December 11, 2020

Washington, DC—The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans issued the following statement raising questions over why there have been no Asian American, Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) nominees for Cabinet Secretary positions announced by the Biden Transition team. This would be the first time in over 20 years that a President has failed to nominate a single Cabinet Secretary from the community.

We recognize that President-Elect Biden’s leadership team will have a number of historic firsts. This includes Vice President-Elect, Kamala Harris, the recent nomination of Katherine Tai for U.S. Trade Representative, and Neera Tanden for Director of the Office of Management and Budget. However, the notable absence of Asian American Cabinet Secretaries to lead some of the most important agencies in the country would undercut his record on inclusion in stark terms.

President-Elect Biden is on track to be the first President in over 20 years to fail to nominate an Asian American for a Cabinet Secretary role in their administration. We would also note that there has never been a Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander candidate nominated for a Cabinet role. We urge the President-Elect to course correct.

NCAPA continues to call for the inclusion of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders at all levels of government. We will continue our fight to ensure our communities are included in the policy discussions that will shape the future of this country.

Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, President and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) said:

“APAICS was founded with the mission to increase AAPI representation in all sectors of government. While we appreciate President-elect Biden nominating Neera Tanden and Katherine Tai to Cabinet-level positions, he has yet to announce an AAPI to a Cabinet Secretary role, which every President has accomplished for the past twenty years. Over the past few weeks, members of Congress and AAPI organizations have recommended immensely qualified candidates, yet with each Cabinet Secretary announcement, Asian Americans continue to be ignored and brushed aside. If President-Elect Biden does indeed to keep his campaign promise of elevating AAPIs, this must change.”

John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC said:

After an historic selection of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, which we applauded, President-elect Biden has failed to nominate additional Asian Americans to fill prominent roles in his upcoming cabinet. As the fastest-growing population in America, we challenge Biden to select Asian Americans for remaining positions – such as Julie Su for Secretary of Labor, who has spent a lifetime fighting to advance justice for Asian Americans and for marginalized workers in our country.

Ken Lee, National CEO of OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates stated:

“Having galvanized the country with promises of change and inclusion, President-Elect Biden must commit to appointing an AA or NHPI cabinet secretary. Failing to nominate an AAPI for a role in the cabinet secretary is not an option for uniting the country.”

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

“We celebrate the incredibly qualified selections so far for cabinet and senior advisory positions, including Asian American representation for US Trade Representative, Director of OMB, and Surgeon General. However, the absence of Asian Americans from the cabinet selections thus far is troubling. It is vitally important that the broad diversity of the Asian American experience be represented amongst the President’s cabinet and closest advisors to better inform his decisions in service to the people of the United States.”

Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote stated:

“AAPI voters played a critical role this election, we saw record-turnout in the early vote alone, and there is no doubt that each vote was cast in the hopes of having their voice heard and represented. As things stand, this may be the first time in over two decades where no AAPI holds a Cabinet Secretary position. I urge President-elect Biden to make sure the contributions of his AAPI voter-base are respected by ensuring he selects an inclusive Cabinet on the executive level.”

Sung Yeon Choimorrow, Executive Director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

“Asian American and Pacific Islander women voters have a vision of leadership in which we are fully represented. We are calling for leaders who understand our experiences, who look – and live – like us, and who will act in alignment with our values and to advance our priorities. While Kamala Harris’s place in the administration as the first-ever Asian American Vice President-Elect is a victory for inclusion, AAPI women remain profoundly underrepresented among elected officials today. AAPI women voters recognize that this lack of representation leaves us without strong leaders who fully understand our experiences and share our commitment to bringing about the changes we need.”

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

“President-Elect Biden committed that his administration will reflect our nation’s diversity. We applaud the President-elect’s selection of Katherine Tai and Neera Tanden to senior roles in the administration, but we expect his commitment to include those whom he chooses as his Cabinet Secretaries. Anything less would be unacceptable to the many Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders who chose him to lead our country.”


Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans is a coalition of 37 national Asian Pacific American organizations that serves to represent the interests of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and to provide a national voice for our communities’ concerns. Our communities are the fastest growing racial/ethnic group in the United States, currently making up approximately six percent of the population.