Photo: DAAPIC commissioners, Farman Pirzada and Jayne Miyahara at a recent “Cabinet in the Community” event hosted by Denver Mayor Hancock every quarter.

Did you know that the City of Denver has a commission that’s dedicated to supporting and celebrating the area’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities?
The Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC) was officially created by ordinance in 2007 as part of Denver’s Agency on Human Rights and Community Partnerships (HRCP), but the Mayor’s office for years before that relied on an advisory council of community leaders to connect with Denver’s Asians. Fran Campbell and Jerico Javier were the first chairs, and the first appointees to the newly-formed DAAPIC included Ron Abo, Paul Cha, Mary Lee Chin, Rodger Hara, Khoa Nguyen, Brent Tongo, and Whei Wong.
HRCP also added an American Indian Commission, African American Commission, Latino Commission, and LGBTQ Commission, all of which had been advisory councils like the DAAPIC. One of the first actions by the combined HRCP commissions was to speak out as a group against an article published by a student newspaper at CU Boulder that was a racist commentary aimed at Asians.
Our group over the years since has also been involved in efforts to help businesses along the South Federal Blvd. Asian district, hosted AAPI job and resource fairs, and published a Resource Guide for the pan-Asian community. DAAPIC also held listening sessions with AAPI organizations to learn what issues they face and published a report that compiled those concerns to submit with recommendations to Mayor Hancock. That report, “Finding Common Ground,” is available as a PDF to download at: tinyurl.com/daapic-report.
We’ve recently awarded grants to AAPI organizations to help fund projects as diverse as a one-woman play about being mixed-race African American and Vietnamese (it’s set in a nail salon), to a conference of area AAPI high school students to meet others like themselves and learn about the history of Asians in American pop culture, the roots of Chinese Americans, mental health and leadership and tips for their future careers.
Our four main goals are:
• Enhance the infrastructure of DAAPIC – so we can do the best job working with our constituents.
• Increase the visibility of DAAPIC – so that we are familiar to the public and best reach people.
• Connect AAPIs to opportunities, resources, and tools – including events such as job and resource fairs and publishing reports and guides for our AAPI audience.
• Identify and advocate for AAPI needs – and serve as a bridge between AAPIs and the city government.
We currently have 15 commissioners who meet monthly, and we’re interviewing candidates to add more commissioners. We always seek to represent the diversity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities that enrich Denver and the metro area, so we are proud to currently include Chinese, Japanese, South Asian, Pacific Islander, Korean, Vietnamese and more.
Our monthly meetings are open to the public. They’re held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at Carla Madison Recreation Center, which is located at 2401 E. Colfax Ave. and Josephine St. in Capitol Hill.
DAAPIC wants to thank Asian Avenue Magazine for allowing us to provide a regular column! Find more information about the Commission and learn about the commissioners on the DAAPIC website.