Leading through Compassion and Serving Others — Tarina Ahuja
On Friday, October 21, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC hosted its 26th annual American Courage Awards to recognize and celebrate trailblazers in the Asian American community who have shown extraordinary commitment to advancing civil and human rights.
This year, Advancing Justice | AAJC introduced a new award in honor of the legacy of former Secretary of Transportation, the late Norman Mineta, and his life-long commitment to public service — the Norman Y. Mineta Spirit Award. This award recognizes a youth advocate whose community-centered leadership has exemplified dedication, compassion, and resilience benefitting Asian Americans on a local or national level. The inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Spirit Award recipient is Tarina Ahuja.
Tarina is recognized for her deep compassion and dedicated service to her community as a youth advocate. At the young age of 10, Tarina wrote an open letter to the country following the deadly attack at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin sharing how the tragedy has impacted her as a Sikh American and how racism and violence is impacting the country. She later co-founded Young Khalsa Girls, a grassroots nonprofit dedicated to empowering young girls to serve their communities through service and advocacy. She is also the co-founder and president of The Greater Good Initiative, a youth-led, youth-run, national policy think-tank working on issues across sectors including economy, public health, education, civil rights, and environment. Over the years, Tarina has mentored countless young Sikhs, empowering them to take ownership of their communities guided by the values of Sikhi.
As a community organizer and leader, she led a workshop on youth empowerment with the local community as part of a series of events in remembrance of the 10-year anniversary of the shooting of Oak Creek. In addition to her work directly with the community, Tarina has worked with Senator Cory Booker, Delegate Suhas Subramanyam, the National Democratic Institute, and Amnesty International.
Tarina has also taken on leadership roles to serve her college campus community. As a junior at Harvard College, she currently serves as the Director of Diversity and Outreach for The Institute of Politics, the Director of Outreach for South Asians in Public Service, the President of Harvard Sikhs, and works at the Harvard Law School’s Immigration and Refugee Clinic.
Advancing Justice | AAJC was honored to have Deni Mineta, the wife of Norm Mineta, to present the inaugural Norman Y. Mineta Spirit Award. Tarina has exemplified immense courage, compassion, and commitment to serving the Asian American community. She is recognized for her leadership and dedication to advancing racial justice and equity even in moments of adversity, that continue to empower our youth.
As a titan for the nation and a fierce, compassionate leader for the Asian American community, Norm is revered not only for his distinguished years of service, but also for moments where he stood up for our community at pivotal times in our history. In introducing the Spirit Award, Advancing Justice | AAJC seeks to lift up and highlight the inspiring work of our young leaders who follow Norm’s footsteps in fighting for a better future for all Americans.
Take a moment to watch Tarina’s exceptional acceptance speech or experience the whole event here.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Visit our website at advancingjustice-aajc.org