General APA, Staff Update

Supporting Asian Pacific American Art & Culture

By Konrad Ng, Director of the Smithsonian APA Program

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Logo

White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders Logo

On Monday, April 2, our Development Specialist, Sameen Piracha, and I attended the first National Philanthropic Briefing by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) to draw attention to Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian communities (AAPINH), the fastest growing racial group in the U.S.  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, White House Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu, and Chief of Staff to the First Lady Tina Tchen attended the briefing to express their support to over 200 participants from more than 50 foundations.  Participants convened around key issues important to AAPINH communities.

As Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program (APAP) and member of the WHIAAPI Inter-Agency Working Group, I, along with colleagues from the Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), facilitated the focus group on culture and the arts.  Our task was to explore how public-private partnerships could improve the life and opportunity of AAPINH communities through art and culture.  While the Smithsonian Institution is supported by Congress, the resources that support its exhibitions and programs, especially the exhibitions and programs of APAP, come from individuals, corporations, and grants.  Our capacity to tell America’s whole story relies on the generosity of our supporters; it depends on you.  The Ford Foundation, The Kresge Foundation, and the W.W. Kellogg Foundation’s commitment of $1 million to seed public-private partnerships was the greatest success that emerged from this briefing. We remain excited about the possibilities of this historic meeting.

Staff Update

Behind the Scenes: Development

Holiday Email

Click to view our holiday email

By Sameen Piracha, Development Specialist

We launched our Annual Giving program this past December.  A lot of meetings and brainstorming sessions went into redesigning the letter, pledge form, and e-Solicitation email.  Let us know what you think of the designs!  We raised double the amount from last year for the APAP and nearly triple the amount for the HomeSpun initiative.  For all who answered both our calls, thank you!  We are grateful for your enthusiasm and support.  You may have noticed our revamped “Thank you” letters.  They are personally signed by staff and include a sidebar on how you can get involved and stay informed.

In the Year of the Dragon, our goal is to reach 100% participation from previous donors and grow our list of supporters by 50%.  We need your help! If you would like to volunteer your time and/or skills, please feel free to contact me at

Staff Update

Happy Holidays from the APA Program

Happy Holidays from the APA Staff

Happy Holidays from the APA Staff

As another successful year comes to an end, I would like to thank you for your support of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and extend my best wishes to you and your family for the coming year.

In 2012, we will remain committed to preserving the Asian Pacific American experience at the largest museum and research complex in the world. The work of telling the stories behind our vibrant communities provides a universal lens for learning, a reflection of the American Spirit, and sparks the learning in everyone.

You are vital to this mission and we welcome your participation.  If you want to discuss our work or become more involved, let us know.  We have a fantastic team in the office.  They are passionate, dedicated, and creative.

Let me close with the hope that 2012 will bring you and your family happiness, health, and success.

Thank you and Happy Holidays from all of us at Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program,

Konrad Ng, Ph.D.
Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

Donations may be made online at or download our pledge form and mail it to:

Smithsonian APA Program
Capital Gallery
Suite 7065, MRC 516
P.O. Box 37012
Washington, DC  20013-7012

Chinese American, Exhibitions, HomeSpun, Staff Update

NewsChannel 8 Interview

NewsChannel 8 Interview

NewsChannel 8 Interview with Noriko Sanefuji and Sameen Piracha

Click here to watch the interview, it begins 29 minutes into the video.

APA Program staff members Noriko Sanefuji and Sameen Piracha appeared on NewsChannel 8 to discuss the Sweet & Sour display at the National Museum of American History and to raise awareness for the HomeSpun: Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project.

Noriko Sanefuji is the APA Program Curatorial Assistant, National Museum of American History.
Sameen Piracha is the APA Program Development Specialist.

Staff Update

APA Staff Updates on Attending AAM

Smithsonian Asian Pacific American (APA) Program staff along with over 4,000 attendees from across the nation and forty-three different countries convened at the American Association of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting and Museum Expo on May 22-25, 2011, in Houston, TX. Conference headquarters was located in the urban center of downtown at the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center that hosted countless conversations, educational sessions, and speakers for building a foundation of new ideas, skills, and collaborations. Evening events and tours highlighted the city of Houston’s cultural, visual, and performing arts.

The Museum of Tomorrow marked this year’s theme:

Often we think of the future as a destination. A journey is required to reach it, fueled by a need or instinct to control our own destiny, to make discoveries, unravel mysteries, adapt to the unexpected in order to survive and prosper. But in a universe of infinite possibility—the universe that museums represent—the future is an aspiration, and not always a destination. And taking meaningful action in the present will help to shape the future.

Smithsonian APA Program staff enjoyed a variety of experiences (click photos to enlarge):

Dinner in Little Saigon, Houston
Dinner at Houston’s Little Saigon. From left: Jun Francisco (Director of Collections Management at Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum), Gina Inocencio (APA Program), An Duong (Houston-based Lawyer), Sandra Vuong (APA Program), and Steve Y. Wong (Curator for the Chinese American Museum of Los Angeles).

“I have been attending the AAM Conference for the last eight years and I have always enjoyed helping to organize the annual meeting and reception for the Asian Pacific American Professional Interest Committee (APAPIC). I love seeing old friends and meeting new ones and discussing museum work and opportunities for collaboration. I’ve been seeing more APA faces at the last conferences and it’s always heartening to see young APAs entering the field of museum.”
— Gina Inocencio, Program Specialist

Convention Center
Krista by a Portable On Demand Storage (PODS) container, a unique public art exhibition designed especially for AAM at Houston’s Discovery Green.
Convention Center
Krista outside of the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center.

“AAM Houston was a remarkable experience—I had the opportunity to attend a variety of sessions on museum education and programming; collecting and interpreting visitor data; museum diversity; and managing internship and volunteer programs. In addition to training and professional development, I had the chance to network with museum professionals from across the country and to exchange ideas for best practices. Tours and evening events featured experiential learning opportunities at the city’s main attractions. From Space Center Houston to The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the inviting and exciting atmosphere of this city will be one that I will always remember!”
— Krista Aniel, Program Assistant (Outreach)

Fine Arts Museum Reception Dinner
Fine Arts Museum dinner reception. From left: Krista Aniel, Krishna Aniel, and Pawan Dhingra.

“At AAAS I shared the HomeSpun initiative and connected with scholars whose research expertise involves Indian Americans. Such connections are central to the academic integrity of the project. In a similar vein, it was helpful in learning also the latest books in the field. At AAM I attended panels on curating exhibitions and reaching out to immigrant communities. It was a wonderful opportunity to explore the details of museums and exhibition planning.”
— Pawan Dhingra, HomeSpun Curator

AAM Exhibition Hall
Conference exhibitor’s hall.

“The big focus at AAM Houston this year centered on the ‘Museum of Tomorrow’ and how people from all over the world can utilize technology and social media to broaden their educational reach. I attended panel sessions hosted by museum leaders who told stories and recalled experiences about the challenges and opportunities involved with implementing technology to increase museum awareness.”
— Sandra Vuong, Multimedia Producer

Staff Update

Konrad Ng Named Director of the APA Program

Konrad Ng

We are happy to announce that Konrad Ng will be joining the APA Program as the new Director this spring.

Konrad Ng is Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s Asian Pacific American Center.  As Director, Ng is responsible for setting the mission and vision of the organization, leading the development of exhibitions, public programs and digital initiatives about Asian Pacific American history, art and culture, and coordinating the Center’s fundraising and budget advancement.  Since joining the Smithsonian, the Center has launched several groundbreaking museum projects, including the 2010 Smithsonian Folklife Festival Asian Pacific Americans Program, Portraiture Now: Asian American Portraits of Encounter, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation I Want the Wide American Earth, Beyond Bollywood: Indian Americans Shape the Nation, Young Historians, Living Histories, and the Smithsonian Asian-Latino Project.  Prior to joining the Smithsonian Institution, Ng was a professor in the University of Hawaii’s Academy for Creative Media and the curator of film and video at the Honolulu Museum of Art.  Ng earned his doctorate in political science from the University of Hawaii, his master’s degree in cultural, social and political thought from the University of Victoria, and his bachelor’s degree in philosophy and ethnic studies from McGill University.

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Staff Update

Introducing Sameen Piracha, Development Specialist

Sameen PirachaAPA Program Welcomes Sameen Piracha

Sameen Piracha is the newest member of the APAC. As Development Specialist, Sameen will take the lead on all fundraising activities at the Center and will support development goals for the Smithsonian Indian American Heritage Project, an initiative focusing on South Asian American history, art, and culture. Sameen brings new energy and experience to the Center and we are excited to have her on board.

An introduction from Sameen:

I am delighted to join the Asian Pacific American Center at the Smithsonian Institution as the development specialist. I look forward to supporting the development goals for IAHP and APA Center Initiatives. Before coming to the Smithsonian I was working with the United Nations Association of the National Capital Area. I was responsible for their development efforts and coordinated the Embassy Concert Series for Global Classrooms D.C.

The series provides local elementary and middle school students with the opportunity to learn about other cultures and global issues through cultural exhibition and musical diplomacy. I hold a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University and a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Florida.