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New Communities Panelist and Moderator Bios

Kate Agathon Kate Agathon (Symposium Chairperson) is a Bilsland Strategic Initiatives Fellow and a Ph.D. student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Purdue University. Her research interests include using narrative inquiry to study issues relevant to multicultural education. Her particular focus is on Asian American identity including the portrayal of Asian Americans in the mass media and popular culture and also identity development of Asian intercountry adoptees. Most recently featured as "Angry Reader of the Week" on the popular Angry Asian Man blog and also Network of Entertaining Asian American Talent's "Best of Facebook for 2009", Kate is the producer of the 2009 commUNITY photo exhibition celebrating 30 years of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and the upcoming 2010 ImaginAsian art exhibition that will raise funds to purchase Asian American Studies materials for the Purdue University library.

Melanie Castillo-Cullather Melanie Castillo-Cullather is the Director of Indiana University's Asian Culture Center in Bloomington. She directs all aspects of this advocacy and cultural resource center and serves as the principal spokesperson for the Asian and Asian-American student community on intercultural and diversity issues. In addition to her work at I.U., she sits on many committees on and off campus. She serves on advisory boards to organizations including WTIU Television Services, Children's Organ Transplant Association, and Catholic Charities in Bloomington. Born and raised in Davao City, Philippines, Ms. Castillo-Cullather moved to Bloomington, Indiana with her husband, Professor Nick Cullather, in 1993.

David Chih David Chih has been the Director of the Asian American Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since its opening in 2005. He also has been an Assistant Dean of Students since 1998. During his seven years working directly in the Office of the Dean of Students, he served as an on-call emergency dean, developed what is now called the Tolerance Program, advised multicultural student organizations, and coordinated Asian Pacific American Affairs. This past fall, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was listed as one of the top 10 colleges for Asian American Pacific Islander students. He is a second generation Chinese American and grew up in Bloomington, Indiana.

DawenDawen is a soul/r&b singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. A singer-songwriter, Dawen hopes his music will further the dialogue on racism and social injustice in American society. His debut album American Me is available now on iTunes and Amazon.

Debra Kabg Debra Kang Dean is a lecturer in Asian American Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of Back to Back(1997), a chapbook of poems, and two full-length collections from BOA Editions: News of Home (1998) and Precipitates (2003). Her poems have been featured online at The Writer's Almanac, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily; they have also been published in a number of anthologies, including Unsettling America,Best American Poetry, The New American Poets,Yobo, and Yellow as Tumeric, Fragrant as Cloves. Her personal essays have appeared in New England Review, Tar River Poetry, Many Mountains Moving, and in the anthology Under Western Eyes.

Lisa Hanasono Lisa Hanasono is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at Purdue University. Her research areas focus on prejudice, social justice, and supportive communication. She has taught a variety of undergraduate courses, including an Introduction to Asian American Studies, the Fundamentals of Presentational Speaking, Approaches to Interpersonal Communication, and Speech Communication of Technical Information. She also works with Purdue's Graduate School to develop and present professional development workshops on topics like speed networking and delivering effective conference presentations.

Gregory Jue Gregory Jue is a program assistant with Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. He graduated from UC-Berkeley in 1972, where he was part of the "Third World Strike" that brought Ethnic Studies to the Berkeley campus in 1968. For a number of years after the strike, Greg continued to work both on campus and in the San Francisco Chinatown community. It was here that he was introduced to Mao's ideas on revolution and human society - interestingly, by members of the Black Panther Party who had just come onto the national scene at the time, and by students from Hong Kong and Taiwan who were inspired by the movements of revolutionary China's youth during the 60s. "There were times back then when we would be out protesting all day, then come home and wrangle all night with ideas about how to create a better society." Today, Greg would like to see much more of that kind of spirit in the world.

Jinah Kim Jinah Kim is Assistant Director and lecturer in the Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern University. Her current project studies how Asian American literature functions as part of a larger cross-cultural exchange that recovers, documents, and re-imagines the immigrant Pacific for the 21st century. She is also conducting research for her second project which looks at the relationship between the Mexican Bracero project and the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII through the lens of the "third border' or the policing of citizenship within national boundaries. She was born in Seoul, South Korea and moved to the U.S. when she was eight.

Jason Lee Jason Lee is the founder of, a site and organization that seeks to encourage Asian Americans in the arts by giving artists a space to showcase their work and inspire others to pursue their passions. Turtlist Media began as a personal website to showcase his own film/video work but has since grown into an organization staffed by devoted contributors from various regions throughout the country. He is currently studying at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign under a created major in Asian American Film and Media.

Bich Minh Nguyen Bich Minh Nguyen received the PEN/Jerard Award for her memoir Stealing Buddha's Dinner, which was named a Chicago Tribune Best Book of 2007, a BookSense pick, and was also selected as The Great Michigan Read for 2009-2010. She is also the author of the novel Short Girls, which was named a Best Book of 2009 by Library Journal. She teaches literature and creative writing at Purdue University.

Kent A. Ono Kent A. Ono is a Professor of Asian American Studies, Media and Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He conducts research on rhetoric and discourse, media and film, and race, ethnic, and cultural studies. He has published several books (see below) and has contributed essays to numerous journals, including Communication Monographs, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, Western Journal of Communication, Philosophy and Rhetoric, Amerasia Journal, Journal of Asian American Studies, and Cultural Studies. Ono directed the Asian American Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 2002-2007. He also directed the Cultural Studies Program at the University of California at Davis from 1999-2002. He founded the Asian American Cultural Politics Research Cluster at UC Davis in 1997.

Vincent N. Pham Vincent N. Pham is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Speech Communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He conducts critical and theoretical analyses of media and organizations, specifically focusing on the intersections of race, rhetoric, and media organizations. Prior to graduate school, he was member in the Asian American Artists Collective in Chicago and co-wrote the closing show, Mars, Marriage, and Mass DistrAction, for the 2004 Chicago Asian American Showcase. He has recently co-authored a book with Professor Kent A. Ono, titled Asian Americans and the Media for Polity Press.

Karen Su Karen Su is the Director of the Asian American Resource and Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which is celebrating their fifth anniversary this year. The center supports Asian American students and educates the campus on Asian American issues. Karen develops educational programs and activities to build knowledge about Asian American history, culture, and social and political issues. She teaches the Introduction to Asian American Studies course at UIC, where a program and minor has just been approved and will start in fall of 2010 after almost two decades of campus organizing efforts. Prior to UIC, Karen was the founding director of University of Pennsylvania's student center, the Pan-Asian American Community House (PAACH). She also served as Assistant Director of the Asian American Studies Program there. Karen holds a PhD in English with a specialization in Asian American literature. She has taught and helped to develop Asian American studies at many campuses on the west coast, east coast, and now the midwest. A second-generation Chinese American, Karen grew up in Massachusetts.

Ryan Suda Ryan Suda is the founder of Blacklava Clothing, the premier online store for Asian American apparel and products. Although the company was established in 1992, it was not until 1995 that that the focus switched to an Asian American focus. Suda credits taking an Asian American Studies survey course and touring with the Asian American theater company HereandNow as his inspiration. Blacklava's web site is

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born, Brooklyn-based Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who fights for cultural pride and survival through how she spits and how she lives. She has been featured in over 400 performances and three seasons of the award-winning Russell Simmons Presents HBO Def Poetry.
-Photo by Berman Fenelus

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Michigan and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is an editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, a contributor for; she writes the syndicated column, "Adventures in Multicultural Living." She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues and she team-teaches "Asian Pacific American History and the Law" at the University of Michigan.

Phil Yu Phil Yu is the creator and editor of, a popular Asian American news/culture website. Building a steady, loyal readership since 2001, the blog has been called by the Washington Post "a daily must-read for the media-savvy, socially conscious, pop-cultured Asian American." Mixing humor with criticism, Phil's commentary has been featured and quoted in stories for the Post, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, CNN, USA Today, MSNBC, Newsday and CBS News. Phil worked previously at the Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco and served on the Programming Committee for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Phil graduated with a B.S. in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University, and earned his M.A. in Critical Studies as a Provost Fellow from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television.