Meet our AANHPI Youth Research Council

On this Day of the Girl, join us in celebrating the brilliance, leadership, and power of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) girls and gender expansive youth. Four months ago we announced the formation of an AANHPI Youth Research Council. The response to this invitation blew us away – in just two weeks over 530 AANHPI girls and gender expansive youth applied from across the U.S., from 26 states, and their applications were phenomenal. They told us about their leadership at church, at school, in sports teams, and on college campuses. They told us about coming to the U.S. from their homeland, or about their parents’ journey here, and how their leadership is a story that hasn’t been told. These 530+ youth asked us to be part of telling their own story. 

It was almost impossible to narrow down this pool of applicants, but today, after months of hard work, we are proud to share with you the 17 members of our AANHPI Youth Research Council. 

The AANHPI Youth Research Council is embarking on a national study to understand differences in how leadership is defined, what leadership means to them, what factors support their identities and skill development as leaders, and what internal and external factors create barriers for their leadership development. Most importantly, they will tell us the support that they need at school and in their communities to fully realize their leadership. 

This council reflects some of the diversity of the AANHPI communities in the U.S., which include 50 countries of origin and over 100 languages. The Research Council of 17 includes representatives: 

  • Ages 15 – 22 years old 
  • From 10 states, including California, Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia
  • First through third generation 
  • Transracial, transnational adoptee
  • Suburban, rural, and urban communities
  • Ethnicities that include East Asian, South Asian, Pacific Islander, and multiracial 

They will work together, twice a week, for the next year and a half to conduct the first national study of AANHPI girls and gender expansive youth. This study will include a national sample of over 4,000, qualitative focus groups with community based organizations and schools, data analysis, storytelling, and solution design. 

Co-design is at the core of everything that we do at Girls Leadership. This is especially important when  looking at the imbalance of power in the field of research where historically adults have defined the problem, studied the youth, and created the solutions. With this study of AANHPI girls, whose voices have been traditionally silenced, it is critical to us that this research be led by the girls themselves, ensuring that they have the skills, agency, and support to tell their own story. 

Here are a few of the things our AANHPI youth have to say about why they feel so strongly about this groundbreaking research:

I joined this study because I firmly believe that my Asian-American friends around the country are too amazing to be limited by systemic challenges. My goal is to improve our institutions; I’m deeply invested in how we can use our research to work towards overcoming barriers and supporting the growth and dreams of Asian-American youth. – Yehji, age 15

This study is the right step toward empowering the AAPI community and its leadership, and I am excited to be part of it. – Alice, age 22

I believe it’s important to foster diversity not only in the surrounding community, but also in leadership roles. – Jade, age 18


To honor the leadership of this Youth Research Council, we hope you’ll take a moment to get to know each of them. Thank you to our sponsors, Morgan Stanley, TAAF, Paul Weiss, and Vodafone for making this research possible. You will be hearing from this Youth Research Council in the months and years to come. Very happy Day of the Girl! 


Learn more about our AANHPI Research

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