Celebrate the A100, the most impactful Asian Pacific Leaders.

Aryani Ong


Aryani Ong, Civil Rights Activist, Attorney and Consultant Aryani Ong is a civil rights activist, attorney and consultant who has worked on issues concerning Asian Americans for the last 30 years. Civil Rights – National Security Balance Since 2015, Aryani has advocated for civil rights safeguards for Chinese Americans who are collateral damage in the government response to the rising U.S.-China conflict. She facilitated bimonthly conversations among community leaders around scientists and researchers until early 2019 through the Asian American Justice Task Force, which she co-founded. With leading national and community organizations, Aryani has organized coalitions around advocacy and media campaigns; organized dialogues, several with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s offices around the country; and, worked on a documentary. In early 2020, Aryani co-founded the Asian American Federal Employees for Non-Discrimination (AAFEN), which calls for protections for Asian Americans in the federal government against negative employment actions, particularly security clearances due to suspicions based on race, ethnicity and national origin. Through AAFEN, she has given many briefings to congressional committees, members and staff and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, as well as high ranking federal agency officials and employee affinity groups. The roots of Aryani’s activism at the intersection of civil rights and national security dates back to the Dr. Wen Ho Lee case. Back in 2000, Aryani participated in a community advisory group to the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force Against Profiling. Representing the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), she was among a delegation who met with then-Attorney General Janet Reno to raise concerns about Dr. Lee’s treatment. The briefing memo that recorded the broad community concerns was written by Aryani for the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium (NAPALC) and entered by Rep. Patsy Mink into the Congressional Record. Hate Crimes Inspired by Helen Zia’s activism in 1982 around the Vincent Chin case, Aryani became a civil rights lawyer specializing in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). She was the project lead on an annual national report that tracked and analyzed hate crimes against AAPIs; the report was produced through the now-Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Pacific American Justice Center (formerly the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium) and its affiliates. Aryani worked with Leadership Conference on Civil Rights on advocacy efforts to press Congress for stronger legal protections. Invited to join a civil rights delegation of U.S. experts, she testified before the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva and organized speaker panels for the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa. Aryani wrote among the earliest community response guides on hate crimes in the field as a consultant and then Deputy Director of the now OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates (formerly Organization of Chinese Americans). Aryani is a founding member and Senior Advisor of Communities United Against Hate (CUAH), an anti-hate crime coalition in Montgomery County, Maryland. She also served as member of an Asian American parent advisory group to Montgomery County Public Schools, and addresses school bullying. Aryani regularly speaks to dozens of audiences around the country. Representations of AAPIs To preempt bias, Aryani has worked to inform the public about AAPI and challenge stereotypes in the public domain. She has co-created and co-led professional training sessions for teachers and administrators at the Montgomery County Public Schools. Recently, Aryani’s efforts led to a groundbreaking student listening session where AAPI students addressed the school community about their perspectives during the pandemic and the unprecedented numbers of reports of anti-Asian incidents. Outside of schools, she’s also worked with Norman Mineta and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition to negotiate MOUs on diversity initiatives at the major TV networks; an award-winning pictorial book that featured Asian American heroes and community responses to 9/11; and several campaigns that challenge racist depictions by public figures, retail or media corporations and political campaigns. Diversity, Inclusion And Equity Aryani promotes diversity, inclusion and equity. She is Founder of the Montgomery County Progressive Asian American Network (MoCoPAAN), which focuses on racial equity, immigrant rights and bias and profiling. Related to education, she served on an Asian American parent advisory council, or Asian Pacific American Student Achievement Action Group (APASAAG), and the Beyond the Boundaries Working Group with Impact Silver Spring. Aryani also facilitated Study Circles with students on the achievement gap. She’s worked within coalitions to file amicus briefs on affirmative action cases before state and federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court. Related to immigrants and workforce development, Aryani served as board chair of the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy (MCAEL), countywide system of 50+ ESOL programs. Related to inclusion, Aryani has addressed the county government leadership several times, proposing a blueprint to address the AAPI community needs, and facilitated a table dialogue at a community forum on a proposed racial equity bill. Immigrant Integration, Civic Participation and Political Empowerment Aryani supports the pipeline of immigrant integration to civic participation and political empowerment. She works with local and national groups such as Civic Leadership USA and Asian American Unity Coalition and serves as Senior Advisor to the United Chinese Americans. In 2018, Aryani returned to politics after having worked for the California Democratic Party as a field organizer for the Clinton/Gore/Boxer/Feinstein coordinated campaign in 1992. She served on the kitchen cabinet advisors to Hoan Dang (county council) and Lily Qi (state assembly). She moderated the candidate forums for the Maryland gubernatorial race (as a member of the United for Maryland PAC) and Montgomery County Executive’s race (as an officer of the Asian American Political Alliance). Aryani is on the board of the Asian American Action Fund (AAA Fund) and a member of the local MoCoWoMen political group. In 2019, she invited to serve on the new Montgomery County Executive’s transition team. During the 2020 elections, Aryani served as a co-chair of Chinese Americans for Biden (CAFB – 2ndgeneration) affinity group under the AAPIs for Biden component of the Biden campaign. Currently, she serves on the AAPI Leadership Committee under the DNC AAPI Caucus and as an advisor to Indonesian American Democrats. Nonprofit Management, Board Governance and Consulting Aryani has devoted her career to the nonprofit sector in various professional roles ranging from staff, fundraising and management to consultant and coalition partner. She has been hired as a consultant to work with clients that ranged from nonprofits such as the Urban Institute, whose work provides strategic direction to The Asian American Foundation (TAAF) and the Asian and Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to universities such as Harvard’s Civil Rights Project and University of Maryland’s Asian American Studies Program. Aryani was trained as a senior governance consultant by BoardSource and by the Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and a ChevronTexaco Management Institute-sponsored training program. While MCAEL’s board chair, she created a peer board chair circle for Nonprofit Montgomery. Aryani has served on several boards, among them the OCA – Washington, D.C. chapter and the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County (CRCMC) and as advisor to the Betty Ann Ong and Calvin J. Li Memorial Foundations. She’s a Leadership Montgomery graduate (class 2013). Further Background Aryani has been represented in major news outlets such as NBC4, New York Times (Chinese language edition), the Washington Post, Science magazine, CSPAN, and ethnic or international media such as Voice of America – China, Voice of America Indonesia, CNN Indonesia, SinoVision, South China Morning Post, DingDing TV, as well as local county cable and print media and podcasts. She has freelanced for Newsweek magazine. Aryani has received awards and recognition from Maryland’s Top 100 Women Award, The Community Foundation’s Linowes Leadership Award (semi-finalist), the Center for Nonprofit Advancement (board), and the Clarion Award (team book project). Aryani holds a law degree from George Washington University Law School and a B.A. in political science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has clerked on Capitol Hill, the National Women’s Law Center, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and the Human Rights Commission in San Francisco. Aryani is working on a blog called Six Hues to elevate stories with multi-dimensional perspectives, especially from AAPIs.