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Asian-Pacific Heritage Valued at the Agency

The month of May is yet another time to celebrate the diversity of America’s people. This month, we honor Asian-Pacific American heritage. With the first wave of Chinese immigrants during the Gold Rush in 1848, Asian-Pacific Americans have brought their culture to the nation known as the “melting pot.” The Agency would like to use Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month as an opportunity to acknowledge the talents and diversity of thought that Asian-Pacific employees bring to the mission.


The Asian-Pacific American Organization

The Central Intelligence Agency has many affinity groups; one of which is the Asian-Pacific American Organization (APAO). This affinity group acts as a support structure for Agency employees of Asian-Pacific heritage. APAO works to:

  • Advise senior Agency managers on Asian-Pacific career advancement, retention and recruitment
  • Provide career development guidance to staff officers and newly hired Asian-Pacific officers
  • Advocate training designed to capitalize on Asian-Pacific strengths
  • Partner with the Agency Diversity Council in an effort to foster diversity and create opportunities for information sharing and discussion
  • Promote a greater understanding of Asian-Pacific American values, cultural awareness, and work ethics to maximize organizational effectiveness

A former APAO president and current CIA employee, who has been with the organization since its creation in 1991, remarked upon the importance of the organization.

“APAO is an important organization because at the end of the day, you’re still who you are and this organization is here to help you through the good and bad,” she said. “It’s here to help you become successful in the Agency.”

APAO is also about making a difference in the Agency.

“We’re trying to show junior officers that their culture brings diversity of thought to the Agency, and it’s how they use it that makes a difference,” she said.

The former APAO president believes that APAO will continue to have an impact as the next generation enters the Agency workforce.

“It’s important for the more experienced officers to transfer their knowledge to the next generation, especially when we now have four generations of employees in the workforce,” she said.


Lighting the Past, Present and Future

The theme for the Agency 2009 Asian-Pacific American heritage celebration is “Lighting the Past, Present and Future.” The theme is selected annually by the Federal Asian-Pacific American Council.

APAO planned many exciting events to celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage month, including:

  • A panel discussion featuring senior Asian-Pacific American Agency officers—one from each directorate—who spoke about challenges and successes as they moved up the ranks
  • Keynote speaker Chancellor of D.C. Schools Michelle Rhee spoke to Agency employees about the challenges she faces in her work, the state of D.C. public schools and emphasized that the phrase “anything is possible in America” has meaning only if children receive a good education.


Continuing Culture

Currently, any knowledge of Asian-Pacific cultures and languages is highly valued by the Agency. Some Asian-Pacific languages are considered mission-critical. These include:

  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • Indonesian

To learn more about language opportunities at the CIA, visit the Language Positions page.


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Posted: May 29, 2009 08:46 AM
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2013 12:14 PM