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Giving a Collective Voice to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Staff

Screenshot of 14 staff on the virtual FAN kick-off meeting

Above is a screenshot of the Federation of AANHPI Network (FAN) kick-off meeting in April 2021, which was attended by leaders of AANHPI-focused ERGs, including NIH Federal Asian Pacific American Council, NIH India, NIH Taiwanese Association, NIH Korean Women in Science and Engineering, Korean Scientists Association, NIH Asian Pacific American Organization, NIH Chinese Student and Scholar Association, and Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America. Not pictured: Japanese Scientists Association.

What is the NIH Federation of AANHPI Network (FAN)?

The NIH Federation of AANHPI Network (FAN) aims to address issues and policies impacting the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) workforce across the NIH. FAN was established in April 2021 when leaders from several NIH AANHPI-focused Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) gathered virtually in response to the increasing violence and intolerance toward AANHPI communities fueled in part by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfortunate polarization of our nation. The group's initial discussion centered around how ERGs could support one another during these times of crisis.

As FAN gained momentum and its membership grew, the conversation expanded toward sustainable action surrounding the NIH's recruitment, retention, and advancement of AANHPIs. While AANHPIs represent almost 20% of the NIH workforce,1 the Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) has noted a distinct lack of visible AANHPIs in NIH leadership2. Thus, one of FAN's current priorities is to address this underrepresentation in leadership and identify actionable solutions for every step of the career ladder to ensure representation across all parts of the NIH workforce.

Bridging the AANHPI Leadership Gap

In a Facebook Live interview, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said, “Hold us accountable. I do not think the status quo is where we need to be. We're missing out on enjoying the talents of so many folks who currently don't see our research agenda as theirs, and we need to change that.”3

We know there is a leadership disparity affecting the AANHPI community that extends across industries, beyond the Federal Government. Just taking a look within academia and research, the disparity is clear:

  • ”Asian Americans are the least likely among all women to be promoted to leadership positions and make up less than 1% of top earners at those universities engaging in the highest level of research activity.”4
  • “[In medicine] Asian Americans are underrepresented in leadership positions, which affects their voice, visibility, and acceptance into American culture and organizations.”5

The pandemic brought to light existing anti-Asian sentiment, and an increase in the number of hate incidents reported to the Stop AAPI Hate coalition between March 19, 2020 to June 30, 20216. All these and the continuously evolving social justice movement underscore that more needs to be done. We recognize that these issues exist within a context of multiple dynamic social and cultural factors that intertwine with and influence each other. Raising awareness about these issues will certainly help to address racial inequities. At the leadership level, we know that AANHPIs are often not sufficiently represented at the decision-making tables for these positions.

Growing FAN's Grassroots Efforts

We are thrilled that T. Jake Liang, M.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator, Chief of the Liver Diseases Branch, Deputy Director of Translational Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), has taken on the role as the new Executive Sponsor and Champion for EDI’s AANHPI Engagement Committee and Founding FAN Chair. Like a grassroots organization, FAN has grown membership to include AANHPI ERG members and other individuals from across the NIH community representing many Institutes, Centers, offices, and departments--all who share a joint commitment to support AANHPI and other underserved communities.

You can support the AANHPI Portfolio and get involved to help address the outreach, recruitment, retention, and advancement of AANHPIs and other diverse populations at the NIH. To take part or get more information about the AANHPI Portfolio, please contact Caroline Goon, EDI’s AANHPI Strategist.

Additional Resources

Learn more about the leadership gap AANHPIs are facing:


  2. (NIH Senior Leadership)
  3. Q&A with Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett (27:29)

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