Statement by the Board of the Asian American Action Fund on the Honorable Erika Moritsugu Being Named Deputy Assistant to President Joe Biden

The board of the Asian American Action Fund unanimously applauds the selection of former AAA-Fund Executive Director Erika Moritsugu as Deputy Assistant to the President and Asian American and Pacific Islander Senior Liaison.  Previously, she served as the Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under the leadership of Secretary Julián Castro in the Obama Administration after being confirmed by the Senate in 2014.

In this precarious moment for AAPIs, beset by xenophobia and hate crimes, the highest unemployment that our community has seen in modern history, and unequal access to the vaccine, she is an inspired choice. Moritsugu is an accomplished thought leader, well-versed in hate crimes, voting rights, economic justice, with a deep understanding of the levers of government and deeply respected in the AAPI community for her nuanced understanding of our richly diverse peoples. 

In addition to her appointment in the Obama Administration, Erika has diverse and deep experience on Capitol Hill and within governmental agencies. Erika served as the General Counsel for Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, for whom she provided legislative and political strategic counsel and managed the Senator’s AAPI outreach and judiciary, civil rights and economic policies. She was the Deputy Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs at the newly-established Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Deputy Legislative Director for Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawai’i focused on economic policy and health issues; and held several different roles at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, including Acting Staff Director and Policy Director and economic policy advisor. She previously worked at the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the Prosecutor’s Office for the City and County of Honolulu, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division.  Before recommitting to a career in public service, she practiced international trade, legislative, and immigration law at Hogan and Hartson and managed grassroots and coalition-building campaigns at The Wexler Group.

Most recently, Erika has served as its Vice President for the Economic Justice team at the National Partnership for Women and Families, which is committed to advancing public policies to achieve economic stability and security for women of color and other marginalized communities. Previously, Erika led the Government Relations, Advocacy and Community Engagement team at the Anti-Defamation League, a leading anti-hate organization that was founded in 1913.

Erika has been active in the community, volunteering or leading organizations focused on voting rights, civil rights, community engagement, mentoring, and Asian American and Pacific Islander empowerment, including service as the Executive Director and then Advisory Board member of the AAA-Fund and a Member of the Board of the Pan-Pacific American Leaders and Mentor organization. While working for Senator Akaka who was the first Native Hawaiian to serve in the U.S. Senate, she drafted the Health Equity and Accountability Act of 2012 and the Medicaid Restoration for Citizens of Freely Associated States Act of 2011, and supported the reintroduction of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2011 and the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification Act of 2011.

Moritsugu’s experience, knowledge, and connections cannot be more valued. We also commend Senators Tammy Duckworth and Mazie Hirono for their leadership in advocating for increased inclusion of AAPIs at the highest levels of government.

Unless clearly identified as statements of the AAA-Fund, the views, opinions, analyses, and assumptions expressed in each blog or clearinghouse post are those of the author or contributor alone, and not those of the AAA-Fund.