The Wednesday Five

June is National Immigrant Heritage Month. In this week’s Wednesday five, we celebrate extraordinary women who are first and second generation Americans and who are using their lives in service to other women.



Ai-Jen Poo’s Taiwanese parents instilled her with strong “social justice values.” She is  currently the Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance — an organization that works to empower and organize domestic workers across 19 cities and 11 states. As a student at Columbia University, Ai-jen Poo became outraged by the stories of domestic workers, often immigrant women, who had little recourse when they labored for long hours, in less than favorable conditions. Her gift for organizing worker-led movements has made the National Domestic Workers Alliance a powerful movement, whose policy initiatives and lobbying has led to New York State’s Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (with California following), and the expansion of labor laws federally to protect 2.5 million home-care workers.



Patricia Eng was born in Manhattan to Chinese immigrant parents. After graduating with honors from Princeton University, she earned a Master in Social Work from Hunter College in New York City. While she was still studying to become a social worker, Eng noticed a glaring deficiency in resources for battered Asian women. “Of all the issues facing [Asian-American] women, domestic violence was clearly the one that had to be dealt with first,” she says. To address this need, she founded the New York Asian Women’s Center in 1982, an organization that she led until 1999. Today, the NYAWC hotline receives over 3000 calls a year.

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