Meet the Staff
Nkauj Iab Yang
Nkauj Iab Yang is the first-ever Executive Director for the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley and pursued her Master of Arts in Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. Nkauj Iab has served the community for over two decades through youth and community organizing, as well as advocating to transform state policies. Through Youth Together, Banteay Srei, Serve The People, and Hmong Innovating Politics, Nkauj Iab has created brave spaces for community members to realize their power to impact change. She served as the Director of California with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center partnering with Southeast Asian serving organizations throughout California to advocate for racial equity. In 2020, she was a co-director with HIP where she developed an infrastructure to organize Southeast Asian youth in Sacramento and Fresno and oversaw HIP’s integrated Southeast Asian voter engagement work throughout California. Today, as the Executive Director of the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs, she continues her journey to increase access and resources for the very diverse Asian American Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities in California.
Renee Zapata graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Asian American Studies. As an undergraduate student, her developing dedication for racial and social justice began to draw her to the kinds of work committed to uplifting the vulnerable Asian American community members. At UCSB, Renee was involved in student outreach programs, community organizing, leadership, and academic research. She collaborated with other Filipinx students on reviving FIERCE (Filipinxs in Education Reaffirming Community Empowerment), an outreach program aimed at empowering high school students’ pursuit of higher education and cultural engagement through mentorship and workshops. Renee also led political education activities. As an undergraduate research assistant, she collaborated with others on a project focused on Asian immigration history and Asian immigrants’ agricultural work in the West Coast facing environmental injustices, xenophobia and exclusion.
Currently, Renee is an intern for the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies and a research assistant for a project on Filipino caregivers under COVID-19. Before she joined the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs (CAPIAA), Renee served as a staff services analyst at the Department of Health Care Services. Here at CAPIAA, Renee is eager to apply her skills, lived experiences and knowledge to tackle the issues affecting the state’s diverse Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.
Higher Education Program Analyst
Jamari Robinson (he/his/him) is a California native and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Azusa Pacific University. Jamari’s path to serve the community began in college, volunteering in humanitarian support to local advocacy groups in Guam and the Federated States of Micronesia. After college, Jamari’s civil service career began with the Employment Development Department in Oakland, California and later promoted to the Department Central Office in Sacramento, CA, as an Equal Employment Opportunity investigative analyst. There, he conducted confidential internal investigations and trained new management and rank and file staff on EEO policy. Jamari went on and excelled in several roles: a Department Recruiter for the Department of General Services, a Contract Analyst for the Department of Health Care Services, and an Education and Employment Specialist for the California Conservation Corps, before becoming to the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as the Higher Education Program Analyst.