Henry Der worked at San Francisco-based Chinese for Affirmative Action for nearly 25 years, serving as its executive director for many years. He currently serves as the deputy superintendent of public instruction for the California Department of Education, running programs that serve at-risk and special-needs students. In addition, he has served as the chairperson of the California Post-secondary Education Commission and the State Bar Legal Services Trust Fund Commission. Der is also a commentator for NPR affiliate KQED-FM, and has practiced Bikram yoga for the past seven years.
Der is a senior program officer at Four Freedoms Fund, a national funders’ collaborative in support of immigrant rights. He helped lead the successful campaign for the new City College Chinatown/North Beach campus which will serve over 6,500 adult immigrant students every semester.
He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Priscilla and their children.
Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared”
Open Letter to the Biden Campaign on “Unprepared” was released May 12 2020.
":Our demands: The country’s greatest priority at this moment is to beat the COVID-19 crisis, and this requires embracing principles of antiracist solidarity and international cooperation. The Biden campaign can and should beat Trump and the GOP with a message centered on our real public health needs and the progressive values that are required to meet those needs. The “Unprepared” ad must be taken down, and all campaign messaging that fuels anti-Asian racism and China-bashing must end. We refuse to allow the Biden campaign to sacrifice our dignity in the name of political expediency."
Signatories included Henry Der Friends for Educational Opportunities in Chinatown.
Chinese for Affirmative Action
Henry Der - past executive director Chinese for Affirmative Action.
Support City College of San Francisco
Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), July 31, 2012.
Chinese for Affirmative Action joins several community leaders to support City College of San Francisco during these tough budget times for our public education system. Supervisors Eric Mar and David Chiu introduced a supportive resolution at 2pm today to the BOS. — with Alex T. Tom, Henry Der, Eric Mar, Vincent Pan, and David Chiu.
In early October 2017, Chinese for Affirmative Action joined Chinese Progressive Association, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and notable community leaders Henry Der, Ling-chi Wang, and Helen Zia to form the End National Security Scapegoating (ENSS) coalition. The coalition was established in response to pervasive efforts by the U.S. Department of Justice that target and prosecute Chinese American individuals for espionage related crimes.
One such Chinese American is Professor Xiaoxing Xi, who, in 2015, was falsely charged and prosecuted by the FBI for allegedly sharing technology to a Chinese-based company. He faced charges carrying a maximum penalty of 80 years in prison and a $1 million fine. After causing significant hardship and distress to Professor Xi and his family, the FBI eventually dropped the case without explanation or an apology.
Members of the ENSS coalition and supporters at San Francisco State University. From left to right: Cynthia Choi, CAA Co-Executive Director; CA Assemblymember Phil Ting; Prof. Xiaoxing Xi; Grace Yoo, Chair of the Asian American Studies Dept.; Dr. Russell Jeung, SFSU Professor; Pam Tau Lee, Chinese Progressive Association Board Chair.
Today, Professor Xi is seeking justice and accountability for his wrongful prosecution and to help end national security scapegoating and racial profiling in general. In efforts to raise awareness and to mobilize the community, the ENSS coalition invited Professor Xi to participate in a speaking tour at San Francisco State University, University of California-Berkeley, and Stanford University. Along with other experts, Professor Xi spoke powerfully about the dangers of racial bias in government surveillance programs based on his own experience.
Regrettably, this form of discrimination is part of our U.S. history. From the Chinese Exclusion Act to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, Asian Americans have been labeled and profiled as perpetual foreigners and threats to national security. The Muslim Ban, police violence against African Americans, and attacks against immigrants today must be understood in this same vein.
CAA, with our ENSS coalition partners, will continue to oppose efforts to racially profile Asians Americans under the false pretext of national security, to advocate for greater government accountability, and to build alliances across affected communities.
From Eric Mar 2006.
"My involvement in educational justice work began when I joined the Chinese Progressive Association (San Francisco) in SF's Chinatown in 1984. My twin brother Gordon Mar [in the picture on the far right] had been active in the Asian Student Union at UC Berkeley and joined CPA a few years earlier. He is now the Executive Director. Former Emeryville Unified Superintendent Henry Der is to my right, in the middle of the photo. At the time Henry was director of Chinese for Affirmative Action. He is now a senior program office for the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Burton High School teacher Eric Chow is to the far left.
In 1987 CPA organized thousands of students, parents and community folks to March on Sacramento for bilingual education, Ethnic Studies, adequate funding, equal opportunities to learn and against the racism and anti-immigrant sentiment of the period.
We also dabbled in electoral politics during the Rainbow Coalition campaigns of 1984 and 88 as well, and learned to "wield the weapon" of electoral politics to help build stronger social movements for a more democratic and just society, as one of our leaders Wilma Chan used to say. Wilma is now in the California State Assembly.
CPA also sparked my interest in US China relations, fighting against anti-Asian violence, and connecting immigrant rights and workers rights and economic justice for our communities."
- Snapshots of Asian America, bio, accessed Jan.11, 2013
- [http://www.caasf.org/2017/10/end-national-security-scapegoating/← Developing Grassroots LeadersCAA Advocates for “Clean” Federal DREAM Act → End National Security ScapegoatingPosted on October 31, 2017 by CAA]