When the pandemic hit, Tam Nguyen got mobilized. As the president of Advance Beauty College, he used his network to help launch “Nailing it For America,” a collection of industry leaders who helped procure and distribute personal protective gear to frontline workers. When hate crimes began appearing in the news with greater frequency, the group swiveled to education and outreach.
Nguyen is one of a group of local leaders and business owners who have been selected by U.S. Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., to help her understand Asian American and Pacific Islander needs in her district.
The group had its inaugural meeting on May 21 and is expected to meet quarterly.
Steel has surged to the front of the GOP pack of freshman members in the U.S. House of Representatives. She has appeared in national headlines addressing issues like discrimination. Steel, along with Young Kim, R-Calif., and Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., is one of the first Korean-American women to serve in the U.S. House.
Steel has been busy since her arrival to Capitol Hill.
She spoke in support of Israel as tensions remain high with the West Bank. Steel has also denounced President Joe Biden’s spending and spending proposals, and voted against a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
Steel continues to build her network of advisory groups in her district, the kind of community building House members typically do during visits on their home turf. That includes an advisory board of law enforcement officers with representatives from the Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Santa Ana police departments, among others.
This latest advisory group met to discuss needs and concerns of AAPI members in the district.
After an introduction and a presentation from Steel’s staff, the attendees began to talk solutions. A key topic was hate crimes.
“From my lens, it’s still in the news everyday,” said Nguyen. “We are getting better awareness, and I’m participating a lot more as a listener.”
Nguyen said there were three major takeaways: Education, outreach and encouraging community members to report hate speech and hate crimes to law enforcement.
“In terms of the incidents, we’re seeing more reporting than ever,” he said.
The board is meant to be a sort of sounding board for all topics, issues and concerns from small-business needs to education.
“Our community is home to a vibrant AAPI population, and it is my honor to represent them in Congress,” Steel said in a news release. “I look forward to working with this advisory board to stay up to date on issues impacting our AAPI community and find ways to work together to advance their priorities in Congress.”