This blog post was written by Romana Lee-Akiyama, Director of Multicultural Affairs – Office of Immigrant Affairs

Inclusive and equitable government is possible, and believe it or not, the pathway already exists. The Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs is one of several citywide advisory commissions that exist in the City of Philadelphia to advise Mayor Kenney on issues and policies that are important to historically underrepresented communities. 

Asian American and Pacific Islanders make up seven percent of the city’s population, and also represent the largest foreign-born population in Philadelphia. The Commission  works to ensure diversity and inclusion for Asian Pacific American (APA) communities within City policies, and coordinates with APA community organizations to develop strategies and programs that enhance the social, cultural, and economic status of the APA community.

Housed within the Office of Immigrant Affairs, the Commission lends expertise to City leadership to ensure that Philadelphia is a welcoming place for people from all walks of life, particularly highlighting the experiences of Asian Pacific Americans. The Commission recently changed its name and had previously been operating as the Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs. The new name reflects the broad diversity of the fuller Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Meet Commissioner Naroen Chhin

Naroen is the co-founder of 1 Love Movement, which was formed in 2010 in response to the deportation crisis impacting Cambodian Americans with prior criminal convictions. He says this about his experiences with the Commission and why he serves:

“I serve on the Commission to be an advocate for underserved and marginalized communities. It is important to have a seat at the table so that resources, support and opportunities are better allocated to impacted communities. It is important to me because growing up in poverty in Philly, I never met a person that served in local government. So when I was chosen to serve, I took the opportunity to do so. I just want to motivate folks to get involved in their local government. That’s when change happens.”

Call for Interest: Mayor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs

Currently, the Commission is looking for passionate, dedicated, and engaged community leaders like Naroen who are deeply connected to the Asian American/Pacific Islander communities in Philadelphia to serve. Serving as a Commissioner gives you the opportunity to influence City policies and programs to ensure equitable engagement and representation of your community. In the recent efforts to reform governance in Philadelphia, there is no better time for communities of color to be seen, heard, and given an opportunity to lead. 

If you have questions about the role, please contact Romana Lee-Akiyama, Director of Multicultural Affairs in the Office of Immigrant Affairs at