Staff

Chavi Khanna Koneru (she, her)
Executive Director, Chavi@ncaatogether.org

Chavi Khanna Koneru is co-founder and Executive Director of North Carolina Asian Americans Together (NCAAT). Koneru moved to North Carolina in 1989 and has spent the majority of her life living in the state, including attending college and law school locally at the University of North Carolina. This has allowed her to gain a deep, personal understanding of what it means to be Asian American in the South. Additionally, her legal background in voting rights law has given her the opportunity to interpret and enforce laws impacting the Asian American community, including during her time in the Voting Section at the U.S. Department of Justice, where she focused on language access for Asian American voters.

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Olivia Zalecki (she, her)
Deputy Director, Olivia@ncaatogether.org

Olivia is a proud Chinese adoptee, and grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. She attended NC State, where she studied Political Science and Foreign Languages and Literatures. She also received her MA in Sociology from Columbia University. Olivia’s passion for Asian American advocacy and social justice started as a student organizer, giving her insight into the power of community. Since then her professional experience has spanned qualitative research, organizational DEI, and nonprofit management. She cares deeply about empowering and learning alongside teams to build a more just and equitable future. In her free time she can be found cuddling with her pug, Peach.

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Sarah Yopp (she, her)
Operations Director, Sarah@ncaatogether.org

Sarah’s a native of eastern North Carolina where she studied Fine Arts at East Carolina University. Her background focuses on hospitality management and consulting, which is rooted in her desire to serve others. Sarah’s love and compassion for others drive her heart for social justice. Sarah enjoys spending her time painting, experimenting with new recipes, and collecting books she’ll never read.
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Sel Mpang (she, her)
Program Director, Sel@ncaatogether.org

Sel is Bunong-American from Vietnam, and has found refuge in Greensboro, NC since 2002. She studied Community and Justice Studies at Guilford College. Her work with the Greensboro Housing Coalition built a bridge between healthcare systems and housing through a health equity lens. Sel enjoys cooking and creating content to show people how to cook and preserve cultural dishes. To keep her indigenous roots, she instructs a classical Montagnard traditional dance class.

Jimmy Patel-Nguyen (he, him)
Communications Director, Jimmy@ncaatogether.org

Jimmy was born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and attended NC State University before starting his marketing career. He specialized in digital communications at Under Armour and the NC Museum of Art before joining local creative agencies where he served clients like Crocs, Sherwin-Williams, UNC Health, and UNC School of Medicine. Moved by candid conversations with his parents about their journey as Vietnamese refugees, Jimmy launched an international storytelling project to equip the refugee community to record their own experiences. This initiative showed Jimmy the transformative power of conversation to bridge generational gaps and to uplift underrepresented histories. In his free time, you can find Jimmy and his wife chasing around their two young boys and sweet dog.

Phian Tran (they, them)
Senior Project and Coaching Manager, Phian@ncaatogether.org

Phian is an NC State alum from Raleigh with a background in community engagement. As an event curator, they specialize in combining efforts of young creatives, activists, and local organizations to propel collaborative initiatives for justice and equity. In their free time, they like to play music and go to concerts.

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Shruti Parikh (she, her)
Head of Education and Political Engagement, Shruti@ncaatogether.org

Shruti was born in India, but immigrated to the US at a young age and grew up in the Midwest. She attended the University of Michigan, where she studied Mathematics and Art History and received her MS in Management from NC State. She has been an active volunteer in the Triangle community since moving to North Carolina in 1993. After the 2016 election, Shruti was inspired to become more involved in voter outreach and engagement specifically in the Asian community. As a mother of three young adults, Shruti enjoys cooking and sharing Indian food and culture.

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Samuel Lynn (he, him)
VAN and Voter Data Tools Specialist, Samuel@ncaatogether.org

Sam comes to NCAAT with a passion for creating the capacity for change through enhanced civic engagement. He’s a life-long resident of North Carolina, growing up in Johnston County just outside Raleigh before moving to obtain his Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science from UNC – Chapel Hill. With a background in grassroots organizing and political fieldwork, Sam is dedicated to building political power and leverage for marginalized communities through solidarity and social justice. In his free time, you can find Sam spending time with loved ones, playing video games, going on walks, or playing with his cat Sally.

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Vicky Cheng (she, her)
Senior Development Manager, Vicky@ncaatogether.org

Vicky was born in Taiwan, raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, and graduated from Furman University (Greenville, SC) with a degree in English. She spent several years teaching courses and pursuing graduate studies in Victorian literature, women’s work, and theorizing bodies. While at Syracuse University, she was inspired to engage with organizing efforts for mental health awareness and student advocacy. After electing to leave the university space, she returned to North Carolina with a renewed interest in writing and actively working for social justice in the AAPI community. In her free time, she can be found exploring Raleigh’s art scene or walking her cat.
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Giselle Pagunuran (she, her)
Senior Communications Manager, Giselle@ncaatogether.org

Giselle grew up in Concord, NC, and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill, where she studied Journalism and Media with a double major in Communication Studies. After being involved with various Asian American campus organizations, she grew her desire to connect with and serve her community. She hopes to use her media production experience to amplify AAPI stories and uplift diverse voices. In her free time, she likes playing music, going to concerts, journaling, and doing her best to keep her house plants alive.
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Matthew Ng (he/him)
Senior Digital Communications Coordinator, Matthew@ncaatogether.org

Matthew grew up in Raleigh, NC, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in journalism and political science. After growing up surrounded by his Korean and Chinese-Filipino family, he wants to help share the stories and experiences of Asian American communities with the rest of North Carolina. In his free time, Matthew enjoys biking, doing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing.
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Su Cho (she/her)
Head of Data Management, Su@ncaatogether.org

Su grew up in Fayetteville, NC and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Master’s in Social Work. Her interests lie in engaging and uplifting the Asian American community through advocacy and other creative, intentional mediums. She hopes to use data to thoughtfully highlight the experiences of the Asian and Asian American population in North Carolina. In her free time, Su enjoys hiking, watching films/learning about filmmaking, and spending time with loved ones.
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Abi Ranganathan (she/her)
Head of Voter Engagement, Abi@ncaatogether.org

Abi grew up in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated from Mercer University with a BA in international affairs and global health. She comes from a background in campaigns as well as community engagement in Georgia. Abi’s interest in the AAPI community came from her experience of seeing friends struggle to find the resources they needed to vote or even their access to basic information. In her free time, she can be found exploring different parts of a new city.
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Brooklyn Nelson (she/her)
Voter Engagement Manager, Brooklyn@ncaatogether.org

Brooklyn, raised between New York, Maryland and North Carolina, came into public service at a young age to promote support and care to others. She attended Wake Technical Community College for Cosmetology and Strayer University for Business Administration. Her passion for people brought long years of experience doing volunteer work, management, event coordinating, and Field/ Office Director, in nonprofit Organizations. Brooklyn is a beauty and fashion corky person, who believes how one feels about themselves speaks volumes on their confidence. Social justice, inequality, racial discrimination and fairness for all is her fight. Brooklyn loves to engage with community members to seek solutions to short and long term concerns. Brooklyn is family oriented, being a mother is the best title she can hold.
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Michelle Qiou (they/them)
Senior Volunteer and Training Coordinator, Michelle@ncaatogether.org

Michelle is a child of Chinese immigrants and grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey before attending Duke University. Their professional experiences include working in charter and public schools, and they are a recent graduate of the Organize NC fellowship of Brighter Futures Institute. Michelle hopes to combine their passions for education, people development, and community organizing to connect with and empower AAPI. In their free time, Michelle enjoys being outside and writing.
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Saiesh Srivastava (He/Him)
Community Engagement Coordinator, Sai@ncaatogether.org

Sai (he/him) is South-Asian American and was born overseas in Bangalore, Karnataka. He has called the triangle his home since 2006, and attended the University of North Carolina at Asheville for his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Sociology. His background has focused primarily on AAPI’s sociocultural experiences, mental health, and access disparities from a social scientific lens. Sai is dedicated to providing a platform for AAPI’s unique challenges and struggles, both in the community and in science, by uplifting the voices of our most vulnerable people and ensuring that their stories are heard. In his free time, you’ll find Sai cooking meals for his friends and family, journaling, or going on long aimless walks around town.
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Jennifer Yu (she/her)
Youth Engagement Coordinator, Jennifer@ncaatogether.org

Jennifer is from Knightdale, NC, and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a background in design. She was involved in several student organizations, including the Korean American Students Association and the Asian American Students Association, where her passion for connecting with the AAPI community grew. She hopes to empower the youth across the wider North Carolina community in becoming a more informed and united generation. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new music, going to concerts, making art, and spending time with her loved ones.
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Edgar Arrieta Reyes (he/him/el)
Campus Organizing Manager, Edgar@ncaatogether.org

Edgar is a Mexican-American community organizer who was born in Monterrey, Mexico and has since called North Carolina their home. He graduated William Peace University with a B.A. in Psychology and Political Science minor. The bulk of their passion lies in community restorative work and liberation, falling enamored with the possibilities that can come from joint, intentional work and practice. To that end, he has worked in grassroots Latinx organizing and community led initiatives to build political power and sustained, collective solidarity. In his spare time, you’ll find him cooking new recipes they saw online, watching films, enjoying music or gazing at the clouds on a walk.
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Audrey Meigs (she/her)
Research Coordinator, Audrey@ncaatogether.org

Audrey is a Chinese American adoptee born in Hunan China and raised in Asheville, North Carolina. She graduated from Davidson College with a degree in Political Science and East Asian Studies. Audrey is passionate about empowering AAPI communities through civic engagement and intercultural competence. She strives to approach her work through an intersectional, equity-based lens so all historically underrepresented people can thrive and work better together. You can often catch Audrey reading, cooking, thrifting, or hanging out with her fur babies, Fern and Zahra.