Whereas the status of Asian Americans has long been ignored and has been underrepresented in the halls of government and other public and private institutions, the Board of County desires to recognize the contributions of Asian Americas to the cultural, political, social and economic life of Dade County. On July 21, 1997 the Asian-American Advisory Board was created in an advisory capacity to the Board of County Commissioners, the County administration, and the community. This board has to be composed by twenty-six (26) permanent residents and electors of the county who shall have knowledge and interest in the Asian community living in the County. Each of the thirteen County Commissioners appoints two members for a period of three years. The quorum necessary to hold a meeting and take any action is of fourteen (14) members. The meetings are open to the public and are called by written notice of the fourteen members.
The board focus is to empower the Asian community by engaging public officials, connecting with other communities and educating the community at large about the Asian issues and needs. In order to achieve its goals the Board woks individually and collectively representing the Asian diversity in Miami Dade County Is also serves as a advocate and supporter of the Asian Americans in Civic, cultural, commercial and community affairs.
POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE ASIAN AMERICAN ADVISORY BOARD
To serve in an advisory capacity to the County Commission, the County administration, the community, and all agencies and persons in Miami Dade County, Florida with respect to matter pertaining to the Asian community of Miami Dade County.
Currently the Board does not have activities projected in this topic; nevertheless, the Board has advised the community on a range of issues like the vandalism at a mosque in Kendall area. This intervention produced noticeable results encouraging a community out reach effort by the mosque leaders, and engagement between the mosque and the Commissioner Joe A. Martinez.
To formulate and recommend policies, plans, programs and services and to coordinate the activities of governmental entities and non-governmental agencies pertaining to the Asian community.
At this time the Board does has not recommend any policy, plan, program or service to coordinate the activities of the governmental entities. However, the Board has worked with agencies such as the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the US. Department of Justice on the following programs:
- TSA staff training material
- TSA Body image screening
The board has the capability to work with community partners to develop policy recommendation about the following issues:
• Provisions for Asian Americans in the new immigration policy.
• Cultural Sensitivity training of the law-enforcement.
• Incentives by Procurement Department to invite Asian Business community.
• Incentive recruitment by Police, Fire, and Mass transit departments.
To serve as a medium for responsible persons to utilize and consult with in attempting to understand and address the various complex problems affecting the Asian community in Miami-Dade and to make findings and recommendation to the County Commission and the County administration regarding such matters.
Presently the Board has no activities in this area, but is essential to develop a strategy to asses the specific needs of the Asian Americans in Miami-Dade. The use of community needs assessment tools appears to be central in order to develop effective involvement.
The tools that may be used in the process of evaluate the Asian-American community needs can be:
• Focus Group Interview with sister organizations, religious groups and academic institutions to gather the opinions and ideas from that small, targeted group of citizens.
• Public Issues that involve residents to express their concerns about community issues, problems, and needs.
• Community Survey Questionnaire gathers information about the local attitudes regarding precisely defined issues, problems or opportunities.
• Interviews can be very useful when looking for in-depth information on a particular topic.
• Asset Mapping can be used to cataloguing local community assets and resources to meet community objectives. The goal is to identify and utilize assets that the community already has and direct them to better the community rather than to focus on problems and needs.
To recommend solution to the social, economic, cultural and political problems in the Asian community, as well as to serve as liaison between the Asian community and the Miami-Dade County community at large.
• The Board co-founded SAHARA in collaboration with the Women’s Fund of Miami to assist the victims of domestic violence.
• Board worked very closely with the Muslim students of the University of Miami to establish and prosper the Downtown Project to feed and provide other assistance to the homeless population. Commissioner Souto contributed the seed money for this project.
• The Board also assisted Universal Heritage Institute to establish the Medical Clinic.
• NANAY Asian Community Center has undertaken project to assist home-owners in financial distress.
• The Board has an excellent record serving as a liaison between the Asian community and the community at large, as well as the County Officials, Commissioners and the community like cultural programs; festivals; inviting public and elected officials to Asian celebratory events.
• The Board has provided advise about establishing Non-For Profit Organizations to various groups.
To encourage and attract Asian business to Dade County, to assist Asian business located in Dade County and to promote economic development, especially job creation in Miami-Dade County.
In this area the Board has not much for the business opportunities for the Asian community. However The Board should reach out to prominent Asian businessmen to make recommendations how the Board can assist the community; what it can do to help potential business men and women in Miami Dade County.
To foster relationship with public officials and maintain formal channels of communication so that the Asian concerns are effectively transmitted and heard.
This aspect is one of the strongest areas in the Boards community building process. The Board is actively engaged with at least 11 of the 13 commissioners.
To promote positive images and concepts of Asian and Asian Americans as well as promote their many contributions to our society.
The Board has a strong history of community building through community outreach. On the other hand, the Board should develop guidelines with defined goals and objectives in this area.
9. To build coalitions with various community groups to address issues of common concerns, such as advocating positive legislation regarding immigration and advocating legislation to strengthen the penalties for racially motivated crimes.
· In the area of social issues, SAHARA stands out as an excellent example of cooperation with the Women’s Fund of Miami in creating the institution.
· The Board assisted the Kendall mosque in building coalition with interfaith group to engage police and address the bigotry and hate crime against the mosque helping engage Commissioner Martinez’ office in this matter.
· The Board should utilize its legal expertise available and have opinion papers on various pending issues and legislations like immigration, education, equal employment opportunity for the Asians as well as economic-education and opportunities for Asian business men and women.
To promote the cultural heritage of Asian Americans.
There is a long list of Asian cultural calendar that routinely promotes Asian culture through various exhibits, displays, and festivals in Miami Dade County throughout the years. The Board could consider a landmark project like building an Asian Cultural Center or Art center to find a permanent place to highlight Asian cultural heritage. Also, the Boar should encourage and assist in citizenship and voter registration.
Eliminate ignorance and bigotry towards Asian Americans.
At the present time the Board is working with the program A world of Difference of thee Anti-defamation League ADL to develop a cultural sensitivity education program. This program would be designed to be introduced as part of the program No Place for Hate.
To conduct studies through fact-finding and analysis of problems encountered by Asian community members.
By partnering with schools and student associations to develop research studies about Asians in South Florida could be another resource of information about the assets, needs and problems of the community. The board can also work with Asian Studies Program, the Middle East Center, other individuals and institutions to encourage studies in these areas.
The board shall report at least annually to the Commission as to its activities, findings and recommendations.
· This year, the Board prepared an Activity and Performance Report which presents an overview of the Asian Boards achievements.
· Asia at a Glance is another publication will be available
To perform such other duties as may from time to time be assigned to it by resolution of the County Commission.
• Though the Board was never assigned any duties by virtue of any resolution, the Board played a very critical role in post nine-eleven community outreach incentive in collaboration with the United States Department of Justice.