Fourth Nonpartisan Mayoral Candidate Forum


CONTACT: Grace Pai (Executive Director) (224) 289-5291

Over 300 Asian American community members gather to hear mayoral candidates discuss community issues

Photos here (credit: Ray Rivera)

February 6, 2023, CHICAGO – Hundreds of Asian American community members gathered at tonight’s Mayoral Candidate Forum hosted by the Pan Asian Voter Empowerment (PAVE) Coalition and Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. Leading up to the first mayoral election since the Atlanta spa shootings and huge spike in anti-Asian violence throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, seven out of nine candidates for mayor attended: State Representative Kam Buckner, Congressman Jesús ‘Chuy’ García, Ja’Mal Green, Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, Alderman Roderick Sawyer, Paul Vallas, and Willie Wilson. Alderwoman Sophia King had confirmed but was unable to join due to illness and Mayor Lori Lightfoot was invited but was not able to attend.

Grace Pai, Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and one of the moderators of the forum, said, “Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in Chicago and the entire country, and we make up 7% of Chicago’s population. Tonight’s forum was about elevating Asian American voices and the issues that are important to our communities.”

Community members and leaders from the PAVE Coalition shared personal testimonies and asked candidates to answer questions about six policy priorities: public safety, language access, senior services, affordable housing, immigrant rights, and education equity.

Lilly Le, a community organizer with the Vietnamese Association of Illinois, shared a testimony about housing at the forum before asking the candidates their position on rent control and how they would increase affordable housing. She said, “Safe and affordable housing is a human right. Many elderly immigrant seniors live on a fixed income and feel isolated due to language barriers and lack of family in Chicago. Their isolation worsens when they struggle to apply for and find affordable housing. Many seniors and unhoused folks have told me that they have been on the Chicago Housing Authority waitlist for over a year.”

“My school is one of the most diverse high schools in Chicago,” shared Waniya Zahid, a youth leader with the Indo-American Center. “78% of Mather High School is low income, 22% is Asian, and 28% are English language learners. Despite our diverse needs, we don’t have enough resources. For example, last week my teacher was yelled at for using more paper than their 500 sheet limit, when they are teaching multiple classes of 20 to 30 students per day and we go to school for 176 days.” Waniya asked the candidates how they would address Chicago Public Schools’ anticipated deficit and about their long-term vision for school funding.

Tonight’s event was the fourth Mayoral Forum organized by the PAVE Coalition and Advancing Justice | Chicago in an ongoing effort to increase civic engagement among, and improve the lives of, diverse Asian American communities across Chicagoland. The program was simultaneously interpreted into six different languages: Cantonese, Hindi/Urdu (which are spoken similarly, but written differently), Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. All candidates recognized the importance of issues facing Asian Americans in Chicago and committed to meet with the PAVE Coalition if elected.


Founded in 2011, the Pan Asian Voter Empowerment (PAVE) Coalition consists of 16 Asian American direct service and advocacy organizations in the Chicagoland area. The PAVE Coalition is committed to creating a space for meaningful collaboration across the diverse Asian American community, improving the lives of Asian Americans through advocacy, power-building, and policy change, increasing voter turnout and civic participation among Asian Americans in Illinois, and serving as a progressive voice for Asian American communities including in rapid response and crisis moments.


PAVE Coalition Members:

Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment, Apna Ghar, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, Cambodian Association of Illinois, Chinese American Service League, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community, Hamdard Health Center, HANA Center, Indo-American Center, Japanese American Citizens League – Chicago, Japanese American Service Committee, Lao American Organization of Elgin, Muslim Civic Coalition, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute, Vietnamese Association of Illinois


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at

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JOB POSTING: Communications Manager

Communications Manager Job Description


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. 

For 30 years, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago has worked to bring together the Asian American community and create change in our communities. We are deeply committed to grassroots community organizing and we invest in the leadership of grassroots community members through trainings, community education, civic engagement, and collaborative issue-based campaigns. In order to strengthen our work and transform the inequities in our city, state, and Midwest region, we work with multiracial coalitions that emphasize racial equity, accountability to those most impacted, and an infrastructure of grassroots leadership. Our advocacy work focuses on promoting racial, economic, and immigrant justice, including initiatives in the areas of voting rights, language access, and immigrant rights.  

As part of the national Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation, Advancing Justice | Chicago is a leader in the nationwide Asian American movement. Regionally, Advancing Justice | Chicago is prioritizing the Midwest, and collaborating with partners across Midwestern states to tackle common struggles and build power.  

Asian American Midwest Progressives builds political power through collective advocacy and electoral organizing to achieve racial equity. 

Founded in December 2018, Asian American Midwest Progressives (AAMP) endorses progressive candidates, mobilizes Asian American voters, and holds elected officials accountable through issue-based campaigns. Currently, AAMP organizes in Illinois and Ohio. 


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago and Asian American Midwest Progressives are seeking a motivated Communications Manager to develop and implement a comprehensive communications strategy that includes elevating our advocacy work in five priority issue areas and supporting fundraising strategies.

The Communications Manager will work collaboratively across all departments within the organization to develop, write/edit, and pitch content for print, radio, digital, and social media platforms. This position will help set the organizational tone and voice through editorial content and media engagement, including emails, social media posts, newsletter stories, press, marketing collateral, and other communication vehicles. The position requires a self-starter who is creative, takes initiative, and can shepherd a project from conception to execution.  

This position will fall under the staff sharing agreement between Advancing Justice | Chicago and Asian American Midwest Progressives (AAMP) so a portion of time will be spent on 501(c)(4) activities, which may include partisan electoral work.

Reports to: Director of Development 

Leadership, Strategy & Implementation 

  • Work with Senior Staff to craft organizational communications strategy with defined outcomes, activities, and responsibilities; 
  • Co-create advocacy/issue-related communications strategy with Political Director, Organizing Director, and Executive Director; 
  • Co-create development communications strategy with Development Director; 
  • Collaborate with Organizing Team to strategize, plan, and execute issue campaign-related communications; 
  • Provide media/spokesperson training to key stakeholders, including staff and grassroots volunteer leaders; 
  • Coordinate with Asian Americans Advancing Justice national affiliation on national communications, including joint statements and releases;

PR/Media Relations 

  • Develop and actively cultivate Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP’s relationships with media, including reporters, editors, and producers at key mainstream and ethnic media outlets; 
  • Ensure coverage by mainstream, ethnic, and new media of Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP’s work through an effective media relations strategy that includes drafting press releases/media advisories and organizing press conferences; 
  • Engage in persuasive and creative pitching to national, state, and local outlets on a regular basis; 
  • Respond to media requests in a timely manner, exercise judgment to prioritize media opportunities, and prepare staff and community leaders with talking points and through mock interviews, as needed; 
  • Flag rapid response content for issuespecific media and ethnic media contacts (including but not limited to immigration, education, police accountability, language access, just democracy, voting rights, social justice, and racial equity); 
  • Track all media contacts and earned media coverage.

Digital Communications

  • Create compelling content that mobilizes Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP’s supporters and partners to participate in Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP’s campaigns, including visual graphics; 
  • Manage all organizational social media accounts, including content creation, scheduling, and copy; 
  • Manage and update the Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP websites; 
  • Draft and disseminate monthly and stakeholder newsletters; 
  • Regularly update, clean, and segment the Advancing Justice | Chicago and AAMP email lists;  
  • Track and regularly report on digital analytics and metrics, and provide recommendations on how to increase engagement across digital platforms (email, social media, website)


  • Oversee the development and execution of annual and impact reports; 
  • Prepare and disseminate communications materials to support fundraising efforts, including targeted communications to key stakeholders (media, foundations, corporations, donors, etc.), using multiple platforms such as print, electronic, social media, and events outreach; 
  • Co-create digital toolkits for campaigns with Development Associate; 
  • Support fundraising events and campaigns for Advancing Justice | Chicago stakeholders, as needed. 


As the Communications Manager, they should demonstrate a unique blend of qualities and skills that reflect a passion and commitment to the organization’s mission, including the following: 

  • 2-4 years of Marketing and Communications experience; 
  • Demonstrated commitment to social justice, racial equity, and civil rights; 
  • Proven ability to develop and execute a successful strategic communications strategy and plan across all platforms–traditional, digital, and social–whether paid, earned, or owned; 
  • Exemplary writing and interpersonal communications skills; 
  • A refined and nuanced ability to craft targeted content and disseminate messages in ways that reflect, engage, and enhance various complex community and cultural perspectives; 
  • Proficiency in design sensibilities, with a strong understanding of the communications process from creative concept through production and execution; 
  • Successful targeting and influencing key audiences using data and analytics to ensure effectiveness and measure success; 
  • Excellent collaborator, engaging in cross-department planning and strategy sessions, with exposure to all staff and levels of the organization; 
  • Willingness to work occasional evenings and weekends for events and special projects as needed; 
  • Strong organizational skills, multitasking, and problem-solving skills; 
  • Ability to work independently as well as part of a team, showing grace and willingness to help; 
  • Ability to prioritize and meet deadlines; 
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, Adobe Creative Suite, Canva, Mailchimp, WordPress; Social Media Platforms 


This is an exempt, full-time position. This position is represented by a collective bargaining unit and is subject to the terms and conditions of the contract between Advancing Justice | Chicago and the Chicago News Guild.  

The salary range is $55,000 – $65,000 depending on experience.

Advancing Justice | Chicago offers a full benefits package as outlined below: 

  • Health, Dental, Vision, and Life Insurance, with 100% Employer paid premiums 
  • Generous Paid Time Off Policy 
  • 401K Employer Match Program 


Applications should be submitted electronically via email to and include: 

  • Cover letter describing interest in the position, qualifications, and expectations;
  • Resume; 
  • Two writing samples of your choosing; 
  • Two design samples of your choosing or link to portfolio; and 
  • Names of three references who can speak to the range of qualifications sought. 

Please include “Communications Manager Application” in the subject line of your email. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, but applications received by Monday, February 20, 2023 will be prioritized. 

Note: Given the COVID-19 pandemic, Advancing Justice | Chicago staff are currently working hybrid, both remotely and in-person in our Uptown office two days a week, which is subject to change.  

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer.  All qualified persons are encouraged to apply, regardless of race, color, creed, ethnicity, national origin, ancestry, age, height, weight, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, marital or domestic partner status, or religious affiliation. 

Posted 1/30/23

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice Denounces Congress’ Failure to Reach a DACA Deal  


December 22, 2022  


Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice – AAJC,
Niketa Kumar, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus, 
Liza Ameen, AJSOCAL,
James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta,
Grace Pai, Advancing Justice | Chicago,

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Denounces Congress’ Failure to Reach a DACA Deal  

Immigrant Youth Urgently Need Pathways to Citizenship  

CHICAGO, IL — As the end of the year approaches, Congress has failed to come to a deal on citizenship for immigrant youth, Temporary Protected Status recipients, and other immigrants. While DACA hangs on by a thread, this failure further threatens the future of undocumented youth and their families in the country they call home. 

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent civil rights organizations, responds with the following statement:  

 “There is no excuse for lawmakers that oppose a pathway to citizenship. Most Americans believe that our nation needs to provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Time and time again, federal lawmakers have talked about finding a permanent solution, but our communities continue to be left with growing uncertainties about their futures and the futures of their families. As a result of anti-immigrant lawmakers’ refusal to protect immigrant young people from detention and deportation, millions of undocumented youth in our communities, including over 600,000 active DACA recipients, remain without a solution as DACA slowly dies in the courts.  

“Undocumented youth are valued members of our community. They are our family, our neighbors, our teachers, our caretakers, and more. We utterly reject the false narratives that anti-immigrant lawmakers have pushed to justify their inaction during this Congress, and we call on elected officials to create an immigration system that works for all of us – from immigrant youth and undocumented neighbors and families to people fleeing unimaginable violence. These communities are in need of Congress’ protections and a place to call home. They should not be used as political pawns.  

“Alongside our undocumented families and friends, we refuse to end the fight here. We will demand relief for undocumented communities until we win. Congress must act swiftly next year to pass a pathway to citizenship before hundreds of thousands of immigrants lose protection from deportation and the ability to work.” 


Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Southern California (AJSOCAL), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago. 

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Asian Americans Advancing Justice Condemn the Removal of Family-Sponsored Immigration Reform in Budget Deal 


December 20, 2022


Michelle Boykins, Advancing Justice – AAJC,
Niketa Kumar, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus,
Liza Ameen, AJSOCAL,
James Woo, Advancing Justice – Atlanta,

Asian Americans Advancing Justice Condemn the Removal of Family-Sponsored Immigration Reform in Budget Deal

Anti-Immigrant Lawmakers Once Again Block Crucial, Common-Sense Reforms and Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, a budget deal was published that failed to include crucial, immigration-related provisions. Despite the inclusion of straightforward reforms to the family-based immigration system in both the House FY2023 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Bill and the Chairman’s Mark of the Senate FY2023 DHS Appropriations Bill, appropriators stripped out these provisions and denied the inclusion of other important proposals such as the Adoptee Citizenship Act, Afghan Adjustment Act, the farmworkers bill, and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented youth.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice, an affiliation of five independent civil rights organizations, releases the following statement: 

“Family unity is not a partisan issue. Families are the fundamental building block of this country, and the refusal to help reunite families stuck in the immigration backlog is a rejection of our best values of inclusion and community care. The objections of Republican lawmakers once again leave millions of immigrants separated from their families for another holiday season.

“The provisions included in both the House and Senate FY2023 DHS Appropriations bill would have recaptured hundreds of thousands of unused visas, prevented visas from being wasted in the future, and provided green cards to people who were awarded diversity visas but who could not receive them due to the Trump administration’s immigration bans. Yet, instead of allowing these common-sense policy proposals to help the children, spouses, and siblings of Asian Americans and other families, Senate Republicans decided to demand that these provisions—and other provisions that would have helped immigrant families and communities—be stripped from the final budget deal.

“Four million people are waiting to be reunited with their families here in the U.S. Some of those individuals will wait for over 20 years before a green card becomes available. We demand that Congress take urgent action to reform our family-based immigration system and reunite families.”


Asian Americans Advancing Justice is a national affiliation of five leading organizations advocating for the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and other underserved communities to promote a fair and equitable society for all. The affiliation’s members are: Advancing Justice | AAJC (Washington, DC), Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco), Advancing Justice – Southern California (AJSOCAL), Advancing Justice – Atlanta, and Advancing Justice – Chicago. 


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Poll Watching Results from November 8 Midterm Elections

For Immediate Release 


Kevin Hsia, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 


Kimberly Leung, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago 


For Immediate Release  

CHICAGO, IL — November 8, 2022 – Illinois voters went to the polls today to elect their governor, junior U.S. senator, and 17 of Illinois’ representatives in the U.S. Congress, and other key races and issues.  

Advancing Justice | Chicago dispatched a team of staff and volunteer poll watchers to 96 precincts and three vote centers in Chicago, and 103 precincts in Suburban Cook County. Our poll watching program focuses on monitoring precincts where there are high number of Asian voters with limited English proficiency (LEP). “Most of the precincts that we monitor are designated as protected precincts under Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act,” said Kimberly Leung, Voting Rights Legal Fellow at Advancing Justice | Chicago. Because of the recent precinct consolidation in Chicago, we decided to expand the scope of our poll watching program to cover additional locations not covered under Section 203, out of concern that LEP voters at certain polling places may not be getting the in-language assistance they need.  

In addition to poll watching, we sent interpreters to certain precincts to help voters who want assistance. Bharat Sharma, ISP community organizer at Advancing Justice | Chicago, who speaks Hindi, Gujarati, and Urdu, spent his afternoon greeting and helping voters at Warren Park in West Ridge. “I was surprised and inspired to see so many first time, immigrant voters,” Sharma said, “It was my privilege to be part of their voting experience.”  

A likely consequence of the recent precinct consolidation, Advancing Justice | Chicago poll watchers also observed voters at the wrong polling place across Chicago. Anticipating this situation, our poll watchers were trained and equipped to direct voters to their correct polling place or vote center.  

In suburban Cook County, Advancing Justice poll watchers not only monitored for compliance with Section 203 but also for the Vote Opportunity and Translation Equity (VOTE) Ordinance, which was unanimously passed in October 2019. The Ordinance expands the number of languages that suburban Cook County ballots and voting material must be translated into. “Though the passage of the VOTE Ordinance was a significant step, our poll watchers observed that compliance remains spotty,” said Leung. Many of our poll watchers in suburban Cook County observed missing translated signages. Additionally, many of the precincts that were supposed to have bilingual poll workers did not. The issues observed in suburban Cook County underscore the importance of community engagement, and continued investment in language access.  

Thanks to Advancing Justice | Chicago staff and volunteer poll watchers, we were able to monitor over 95 percent of the designated Asian language precincts in Chicago and Cook County. In December, Advancing Justice will share a summary of our Election Day findings with the Cook County Clerk’s Office and the Chicago Board of Election with the goal of strengthening meaningful access for future elections. 

Poll watchers play a vital role in ensuring fair elections. Thank you to our staff and volunteer poll watchers, and our partners and sponsors, including Arab American Family Services, Enlivant, Asian American Bar Association, Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), and South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI). 


Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago builds power through collective advocacy and organizing to achieve racial equity. Learn more at

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