2022-2023 APAEA Executive Committee


Magdalene (Maggie) Luna, Administrative Support Assistant (Northern Regional Office, Missoula, MT)

Having proudly served as an APAEA Executive Committee Member, I am now honored to serve as APAEA Chair. As Chair, I will continue to work closely with the Executive Committee to foster APAEA's mission to develop Asian American leaders and allies through projects, policies, and trainings that increase Asian Pacific Employee representation, visibility, and our concerns within our Agency while fostering our collaborative relationships with other Private and Government Agencies that represent and support APAEA ideals and goals. As the Chair of APAEA, I would lead by example and put in the hard work necessary to see our APAEA projects from start to finish or, if it's a future project, ready for the next Executive Committee to take it on. As, I have done as an Executive Committee member, I will continue to encourage APAEA members to become leaders and have the autonomy to lead projects while also working together as a team, allowing each other's talents and strengths to be utilized and appreciated. And finally, I'll always use grass roots methods to get our voices and needs heard and met within and outside of our Agency. Meaning, I'll be there, with your other APAEA fam, picking up the phone or sending you an email to see how you are doing, just like we did during the height of COVID. I will send you the toilet paper personally. My past work includes serving as an Executive Committee Member of APAEA and I have a Bachelor's in Fine Arts University of Southern California and a Master's Degree in Creative Writing from University of Montana. Currently, I'm on a detail serving and caring for Unaccompanied (Central American and Afghan) Minors through the Health and Human Services Agency.  I also have an alpaca named Loretta. 

Executive Committee

John Cho, Volunteer Coordinator (Pacific Southwest Region, Region 05, Angeles National Forest)

I think serving on the 2022-2023 APAEA’s Executive Committee is a great opportunity for me to learn, grow, and support our colleagues, and continue fighting for equality and fairness in the DEIJA space. Although I grew up in the Los Angeles area, I knew very little about opportunities to visit and support our local National Forests. Now, as an employee of the Angeles National Forest, I see tremendous opportunity to support the internal and external AANHPI community in order to promote shared interests for mutual benefit. Los Angeles has one of the largest AANHPI populations in the nation, yet it appears that this community is severely under-represented. As a member of the Executive Committee, I hope that I can help increase representation, awareness, and opportunities throughout the agency. I previously served as an ally in a different federal agency because this work is important to me, so I hope that I can continue moving this ambitious goal forward as an Executive Committee member of the Asian Pacific American Employee Association.

Michelle Cox, Invasive Species Program Coordinator (Northern Regional Office, Region 01) 

As an executive committee member, I will focus on outreach and education opportunities within the Forest Service community on the diversity and contributions of the Asian American community. I’ve spent twenty-five years with the federal government working for the the Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Department of the Navy, and a few non-government organizations. Most of my positions were in natural resources within the United States and Japan – trailhead/backcountry ranger, fire effects monitoring, subsistence management and fisheries in AK, Vegetation Program Manager, and a project manager for various rare plant, wildlife, and conservation easement projects with the Navy and Marine Corps. I’m currently the Northern Region Invasive Species Coordinator based out of Missoula, Montana.  I feel privileged to have lived in some gorgeous places. I’ve been dragging my two kids on adventures across the globe since they were toddlers. I’m proud they’ve grown into adventurous teenagers. Interesting fact – I work at Fort Missoula, a World War II facility for interned/arrested/kidnapped Peruvian-Japanese and Italians citizens.

Christine Pyle, Fish Biologist (Pacific Northwest Regional Office, Region 06)

Hello friends! It truly is an honor to serve as an Executive Committee member. A little bit about me, I was born and raised in Portland, OR. I am second generation Hmong American. Both of my parents are refugees from Thailand (circumstances of the Secret War) who immigrated to the west coast of the United States. I have been working for the Forest Service since 2006 and am currently a fish biologist in the Regional Office for the Pacific Northwest Region. My tenure with the agency has included working as a wildlife technician, visitor information services, special permit assistant and fisheries technician. My favorite holiday is Halloween and I love all things spooky. When I am away from work, I am on the lookout for boba tea shops, bakeries, and lifting weights (no I am not anywhere close to being an Annie Thorisdottir, maybe someday a micro version!?). What would I like to offer as an Executive Committee member? My aspirations are to take APAEA to the next level. I would like our association to be well known within all regions and for us to make a strong and positive impact with the Agency. While I am not quite sure how I plan to move us forward in this trajectory, what I do know is that I am passionate and assertive when it comes to making our voices heard. I tend to challenge the ‘business as usual’ (you may have heard ‘this is the way it has always been done’ if you have been with the agency for a while) and look for innovative ideas to bring forward. I am also not afraid to have difficult conversations or to (as my supervisor has pointed out to me) call out the ‘elephant in the room’. The previous executive committee members have provided us with a strong foundation, and I look forward to continuing to build us upward. Thank you for considering me!

Julie (Jamie - Chiemi) Uyehara, Forest Resource Officer (Pacific Southwest Regional Office, Region 05) 

My name is ‘Jamie’ Uyehara, ethnically I'm Okinawan. Growing up in Okinawa and Hawaii, I was aware of the cultural differences between Far Eastern Asian groups, Pacific islanders, and "mainstream" Americans. This awareness came into focus when, for my first year in college, I went to a Year-In-Japan program with a focus on Japanese history and sociology. This experience helped me to understand why my mom, who was Okinawan, had different values than mainstream "Americans." With that, I have an abiding interest in the history and cultures of all Asian and Pacific Islander communities and those of many other cultures and communities. I am also aware of how I do not fit the mold — I did not have good grades as an undergraduate. A counselor said that grades didn’t really matter in getting a job (This may have been true in the early 80s, but it’s not true now!) Instead, I went backpacking, cross country skiing, hiking, bird watching, and road tripping and in 22 years of my Forest Service career, I have been able to use these other skills in being a successful employee in this Agency. However, I have had to work on other skills, such as communication. For example, when I was in the academic world, a more aggressive style of questioning was promoted and this was not the case in the Forest Service. In 2013, I became the Angeles NF Resources and Planning Staff Officer. Early on, at a Forest Leadership Team meeting, I suggested something for the Wellness program. It was voted down. And then, a District Ranger suggested the exact same thing, and everyone thought it was a good idea. The funny thing was he and I both knew that it was the same idea, but he was able to get it approved whereas I wasn't able to convince my colleagues. That was an eye-opener for me to work on my communication skills and to help others in improving theirs. Throughout my various careers in this agency, I have always put effort into developing the next generation of Forest Service employees by hiring seasonals, promoting and sponsoring meaningful internship projects, and getting seasonal employees into permanent professional positions. I have coached folks on their interviewing skills and reviewed many resumes. Also, I have outreached positions to many folks interested in working with us. I would like to continue efforts on career training, and promoting not just cultural diversity, but diversity of ideas and new methods. I have a lot of Enthusiasm for APAEA and serving on the Executive Committee! I would like to continue the newsletter, hook it in with some of the webinar topics that other APAEA members are working on, and use it as one other forum, complementary to the other exciting diversity efforts and communications with APAEA. I want to carry forward past efforts to help others in succeeding in their careers, celebrate the cultural diversity of thought, and promote getting to know each other as individuals with diverse cultural influences. 

Ian Yau, Geospatial Systems Analyst (Pacific Northwest Regional Office, Region 06; detached)

Through an unbelievably challenging, stressful and traumatic two years, APAEA has been a beacon of thoughtful hope, progress, and desperately needed voices within the Forest Service and beyond. I am so grateful for all the work APAEA did to reach out and touch its membership and grow its voice and presence. My thanks to the executive committee who have served us so well. I hope to continue that tradition through service on Executive Committee. I am a 37-year-old son of immigrants from Taiwan who met while attending Ohio State University. I was raised in Albany, Oregon, an hour and a half south of Portland, a town most famous for grass seed production and its adjacency to a town with a now non-operational paper mill that stank up that stretch of Interstate 5.  A Bachelors in Natural Resources from Oregon State University in 2006 led to a job in timber management with the Oregon Department of Forestry on the Tillamook State Forest until mass layoffs occurred in 2009 amidst the housing crisis. I stepped into viticulture with a Masters in Soil Science from Washington State University in 2011 studying vineyard site selection. Fruitless job hunting during the rebound from the Great Recession led me to joining the Peace Corps in Sénégal in 2013 as an agroforestry extension volunteer. Since 2016, I have been a Geospatial Systems Specialist serving the Willamette, Siuslaw, Umpqua and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests of western Oregon. I am currently in a one-year detail with Forest Service International Programs providing GIS support to diverse partners and projects around the world. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, cycling, backpacking, hiking, ping pong, disc golf, cooking, baking, board games and dreaming up ridiculous photoshoots with my wife and three cats.