This session will focus on the various career pathways within public service, as well as bridging AANHPI identity with a career in the public sector. Topics of discussion include sharing what a public service career looks like, ways to engage the AANHPI individuals with their work (community outreach, fundraising, etc), and the future of the AANHPI community in this space.
Dr. Noël S. Harmon | CEO, APIA Scholars
Noël Harmon is President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars, formerly, the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. She joined the organization in June 2018 and has led the pivot to the organization’s focus on Asian American Pacific Islander Native Hawaiian student success. Harmon was recognized in Diverse Issues in Higher Education’s “Top Women” of 2022 and under her leadership the organization has raised over $60 Million since 2018 in service to their mission. Dr. Harmon was previously at Say Yes to Education, where she was Senior Vice President for Strategic Partnerships. And she has held positions at the Brookings Institution where she was the Associate Director of the Global Cities Initiatives, a joint project of Brookings and JPMorgan Chase, and at CEOS for Cities, where she was the National Director of the Talent Dividend. Harmon spent the first decade of her career working in Athletic students services and student affairs administration at Hofstra University, University of Michigan, Western Illinois University, and the University of Iowa. Harmon holds a PhD in Higher Education and a BA in English from the University of Iowa, and a MA in Student Affairs Administration from Ball State University.
Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori | Director, Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center
Dr. Mary Therese Perez Hattori is Director of the Pacific Islands Development Program. She holds a B.Ed. and Professional Diploma in Secondary Social Studies with a concentration in Pacific Islands History, an M.Ed. in Educational Technology, and an Ed.D. in Professional Educational Practice from the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. Her dissertation focused on culturally responsive educational technologies. Prior to this, she was a Scholarship Program Specialist in the East-West Center’s Education Program, Director of the Center for Teaching & Learning and Associate Professor of Education at Chaminade University; Outreach Director of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at UHM; and Associate Professor of Information Technology and Director of the Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching and Technology at Kapiʻolani Community College.
A native Chamoru of Guåhan (Guam), she is a community organizer and advocate for Pacific islanders in Hawaiʻi, co-organizer of cultural events such as the Annual Cultural Animation Film Festival, the Annual Celebrate Micronesia Festival, Micronesian Women’s Summit, and Oceania on the Reel, and teacher/mentor of students in Pacific Studies, Learning Design & Technology, and the UHM & San Francisco State University Educational Doctorate programs which are part of the Carnegie Project on the Educational Doctorate. She is Affiliate Graduate Faculty of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and Chaminade University of Honolulu.
Sarah Ha | Vice President of National Community Alliances, Teach for America (TFA)
Sarah Ha serves as the Vice President of National Community Alliances at Teach For America (TFA). In this role, she is responsible for driving the organization’s external engagement strategy with national civil rights and aligned organizations, leading and working alongside a team of senior leaders who manage the Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community Alliances, Black Community Alliances, Immigration & Education Alliance, Latinx Community Alliances, National Prism (LGBTQ+) Alliance, and Native Alliances. Her team collectively works to bring the intersectional partnerships, advocacy, resources, and opportunities to further cultivate the skills and mindsets necessary for systems change in their network of over 70K corps members, alumni, and staff to shape a child-centric educational equity ecosystem. She is committed to improving and re-imagining education systems that empower students to create a more equitable future.
Formerly, Sarah launched and led TFA’s National AAPI Community Alliances. She was responsible for cultivating and building relationships with external grassroots and grasstops organizations, influencers, and media committed to strengthening Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander educators, students, and their communities. In 2018, the TFA’s AAPI Alliances through Sarah’s leadership, advocacy, and partnership building was awarded the Leadership Education for Asian Pacific’s (LEAP) Community Award.
Prior to joining TFA, Sarah was the Senior Director of Programs and Student Affairs at the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF; now known as APIA Scholars) in Washington, DC. She oversaw the strategic development and implementation of academic support, leadership development, and community-building programs for 16,000+ recipients of the GMS and APIASF scholarship awards.
Sarah has nearly 20 years of experience working in racial equity and justice work, including conducting research on the educational experiences of underrepresented and underserved students in higher education, in addition to implementing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging programming and initiatives. Prior to APIASF and GMS, Sarah worked in the Office of the Dean of Students at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), the UCLA LGBT Campus Resource Center, and served as an Intergroup Dialogue Facilitator dedicated to creating inclusive, affirming, and diverse campus environments. Her previous work experience includes helping to build and launch the Legal & Compliance Department at Cowen and Company, LLC and her litigation paralegal role at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
Sarah earned her Masters of Education degree in Student Affairs, Higher Education & Organizational Change from UCLA. She received her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Faith, Peace & Justice from Boston College. She also completed a coaching certification program through Coach Diversity Institute, Pahara NextGen Fellowship, Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders, LEAP’s Emerging Leaders Program, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) National Leadership Academy, and TFA’s New Executive Director Fellowship. She serves on the Advisory Council for Act To Change and Boston College Alumni Association. She currently lives in Queens, NY with her beloved husband, Taiyo Na, and their very active toddler Jayu.
More About The Washington Leadership Program
The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.
The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.
By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available. We kindly ask for all guests to follow our mask-required policy.