Photo caption: Michael Itti will officially start as the executive director of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs in May. Photo courtesy of Michael Itti.

Longtime politico and education advocate Michael Itti will soon be taking the helm of the Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA), something he says is a tremendous honor for him that will build upon the work he has done the past few years in APA communities. Itti is program coordinator for Win/Win Network’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Voices in Education Initiative and former education advocate for the League of Education Voters (LEV).

“Now I get to expand to other issues,” Itti notes. This will include, most prominently, ensuring equitable implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Governor Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Itti early in April. Itti, a second-generation Thai-Chinese American born and raised in Washington state, will officially begin his position as CAPAA’s executive director on Monday, May 20th.

He says he looks forward to working with Gov. Inslee and his staff as well as CAPAA staffer and executive assistant Justin Chan on many promising opportunities for APAs on the state’s horizon.

“One huge opportunity (for APAs) this year is the rollout of the ACA,” says Itti. “We want to make sure that those designing the [insurance exchange and website] are aware of the specific language and cultural needs APAs have.”

In general, Itti’s focus will be helping to meet the needs of APAs who are more recent immigrants, ensuring CAPAA will act as “the bridge between state government and APA communities,” he says.

Itti, who serves on the board of Asian Pacific Americans for Civic Empowerment (APACE) Education Fund and the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (SCIDpda) Council, will advise Gov. Inslee, the Legislature, state agencies and local government on policies, programs and needs of the Asian Pacific American community.

He plans to ensure “APA students have the resources and support they need to succeed in school” and that school district information is getting to APA families in ways that are accessible and language-appropriate.

“There will be a lot of attention on our state education system, and we want to make sure specific needs are met in closing the opportunity gap,” he says.

Itti, who earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from George Washington University, noted he’ll also keep an eye out for small struggling businesses among APA communities.

“With small business, there are opportunities for loans to improve their infrastructure,” he says.

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