Biden administration appoints woman with Hawaii ties as first-ever AAPI senior liaison

Erika L. Moritsugu
Updated: Apr. 14, 2021 at 4:26 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that a woman with ties to Hawaii will serve as Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, a new position created by his administration.

Erika Moritsugu, who was born in California and raised in Hawaii, will have direct contact to the president and his administration in discussing issues affecting AAPI communities, who have been experiencing a rise in hate crimes since the start of the pandemic.

Along with serving as AAPI senior liaison, Moritsugu was also appointed as deputy assistant to the president. In these senior level positions, she will be able to further advocate for change and assistance for these communities.

Biden’s decision to appoint Moritsugu as AAPI senior liaison came after receiving criticism from Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Hawaii Sen. Mazie Hirono for a lack of AAPI representation in his cabinet and other senior level roles in his administration.

Moritsugu is currently the vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families.

She has spent her career in the federal government and politics fighting for social justice and the empowerment of communities and individuals.

The UH Lab School alumna has also previously served as general counsel for Duckworth, deputy legislative director for former Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka, and has worked in the Honolulu Prosecutor’s office.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate also passed legislation in response to the rise of Anti-Asian hate.

The measure will expedite the federal government’s response to hate crimes against Asian Americans and will strengthen response to these crimes at the local level.

“Our community has suffered too much over the past year from the two epidemics of racism and COVID,” Sen. Mazie Hirono said. “Today, the AAPI community is uniting once again to confront this epidemic of racism and hate.”

Six republican senators opposed the measure.

The bill now moves ahead to the Senate for debate.

Biden is also expected to meet with the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus at the White House Thursday.

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