Who We Are

Our Mission:

SEARAC is a national organization that advances the interests of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans by empowering communities through advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building to create a socially just and equitable society.

Our Vision:

We envision a socially, politically and economically just society for all communities to enjoy for all generations.

Our Values:

  • We believe all people have inherent human rights.
  • We respect, honor and promote the historical and cultural diversity within our communities.
  • We value the voices of all ages.
  • We stand in solidarity with other communities in pursuit of social equity.
  • We work in partnership, particularly with local communities, as we believe in the exchange of knowledge, expertise, experience, and resources.
  • We act with integrity, transparency and accountability.
  • We believe everyone is an active agent in creating a just society, regardless of socio-economic or immigration status.
  • We believe the communities most impacted by the issues are the faces and voices leading our work.

Our Communities:

SEARAC defines Southeast Asian Americans as people in the United States whose heritage stems from Cambodia, Laos, or Vietnam. Southeast Asian Americans now number approximately two million, and most of them either arrived in the U.S. as refugees or are the children of refugees. They include people from the following ethnic and language groups:


  • Cham, a Muslim minority group
  • Khmer, or "Cambodian"
  • Khmer Loeu, or Highland Khmer


  • Hmong
  • Iu Mien or Mien
  • Khmu
  • Lao, otherwise referred to as Lao Loum or Lowland Lao
  • Taidam


  • Khmer Kampuchea Krom, or ethnic Khmer
  • Montagnards, or Highlanders of several different ethnic groups
  • Vietnamese

*Certain ethnic Chinese also have heritage in Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

Many of our most important collaborators are Mutual Assistance Associations (MAAs) and Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs). Mutual assistance associations are grassroots, community-based organizations managed primarily by and for members of particular resettled refugee groups. Faith-based organizations are institutions such as Buddhist temples, Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, Moslem mosques, and the like, that serve as centers for religious activities and also provide social services to their communities. We also use the term Community Based Organizations (CBOs) to refer to these groups to denote the fact that they are based in communities and directly serve community members. 

To learn more about SEARAC's history, check out SEARAC at 25: From Guiding Refugees to Building American Communities (Nha Magazine, 2004).