The Official Site of The Commonwealth of Virginia

Noteworthy Asian Pacific Americans of Virginia

The Asian Pacific Americans featured below have had a significant impact on Virginia's history. Learn their stories below.

Photo of Atif Qarni

Atif Qarni

The Secretary

Prior to his appointment as Governor Northam’s Secretary of Education, Atif Qarni taught at Beville Middle School in Prince William County, leading courses in civics, economics, U.S History, and mathematics. He also served as a GED Night School Instructor. In 2016, Atif was recognized as the Dale City Teacher of the Year.

In addition to his work as an educator, Atif is a former Sergeant of the United States Marine Corps, and was deployed to Iraq in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Learn More about Atif Qarni

May Nivar Photo

May Nivar

The Chairwoman

May Nivar is a community advocate who was appointed to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board in 2017 by Governor Terry McAuliffe and has served as its chair since 2019. She is also the founding chair of the Asian & Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia and serves as a Richmond chapter member of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities. Previous board service includes the Asian American Society of Central Virginia and OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates - Central Virginia Chapter.

Learn More about May Nivar

Photo of Dr. Marie Sankaran Raval, M.D.

Dr. Marie Sankaran Raval, M.D.

The Doctor

Dr. Marie Sankaran Raval, M.D. was appointed to the VAAB in 2020.  She is an Anesthesiologist and Assistant Professor at VCU Health. Prior to her current position, she was employed by Weill Cornell Medical College/New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she served as an Anesthesiologist and Assistant Professor.

Learn More about Dr. Marie Sankaran Raval, M.D.

Photo of Justin Lo

Justin Lo

The Lawyer

Justin Lo was appointed to the VAAB in 2019 for a four-year term.

Justin joined the Virginia State Corporation Commission, an independent agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 2018 as Associate General Counsel.  He represents the Commission’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising, Bureau of Insurance, and Office of the Clerk in litigation.

Learn More about Justin Lo

Photo of Praveen Meyyan

Praveen Meyyan

The Economist

Praveen Meyyan is a Northern Virginia based Economist and AAPI Community Leader. Originally an immigrant from India, Praveen moved from India to the United States over 30 years ago, as his parents pursued the American Dream. Praveen has spent a decade in Virginia working to empower those within the AAPI community, make their voices heard and to help train a new generation of leaders. 

Learn More about Praveen Meyyan

Photo of Pearl Fu

Pearl Fu

Civic Leader

Pearl Fu lived what she calls a "cloistered" childhood in Yunnan Province, a remote, mountainous region of southwestern China that is home to more than a third of China's ethnic minorities, including the Yi. She grew up in a prominent political family that moved to Hong Kong. Her mother nurtured the traditions of the Yi and taught her children to cook their native cuisine.

Learn More about Pearl Fu

Photo of Pu-Kao-Chen

Pu-Kao Chen

The Student

A century ago this fall, Pu-Kao Chen ’23 left Shanghai, China, to enroll at William & Mary, becoming the university’s first Asian student and opening the door for hundreds of Asian and Asian-American students, faculty and staff to follow — and create their own firsts — over the next 100 years.

Learn More about Pu-Kao Chen

Carla Okouchi

The Educator

Carla Okouchi was appointed to the Virginia Asian Advisory Board in 2019 for a four-year term and serves as the Chair for the Education Subcommittee.

Carla is a Music Educator and Choral Director in the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). Over the past two decades, she has served as lead building mentor guiding high school aspiring educators and new music teachers. Within FCPS, she has served on the Equity Stakeholders Committee, Teacher Evaluation Task Force, Fine Arts Coordinator Selection Panel, and the Budget Task Force. She also served on the School Board Human Relations Committee.

Learn More about Carla Okouchi

Photo of Jenny Han

Jenny Han

The Author

Jenny Han is an American author of young adult fiction and children's fiction. She is best known for writing The Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy and the To All the Boys series, the latter of which was adapted into a film of the same name in 2018 starring Lana Condor and Noah Centineo.

Jenny Han was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from Maggie L. Walker Governor's School for Government and International Studies.

Learn More about Jenny Han

Photo of Suhas Subramanyam

Suhas Subramanyam

The Delegate

Suhas has since worked tirelessly to improve the health and prosperity of all Virginians and Americans. He served on Capitol Hill as a health care and veterans policy aide, where he worked to expand and improve health care access to millions of Americans and drafted legislation to increase job opportunities and funding for veterans. He later earned his law degree with honors at Northwestern University School of Law, volunteering at the Center for Wrongful Convictions. Suhas is a proud resident of Loudoun County and has always maintained his commitment to serving his community.

Learn More about Suhas Subramanyam

Photo of Mona Siddiqui

Mona Siddiqui

The Advisor

Mona Siddiqui was appointed Deputy Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Policy Advisor for immigrant and refugee affairs in a new collaboration between the Office of Diversity, Equity.

Mona is a life-long resident of Virginia since emigrating from Pakistan with her family at the age of four. She completed her K-12 public education in Chesterfield County Public Schools and then pursued a Bachelors of Arts in Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Virginia College of Arts and Sciences. 

Learn More about Mona Siddiqui

Photo of Suja S. Amir

Suja S. Amir

The Vice Chair

Suja S. Amir has a background in management, health policy, fiscal and forensic analyses, and general nonprofit consulting. She has years of experience in the nonprofit sector and in local government. She holds a B.S in Psychology and a Master of Public Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University. 

She is a founding board member of Asian Latino Solidarity Alliance of Central Virginia.

Learn More about Suja Amir