2024 APAEA Executive Committee


Hilda Kwan, Environmental Coordinator (Mendocino National Forest)

I am excited to come back to APAEA in 2024 as co-chair; I feel very fortunate to be able to participate one more time! I hope to instill energy into our ERG and encourage members to play an active role. Going back to my role as an Executive Committee member back in 2018, I am still working on the Heritage Project, which I hope to recruit additional APAEA members to participate. I would love to bring back some aspect of our APAEA newsletter and find new ways to celebrate our unique identities.


Currently, I am the Environmental Coordinator for the Mendocino National Forest in Region 5. Prior to that, I was a hydrologist for about 15 years with a background in Hydrology and Forestry. I love the variety of work and challenges that this agency brings to the table.

Ian Yau, GeoTools Analyst (Pacific Northwest Regional Office, Data Resources Management)

Honored and humbled to be elected one of APAEA's first Co-Chairs as we embark with our expanded officer base. I have learned a lot in my last two years on the Executive Committee and will certainly learn more in my next two years, always striving to serve APAEA better. Our numbers have grown and I am excited to find ways for our members to deepen their connection with APAEA and find meaningful ways to contribute. I am ever amazed at the talents, experience and dedication of this employee resource group and am eager to see what we will accomplish in the next two years. My door is always open and I am always happy to chat. I'll do my best to make my Taiwanese immigrant parents proud. Let us continue to grow, stronger together.

Executive Committee

Julie (Jamie - Chiemi) Uyehara, Forest Resource Officer (Pacific Southwest Regional Office, Angeles National Forest

I’m Jamie Uyehara, entering my third year as an APAEA Executive Council Member. Three years ago, I wanted to join the APAEA Executive Council because I was shocked at the Anti-Asian events that were happening. And, I wanted to have more people aware of the great cultural diversity that exists within the Asian community.

In the two years since joining, I am proud of the accomplishments of APAEA and want to expand the momentum going in this time of change for the Agency and Forest Service. I am happy that in the last two years, we have increased memberships from 95 to 170 members. A survey with 50 responses noted that the two largest groups within APAEA were Far East (northern) Asian and southeast Asian. We also had representatives from the Indian subcontinent and Hawaiian/Native Pacific Islander. And, 20% of respondents also had European or other ancestry outside of the Asian continent and Pacific islands.

Our surveys noted that APAEA members wanted more information (1) highlighting cultural events and news affecting underserved communities, (2) Mentorship/Sponsorship and Career tips (3) Forest Service AANHPI heritage sites and achievements by AANHPI individuals.

As an EC member, I hope to bring more of this information to you, and also ask that if you, as a member, can contribute news, please feel free to do so! Ad-hoc communications can be through the following venues:

With an expanded group of EC members, we are starting working groups. Aj Barua and I are currently leading that effort. Please contact us if you would like to contribute as a working group member. 

I have learned that there are over 600 employees whose heritage includes people from continental Asian and islands, as well as Hawaii/Pacific Islander. And, as you know, there are many cultures and cherished family and cultural traditions in the eastern hemisphere of the world. But, as I learned in attending FAPAC 2023, our cultural norms can also handicap us or our contributions can be overlooked because we simply do not advertise accomplishments. Or, we do not try for positions because we are not sure of our qualifications or don’t think we will get positions. I know of two District Rangers that applied to more than 30 positions before they were able to get one. Do you give up after only a few tries? I know I have. The communication group will try to get you more information. Darren Nguyen and Elisa Escobar are heading up the working group on careers/mentor/sponsor support.

Ajanta (Aj) Barua, Visual Information Specialist (Washington DC Office, Enterprise Program - Remote)

As someone who grew up in different urban cities within LA County, I never really heard of or thought of outdoor recreation. It wasn’t something a lot of other kids did. I was lucky to experience some outdoor recreation such as fishing and camping a few times, but not often enough to think about our forests and land in an outdoor recreational type of way. For my family, fishing, hunting, and foraging was just a way of life for my family before they migrated to the US. As a first-born American of an immigrant family, my free time and focus were all on school or occupations that can either make a lot of money or help other people, such as being a doctor, engineer, or teacher. Positions that their countries needed the most. Anything outside of a "need" was not a thought in my family’s mind, so things like managing forests or recreating was never existed in my life prior to my career. My family also never thought of recreation because they didn’t have that lifestyle or privilege back home in Asia.

Growing up, we moved a lot. I was raised in California and moved to Vegas for a few years. In the middle of high school, my family moved to Utah. This was a drastic change to our lives. It’s a completely different environment than LA and Vegas. We lost our cultural community and sense of belonging, but I was able to experience and explore things that I wasn’t able to while living in LA or Vegas. After graduating high school, I was able to land a student temp position in Region 4’s Regional Office. This opened up my mind to so much more than just what was presented to me by my previous environment or family. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the Forest Service was before that job. I remember seeing Smokey Bear on some campaigns but never associated it with the Forest Service, Park Service, or anything else. He was just a big bear that told us to prevent wildfire. No second thoughts on it, just read the billboards and moved on. 

Working for the Forest Service changed my life as I was able to achieve a higher education with a B.S. in Geography (GIS emphasis) and minor in Environmental and Sustainability Studies while working in a fulfilling career where there were great people and have a stable income to where I didn't have to worry about working 2 jobs or getting laid off/fired. I started my career in 2010 as a student temp, converted to a student intern, then obtained my career as a cartographer. I later transitioned to a graphic designer.

I’m glad I found APAEA through one of my detail assignments at our National Technology and Development Program (NTDP) where, surprisingly, the staff had more Asians than other ethnicities (the group is pretty small though). A co-worker mentioned APAEA and included me into APAEA calls and events. Years later, I’ve met more FS employees in-person that were in APAEA and it felt so cool to be able to connect to them without realizing we were all in the same work group. Once I got more connected to previous executive committee officers, I was asked to assist APAEA with my graphic and web design skill set and happily agreed. I would love to provide the group with the skills I have in ways that can benefit and move our group forward.

Sophia Kim, Fisheries Biologist (Pacific Northwest Region, Umpqua National Forest)

I am a second generation Korean American. I was born in Queens, New York and grew up in the suburbs outside of Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!), one of my first introductions to the Forest Service was a fisheries internship in Oregon and I have been in Region 6 ever since. I fell in love with the work and after working seasonally as a technician for several years, I started my career as a Fisheries Biologist in 2019 and am currently on the Umpqua National Forest. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, birding, fishing, hunting, baking, and hanging out with my dog. I am grateful for the APAEA group and I am looking forward to working with fellow AANHPI employees to continue to address and promote opportunities for us!

Maya Bhadury, Partnership Coordinator (Washington DC Office, National Partnership Office - Remote

As an active member of APAEA for the past year, I'm honored to now serve on the Executive Committee. I started my journey with the Forest Service as a Virtual Student Federal Service intern, splitting my time between the Recreation and Partnership staff areas. I then became a Resource Assistant and was hired on as a permanent employee to the National Partnership Office in 2022. I'm excited to bring my partnership background and passion for community-building to APAEA during my term. As an Indian American and Bay Area native, I recognize the value of bringing minorities and allies together to support personal and professional development. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish over these coming years and hope to see the growth of our community continue.

Darren Nguyen, Management & Program Analyst (Washington DC Office, Grants & Agreement

Serving on APAEA’s Executive Committee for me means giving back to a personal community in our professional space. Members of APAEA are more likely to share similar lived experiences and upbringing that could be isolating in the Forest Service. My goals while in the Executive Committee are to build the mentoring space and community engagement internally. I’m a first generation Asian American, with my family immigrating here from Vietnam. I’ll try anything once, enjoy the outdoors depending on the season, and continually update my social media stories with the food that I eat. My degrees come from Oregon State University and the University of Washington. Originally from the island of Maui and Hawaii is home to me. Growing up in a very diverse community shaped who I am as well as spending half my life in the Pacific Northwest. Looking forward to seeing how APAEA grows within the next few years and the amazing work our community does.

Suzanne Hendrickson, Civil Engineer (Pacific Southwest Regional Office

Hello APAEA Community. I am so honored to be part of the Executive Committee (EC) Team for 2024-

2025 and be an active participant in this great community and serve wherever my specialty skillsets and

contribution are needed. I wanted to get back to my roots, share this experience with my children, and serve the APAEA community at the same time. I see this as a win/win opportunity.

I have been with the Forest Service for almost 32 years now and I can see there are a lot of changes that have been implemented since I first started in 1992. There have been many advances within the federal government towards a more diverse, equal, inclusive, accessible (DEIA) organization and recognition of the minority members of our workforce. There is still much more work to be done ... to voice our desires and needs, to collaborate with our leadership team in order to support our community goals and desires, not just for us, but for the next generations to come.

As a newly graduated engineer, I wasn’t even aware that the Forest Service was a career choice option, much less aware of the vast array of opportunities available within the federal government. My intention as EC is to bring that awareness to whomever is looking for a starting job, a career change, or new opportunities.

Elisa C. Escobar, Ecologist (Pacific Southwest Region, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Greetings! I’m looking forward to serving as a member of the Executive Committee for APAEA this year. A little bit about myself, I was born in the Philippines and came to America when I was seven years old. I grew up in the Lake Tahoe area, the homelands of the Washoe Tribe.

Although I was fortunate to have grown up surrounded by national forests, I felt disconnected from the outdoors. It wasn’t until I joined the Generation Green program in high school where I found a community and received resources to learn about and explore the natural beauty in my backyard. Generation Green is a work program designed to teach students about the natural environment, give back to the land, and gain work experience alongside Forest Service professionals. Through the Generation Green program, I was able to get my first job with the Forest Service which thankfully led to more opportunities within the agency, the National Parks Service, and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, all of which helped pave the path to where I am today.

I’m currently an Ecologist on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with loved ones, traveling, exploring outside, reading, learning new languages, and trying new cuisines. As an Executive Committee member, I am hoping to help grow and connect our APAEA community and create opportunities to support and celebrate one another. I am also hoping to help with increasing AANHPI representation and visibility within our agency and foster more collaboration with other employee resource groups. Salamat!