May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. First established as Pacific/Asian American Heritage Week by an act of Congress in 1978, the weeklong recognition of the cultural and historical contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans was extended to a month by Congress under President George H.W. Bush. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed a proclamation officially recognizing the month of May as AAPI Heritage Month.
Voices for Public Transit is highlighting the many ways the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has helped shape the evolution of transportation in America and sharing a few examples on the blog.
Norman Yoshio Mineta, 14th U.S. Secretary of Transportation
Norman Yoshio Mineta was the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet as the Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton. He also represented the South Bay area in California as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years.
During his time in Congress, Mineta helped pass the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 and served on various transportation-related committees and subcommittees. Mineta played a major role in shaping transportation-related provisions within the Americans with Disabilities Act. Notably, Mineta went on to serve as the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, becoming the first Asian American to hold that position. Read more.
Henry Li, General Manager and CEO, Sacramento Regional Transit District
Henry Li has led the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) as General Manager and CEO since 2016. Li has made a name for himself by helping implement a number of system-wide changes and enhancements to power a rapid transformation within SacRT. In recognition of his efforts to advance public transit in America, the American Public Transportation Association awarded Li the 2019 Outstanding Transportation Manager Award.
Li has spearheaded a number of initiatives to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of public transit. That includes developing industry best-in-class safety and security performance standards; modernizing and expanding aging rail infrastructure and stations; prioritizing transparency and accountability among SacRT leadership; updating and optimizing bus networks and routes; and more. Read more.
Lori M.K. Kahikina, Executive Director and CEO, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation
As Executive Director and CEO of the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation (HART), Lori Kahikina is the first woman—as well as the first native Hawaiian—to lead the local public transit agency. At HART, Kahikina is responsible for the design and construction of what remains to be built in the 20-mile, 21-station Honolulu Rail Transit Project, an $11 billion project that will run along the south shore of O’ahu. Once complete, the Honolulu Rail Transit project will be the first fully automated, driverless urban light rail system in America. Learn more.
Roy Nakadegawa, Transit advocate and former BART and ACT Transit board member
A longtime public transit advocate in the San Francisco Bay Area, Roy Nakadegawa served as a board member for both the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (ACT Transit) and the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART). He served on the AC Transit board for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992, then served on the BART board for 12 years, from 1992 to 2004.
Throughout his career, Nakadegawa was a vocal advocate for mobility solutions as well as for cost-effective transit administration. After his death in 2013, AC Transit and BART released a statement honoring his contributions as a public transit advocate in the Bay Area. Read more.
Voices for Public Transit thanks all our AAPI leaders for making a difference in our country.