Asian Arts Initiative
1219 Vine St
Philadelphia, PA 19107  ·  map
Phone: 215-557-0455

Anne Ishii, Executive Director | ext. 223
Rodney Camarce, Senior Programs Manager | ext. 240
Christina Chen, Administrative Associate | ext. 222
Aathira Chennat, Development and Communications Assistant | ext. 241
Dave Kyu, Senior Programs Manager, Community | ext. 224
Catherine Lee, Development and Communications Manager | ext. 231
Jino Lee, Youth Arts Workshop Lead Teaching Artist
Matt Nelson, Building Operations Manager | ext. 229
Julia Millan Shaw, Deputy Director | ext. 232
Jiawen Xiong, Youth/Education Program Manager | ext. 239


Our Staff

Anne Ishii

Executive Director

Anne is a writer, editor and translator, who for the past ten years has worked specifically to achieve visibility and recognition for art and artists that touches on issues of gender and sexuality in the Asian diaspora. In her quest to platform more and better iterations of work from the API diaspora, Anne has worked in publishing and advertising, venture consulting and content strategy.

Rodney Camarce

Senior Programs Manager

Rodney returns to the Asian Arts Initiative after serving multiple arts organizations throughout Philadelphia as a visual artist, a facilitator, the Youth Development Manager for the Mural Arts Program and a graphic recorder for the Bartol Foundation, Lenfest Foundation, and Ground Work USA. He has served as a Co-Ambassador for the Racial Equity Network for the National Guild for Community Arts, has been a Community Organizer in South Philadelphia and the International District in Seattle, works to build solidarity among all people in struggle, believes that we must subvert this cultural genocide by any means necessary, and practice radical optimism to imagine new possibilities.

Christina Chen

Administrative Associate

Christina first joined Asian Arts Initiative in the Spring of 2016 as an intern before becoming administrative assistant in the Summer of 2017. At the University of Pittsburgh, she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a certificate in Asian Studies. Because of her interest in language and arts administration, she’s previously worked as a volunteer ESL teacher at the Nationalities Service Center and as an intern at dance organizations in the Philadelphia area such as The Rock School for Dance Education and Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers. Outside of the office, she enjoys fan-girling, hoarding library books, and creating dance covers of Asian pop choreo.

Aathira Chennat

Development and Communications Assistant

Aathira joined Asian Arts Initiative in the Fall of 2018. While earning their B.A. in Economics and Middle Eastern Studies at Wellesley College, they served as a leader to students of Asian descent on campus. Working as a community organizer within the AAPI community was a galvanizing experience for them, and they feel fortunate to carry this work forward at Asian Arts Initiative. Aathira is a Malayali-American writer and transplant from Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their art explores the pockets of diasporic history and familial legend preserved in food, dance, and language.

Dave Kyu

Senior Community Programs Manager

Dave is a socially engaged artist and writer. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in the US, his work explores the creative tensions of identity, community, and public space. He has made public art with communities for the Asian Arts Initiative, Mural Arts Program, and the City of Philadelphia. His own creative projects have found him commissioning skywriting planes to write messages 10,000 feet over Philadelphia, and doing everything Facebook told him to do for a month. His essays have been published in Generocity, the Artblog, and the Philadelphia Citizen.

Catherine Lee

Development and Communications Manager

Catherine has her Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington. Prior to joining Asian Arts Initiative, Catherine worked with a number of Seattle-based nonprofits focusing on evaluation and program design as well as a Philadelphia-based consulting firm to manage an extensive portfolio of resource development plans and capital campaigns. Outside of work, Catherine is a Fair Trade advocate, a contributing writer to a Bhutan-based youth magazine, and leverages her expertise to support emerging artists. She also enjoys photography, collecting typewriters, and diversifying her collection of notebooks.

Jino Lee

Lead Teaching Artist (YAW)

Jino is a photographer based in Philadelphia. He is interested in how the quotidian use of photography creates stories we choose to remember as reality. With installations and bookmaking, he explores ways to experience photographs poetically and understand the nuance between reality and fiction in pictures.

Matt Nelson
(He/him; They/their)

Facilities Manager

Matt has been professionally collaborating with Asian Arts Initiative since 2012; first as a tenant and then later joining the staff in 2015. Matt is a Philadelphia-based artist, producer, arts facilitator, and educator whose work utilizes sculpture, site-specific installation, and devised performance to explore the vulnerabilities and strengths of the shelters in which we dwell; be it the walls we build, the masks we wear, and the skin we’re in. Matt enjoys all manner of geekery fare including table-top gaming, quizzo, and hunting burritos in the wild.

Julia Millan Shaw

Deputy Director

Julia joined the Asian Arts Initiative team in the Spring of 2016. Prior to joining Asian Arts Initiative, Julia  worked on statewide campaigns focused on wildlife conservation and protecting endangered species, protecting wild lands in Alaska, political advocacy and campaigns and fundraising for public schools. Julia is a Graduate Hospital resident, by way of New Jersey and Alaska, and has a dedication to protecting land and wildlife both at home and across the country. She also spends time as an advocate for arts, education and urban agriculture in her city and is a mom to three young children.

Jiawen Xiong

Youth Education Programs Manager

Jiawen completed her Master in Intercultural Communication from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Born and raised in China, studied in Greece and the US, her interest lies in intercultural education for the immigrant community. After joining the Asian Arts Initiative in fall 2017, her work involves using experiential learning and art activities to assist the students with exploring their own cultural identities.



Gayle Isa is a Founder and former Executive Director of Asian Arts Initiative. Gayle has been a Douglas Redd Fellow focused on arts and community development and has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the National Performance Network, and the national Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists. She has also been a member of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs and the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, and was the first Asian American appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She has been an aspiring dramaturg and taiko drummer, and is currently focusing her creative energy on parenting her school-aged daughter.