David Do (right) – Photo courtesy of David Do
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced on Jan. 25 another addition to her mayoral cabinet, tapping David Do, an openly gay community and education activist and former candidate for the Ward 1 seat on the D.C. State Board of Education, to serve as director of the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (OAPIA), which is tasked with advising the Mayor, Council and District agencies on the needs and concerns of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and making recommendations on various programs and initiatives designed to serve them.
Do previously worked in the administrations of former Mayors Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray. He worked with community-based organizations to promote capital improvement grants while working at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
“David is a passionate leader who is committed to improving the quality of life for the residents of the District of Columbia,” Bowser said in announcing her selection of Do at the 26th Annual Korean-American Grocers Association of Washington, D.C. (KAGRO-DC) Scholarship Banquet, held at the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family. “I welcome David’s enthusiasm and am delighted to have him join our team. David will be instrumental in working with the AAPI community on behalf of my administration to deliver a fresh start for the District’s residents.”
As a cabinet-level official, Do must have his appointment confirmed by the D.C. Council. Do’s nomination marks the fifth high-profile LGBT person tapped to serve in a cabinet-level position in the Bowser administration, following Sheila Alexander-Reid, who will head the Office of LGBT Affairs; Polly Donaldson, who will lead the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development; Steve Walker, heading the newly created Office of Talent and Appointments; and Matt Brown, the director of the Office of Budget and Finance.
“I am excited to be appointed by Mayor Bowser to lead the Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs,” Do said in a statement. “I will bring my experience and deep understanding of various community groups and stakeholders in Washington, D.C. to my new role. My focus will be on making sure that the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community has a strong advocate and voice within the District.”
In a brief email correspondence with Metro Weekly, Do outlined some of his priorities, including collaborating with other offices, such as the Office of Latino Affairs and the Office of African Affairs, and building strong relationships between those various communities.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities to bridge all communities in Washington for a better understanding of who and what the AAPI community in D.C. is and it is not just cultural or cuisine,” Do said.
He added that he wants to ensure that his office reaches out to residents that were not served or whose issues are not traditionally included under the umbrella of API Affairs, such as LGBT Asian and Pacific Islanders, for example.
“There is a certain stigma in the AAPI community when it comes to the LGBT community,” Do wrote. “I want to make sure that there are programs to connect both communities because they are one and the same. …As a Vietnamese-American and a member of the LGBT community, I want to take steps towards ending stereotypes and misconceptions about AAPI LGBT.”