AAJA’s Mission and History

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational and professional organization with more than 1,600 members across the United States and Asia. Since its founding, AAJA has been at the forefront of change in the journalism industry.

Our mission is four-fold:

  • To provide a means of association and support among Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) journalists, and to advance AAPI journalists as news managers and media executives.
  • To provide encouragement, information, advice and scholarship assistance to AAPI students who aspire to professional journalism careers.
  • To provide to the AAPI community an awareness of news media and an understanding of how to gain fair access.
  • To research and point out when news media organizations stray from accuracy and fairness in the coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and AAPI issues.

What We Do

AAJA offers a variety of educational, skills training and professional development programs for its student and professional members, as well as guidance on coverage of AAPI issues for the journalism industry and resources on working with the media for AAPI communities.

At AAJA’s annual national convention, journalists converge to discuss new trends and challenges in the industry, hone their journalism skills and learn ones, expand their understanding of AAPI issues, plus network with colleagues. The convention also features the AAJA Gala Scholarship & Awards Banquet, a career fair and the Voices student news project.

Professional development programs include the Executive Leadership Program, where AAPI journalists develop skills and strategies to become newsroom leaders and executives. AAJA also offers fellowships and mentor programs matching those just entering the profession with accomplished journalists.

Student programs include JCamp, a national multicultural journalism program featuring a week-long training camp. College students can get hands-on training at Voices, the multiplatform student news project . AAJA also offers college scholarships, internships and internship grants.

AAJA provides guidance for accurate and fair coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders along with AAPI issues through its MediaWatch program and the AAJA Handbook to Covering Asian America. Media advisories have included guidance on coverage of NBA player Jeremy Lin and the August 2012 shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin.

To assist the AAPI community in working with the press, AAJA’s chapters give MediaAccess workshops to local AAPI community organizations.

Our Chapters

AAJA has 20 chapters across the United States and Asia. These chapters hold professional development and networking events, MediaAcess workshops for local AAPI organizations and provide scholarships, internships and grants to local students.

AAJA’s chapters are in ArizonaAsiaAtlantaChicagoFloridaHawai’iLos AngelesMichiganMinnesotaNew EnglandNew YorkNorth Carolina, PhiladelphiaPortlandSacramentoSan DiegoSan Francisco/Bay AreaSeattleTexas and Washington, D.C.

Our History

AAJA was founded in 1981 by a small group of AAPI journalists who felt a need to support one another and to encourage more Asian American and Pacific Islanders to pursue journalism at a time when there were few AAPI faces in the media. AAJA owes its founding to the vision of this small group of Los Angeles journalists, Tritia Toyota and Frank Kwan of KNBC-TV News; Bill Sing, Nancy Yoshihara and David Kishiyama of the Los Angeles Times; and Dwight Chuman of Rafu Shimpo, a local Japanese American newspaper. AAJA’s expansion into a truly national organization took off in 1985 with the formation of additional chapters.

As a nonprofit educational organization with more than 1,700 members in 20 chapters across the U.S. and Asia, AAJA’s largest membership bases are generally concentrated in large metropolitan areas on the West Coast (Los Angeles, San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle), East Coast (New York City and Washington, D.C.) and Midwest (Chicago.) Members are also organized in other areas throughout the U.S. (Arizona, Atlanta, Chicago, Florida, Hawai’i, Michigan, Minnesota, New England, North Carolina, Philadelphia, Portland, Sacramento, Texas and San Diego).

In addition, AAJA has a growing number of members working throughout Asia — in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, the Philippines and Bangladesh —  which underscores the rapid growth of media properties in Asia and points the way to future expansion of the organization.

Close to one-third of AAJA’s members are students, attesting to the organization’s emphasis on bringing young people into the news business.

AAJA is proud to include among its members some of the top journalists in the country, from network news anchors and reporters to Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, editors and photographers, to national radio show producers and major magazine editors.

AAJA is an alliance partner in UNITY Journalists along with the Native American Journalists Association and the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.


1987 – 1990 Lloyd LaCuesta
1991 – 1992 David Louie
1993 – 1994 Evelyn Hsu
1995 – 1996 Dinah Eng
1997 – 1998 Benjamin Seto
1999 – 2000 Catalina Camia
2001 – 2002 Victor Panichkul
2003 – 2004 Mae Cheng
2005 – 2006 Esther Wu
2007  – 2008 Jeanne Mariani-Belding
2009 – 2010 Sharon Pian Chan
2011 – 2012 Doris Truong
2013 – 2016 Paul Cheung
2017 – Present Yvonne Leow