Earlier this month, LADWP employees came together to celebrate Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. Nearly 1,900 AAPIs work at LADWP, contributing daily to ensuring the successful operations of the Department. Several events were held to mark the occasion, two of which were virtual.
The first event, “AAPIs: A Cultural Celebration,” was held on May 18, led by Board Vice President Susana Reyes and featured opening remarks by General Manager and Chief Engineer Martin L. Adams. Employees tuned in and listened to 17 of their AAPI peers as they shared their personal histories and experiences. With over 230 attendees, many employees were grateful to their colleagues for showing a different perspective to this annual celebration.
“I attended the AAPI event and thought it was extraordinary,” said Breonia Lindsay, Director of Water Distribution. “It was so informative and taught me the many aspects of the various AAPI cultures that exist here at LADWP. I even saw some similarities with my own culture, and was greatly appreciative to hear the personal family stories that were shared. It made me proud to be part of such a diverse LADWP Bayan (community).”
Vonda Paige, Public Relations Specialist in Communications & Public Affairs, commented, “One of the best ways to bridge understanding of different cultures and dispel stereotypes is education! I found the stories the panelists shared both heart-warming and interesting. I even went online afterward to find out more about tea from Sri Lanka and how L.A.’s Chinatown and Little Tokyo neighborhoods were developed.”
While the first panel was an opportunity for employees to celebrate AAPI culture and LADWP’s diversity, the next day’s panel, “Uplifting AAPIs: Rising Above Stereotypes, Discrimination & Hate,” provided a platform for experts from other City departments to share their knowledge on the issue to the almost 200 employees who joined. Also led by Reyes with opening remarks by Adams, the event included presentations from LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala, L.A. City Civil and Human Rights Board Commissioner Abigail Zelenski and L.A. City Personnel Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Malaika Billups. They discussed progress on navigating the current social climate of social injustice toward AAPIs and available resources, and provided insight on how to combat racial adversity in the workplace. Recordings of both AAPI panels are available on LADWP’s Vimeo page.
Lastly, employees came out on May 22 to engage in a day of community service to beautify local AAPI neighborhoods. LADWP provided fresh water and free t-shirts to volunteers at the Koreatown location. “What a great day to end a week of AAPI celebration,” said Board Vice President, Susana Reyes. “This month, we not only celebrate and honor AAPI cultures across the United States, but to advocate for their equity and safety. LADWP extends its support to all communities and calls for an end to hate, discrimination, and racism. By supporting each other, we become stronger together, and build safer communities.”