Emma Shainwald


May 5th, 2022

Washington, D.C.— The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) issued the following statement honoring the life of Secretary Norman Mineta. 

It is difficult to quantify the impact that Secretary Mineta has had on our community. His loss, while tremendous, pales in comparison to the massive legacy he leaves behind. One would be hard-pressed to find a leader amongst us who wasn’t shaped by Secretary Mineta’s wisdom, generosity and kindness. 

We send our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and the countless community members who were blessed to know him. While our hearts are heavy, we are resolved to carry on the work that he believed in so strongly.  

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC:

“We have lost one of the most significant figures in American history today with the passing of the honorable Norman Y. Mineta. Within the Asian American community, he was revered not only for his distinguished years of service where he blazed trails for other Asian Americans to follow, but also because he stood up for our community at pivotal times in our history. When I became a partner at Wiley Rein, Norm sent me a handwritten note congratulating me and expressing how delighted he was.  He was Commerce Secretary at the time, and yet he still had the time for those “small” personal interactions. He was someone who never forgot a name. He never looked past you or looked over your shoulder to see if there was someone ‘more important’ that he should talk to. He was genuine and cared about people, regardless of politics. He will be missed.”

Tavae Samuelu, Executive Director, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities (EPIC):

“Though I didn’t know Secretary Mineta, I continue to benefit from his leadership. My condolences to his family as the community shares in their grief. May the depth of his legacy bring them comfort during this time of mourning. La manuia lau malaga.” 

Seema Agnani, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD):

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Secretary Mineta. He was not only a powerful and critical leader in our country but paved the way for so many other leaders who followed from the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.  He is remembered fondly as someone who stood in community with those he represented.  His legacy couldn’t be more relevant today as we move to implementing the Infrastructure and Jobs Act and communities across the country are looking for infrastructure and transit investments that serve the people of this country.”

Alvina Yeh, Executive Director of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA):

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Secretary Norman Mineta. Secretary Mineta has left his fingerprints across every major organization in the Asian American community. He was a man who had many firsts and titles to his name but never forgot his humble beginnings nor the impact of incarceration on a generation of Japanese Americans. We mourn the loss of this tremendous man who mentored, inspired, and impacted many across the community.”

Becky Belcore, Co-Director of the National Korean American Service and Education Consortium:

“Our hearts go out to Secretary Mineta’s family and loved ones during this time. As a founding member and first chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), and in his work to pass the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, Secretary Mineta helped create an ecosystem for Asian American advocacy. His legacy of protecting civil liberties and refusing to let racism and fear lead our ways continues to inspire people today.”

Jeffrey Caballero, Executive Director of the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO):

“Secretary Mineta was a stalwart leader who was pivotal to organizing and leveraging Asian American (AA), Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (NH/PI) policymakers and communities across the nation. He exemplified the best qualities of public service and worked throughout his career to strengthen AA and NH/PI serving organizations and cultivate the next generation of AA and NH/PI leaders. 

“During his time in Congress, Norm was a champion for community health centers and supported AAPCHO’s founding members to ensure that community health centers were in and served all communities of color. As the first AA Cabinet Secretary who served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations, Norm paved the way for greater AA and NH/PI representation across government.

“Norm Mineta leaves behind an indelible legacy and his friendship will be deeply missed. AAPCHO and our member community health centers extend our deepest sympathies to Norm’s wife Deni, his children David, Stuart, Bob and Mark, and his family and friends. His leadership and lasting contributions to our communities will continue to inspire all to extend a hand to those most in need.”

Priya Purandare, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA):

“A legend in the Asian American community, Secretary Mineta dedicated his life to public service. Sec. Mineta’s story began during one of the darkest times in American history, Japanese American incarceration. He then went on to become one of the country’s highest profile political leaders, and lived and led with courage, strength, and resilience. Throughout his life and career, he advocated for the civil liberties of Asian Americans, and was a co-founder of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. His lived experience with incarceration informed his fight against the racial profiling of Muslims after the 9/11 attacks because he did not want history to repeat itself. May we and future generations all be inspired by his legacy as we mourn this enormous loss.”

Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote):

“We are heartbroken about the passing of Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. He was a giant in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities, motivating and mentoring generations of AAPIs to get involved and make a difference. Mineta’s career is well-decorated in accomplishments, but perhaps his most important was creating a pipeline for AAPIs like me to advocate for our communities and make sure we are heard.”

“Many Americans will remember Secretary Mineta for his calm, competent response to 9/11, his leadership in the creation of the Transportation Security Administration (“TSA”), and his stewardship of the legislation that helped victims of the Japanese American internment camps receive reparations. For many of us he will also be remembered as a founding father of the ecosystem that created many AAPI serving organizations that exist today – including APIAVote.”

Madalene Mielke, President & CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS):

“Secretary Mineta was a giant in our community. His legacy included many firsts, and beyond his historic wins, Secretary Mineta left an everlasting mark on our community, advocating for all of us to achieve greatness.

“Secretary Mineta’s resiliency and perseverance brought enormous visibility, investment and power to address the needs of our community. It is because of him, that we now celebrate Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, that our community is represented in the Executive Branch, and why the United States issued a formal apology to the unjust incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II.

“Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Secretary Mineta’s wife Deni, his children David, Stuart, Bob and Mark, and his family and friends. We stand in the footsteps of greatness, and our community is forever indebted to the efforts and achievements of Secretary Mineta

Kiran Kaur Gill, Executive Director of the Sikh American Legal Defense & Education Fund (SALDEF):

“Secretary Mineta paved the way for future generations of AAPI leaders in the political and civic space. With his dedication to the safety of our air transportation services while ensuring that individual rights and liberties were not infringed, Secretary Mineta was and will forever be a strong ally of the Sikh American community. We mourn his loss but will keep his memory alive by advancing justice for AAPI, Sikh Americans, and all Americans.”

Juliet K. Choi, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF):

“Secretary Mineta, the first Asian American Cabinet Member, was a trailblazer, advocate and friend to all. Under his leadership, he tirelessly worked to address the disparities that exist for Asian Americans & Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. Under his legacy, Asian Americans & Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders have ascended further in government than ever before. But beyond that, he was beloved in our community for his exuberance and fierce passion for justice and equality. His loss is heavy, and we give our deepest condolences to the Mineta family.”

Quyên Đinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC):

“SEARAC is deeply saddened by the passing of Secretary Norman Mineta. Secretary Mineta leaves behind a rich legacy of leadership, resilience, and advocacy for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities. After surviving incarceration in a US government-sponsored camp during World War II, Secretary Mineta went on to an inspiring political career, during which he advocated for a formal apology and compensation for Japanese Americans like himself and his family who endured that terrible experience. Secretary Mineta also served as mayor of San Jose, CA, home to one of the largest populations of Southeast Asian Americans in the country. We draw on his legacy and his strength as we advocate for and build community power with Southeast Asian Americans.”

Vimala Phongsavanh, Board Chair of the Laotian American National Alliance (LANA):

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Secretary Mineta’s passing. He was a giant and an incredible public servant that blazed so many trails for Asian Americans, including Laotian Americans. His resilience and love for this country is admirable, a reminder that even in the darkest of times we continue to fight, stay hopeful, and put in the important work towards creating a country that we can all be proud of. He will be deeply missed.”

Noël Harmon, President and Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Scholars (APIA Scholars):

“APIA Scholars mourns the loss of pioneer Norm Mineta and we send our deepest condolences to his family. Mr. Mineta was a long-time friend and supporter of APIA Scholars, he valued our mission and shared in our commitment to serve students. He took time to speak with and mentor many of our Scholars. His leadership, courage, tenacity, and commitment to the APIA Community will not be forgotten.”

David Inoue, Executive Director of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL):

“Unequaled as a leader in the Japanese American and broader Asian American community, what was most striking about Secretary Mineta was his warmth. He was always the last person to leave an event as he made the time to talk to everyone, because to him, everyone was important. This was what guided him throughout his career as a leader and mentor to so many in our community. He set an example for how we should conduct ourselves as an American citizen, a status he cherished so much, and as an individual.”

Thu Nguyen, Executive Director of OCA–Asian Pacific American Advocates (OCA):

“Secretary Mineta’s strength and passion, even up until his last few months, has inspired and empowered generations of advocates in pursuing AANHPI representation in public service, equity, and justice. He offered both optimism and firm criticism, and a warm personable attitude where he treated young advocates with as much respect as he himself was due. As we celebrate AA/NHPI Heritage Month this May, we also celebrate the legacy of Secretary Norman Mineta.”

Brendan Flores, President and Chairman of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA):

“Today our country has lost one of its most accomplished citizens, former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. As a Japanese American who experienced great racial discrimination throughout his life, Secretary Mineta made his passion for advocacy for justice and equality in the AAPI community a top priority. His long list of accomplishments and bipartisan leadership has, and will continue to inspire generations of AAPI leaders. The National Federation of Filipino American Associations thanks Secretary Mineta for paving the way for members of our community to achieve great heights.”

David L. Kim, President & CEO of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA):

“On behalf of the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging, its board and employees, we express our sincerest condolences to Sec. Mineta’s family for their deeply felt loss. Norm lived a life well lived, a life made much richer by the challenges he successfully overcame over his lifetime.  His monumental accomplishments pale by comparison to the depth of his grace, humility and humanity.  America is a better country because of what he has bestowed upon us.  We grieve losing him, but we will cherish our memories, honor his legacy and live by the example he has generously given to all of us. May you rest in peace, dear friend.”

Kenrick Ross, Executive Director of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA):

“Secretary Mineta’s extraordinary service at all levels of government, in politics and policy, from championing civil rights to transportation accessibility, defined what AANHPI leadership can and should be- community-centered, forward-thinking, and boundless. He blazed the trail for countless leaders who have followed him in City Halls, Congress, and the Cabinets of Presidents, and many more to come.”

John Tobe, Board Chair of the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation (NJAMF):

“Norm was a hero to so many of us. Not only did he break through countless barriers but he also understood the need and responsibility to help others and to promote them so they could also succeed. One of Norm’s many gifts was getting people from different backgrounds, parties and points of view to work together toward a common purpose.  Norm used to say that we are ‘all threads of the same tapestry’.  Norm lived up to that motto his entire life. We will deeply miss him.”

Rod Lew, MPH, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL):

“On behalf of the Asian Pacific Partners for Empowerment, Advocacy and Leadership (APPEAL), we mourn the loss of former Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, a great American leader who has made a tremendous contribution to the history of our country.  He was a pioneer as the first Asian American mayor of a major U.S. city and the first Asian American Presidential Cabinet Member.  His accomplishments are too numerous to describe but include advancing racial justice for Japanese Americans and other Asian Americans and improving health access for communities of color.  We send our deepest condolences to Secretary Mineta’s family including his wife Deni and his children David, Stuart, Bob and Mark.  Secretary Mineta leaves a legacy that will have a lasting impact for generations.”

Abraham Kim, PhD, Executive Director of the Council of Korean Americans:

“Secretary Norman Mineta represented what many AAPI leaders hunger and wish for – a mentor, a role model and a vocal trailblazing leader for our broad community. He leaves behind a legacy of inspiration and impact on so many AAPI leaders’ lives. 

Thank you, Secretary Mineta, for your lifelong service, your legacy and an amazing example that all of us can follow.” 

Linda Akutagawa, Executive Director of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP):

“LEAP sends its deepest condolences to Norm Mineta’s family and all the people who loved him.  We mourn his passing along with many across this country and the world yet we also take heart in his rich legacy of service and leadership that he embodied, and encouraged in so many current and emerging Asian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander leaders. His accessibility, his humanity and his wisdom will be greatly missed.”

Jill Yu, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Act to Change: 

“Secretary Norm Mineta was a giant in American life and public service. His tireless work to advocate and uplift the AAPI community has, and will continue to have, ripples for generations to come. Act to Change first began when leaders from the White House Initiative on AAPIs convened to build a national public awareness campaign on bullying prevention among youth. There would be no White House Initiative without Secretary Mineta’s leadership during its first formation in 1999. As a trailblazer who fought to claim his seat at the table, Secretary Mineta continues to inspire countless youth to fully realize their potential and place in the world.”

Sue Ann Hong, Executive Director of the Center for Asian Pacific American Women (CAPAW):

“The Center for Asian Pacific American Women is deeply saddened by the passing of the honorable Secretary Norman Y. Mineta. He had strong character and demonstrated a high level of leadership for our country despite the challenges he faced in his past. He was an incredible role model for so many generations of people through his accomplishments, as a mentor and a friend. He was truly a national treasure. Our hearts go out to his family and our communities as we will miss him.”


Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of thirty-eight national Asian Pacific American organizations that represent the interests of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns.