In honor of Asian Heritage Month, we’re featuring nonprofit leaders of Asian heritage and talking to them about their work and the importance of having representation in leadership positions. Today we speak to Brandi Yee, Chief Program Officer of ACT for Alexandria.
About ACT for Alexandria
ACT, a community foundation for Alexandria Virginia, was founded in 2004. ACT works with donors, nonprofits, and civic leaders. Their mission is “to improve the lives of Alexandrians by turning ideas into action and resources into results.”
Their work is divided into three areas:
- Help people who care about Alexandria amplify the impact of their giving.
- Work with nonprofits to build their capacity.
- Work with members of the community to come up with solutions together for Alexandria’s most pressing challenges.
Brandi has been with ACT for over 14 years.
Originally from California, Brandi moved to DC in 1997. She planned on staying for one or two years and then returning to California to become a teacher. Life had other plans.
Brandi worked in a variety of jobs, including managing the Arlington Career Campus for Goodwill of Greater Washington. She eventually discovered that she loved project management. She joined ACT as a program manager in 2007, becoming the second person on staff.
Brandi graduated from UC Davis with a double major in Rhetoric & Communication and Sociology, Organizational Studies. She holds a Master’s in Organizational Learning from George Mason University
About Asian Representation and Nonprofits
As a third-generation Chinese American, Brandi says that growing up she felt like she and her family were very assimilated into American culture. It wasn’t until she started her own racial equity learning journey with ACT that she began to understand the unique perspective she brings to her work.
She is often one of the only Asian people in the room. A few years ago, she might not have noticed that. But, she feels she now has a better understanding of what it means to bring that perspective and the importance of highlighting the voices of the Asian community.
According to a report from AAPI in Philanthropy, only .2% of all grant making is designated for AAPI communities. Brandi believes that by having more Asians on boards and involved with philanthropy, that number can change. Brandi points out that in college, she didn’t know anything about the philanthropic sector and the rewarding work she could do. So, there’s plenty of room for growth.
Brandi wishes she had learned to celebrate her differences and diversity earlier in life, but is grateful for how she is learning to embrace them now.. As Brandi says, “Everyone is on their own journey. There’s beauty in diversity.”