Daphne Kwok Executive Director APIDC

Daphne Kwok

Daphne Kwok
Executive Director of Asians & Pacific Islanders
with Disabilities of California (APIDC)

In July 2010, Daphne was appointed by President Obama to Chair his Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), which is a volunteer position.


Daphne grew up in the Washington DC area in a family where education, music and community involvement were highly valued. Her parents both came from China to go to school in the US. Her mother, attended Barnard College and worked in a physics lab prior to raising a family.

Daphne attended Montessori Schools and then public high school.  She received a BA in East Asian Studies (Chinese Studies) and Music from Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

After college, Daphne did not know what she wanted to do but non-profit community involvement was always part of Daphne’s family life.  While in college, she was active in the Asian American community. Her first job after school was as a program assistant for the Organization of Chinese American Women. This began her career in the Asian American community non-profit organizations and led to involvement in Democratic party politics.

Her current position, with the APIDC, a new non-profit organization based in Oakland, seeks to give a voice and a face to AAPIs with disabilities, to break down the stigma in the AAPI community about disabilities and to provide technical assistance to organizations wanting to effectively work with AAPIs with disabilities.

Daphne says “extra curricular activities in school taught me the skills that have been most useful in my career: fund raising, promotion, publicity, event planning, budgeting, public speaking, coalition  building, and advocating for issues of concern to Asian Americans.”

She sees her biggest work related challenge as “breaking down the stigma in the AAPI community about disabilities; and to get the AAPI community to acknowledge that there are AAPIs with disabilities.”  Another major challenge of her work includes addressing the needs of the diverse Asian American & Pacific Islander community. Dispelling the “Model Minority Myth” is a constant in Daphne’s work.  The myth is that Asian Americans are financially well-off and highly-educated.  In reality, segments of the AAPI community have the highest school drop-out rates and the highest poverty levels.  Therefore, educating policymakers and the public about the real needs of the AAPI community is critical.

The most rewarding aspects of her career are:  to see the success of former interns now in public service as elected officials or working in the AAPI community; to have programs she developed still in existence; and to see the continued political empowerment of the AAPI community.

The key to success in her field is being passionate about issues affecting the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Prior to her current position, Daphne was the Executive Director of the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation (AIISF), the Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), and Executive Director of the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA).

Presently, Daphne serves as: member of the Wesleyan University Board of Trustees; Chair, APIAVote; and Executive Committee Member of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation.

When Daphne has spare time, she loves to play tennis, travel, enjoy great food, and explore the arts as one who appreciates the arts as a violinist.

Update July 2013:

Washington, D.C. –AARP has appointed Daphne Kwok as the new Vice President, Multicultural Markets and Engagement effective July 8th. Daphne will lead AARP’s outreach to Asian Americans 50+.

One of Daphne’s Favorite Books : Asian American Dreams