Assembly: Phil Ting

Choi is Woman of the Year

Each year, the California State Assembly honors the accomplishments of local women and the lasting impact they have made on their communities by having lawmakers name their district’s Woman of the Year. 

For 2022, I’m excited to announce I’ve chosen Outer Sunset resident Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), a community-based civil rights organization, which is committed to protecting the dignity and fair treatment of all immigrants. CAA also strives to fulfill the promise of a multi-racial democracy.

Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, was named ‘Woman of the Year’ by the California State Assembly. Courtesy photo.

You’ve probably seen her more recent work as co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition addressing incidents of anti-Asian hate across the United States. The group formed at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, when incidents of hate targeting members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community increased dramatically. Stop AAPI Hate created a national reporting website where victims can share what happened to them. It’s the only platform tracking COVID-related attacks or discrimination.

By the end of 2021, nearly 11,000 incidents have been logged. The cases involve name-calling, harassment, or worse, beatings and murder. Perpetrators have been wrongly blaming the AAPI community for COVID-19 and the restrictions that were part of the public health emergency. 

Cynthia’s work is important for not only documenting but also solving this epidemic of violence against Asians. I agree with her approach in that solutions need to be holistic and will take time and resources. More policing isn’t the answer. We need to invest in additional services for victims and prevention programs to bring further attacks to an end. Plus, a more inclusive education system that teaches about Asian history and experiences would also help. 

I wanted to do all I could as Assembly budget chair to support these initiatives. The $166.5 million state-funded API Equity Budget I championed last year aims to make progress on each of those fronts. On top of that, I secured additional funding for San Francisco projects that help preserve and amplify our voices during a time we need to be heard. For instance, $26.5 million helps the Chinatown Media and Arts Collaborative (CMAC) purchase a site for “Edge on the Square,” which aims to create a fresh narrative of equity and inclusion, fostering greater understanding through the works of artists, performers, activists, technologists and educators. Another $5 million went toward the renovation of a vital commercial corridor in Japantown, including the repair of the Ruth Asawa fountains. These efforts show government can be a partner in addressing hate.

While the mother of three is getting accolades for her Stop AAPI Hate work, Cynthia has spent more than three decades in the nonprofit sector, tackling issues that include environmental justice, immigrant/refugee rights and gender violence. As a daughter of immigrants, she is deeply committed to and passionate about creating a world that is socially just. She describes her superpowers as being able to listen, understand and evoke empathy. These traits have contributed to her success in leading change, and our world is better because of her.

Congratulations to Cynthia. I have no doubt this tireless advocate will continue to make waves. I’m proud to name her 2022’s Woman of the Year for Assembly District 19. 

Phil Ting represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City. 

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