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April 17, 2014 21:39 | Kin Wong (Administrator)

PRESS RELEASE                                                                 For information contact:
April 16, 2014                                                                       



WASHINGTON - The challenges facing the federal government today are myriad and complex. To successfully meet them, federal government leaders must be creative and innovative; flexible and resilient; cooperative and collaborative. They must be able to work in effective teams, value individual differences, and leverage diversity to think strategically and solve concrete problems.

To develop these skills in federal employees who have limited opportunities to train, go on details, or work on special assignments, the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) created the “Challenge Teams” program. The FAPAC Challenge Teams is a cost-neutral, project-oriented, innovative and experiential training-based program that gives federal employees, especially those at the GS-9 to GS-14 levels, the chance to develop leadership skills while working on significant and challenging projects, without having to leave their agencies on detail assignments or temporary duties.

With participation from the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, FAPAC launched the program at the WHIAAPI Federal Employee Conference on July 12, 2013. The Pilot is coordinated by Peter Nguyen and Minh Favila from FAPAC and Courtney Chappell and Edmund Chiang from the WHIAAPI.

Working in virtual teams of 4 to 6 members, participants completed a set of virtual training classes and worked between 10 to 20 hours per month for 6 months on their projects. They examined the complex challenges facing the federal government in addressing the needs of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, particularly in capacity building, language access, data disaggregation, and workforce diversity.

Reaching beyond their comfort zones, they interviewed and surveyed academics, hundreds of federal employees, senior government officials, and community organizations to understand what were the greatest needs and barriers for the AAPI community. They examined existing government policies and practices and compared agency plans and approaches.

But perhaps most importantly of all, in the process of working with others to develop recommendations and solutions, participants learned to effectively collaborate and communicate within a diverse team, question conventional approaches, and develop new insights and strategies. The participants themselves may have said it best, when reflecting on their experiences with the program:

  • “The Challenge Teams program is an innovative and unique experience for federal employees to work in an interagency framework to address the needs and concerns of the AANHPI community. Participants will develop lifelong friendships and learn leadership and problem-solving skills.”  ~ Thomas Szymanek (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)
  • “It was extremely refreshing to experience the superb collection of talent that is interested in advancing the issues that confront the AAPI community. The groups that we interacted with increased my awareness of the many challenges that the AAPI community face as well as those that are attempting to fix these challenges. Any opportunity for someone to participate in future Challenge Team activities will become a better advocate for the people of AAPI." ~ Myles Miyamasu (U.S. Department of Defense)
  • “A great opportunity to work with an inter-agency team on an incredibly important initiativeundefinedI hope the Challenge Teams will continue for many years to come.” ~ Bonita J. Soley (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

On April 9, 2014, they presented their final reports and recommendations, some highlighting best practices for agencies, some offering practical toolkits, others compiling useful databases of information and contacts, all of them highlighting additional avenues for future challenge teams to explore.

Congratulations to the successful FAPAC Challenge Team participants:

Meghan Baburek (U.S. Department of the Treasury)

Gwendolyn Berry (U.S.  Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Theresa Blaine (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Cedric Chan (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Paul Chang (U.S. Department of Labor)

Karen Chaves (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)

Peggy Fong (U.S. Department of Transportation)

Ranmali Fonseka (U.S. Department of Transportation)

Fang He (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Vanee Komolprasert (U.S. Health and Human Services)

Linda Li (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)

Shivani Mehta (U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission)

Myles Miyamasu (U.S. Department of Defense)

Neelam Patel (U.S. Department of Justice)

Jennifer Prasarn (U.S. Department of Defense)

Bonita Soley (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

Anna Soliman (U.S. Department of the Treasury)

Thomas Szymanek (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs)

Lacy Vong (U.S. Government Accountability Office)

Lina Woo (U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Diana Yu (U.S. Department of Education)

Team representatives will be presenting highlights of some of the findings at the 29th National Leadership Training Program to be held on May 5-8, 2014 at the Sheraton Charlotte, 555 S. McDowell Street, Charlotte, NC.

We look forward to launching the second year of the FAPAC Challenge Teams program during the WHIAAPI 2014 Federal Employee Conference in July. For more information about the FAPAC Challenge Teams program, visit

FAPAC is organized exclusively for educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. FAPAC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization representing the interests of over 155,000 civilian and military APA employees in the Federal and District of Columbia governments of all ranks. For more information, please visit

FAPAC is a 501 (c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing the civilian and military Asian Pacific American (APA) employees in the Federal and District of Columbia governments.
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