AAWW Board Announces New Executive Director

Aslan Chalom

Press Release

January 3, 2020

NEW YORK, NY – Today, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) Board of Directors announced that they have appointed Jafreen M. Uddin as their new Executive Director, following Lillian Cho who has been overseeing the critical 6-month transition phase as the Interim Executive Director after Ken Chen, who had served as the Executive Director since 2008. Ms. Uddin will be the seventh Director since AAWW’s founding in 1991 and the first woman in the long-term Executive Director role.

“We are looking forward to working with Ms. Uddin, who has demonstrated to us her keen interest in building upon the strengths of the AAWW, increasing its footprint in the publishing community, expanding its outreach to all writers from marginalized communities, and deepening our relationships with partner programs,” said AAWW’s Board Co-Chair Anne Ishii. “The Board is looking forward to supporting Ms. Uddin in her leadership of the AAWW at a significant moment in our country when it is imperative that all voices are heard,” added AAWW Board Co-Chair Jin Auh.

Ms. Uddin brings more than a decade of experience working in the public sector, primarily in communications, education, and fundraising. She comes to AAWW from PEN America where she most recently served as Deputy Director of Development for Special Events, managing a high-level portfolio of events and cultivation activities.

Prior to joining PEN America, Ms. Uddin helped oversee Executive Education as an Assistant Director with NYU’s Stern School of Business, developing and coordinating both degree and non-degree programming for cohorts of senior-level executives. She began her career with an eight-year stint at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, where she helped create the infrastructure for the public programming calendar of events. She spent nearly three years managing an online Book Salon for Aslan Media, spotlighting writers and artists from the greater Middle East/South Asia region, and she regularly volunteers her time with a number of local Muslim organizations in New York City, including serving as Chairperson of the Columbia Muslim Alumni Association from 2011-2015. Ms. Uddin received her B.A. in political economics from Barnard College, Columbia University, and her M.A. in global history from NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science. 

“The Workshop’s core mission of amplifying Asian American voices is needed now more than ever, and I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead the organization into a new era,” says Ms. Uddin. “I am especially honored for the chance to work with and on behalf of our community and its storytellers, building on the incredible momentum of the Workshop’s rich history and success.”

Board Co-Chair Anne Ishii adds, “The Board is also deeply grateful for the pivotal role that Lillian Cho served as our Interim Executive Director, which was instrumental in preparing the organization for this leadership transition.”

Ms. Uddin will step into her new role as Executive Director on January 21, 2020.

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The Asian American Writers’ Workshop (AAWW) is devoted to creating, publishing, developing and disseminating creative writing by Asian Americans, and to providing an alternative literary arts space at the intersection of migration, race, and social justice.

Since our founding in 1991, we have been dedicated to the belief that Asian American stories deserve to be told. At a time when migrants, women, people of color, Muslims, and LGBTQ people are specifically targeted, we offer a new countercultural public space in which to imagine a more just future.

We achieve this by:

  • Building an inclusive pipeline
  • Nurturing a new generation of Asian diasporic writers
  • Creating a sanctuary space for the imagination
  • Taking stories from the margins and pushing them to the center

We are a publisher, an incubator for emerging writers, and a sanctuary space for readers and ideas. We are a community of activists who use our artistry to advocate for and center the voices and ideas on the margins. Our public space in mid-town Manhattan in NYC is designed for gathering communities and building critical dialogue between literature and movement culture.

Flagship programs include: The Margins, an award-winning magazine of literature, arts, and ideas; The Margins Fellowship and Open City Fellowships, two of the city’s most nurturing fellowships for emerging writers; year-round literary readings and writing workshops for readers and writers; and CreateNow, our community arts programming at senior centers and public high schools throughout NYC.

Members of the AAWW staff are represented by the AAWW Union, founded in 2018, and affiliated with the Technical, Office, and Professional (TOP) Union, Local 2110 UAW, AFL-CIO.

Contact Information
Yasmin Majeed, Assistant Editor – ymajeed@aaww.org