Staff

Quyen Dinh
Executive Director

Quyen is the Executive Director. Previously, Quyen served as the Director of Education Policy, and in this role, she focused on implementing SEARAC’s Southeast Asian American Action and Visibility in Education (SAVE) program.  Prior to joining SEARAC, Quyen served as Senior Program Manager of the International Children Assistance Network (ICAN) in San Jose, CA.  At ICAN, she oversaw an early childhood education campaign that serves Vietnamese immigrant families through community education channels ranging from parenting workshops, to weekly radio programs and community forums.

Quyen holds a Master of Public Policy from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs with a focus in education policy and research methods.  At UCLA, Quyen spent her summer internship with Education Pioneers, a national human capital organization building the pipeline of talent to address the urban education crisis.  With Education Pioneers, she worked with the Silicon Valley Education Foundation on Lessonopoly, an online open-source consortium of lesson plans.  Quyen also co-founded a graduate student organization called Policy Professionals for Diversity & Equity with the mission to provide a forum for students and alumni toadvocate for diversity and equity within the Masters of Public Policy program at UCLA.  Upon graduation, she was honored with awards for MPP Student of the Year, Outstanding Academic Achievement, and Academic Leadership. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley.  Quyen grew up in both Orange County, CA and San Jose, CA, homes to the two largest Vietnamese American communities in the United States.

Rita Pin Ahrens
Director of Education Policy

Rita directs SEARAC’s education policy work, highlighting disparities and obstacles in access to high quality education, and finding policy solutions to education equity.  Previously, Rita served as a senior policy analyst for the Campaign for High School Equity, a coalition of national civil rights organizations that advocated for historically underserved and disadvantaged students, including students of color, English language learners, Native students, and low income students. Rita has also served as Director of Policy for the National Board for Professional Teaching standards, where she focused on research in teacher effectiveness, teacher compensation, improvement of NBPTS programs, and the equitable distribution of effective teachers.  Before moving to Washington, D.C., Rita was a middle school math teacher in Connecticut.

Rita holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Yale University and a Masters in Education from the University of New Haven.  She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education Policy.  Prior to her career in education, Rita worked in the technology sector analyzing online behavior.  She was active in the international campaign to ban landmines, as a co-founder of the Connecticut Coalition to Ban Landmines, and also helped establish the first Buddhist chaplaincy at Yale University.  Rita is a refugee from Cambodia and grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho with her parents and two brothers.  In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, writing poetry, painting, drawing, and learning Khmer classical dance.

Katrina Dizon
Immigration Policy Manager

Katrina leads SEARAC’s immigration policy and mass incarceration work. Previously, Katrina worked in the labor movement for six years at the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In 2011, she was elected to serve as DC chapter president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), the only national Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) union membership organization. In this capacity, she led the chapter’s local advocacy campaigns and organizing work around immigrant workers’ rights, coordinated civic engagement programs for the 2012 elections, and strengthened local networks through extensive coalition building efforts.  She also served on APALA’s National Executive Board and co-chaired the organization’s Young Leaders Council.

Katrina holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, where she also served as Graduate Coordinator at the Office of Multicultural Involvement and Community Advocacy (MICA) to advise, mentor, and educate AAPI students on campus. She is a 1.5 generation immigrant and a recent naturalized U.S. citizen.

Phuong Do
Director of Training and Technical Assistance

Phuong provides organizational development coaching and technical support to SEARAC partner community based organizations. Phuong began her community work in Denver, Colorado in 1991, providing resettlement services to Vietnamese refugees. Shortly thereafter, she was hired by SEARAC as Leadership Program Coordinator to address leadership and organizational capacity needs of Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Associations (MAAs). She spent over six years working at the national level with ethnically diverse immigrant groups addressing leadership development needs.  Phuong has also directed a national AmeriCorps program that engaged young Vietnamese Americans in building community-based leadership skills through committing to a year of service at local community-based organizations.

Currently, Phuong is working with refugee self-help groups from Bhutan and Burma, providing individualized technical assistance and training to community leaders as they organize to create their own voice and gain greater access to services and resources for their community members.

Phuong has extensive experience and knowledge in leadership development and capacity building specific to refugee and immigrant-led organizations. Her work with immigrants and refugees has also inspired her to examine ethnic/cultural identity, national allegiance and homeland issues through visual representation, and she has devoted the past 10 years to exploring these issues through photography. She holds a Master of Social Work degree, and a Master of Photography degree.

Gabriel Garcia
Boys & Men of Color Coordinator

Gabriel coordinates SEARAC’s work around building Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) inclusion in the larger na­rrative around boys and men of color. By engaging in coalition-based advocacy efforts around criminal justice, immigration, mental health, education, and workforce development, Gabriel works to create space and visibility for the ways these issues affect AANHPI communities.

 Gabriel graduated from the University of California Davis with Honors, holding a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science with a minor in Managerial Economics. Previously, Gabriel worked as a Customer Business Analyst for the Intel Corporation, before managing advertising services for Unitrans, the public transportation system of Davis, California. Gabriel began his career as an advocate during his five years as a competitor in high school and collegiate mock trial programs. During his time at UC Davis, he became involved with the university’s growing mock trial team, winning the award for Outstanding Attorney during the team’s Spring Program. He began advocating for social justice issues by locally fundraising for the American Civil Liberties Union’s campaign to secure LGBT rights across the country. In his spare time, Gabriel enjoys hiking, rafting, and recording and producing music.