC’s efforts to advance Asian Pacific American leaders within the federal and District of Columbia governments: to foster collaboration among organizations, cultivate a sense of unity among people who identify as AANHPI, and promote diversity and inclusion in leadership positions. 

No matter where or how you lead, developing your leadership skills can increase your confidence, improve your communication, and better your ability to connect with others—opening the door to more robust discussions and powerful decision-making. For small businesses, building diverse leadership teams leads to better business outcomes and improved brand reputation. Plus, a leader’s drive to grow might be just the inspiration someone needs to pursue leadership for themselves, building a future with more diverse business owners and teams. 

There are many organizations dedicated to enhancing leadership and collaboration among the AANHPI community while retaining their values and culture. Check out the list below to find the right organization for you, and download the handy PDF to keep these resources on hand. All the illustrations you see are the work of Vivian Shih, an Asian American artist dedicated to capturing the range of human experience. 


Ascend is the largest Pan-Asian business professional membership organization in North America. Through leadership programs and networking opportunities, Ascend is on a mission to develop and elevate Asian and Pacific Islander business leaders, professionals, students, and the community. Becoming an Ascend member allows you to access their leadership development programs, executive networks, and calendar of events. Learn more. 

Asian American Business Development Center (AABDC)

Host of the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business award program, the AABDC promotes greater recognition of Asian American business contributions in the U.S., drives diversity and inclusion initiatives, and encourages Asian Americans to get involved in issues and policies that directly affect them. Join a program or attend virtual roundtable events for resources and inspiration. Learn more. 

Asian American Youth Leadership Empowerment and Development (AALEAD)

With locations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, Asian American LEAD offers after-school, mentoring, and summer programs for Asian American youths. It’s their goal to support low-income and underserved youth with education empowerment and leadership opportunities. As many as 88% of participants in AALEAD say they are stronger leaders because of it. Learn more. 

Asian Leaders Alliance (ALA)

This organization began in San Francisco but has since expanded around the globe. ALA brings together Asian Employee Resource Group (ERG) leaders to foster collaboration, grow as civic leaders, and positively impact their respective communities. ALA currently has more than 1,400 individual members from over 200 companies. Become a member or apply for an ALA voluntary leadership position to access ALA’s growing network. Learn more. 

Asian MBA International (AMBA)

AMBA is the largest group of MBA students and working professionals of Pan-Asian heritage in the U.S. It’s their mission to connect Asian American talent with career opportunities around the world. They accomplish this through online connections, a virtual job board, and in-person events, including the Annual Asian MBA Leadership Conference and Career Expo. Learn more. 

Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC)

This organization believes that relationships, mutual mentorship, and community support build successful businesses. Members range from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses across a broad spectrum of industries. It’s their goal to provide a forum for Asian Pacific American business leaders, promote products and services that support the advancement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), and develop leadership skills. Learn more. 

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)

Founded in 1992, APALA is the first national organization of AAPI workers. Today, APALA has more than 20 chapters and a national office in Washington, D.C. Find a chapter near you to learn more about leadership opportunities, activism on local and state issues, and community networking. Become a member to support the AAPI labor movement and get regular updates on important issues and events. Learn more. 

Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF)

Formerly the Asian Pacific American Leadership Project, the APALF was founded in 2004 and designed to help prepare and equip Asian Pacific American leaders for public service and civic involvement. It’s their goal to encourage Asian Americans to become leaders in their local communities and beyond. Become a member to access exclusive tools, training, and resources. Learn more. 

Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APALI)

APALI was established in 1997 by Dr. Michael Chang, the first Chinese American mayor of Cupertino, to address the need for more Asian Americans to serve as political and civic leaders. The APALI training method was built to develop Asian American leaders committed to improving their communities through political and nonpolitical processes. Learn more.

Asian Professional Exchange (APEX)

APEX boasts an e-community over 10,000 members strong. It’s their goal to bring increased awareness about Asian Americans through community engagement, cultural events, professional networking, and educational seminars. They provide opportunities for AAPIs to develop and refine their skills as both community and corporate leaders. Learn more.

Illustration by Vivian Shih

Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE)

CAUSE wants the AAPI community to lead, vote, and participate. It’s their goal to empower Asian individuals to be politically and civically engaged. Through their work, they encourage the next generation to vote in every election, inform and educate AAPIs about the matters and issues affecting them, and give Asian Americans the tools they need to lead. Learn more. 

Center for Asia Leadership 

The Center for Asia Leadership consists of three main initiatives: Asia Leadership Trek, Asia Leadership Institute, and Acumen Publishing. Emerging government, community, and business leaders can access online masterclasses, personal coaching, and other leadership development through the Asia Leadership Institute. Learn more. 

Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW)

CAPAW is dedicated to enhancing and enriching leadership skills for AAPI women through education, networking, and mentorship. The center offers a variety of professional development programs, from regional conferences to training institutes—all addressing the specific needs of AAPI women across the country. Learn more. 

Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL)

CAPAL is on a mission to empower AAPI youth by addressing systemic barriers to careers in public service and connecting them with opportunities, knowledge, and resources to become strong leaders and decision-makers. Sign up for their virtual mentoring program or network with young professionals in the Washington, D.C., metro area at a CAPAL happy hour. Learn more. 

Korean American Coalition (KAC)

Based in Los Angeles, California, KAC exists to promote the interests of the Korean American community through education, coalition building, and leadership development. The KAC Model United Nations program for inner-city youth helps hone leadership skills and engage students in global and local issues. Non-California residents can attend virtually. Learn more. 

Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP)

LEAP started with the idea that in order for AAPI communities to realize their full potential, they would have to begin producing leaders who could advocate and speak on their behalf. LEAP encourages individuals to assume leadership roles at work and in the community. Join a leadership program, work with a LEAP consultant, or browse leadership resources on their website. Learn more. 

National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP)

NAAAP is the premier leadership organization for Asian professionals. It exists to inspire, develop, and connect leaders across industries and communities through networking and education events, training, and celebrations. Browse the NAAAP career center for leadership opportunities, join a leadership program, or get involved with a local chapter near you. Learn more. 

National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (NAAPIMHA)

This association is on a mission to promote the mental health and well-being of the AAPI communities and raise awareness of the role of mental health in overall well-being. They believe advocacy plays a critical role in promoting mental health and encourage members to speak up, get involved in community-based organizations, and take an active role in improving their own health. Learn more. 

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)

The NAPAWF is focused on building power with AAPI women and girls to influence the critical decisions that affect their lives and communities. Today, the forum is mobilizing across the United States to create social, political, and economic change for AAPI women—showing up in solidarity with other women of color. Become a member for just $0.01 to access a national network of AAPI women focused on building power. Learn more.

National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD)

National CAPACD is a coalition of local organizations advocating for and organizing in low-income AAPI communities. The coalition strategically invests in leadership development for its members to build the pipeline for passionate leaders to join and commit to the AAPI movement. Beyond that, members are connected to opportunities, resources, and each other. Learn more. 

National Organization for Vietnamese American Leadership of Greater Washington (NOVAL-DC)

This Washington, D.C.-based organization is on a mission to build sustainable leadership in the Vietnamese American community while preserving Vietnamese cultural heritage. It is composed of professionals and students committed to advancing the community's well-being. Join NOVAL-DC to gain access to professional workshops, seminars, and events, and participate in their mentorship program. Learn more. 

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)

This federation of LGBTQ+ AAPI organizations seeks to build local AAPI groups, develop leaders, educate the community, and challenge anti-LGBTQ bias and racism. Subscribe to their newsletter to get regular updates on the Queer Asian community and alerts of local events in your area. Learn more. 

US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC)

The USPAACC is the largest and most established organization representing AAPIs in business, science, the arts, sports, education, and public and community services. Their Business Leadership Series (BSL), sponsored by Wells Fargo, offers a unique educational opportunity for professionals to learn and grow for future success. Learn more.

Illustration by Vivian Shih

Leadership resources by industry:

Not all leaders are built the same. Find leadership resources in the industry you work in to hone your leadership skills and learn from industry experts.

Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC)

This organization encourages the participation and advancement of Asian Pacific Americans in the government workforce. Learn more.  

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA)

NAPABA is the largest AAPI membership organization representing the interests of attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students. Learn more. 

South Asian Bar Association of North America (SABA)

This organization provides a trusted forum for professional growth and development for the South Asian legal community. Learn more. 

Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF)

It’s 3AF’s mission to advance the marketing and advertising industry for Asian American consumers through education and advocacy. Learn more. 

Asian American Architects and Engineers Association (AAa/e)

This organization provides a platform for personal and professional growth for AAPI professionals working in the built environment. Learn more.

Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA)

AAJA advocates on behalf of AAPIs in the newsroom and on the front lines for stronger representation and inclusion. Learn more. 

Asain American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA)

The nearly 20,000 AAHOA members own 60% of the hotels in the United States. AAHOA’s mission is to advance and protect the business interests of hotel owners. Learn more. 

Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE)

SASE is committed to preparing Asian heritage scientists and engineers for success in the global business world. Learn more. 

Asian American Arts Alliance (A4)

A4 is dedicated to strengthening Asian American artists through resource sharing, promotion, and community building. Learn more. 

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF)

As the oldest and largest health advocacy organization for AAPI communities, APIAHF is on a mission to improve the health of Asian Americans. Learn more. 

Association of Asian Healthcare Leaders (AAHL)

This coalition of healthcare leaders creates networking opportunities that increase leadership development and representations of AAPI in the healthcare industry. Learn more.

Illustrations by Vivian Shih

Vivian Shih is a Cali-raised, Brooklyn-based, Asian American artist and tattoo artist. Her illustrations spotlight the experience of women and people of color. Her personal work focuses on themes of self-discovery, day dreams, and internal reflection.

Vivian Shih headshot.

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