The ASIAN WOMEN GIVING CIRCLE (AWGC) is the first and largest giving circle in the nation led by Asian American women. We believe culture is an essential part of any strategy for social change. We raise funds to support Asian American women-led projects in NYC that use arts and culture to:
- Bring about progressive social transformation
- Raise awareness and catalyze action around critical issues that affect Asian American women, girls and families
- Highlight and promote women’s central role as leaders, creators, developers and managers of these projects
Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial and ethnic group in New York City (comprising 14% of the population) yet our communities receive less than 1% of philanthropic dollars. Our goals are to:
- Channel more resources into our local communities
- Engage more people to invest in creative projects by and for our communities
- Shine an authentic spotlight on our experiences and stories
- Promote progressive social change
- Raise the visibility of Asian American women doing philanthropic work
The AWGC Steering Committee is a diverse group of Asian American women who lead the grantmaking and fund-raising efforts of the giving circle. We are a donor-advised fund at the Ms. Foundation for Women, which distributes our funds solely at our direction. We are also a member of the Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) National Donor Circle Network.
Chitra Aiyar was formerly Executive Director of Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a feminist social justice youth leadership program in NYC and Newark. Prior to joining Sadie Nash, Chitra was Senior Staff Attorney at African Services Committee and worked in international development at Grameen Foundation USA. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Bangladesh, and a volunteer turned board member at Andolan, a Bangladeshi domestic workers organization, which has received support from the Giving Circle for two awesome projects. Chitra is thrilled to have the chance through AWGC to support other amazing Asian American women artists and activists.
Rini Banerjee, the President of the Jessica Smith Noyes Foundation, has two decades of experience in philanthropy. An Integrated Capital Fellow at RSF Social Finance, she has served as Executive Director at Foundation for a Just Society, Program Officer at the Overbrook Foundation, and Program Director at the New York Women’s Foundation. She is a trustee of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation and Board member of Funders for Reproductive Equity, and has co-created or served on groups including Philanthropy Advancing Women’s Human Rights, the Groundswell Fund, and the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing. A founding member of AWGC, she was a past Board Chair of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) and past Board member of South Asian Youth Action (SAYA!). She holds an MA in international affairs from Columbia University and a BSc in finance from NYU’s Stern School of Business.
KABERI BANERJEE MURTHY
Kaberi is Director of Program Strategy at the Meyer Memorial Trust. Previously, she served as Vice President of Programs at the Brooklyn Community Foundation. She has over 15 years of grantmaking experience in education, health, community development, civic affairs, and arts & culture at the local, regional, and national levels. She has a BA from Carleton College in History & Women’s Studies, and an Ed.M. from Harvard University. She’s had significant experience traveling and living abroad, including a year going around the world. Kaberi lives in Portland, OR with her husband and two sons and loves photography, the paper arts, foodie fun, and travel adventures.
Lily is a nonprofit fundraiser, social justice advocate, writer, and attorney. She is currently the Director of Development for Lawyers Alliance for New York. Prior to Lawyers Alliance, Lily served as the Director of Development & Communications for Girl Be Heard, and has also worked at the Hedge Fund Law Report, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, South Brooklyn Legal Services, and Earthjustice. She is an Aspen Institute Scholar, an inaugural member of the Omega Institute Juno Leadership Collective, and former Board Member of the Chinese American Education Association of California. She received a JD from NYU School of Law, and BAs in Philosophy and Political Science from UC Irvine. She lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her husband and two children, Samantha and Thomas.
Lisa is a writer, editor and communications strategist for progressive causes with a focus on social and racial equity. She was formerly a Senior Vice President at Fenton Communications, a public interest communications firm, and before that, a reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. She wrote a book of poems, Mouth (Kaya Press), received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and has held fellowship and residencies at the Center for Fiction and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Born in Taiwan, she holds a BA from UC Berkeley and an MFA from the University of Iowa.
Angela joined AWGC in 2012. She is a senior program officer at The JPB Foundation where she manages the Democracy Portfolio, providing grants that support immigrant rights and voting rights. Earlier, she was at NYU Law, Fund for the City of New York, Open Society Foundations, and Lawyers Alliance for New York. With over 15 years’ experience in social justice philanthropy and nonprofit technical assistance, she received both an MPA and a BA in Politics from New York University. She hails from Taiwan and proudly flies the immigrant flag. She loves food, especially noodle soups, and, on weekends, can likely be found at a rock climbing gym or the farmers’ market at Grand Army Plaza.
A founding member of AWGC, Aiyoung is passionate about many things. Born in Korea, she grew up in China, Taiwan, and Japan, coming to the US to attend Knox College. She firmly believes in the power of art to inspire, embrace, and heal. She is deeply committed to ending all forms of violence against women, upholding LGBTQ rights, supporting the leadership of women and youth, and building peace on the Korean Peninsula. A former artist, teacher, editor, publicist, and human resources manager, she is a mentor, coach and consultant to nonprofits, and serves on several boards. Currently, she is Board Chair of Women Cross DMZ, an organization of women peacemakers that launched Korea Peace Now! a global campaign to bring an end to the 70-year-old, still un-ended Korean War. Aiyoung and her husband Gene are blessed with many grandkids, and she especially loves creative cooking, all types of music and dance, and traveling.
Melinda is a serial connector of all things Asian American, working at the intersection of government, nonprofit and business communities in New York City. She is on the Steering Committee of the Asian Affinity Roundtable. She was on the board of the Girls & Boys Projects (Institute for Labor & Community), a New York Cares volunteer, served on the Grants Advisory Committee of the New York Women’s Foundation and has worked as an account director at IW Group and a paralegal in the Law Department of Time Inc. A graduate of Grinnell College, she likes to work on figuring out her family’s complicated Chinese American history in her free time and relaxes by watching really bad and really good television.
Urvi hales from California where she attended Cal State Fullerton, after which she received a Masters in Public Health from University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Urvi has trained teachers and helped to develop curriculum focused on health education. Currently, she coaches and inspires individuals and families to eat healthier through her business, The Healthy Family Table. She loves living in the West Village with her husband and two children.
Aditi Davray is the Program Director at Exhale to Inhale, an organization that serves survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. A consultant to nonprofit and private sector organizations, Aditi has worked in both sectors for over 20 years. Her consulting practice is centered on projects in three core areas: sustainable consumption, advancing issues faced by women and girls, and supporting arts for social justice. She received her MPA from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Aditi is a member of the Board at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and Advisor to Visit.org.
Danielle is Chief Corporate & Securities Counsel at Synchrony Financial and was previously a partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. She has a JD from Harvard Law School and an AB in English from Harvard College but she is still working on getting a passing grade from her eight- and five- year-old kids in their Master Class on “How to be a Good Mom.”
Pat is a social change optimist and the Executive Director of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. She is the founder of the New York Asian Women’s Center and has served as Senior Vice President at Safe Horizon, Vice President at the Ms. Foundation for Women, and Program Director at Bolder Giving. She was formerly the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at the New York Women’s Foundation. She has a BA in Politics from Princeton University and an MSW from Hunter College of Social Work. When not working, Pat daydreams about ocean waves.
Shinhee is a founding member of AWGC. She is a psychotherapist who divides her time among the New School University Counseling Services, her private practice, and her work as an adjunct professor at the Center for Study of Ethnicity & Race at Columbia University. Her passions focus around Asian American mental health, literature, research, art and social activism. She is the co-author with David Eng of Racial Melancholia, Racial Dissociation: On the Social and Psychic Lives of Asian Americans (Duke University Press). At home, she is an avid cook who channels Ottolenghi recipes.
Taryn is the Executive Director of Unbound Philanthropy. Previously, she managed the Migrant & Refugee Rights portfolio at the Ford Foundation and served as Deputy Director of the Human Rights unit. She serves on the board of the International Refugee Assistance Project and the Advisory Board of the International Migration Initiative of the Open Society Foundations. Taryn is an avid matcha tea drinker and enjoys spending time with her husband and son.
Helen Koh is a writer and researcher specializing in East Asian culture and history. She has been on the faculty of Columbia University and is a recipient of Fulbright, NEA, and CUNY Research awards. Helen’s professional positions include senior management roles in nonprofit arts organizations. More recently she has been promoting interdisciplinary research in the arts and humanities, including in institutions of higher ed such as The Graduate Center, CUNY, and the Rhode Island School of Design. She is currently working on a book about Asian American artist Nam June Paik.
PATRICIA J. KOZU
Pat is Chief Operating Officer at The Century Foundation, which undertakes time and critical analyses of social inequality and security issues. Earlier, she was interim Executive Director at various nonprofits undergoing leadership changes. Previously, she was Managing Director at National Employment Law Project, and Vice President for Finance & Administration at the F.B. Heron Foundation. She has also held executive positions in the corporate/entrepreneurial sectors. She is currently on the board of the New York Foundation and is a member of the US-Japan Council. Pat is an avid sailor, quilter, and adoring baachan (grandmother).
Hali Lee is Co-Director of the Donors of Color Network, the only national project that is engaging and networking high net worth donors of color across race and experience. She was born in Seoul, Korea and grew up in Kansas City. She graduated from Princeton University, studied Buddhism at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, and received a Masters in Social Work from New York University. Hali is the founder of the Asian Women Giving Circle and is part of a co-design team thinking about what might undergird the burgeoning collective giving movement nationally. Hali lives in Brooklyn, NY along with her dear husband, three college-age children, two cats and a big dog. In her free time, Hali loves to travel, read, play tennis and keep honeybees.
Victoria was born in San Antonio, Texas shortly after her parents moved from New York City. She is the youngest of nine children and, along with five of her siblings, a first generation native born American. Victoria attended the University of Texas in Austin and graduated with a BFA. She immediately moved to New York City and got a job in advertising as an Art Director at BBDO. She worked in advertising for 15 years making print ads and commercials for branded products that everybody uses everyday. Now, with both of their children working in NYC, Victoria and her husband, Jonathan, are really enjoying being empty nesters. They are enthusiastic supporters and participants in any events involving their favorite things: art, music and food.
Susie is a super-cool native New Yorker who works as the Grants Manager at the Shark Conservation Fund. Previously, she was Administrator of Grants Technology and Training at the ASPCA and has worked for ALIGN, change.org, Center for Working Families, Citi Foundation, Tides Foundation, International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), NYC Councilmember Eva Moskowitz, and Habitat for Humanity. She has over ten years’ experience in grantmaking and operations, and in programs in HIV/AIDS, education and housing. She holds a BA in Political Science from Wellesley College. In her spare time, she enjoys animals, unconventional art, science fiction, mac & cheese pancakes, drinking Scotch, running, and volunteering for good causes.
Ellen is Director of Capacity Building and Learning at the Ms. Foundation where she was formerly Director of Women’s Health. She previously worked as Program Officer at Open Society Foundations’ Public Health Program on international public health and human rights issues. She is a second-generation immigrant and the daughter of Taiwanese floral entrepreneurs. Ellen has lived in China, Taiwan, and Italy, and has traveled extensively in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Southern Africa. She enjoys yoga, singing karaoke and baking with her young son.
Amita Nagaraja serves as a consultant and coach to clients in the nonprofit, public and private sectors, advising in a number of areas including strategy, program design and organizational efficiency. Prior to starting her consulting practice, Amita spent much of her career working in Corporate Responsibility, managing strategic giving portfolios and global employee programs for AXA Financial, S&P Global and the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. Earlier in her career, Amita worked for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection and led a workforce readiness program at a small nonprofit in Jersey City. Amita has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from CUNY Baruch College and a BA from Tufts University. She lives in Jackson Heights, New York with her husband and two children.
Vicki Niu is a software engineer who’s worked in early-stage startups in fintech and healthcare across the US and Asia. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Computer Science and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Vicki is passionate about the ways technology can create positive change: at Stanford, she co-founded and led the group CS+Social Good, which has since grown into an international student movement with the TechShift Alliance. Currently, Vicki mentors justice-involved youth and adults with the Code Cooperative and Avenues for Justice, and spends her summers teaching programming and design thinking in Gaza with Code for Palestine. When she’s not in front of a computer, Vicki loves eating spicy food and watching cheesy reality TV with friends.
After a long break from practicing law, BJ joined the Compliance Division of Goldman Sachs & Co. in 2013, moved on to Societe Generale in 2015, and has been at Morgan Stanley since 2017 in governance, regulatory risk, and operational risk roles. As of July 2020, BJ will be leading CRA regulatory compliance for Morgan Stanley’s Community Development Finance group and community relations with CRA partners. She has raised three daughters and served on the boards of the NY Asian Women’s Center and the Korean American League for Civic Action. She has a BS from MIT, a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard, and her M.Phil and JD are from NYU. In her spare time, BJ enjoys Korean TV dramas, reading, and spending time with her family.
Jackie Quan has been a volunteer and board member of a few New York-based non-profits for over two decades. She supports the arts, education, social justice and helps give voice to those who are marginalized. In her spare time she enjoys movies, reading, writing, jewelry making, tennis, volleyball and running. She is raising two feminist boys and hopes that they will contribute to their community.
Andine Sutarjadi is a speaker, facilitator and writer on next generation philanthropy. She is the Director of Next Gen Initiatives at 21/64, a nonprofit practice providing multigenerational advising, facilitation and training for next generation engagement within family philanthropy and leads 21/64’s next gen peer network and delivers ongoing learning opportunities to further deepen their impact in the field. Previously, she worked at Women Moving Millions (WMM) where she co-led the design and pilot phase of the WMM Philanthropic Leadership program. Andine received her B.Sc. in Health Science with a Minor in Public Health from Boston University. As a next gen donor herself, Andine is co-chair of the NEXUS Family Prosperity Working Group and a Technical Advisor for Pyramid Life Care, a social enterprise she co-founded with her mother that provides health and holistic services to elderly communities in her home city of Jakarta, Indonesia.
Shalini is a leadership coach with over 18 years’ nonprofit experience. She was the Executive Director at Sakhi for South Asian women, a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending domestic violence in NYC’s South Asian community. She served previously as Co-Executive Director at Tapestri in Atlanta. She has a BA in Child Development from Tufts University and a JD from Emory University School of Law. During her time off, she enjoys hanging out with her family, looking for the best vegan meal, or writing stories based on the life of her grandfather—the first person to inspire her to do good without expecting anything in return.
Born and bred in Manhattan, Raquel has worked in the travel industry on development, strategic positioning, and negotiations of products in the tour market for Asia, Africa, and the US. She holds an MA in Cultural Policy from Columbia University and a BA from Fordham University. Alongside travel, Raquel’s other loves include theater, dance, and cupcakes.
Vivian is Senior Vice President, Program, at the William T. Grant Foundation, leading its grantmaking and initiatives that connect research, policy, and practice to improve child and youth outcomes. Deeply committed to mentoring young researchers and strengthening the career pipeline for scholars of color, her leadership of the Foundation’s Scholars Program extended its racial diversity. She was Assistant Professor in Psychology and Asian American Studies at CSUN, and has a Ph.D. from NYU and a BA from UCLA. She is a fan of Star Trek (new, old, new versions of old) and reports never having enough time at the beach, eating, drinking wine, and being with friends!
A founding member of AWGC, Angie has over 20 years’ experience in women’s rights, immigrant rights and social justice. As chief of staff to filmmaker and philanthropist Abigail E. Disney, Angie Wang provides strategic management and operational and leadership support to Fork Films, Peace is Loud, the Daphne Foundation, and Level Forward. Angie has held senior positions at The New York Women’s Foundation, The September 11th Fund, and Safe Horizon, and serves on the board of the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families. A graduate of the University of California, she lives in Brooklyn and loves to spend most of her free time with her husband and two sons.
One of the earliest members of AWGC, Mannar is an Art Director of advertising & promotions at Penguin Random House. She has a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and has designed numerous logos, invitations, and web graphics on a pro bono basis for the many good causes and organizations she supports, including AWGC. She has volunteered for literacy programs such as Reading Empowers and Read Ahead; as well as other NYC non-profit organizations. A life-long New Yorker, she loves fried food, hiking our national parks, while away hours in bookstores, binge-watching TV, and doing all those things with family and friends.
For over 15 years, Joyce represented the UN Development Programme in Jamaica, Malaysia, and Western Samoa. Her last UN posting was in Bonn, Germany as Deputy Coordinator of UN Volunteers, the world’s largest volunteer corps, serving most of the UN Peacekeeping missions. Previously, she was Executive Director of the Ms. Foundation for Women and Program Officer at the Otto Bremer Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was a founding board member of Women, Foundations & Corporate Philanthropy, New York Grantmakers Association, and President of the Museum of the Chinese in America. A long-time organizer for community social services, urban development, and the peace and civil rights movements, Joyce has served on the board of the YWCA Brooklyn and lives in Brooklyn with her husband Ed and their big dog.
We thank these women for being part of AWGC’s brave very beginnings:
Ruchika Bajaj, Helena Choy, Am Chu, Jennifer Hu Corriggio, Tuhina De O’Connor, Courtney Harvey, Trista Huang, Laura Hong, Julie Kim, Michelle Lee, Young Lee, Pat Lian, Lena Lim, Christine Nakaoka, Lisa Philp, Angelie Singla, Kathy Heejung Song, Sarah BJ Sung, Tani Takagi, Agnes Hsu Tang, Jonna Tiu and Ruby Takanishi.