AAJA Announces 2019-2020 National Officer Candidates

Dear AAJA Members, 

AAJA will be seeking a slate of new officers for the 2019-2020 term. Electronic voting will begin Wednesday, July 18 at 5pm PT with the final results announced at the AAJA Gala Banquet in Houston, TX on Saturday, August 11. Ballots will be sent to AAJA members who are eligible to vote in the election.

We will be electing a President, Vice President of Civic Engagement and a Vice President of Finance. The role of each officer is below:

1. President: The President shall be the chief executive officer of the corporation and shall, subject to the control of the Governing Board, have general supervision, direction and control of the business and officers of the corporation. They shall preside at all meetings of the membership and at all meetings of the Governing Board and Advisory Board. The president shall be an ex-officio member of all standing committees, including the executive committee, if any. They shall have the general powers and duties of management usually vested in the office of president of a corporation and shall be vested with such other powers and duties as may be prescribed by the board of directors or the by-laws. The holder of this office shall be a member of the Governing Board.

2. Vice President of Civic Engagement: The Vice President of Civic Engagement shall be dedicated to fulfilling the following two tenets of AAJA’s mission, as well as providing outreach to AAPI communities and leading AAJA’s media awareness efforts:

  • To provide to the AAPI community an awareness of the news media and an understanding of how to gain fair access.
  • To research and point out when news media organizations stray from accuracy and fairness in the coverage of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and AAPI issues.

3. Vice President of Finance: The Vice President of Finance shall keep and maintain, or cause to be kept and maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, adequate and correct accounts of the properties and business transactions of the corporation, including accounts of its assets, liabilities, receipts, disbursements, gains, losses, capital and earnings. 

This year’s election schedule:

  • Monday, July 2 – Announcement of candidates, 5pm PT
  • Wednesday, July 18 – Voting begins, 5pm PT
  • Friday, August 10 – Voter eligibility deadline, 11am CT
  • Friday, August 10 – Voting ends, 12pm CT
  • Saturday, August 11 – Announcement of Officers-Elect at 2018 Gala Banquet in Houston




Michelle Ye Hee Lee is a reporter on the national political enterprise and accountability team at The Washington Post, covering money and influence in national politics. Previously, Michelle was a reporter on The Washington Post Fact Checker. Prior to joining The Post in 2014, she was a government accountability reporter at The Arizona Republic in Phoenix, Arizona. For her investigation into Arizona’s failures in tracking and monitoring homeless sex offenders, she was named a finalist for the Livingston Awards for Young Journalists. Michelle currently serves as senior vice president of the Asian American Journalists Association and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). She was born in Korea and raised in Guam, and was naturalized in 2011.

Excerpt from Michelle’s candidate statement:

“Over the years, AAJA has helped me land my dream jobs and thrive in them. The organization also has shown me what each of us can do to ensure fair and accurate news coverage that reflects our communities. That’s why I’ve been giving back as a chapter and national officer for the past seven years. […] I will build on the successes of my predecessors to take our organization to the next level, not just for our community but for the broader mission of achieving greater diversity in our industry and in news coverage.”

Click here to view Michelle’s complete candidate statement.




Pia Sarkar oversees coverage of autos, airlines and energy as an editor at The Associated Press, guiding breaking news and distinctive enterprise. She also serves as co-leader for the AP’s Race & Ethnicity team. She was previously deputy editor for the AP’s East region. Prior to the AP, Pia served as executive editor of The American Lawyer’s website and associate editor for The Daily Journal legal publication in California. She was also a reporter at The San Francisco Chronicle, TheStreet.com, The Record of Woodland Park, New Jersey and The Providence Journal. In 2016, she was elected Vice President for Civic Engagement on AAJA’s national board. She has also served as president, vice president and board member of AAJA’s San Francisco Bay Area chapter and as an editor/reporter for Hyphen Magazine.

Excerpt from Pia’s candidate statement:

“Two years ago, I stepped into the role of Vice President of Civic Engagement for AAJA. The re-imagined position gave me the opportunity to work closely with AAJA’s MediaWatch committee, through which we combatted inaccurate portrayals of Asian Americans in the media and educated news outlets on how to get it right. Although I accomplished a lot in my first two years on the board, I now see how much more work still needs to be done, which is why I am running for a second term. We are nowhere near where we should be in terms of our voices being represented in newsrooms, whether in the field or in decision-making positions. […] As vice president, I will continue to push for accurate coverage and ensure that AAJA remains a leader in this ever-changing media landscape.”

Click here to view Pia’s complete candidate statement.




TedHan.jpgTed Han is a leader in development and strategy for journalism products. He’s led DocumentCloud’s technology efforts since 2011, and has worked with journalists and news organizations across the globe during his time with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE). Ted has worked in the technology sector for more than a decade and holds a degree in computational linguistics. He resides in Oakland, California and is a member of the AAJA-San Francisco Bay Area chapter.

Excerpt from Ted’s candidate statement:

“The work of AAJA has been instrumental to news and I would like to continue supporting that work as VP of Finance. I’ve spent the past six years running DocumentCloud, and have worked with a cross-section of the industry. In that time I’ve been lucky to help newsrooms large and small, from two person, online-only nonprofits to international broadcasters. I’ve worked with people across newsroom roles to foster better reporting and newsroom practices. In addition to my experiences with AAJA, the years I worked at Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) provided a deep and lasting appreciation for the importance of member-based journalism nonprofits and their role in our industry. […] I’ve been excited by the work AAJA has done in the past several years, and look forward to growing AAJA and our community.”

Click here to view Ted’s complete candidate statement.


ELIGIBILITY: Only active and full AAJA members are eligible to nominate a candidate according to the by-laws. If you have any questions about your voting eligibility, please contact Justin Seiter at the AAJA National Office at justins@aaja.org. Eligible voters will be sent an email with voting information.

ELECTION RESULTS: Election results will be announced during the AAJA Scholarship & Awards Gala Banquet on Saturday, August 11 at the AAJA National Convention in Houston.

For questions related to the election, please contact AAJA Vice President of Communications Nicole Dungca at ndungca@gmail.com.

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