Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) Statement on New York Times’ Article on Asian Americans and Philanthropy
Los Angeles, California January 18, 2013 – LEAP is enthused by the New York Times’ recent publication of Mr. Kirk Semple’s article titled: “Asian-Americans Gain Influence in Philanthropy”, shedding light on an issue very little known and talked about in mainstream media: Asian Americans and their contributions to society.
While Mr. Semple points out that “the growth in philanthropy by Asian-Americans parallels a surge in the Asian population in the United States,” it is unfortunate that Asian Americans continue to be largely absent from the boards of the largest foundations and nonprofits in the country. According to our most recent reports, 71 percent of the top 100 foundations and 53% of the top 100 nonprofits lacked Asian and Pacific Islander (API) representation in their boardrooms.
In 2012, API directors held only 4% of board seats (44 out of 1,086) at 29 of the top 100 foundations, a decrease from 4.95% in 2010.
In 2011, API directors held 2.5% of board seats (78 out of 3,061) at 47 of the top 100 nonprofits.
At this time, zero APIs lead ANY of these foundations or nonprofits in the role of executive director, president and/or CEO, an issue we must challenge.
We must not lose sight of how diverse boards with different experiences enable organizations – in this case, foundations and nonprofits – to develop unique strategies to accomplish their goals. Asian American directors bring rich and diverse voices that enhance the ability of boards to achieve their defined missions. At the same time, Asian Americans must be ready and willing to step into leadership roles and the Asian American community must advocate for Asian Americans to have seats at the decision-making table. Foundations and nonprofits must take the initiative to diversify their board membership and gain the advantages that diversity and inclusion bring.
About LEAP: Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) is a national organization founded in 1982 with a mission to achieve full participation and equality for Asian and Pacific Islanders (API) through leadership, empowerment and policy. With original programs in leadership training, public policy research and community education, LEAP partners with individuals and organizations to help develop a robust pipeline of API leaders across all sectors.
Under its leadership research initiative, LEAP is producing a series of research reports to evaluate and measure API representation at the highest leadership levels in corporations, foundations and nonprofits. The intent of this baseline research is to provide a tool for advocacy on behalf of the community that businesses, public institutions, as well as political, community and educational leaders can use to develop and implement strategies for sustainable growth in this arena as well as to highlight the critical need for further work in the area.