The Asian Pacific Americans featured below have had a significant impact on Virginia's history. Learn their stories below.
Secretary of Education
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.
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.
Anesthesiologist and Assistant Professor
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.
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.
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.
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.
Music Educator and Choral Director
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.
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.
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
Deputy Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Policy 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.
Vice Chair of The Virginia Asian American Advisory Board
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.