Better Together: Celebrating AAPI Heritage Month
Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month is a time to reflect on and celebrate the contributions and influence this diverse community have had on our nation. At Fannie Mae, our Asian ERG serves as a resource for our employees to come together and celebrate the many cultures and identities represented within the Asian diaspora. We had a chance to chat with the president of the Asian ERG, Dana Schlafman to reflect on AAPI Heritage Month and hear about the exciting events happening virtually this year.
Q: What is your current role and why have you continued your career at Fannie Mae?
A: Currently, I’m a Senior Manager responsible for the Business Architecture for our Single-Family division. One important initiative we’re working on is identifying and designing common services across our Single-Family, Capital Markets, and Multifamily teams. I really appreciate Fannie Mae’s mission, the career opportunities, and competitive benefits, which are just some of the reasons I’ve been here for over 25 years.
Q: How has being a part of an ERG influenced your experience at Fannie Mae?
A: It has been really rewarding and brings a different lens to employee engagement. Fannie Mae has consistently supported diversity and inclusion and since I’ve been able to grow and develop in my career here, leading the Asian ERG has allowed me to give back to the community. Through the sharing of cultures, mentoring, and skill building, the ERGs support their members and help them navigate corporate culture.
Q: What does AAPI Heritage Month mean to you?
A: To be honest, when I was younger, it hadn’t meant too much to me. As I’ve gotten older, my cultural heritage has become more important. Whether we directly recognize or appreciate it, many of the opportunities we have today were paved by those who have come before us. Recognizing the past contributions of the AAPI community allows us to acknowledge and appreciate the struggles of previous generations, as well as look forward to what more needs to be done. Unfortunately, with the increased incidents of violence directed at Asians, this year is an intentional celebration of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and standing against hate. AAPI Heritage Month is an opportunity to share, educate, and celebrate the Asian community at the company.
Q: How is the Asian ERG celebrating AAPI Heritage Month with our employees this year?
A: The Asian ERG is hosting an event with a prominent Asian American leader from the Financial Services industry. We’re also collaborating with INDUS ERG, Fannie Mae’s ERG celebrating the Indian culture, to host an event that showcases different Asian cultures. One event that I’m really looking forward to is a collaboration with the African Ancestry Business Leaders for Excellence (ABLE) ERG to co-host a panel to provide perspectives on experiences with racism. Together, we’re trying to share perspectives for employees to better understand minority viewpoints and how to be an ally for different minority groups.
Q: What are some ways that someone can be an ally to Asian American and Pacific Islander communities?
A: First thing I think of is to speak up when you see injustice. If you can’t speak out, then ask the person you think is being treated unfairly if they are ok and stand with them. Racism persists when people aren’t willing to call out aggression, especially when the bystanders look like the perpetrators.
This AAPI Heritage Month, Fannie Mae honors the contributions and lasting impact that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made on our country’s history and culture. We stand in solidarity with our AAPI community both within Fannie Mae and at large.
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