Ryan's (he/him) time at AFIRE started as a volunteer and then board member. Prior to joining the staff, he served as a staff member for the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and as the co-chair for the UIC Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Asian Americans. In 2015, Ryan served as the National Conference Coordinator for the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, in addition to his duties at UIC.
Previously, Ryan served as a facilitator for the teen writing program Young Asians with Power!, point person for i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, logistics coordinator for Kultura, and executive committee member for the UIC College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. In his spare time, Ryan is a writer, storyteller, improviser, and actor.
NAI Outreach Coordinator
Vangie (she/her) is a single mother of four due to her husband’s early demise. She is proud to have been able to not only provide her children with the care they needed, but a college education as well. In the Philippines, Vangie was a high school teacher and guidance counselor at a catholic school, was involved with the campus choir during the Holy mass sponsored by the school, an active Girl Scout Leader, and chaperon for students at camp events. Here in Chicago, Vangie was lucky to find friends who are involved in the church. At present, she is an active member of Mather’s Café Senior’s Choir, performing in different homes for seniors, singing songs of the 40’s, 50’s and so on. After 40 years of widowhood, Vangie found Bill, her husband, who shares her love for music.
Immigrant Rights/Civic Engagement Organizer
Kaya (they/them) is a Filipinx artist, creative, storyteller, and first-gen immigrant. Their ancestral home can be traced back to the Bicolandia region of the Philippines, where the marvelous Mayon volcano resides. Their experience with AFIRE began as a volunteer, then Core Leader, and now Organizer. Kaya's approach to organizing is rooted in community and compassion, with a commitment to honor the organizing efforts and achievements of our community Elders, as well as challenging structures that normalize settler colonialist values and unbalanced power dynamics.
In the past, they have design-collaborated with Grow-Op Chicago, a community garden advocacy group and seed-starting initiative, and organized with Non-Monog Baddies, a queer and POC-centered non-monogamous/polyamorous discussion and support group. Additionally, they are an active volunteer with Cedillo Fresh Produce, a family-run urban farm located in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. In their spare time, Kaya enjoys listening and singing along to 80s/90s power ballads, hoarding plants, and lounging in bed.