Helen Zia

Author & Activist

Helen Zia is a writer, community activist, and Fulbright Scholar. She spent 12 years researching and writing Last Boat out of Shanghai, visiting China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan on numerous occasions. A longtime journalist, she is also the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. She coauthored, with Wen Ho Lee, My Country Versus Me, which reveals what can happen to Chinese Americans who are falsely accused of being a spies for China.

The daughter of immigrants from China, Helen’s work on the 1980s Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is featured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary Who Killed Vincent Chin? and she was profiled in Bill Moyers’ PBS series, Becoming American: The Chinese Experience. In 2008 Helen was a Torchbearer in San Francisco for the Beijing Olympics amid great controversy; in 2010, she was a witness in the federal marriage equality case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Helen is a graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class and holds honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco and the Law School of the City University of New York. Most recently, she served as the founding co-chair of the board of the Women’s Media Center and a director of Equality Now.