Sandra Ung, Former AABANY Treasurer, Runs for City Council on Platform of Unity for the Flushing Community

Former AABANY Treasurer and longtime community advocate Sandra Ung has announced her candidacy for New York City Council for the upcoming 2021 election. Sandra, who has dedicated her life to serving the Queens community, hopes to use her extensive experience in and passion for law and public service to best support and represent the Flushing community.

Growing up, Sandra always knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “I’ve always believed that it’s important to advocate for those who cannot advocate for themselves,” she said in a recent interview. Sandra, who is ethnically Chinese, fled Cambodia during the genocide and immigrated to the United States when she was just seven years old. Soon after, she moved to Flushing, where she has called home ever since. But growing up as an immigrant presented many challenges.

“It’s not easy when you come to a country where you don’t know the language and have to start over,” she said. “But I quickly realized that we were not the only family on this path.” With this passion for community justice in mind, Sandra attended New York City public schools until graduating from Hunter College and then going to Columbia Law School to get her J.D. in 2001. She then worked at a law firm, where she learned detail-oriented writing and organizational skills that allowed her to really understand how to be a professional.

She then worked for Sanctuary For Families, a New York non-profit focused on helping victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Domestic violence is not regularly or openly talked about in the Asian American community, and survivors often find it difficult to talk to counselors and attorneys, especially when they look nothing like them. When working with organizations like Sanctuary for Families and the Korean American Family Service Center, Sandra saw her Asian American clients slowly open up to her, and she realized how important it is to have a support system that truly understands you and, therefore, your needs.

Now, one of Sandra’s platforms is to provide greater assistance for domestic violence victims. The pandemic has revealed what people in the field already know: domestic violence is a real, pressing issue in every community, and it is not addressed well enough. Therefore, true domestic violence advocacy requires not only highlighting and funding service providers, but also providing ways for survivors of domestic violence to physically move-out, with better housing solutions, and become financially independent from their abusers.

Sandra has worked for the New York State Assembly as a Special Assistant to the NYS Commissioner on Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation; a Legislative Assistant to former New York City Comptrollers Bill Thompson and John Liu; and Chief of Staff to former New York State Assemblyman Jimmy Meng. Currently, she is the Special Assistant to Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Queens), leading the congresswoman’s re-election campaigns and running Grace’s At the Table PAC, a political action committee dedicated to expanding women and minority representation in politics. As the eyes and ears on the ground while the congresswoman is in D.C., Sandra is proud to represent the immigrant community and support them through the same challenges she faced growing up. She especially enjoys running free workshops that teach public speaking and career-based skills to young women who lack access to this knowledge, like she did when she was also growing up in an immigrant family. “We really understand that if you want to have a seat at the table, you need the basic skill set to get you to that table in the first place,” she said.

While serving as AABANY’s Treasurer, Sandra felt empowered by the inclusivity that AABANY created for its community. Due to the breadth and diversity of its members and leaders, AABANY showed Sandra the importance of having strong representation of Asian Americans in leading legal, public interest, and government positions, where they will truly advocate for the communities they serve.

Therefore, after over a decade working for New York state and years of working on other people’s campaigns, Sandra feels ready to tackle and win her own. “The recent national and local elections have shown that we are more divided than ever,” she said. “So, in campaigning, it is especially important to me to set a positive tone.” She hopes to focus on creating unity within the Flushing community, building a broad coalition as strong as their neighborhood.

Now more than ever, Sandra looks up to her mother, who was born in Cambodia and forced to leave her family during the genocide. While working in a laundromat all her life, Sandra’s mother taught her about perseverance and hard work; her parents continue to inspire her to give back to the country that gave them everything they have.

“The people around me have given me the courage to try and do this,” she said. “I believe in my community, I believe in myself, and I believe that I will be the best person for this job.”

To learn more about Sandra’s campaign and find out how you can get involved, please visit sandrafornewyork.com

To hear more about the campaign from Sandra herself, please watch the video below.

To follow Sandra’s campaign on social media, please visit their Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter pages.

This member profile has been published for informational purposes only and does not constitute and should not be construed as a campaign endorsement.

NCAPA Community Briefing on COVID-19

On Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations, held a community briefing call over Zoom on the topic of increased anti-Asian rhetoric in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Community leaders on the call were joined by legislators serving on the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) including Representative Judy Chu (CA-27), Representative Mark Takano (CA-41), Representative Ted Lieu (CA-33), and Senator Kamala Harris of California. 

Mr. Gregg Orton, the National Director of NCAPA, began by addressing efforts undertaken by NCAPA to address the increasing prevalence of anti-Asian rhetoric. Mr. Orton addressed NCAPA’s creation of a COVID-19 Task Force which aims to aggregate community resources online for the Asian American community in addition to building an emergency response network. NCAPA is also currently developing an online health form with crowdsourced in-language community health resources. 

Legislators serving on CAPAC spoke at-length about the alarming rise of xenophobic attacks and racist sentiment directed against members of the Asian American community. All four legislators condemned the rhetoric of top administration officials such as President Donald Trump and Secretary Mike Pompeo in labeling COVID-19 as the “Chinese Virus” or the “Wuhan Virus” as the use of these terms only exacerbate concerns of discrimination. In fact, Representative Chu, the Chair of CAPAC, addressed recent high profile incidents of physical attacks directed against Asians and estimated roughly 1,000 reports of hate crimes in the last five weeks alone. 

Moreover, all four legislators pointed to the efforts that were being undertaken in Congress to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community such as Representative Grace Meng’s (NY-6) recent resolution “Condemning all forms of Anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID-19” which has already garnered 130 co-sponsors. Senator Harris underscored the importance of cancelling ICE raids and following in Los Angeles and New York’s footsteps in setting up hotlines for reporting on hate crimes directed against Asian Americans. Representative Lieu addressed the problem of phone scams taking advantage of the elderly during this time and pointed to the FCC’s online guidelines for preventing these scams. 

Additionally, Representatives Chu and Takano spoke extensively about the recent stimulus package that was passed and certain benefits that Asian business owners could make use of. In particular, they highlighted Small Business Administration (SBA) loans for companies with less than 500 employees in addition to direct cash assistance provisions sent to qualifying families. However, Representative Lieu noted that the recently passed stimulus package will likely not be enough and that a second bill is in the works. In that bill, Representative Chu hopes to focus on translating federal COVID-19 resources into AAPI languages and assisting both undocumented and legal immigrants who were not eligible for certain benefits in the initial stimulus package. 

Finally, community leaders in the NCAPA network also addressed efforts that they have undertaken in light of COVID-19. Ms. Naomi Tacuyan Underwood, Executive Director of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), elaborated on how AAJA has issued guidelines to major newsrooms across the country on responsible reporting regarding the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, Ms. Chiling Tong, President of the Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship addressed the financial risks faced by its 2 million members. She encouraged Asian American members and businesses to apply for the FCA economic injury fund online. 

Overall, multiple steps are being taken at the legislative, business, and grassroots level in order to combat xenophobia and support the Asian American community in this time of need. In order to see a full recording of the call, please click here. For additional ways you can help and get involved, please look below.


The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. You can get in-touch with NCAPA by clicking here here.

For additional resources, please refer to NCAPA’s COVID-19 Response Toolkit, which includes sample social media graphics and posts, press coverage, and resources within and outside of our coalition. The resources include in-language resources for wellness and health, and various hate crime reporting tools. You can make a direct impact in your own respective circles and communities by regularly distributing and sharing NCAPA’s Toolkit.

Congresswoman Grace Meng Introduces Resolution to Denounce Anti-Asian Sentiment Caused by Coronavirus

On March 25, 2020, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that denounces the anti-Asian sentiment caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus.  

“The increased use of anti-Asian rhetoric, particularly from our nation’s leaders such as the President, and their use of terms like ‘Chinese virus,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ and ‘Kung-flu,’ is not only irresponsible, reckless, and downright disgusting, it threatens the safety of the Asian American community; such language demeans, disparages, and scapegoats Asian Americans,” said Meng. “Asian Americans, like millions of others across the nation, are worried about the coronavirus; however, so many Asian Americans are also living in fear following the dramatic increase of threats and attacks against those of Asian descent. During this time of heightened anxiety and fear surrounding COVID-19, we cannot lose sight of protecting the health and safety of every single person – no matter their race, ethnicity, or background. The House must take a strong stand against the sickening intolerance, bigotry, and violence that is leaving a terrible stain on our nation’s history, especially during this moment of an unprecedented public health crisis. I am grateful to my colleagues who introduced this resolution with me today, and for joining me in saying loud and clear: xenophobia and discrimination is absolutely unacceptable. I strongly urge all of my House of Representatives colleagues, to support this measure, and its passage.”  

The resolution has 124 cosponsors. They include: Reps. Chu, Pressley, Castro, Pascrell, Malinowski, Speier, Watson Coleman, Brown, Takano, Cisneros, Schakowsky, Velázquez, Pingree, Lieu, Napolitano, Correa, Haaland, Huffman, Torres, Blumenauer, Fudge, Cárdenas, Omar, Schrader, Moulton, Suozzi, Lynch, Dingell, Connolly, Case, A. Green, Bonamici, Trone, C. Maloney, Khanna, McGovern, Thompson (CA), Larson, Foster, E. Johnson, Jayapal, Kilmer, Jackson Lee, Lofgren, Porter, Raskin, Lowenthal, DelBene, Castor, Jeffries, Trahan, Smith (WA), Rose, Beyer, Rouda, Costa, Serrano, DeFazio, Krishnamoorthi, Ocasio-Cortez, Cicilline, Kim, Sanchez, Soto, Bustos, McCollum, Pocan, Welch, Sablan, Schiff, Larsen, Higgins, Yarmuth, McEachin, DeLauro, Quigley, Clark, Grijalva, DeGette, Engel, Butterfield, Rush, Deutch, Allred, Eshoo, S. Maloney, Kennedy, D. Davis, Bass, Boyle, Nadler, Lee (CA), Norton, Lewis, Mucarsel-Powell, Bishop, Evans, “Chuy” García, Schneider, Horsford, Carson, Wild, Tlaib, Casten, Craig, Frankel, Meeks, Brownley, Spanberger, Wexton, Vargas, S. Garcia, Hastings, Escobar, Cohen, Vargas, Sherman, Waters, McNerney, Cox, McNerney, Lawrence, Tlaib, and Gallego.  

To learn more and to read the text of the resolution, click here.

PRESS RELEASE: MENG, VELÁZQUEZ, CHU BILL WOULD ASSIST SMALL BUSINESSES HARMED BY CORONAVIRUS

SBA Disaster Loans Would be Made Available for Virus-Impacted Firms

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), the First Vice Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, and Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), the Chairwoman of CAPAC, have introduced legislation aimed at assisting small businesses that suffer economic harm from the coronavirus outbreak. 

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Queens and throughout New York City,” said Meng. “They enhance our neighborhoods, bring investment and innovation to local communities, and provide jobs to area residents. But concerns about the coronavirus have hit many small businesses hard. In fact, I have heard from many Asian American-owned small business owners in my district that they are severely struggling. We cannot let them suffer. Government must be a strong partner in helping small businesses succeed and we must not abandon them in their time of need. I call on all my colleagues to immediately pass this legislation so that our entrepreneurs and small businesses can get back on track. When small businesses succeed, America succeeds!”

“Small businesses around the country and in New York City are beginning to feel the economic effects of the coronavirus,” said Velázquez. “Many of our Asian-owned businesses in New York have already experienced a decline in sales due to misinformation, fear and stigma associated with the virus. The bill we’ve authored will help businesses access federal loans if they suffer losses related to the outbreak.”  

“The spread of COVID-19 has nothing to do with race or ethnicity, but that has not stopped dangerous misinformation and xenophobia from spreading faster than the disease itself,” said Chu. “In my district, some Asian-owned businesses are reporting a 50% drop in customers, and that’s the case elsewhere around the country as well. For instance, in New York City, before there was even a single case of COVID-19, some restaurants saw as much as an 80% decline in customers. We have even seen instances of illegal, fraudulent letters that baselessly urge people to avoid Asian-owned businesses. These are serious losses that can have long-lasting impacts on our local economies. We cannot let misinformation and fear ruin communities and businesses. This bill would help by providing necessary assistance to help our Asian-owned businesses continue to operate in the face of a disaster they had no control over.”

Economists recently lowered the global forecasts for major economies from 2.6 percent to 2.4 percent. Much of the recent slowing of the economy is linked to the coronavirus, which has weakened demand in travel and tourism. Besides the decline in foot traffic for many retailers and restaurants, particularly those in Chinese communities, small firms have experienced challenges related to their supply chains. Companies sourcing products and services from China have had delays or complete cancellations of orders, resulting in lower profits for the company. Besides these challenges, small firms must start the process of preparing their companies for the potential to have employees become infected and remain home or telework. In many instances, a small employer may be unable to absorb the additional workforce reductions without a coinciding loss in productivity.

Under the bill, the “Small Business Relief from Communicable Disease Induced Economic Hardship Act,” small businesses would be able to access Economic Injury Disaster Loans of up $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which would otherwise have been met if it were not for the virus’ spread. The bill specifies that the loans would be interest free. Companies that are major employers could be potentially eligible for larger loans.

“Properly preparing for the impact of the coronavirus requires a multi-front strategy and that includes being ready to address the very real economic fallout we may see,” Velázquez added. “This legislation would be a good first step to help our small firms in New York and around the nation who sustain economic injury from COVID-19. I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance this measure.”

A copy of the bill is online here and a bill summary is available here.

Press Release: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and AABANY to Host Panel Discussion with Acting US Attorney Joon Kim, Judge Denny Chin, and Congresswoman Grace Meng

Press Release: Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and AABANY to Host Panel Discussion with Acting US Attorney Joon Kim, Judge Denny Chin, and Congresswoman Grace Meng