GENA LEW GONG | CCAPW
In celebration of CCAPW's 40th anniversary, we sat down with Gena Lew Gong, our longest-serving past president and a lecturer in Asian American Studies at Fresno State, for an interview about how she got involved with CCAPW and what directions she thinks CCAPW should take in the future!
BY EUNJI SEO
Q: How did you first get involved with CCAPW?
A: In 2008, I moved to Fresno from Los Angeles to get married. Outside of my now-husband and his family, I knew no one. As someone who was very active in the AAPI communities in Los Angeles and in other cities where I’ve lived and worked, I was eager to establish the same kinds of personal and professional networks in the Central Valley, but I was having difficulty locating organizations that seemed to embrace pan-AAPI issues. Fortunately, I attended an AAPI community meeting and recognized Debbie Tom because we’d worked on a project together some years ago. Debbie invited me to a CCAPW board meeting that she was hosting at her house, and the rest, as they say, is history. When I met the women on the CCAPW board at that time, including Geri Yang and Mai Der Vang, I knew I’d found what I was looking for.
Q: What do you see as CCAPW’s most valuable contribution to the community?
A: I see CCAPW's value to the community in the fact that it’s truly a pan-ethnic, multi-generational, and professionally diverse network of women who are committed to empowering each generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander women. I have the highest respect and admiration for the women who have been involved with CCAPW and have helped the organization thrive, from its founding in 1980 to today, 40 years later. As with most organizations, CCAPW has experienced its highs and lows, but it remains the only pan-AAPI women's organization in the Central Valley that is committed to the leadership and empowerment of the AAPI community.
Q: What directions would you like to see CCAPW go in the future?
A: I would like to see CCAPW expand its scope to delve even deeper into nurturing the next generation of AAPI women leaders. CCAPW has already been instrumental in supporting the educational aspirations of hundreds of young women by granting college and graduate school scholarships, which is an incredibly valuable investment in the community. In addition to continuing to offer these scholarships, I’d love to see CCAPW helping to develop local networks of AAPI women leaders to be advocates for their communities across a broad range of sectors and professions.
Thank you, Gena, for always being a great supporter of CCAPW and a visionary leader and community organizer in our communities!