Asian American Alliance
Asian-American Community Organization
The mission of Asian American Alliance, Inc. is to empower Central Indiana Asian Americans to serve and lead in the community and businesses.
On March 4, 1999, 25 Hoosiers from 15 Asian American organizations attended a dinner meeting with Albert Chen—the founder of Carmel-based Telamon. The Asian American and Pacific Islander populations in Central Indiana had grown significantly over the years, which led to a number of new affinity groups for each specific culture.
But these community leaders recognized a need for one unified organization that could represent all aspects of the Asian American experience. That day, over a shared meal and shared ideas, the Asian American Alliance, Inc. (AAAI) was born.
For 24 years, AAAI has sought to mobilize the resources and potential of the Asian American community to help make Central Indiana an even better place to call home. They offer unique programs and activities to bridge the gap between communities and ultimately empower Asian American Hoosiers.
Their signature event—Asian Fest—invites over 3,000 people to experience the vibrant culture, art, music and food of Asia. More than just a festival, this event is also an important educational experience that teaches Hoosiers about the local Asian American community. In 2021, Asian Fest even provided free health screenings and vaccines to attendees.
AAAI also serves an important role in advocating for and protecting the Asian American community in Central Indiana. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased across the nation.
“The past three years have been very difficult for the Asian community,” said Rupal Thanawala, President of AAAI. “From organizing protests against anti-Asian violence to hosting town halls with business leaders in the community, we create awareness and education around these problems.”
While many organizations reduced their programming during the pandemic, AAAI stepped up to support the sudden influx of Afghan refugees in the Hoosier State. “When we heard the news that Indiana was one of the sites selected to receive Afghan guests for Operation Allies Welcome, AAAI reached out to Camp Atterbury to see how we could help,” said Thanawala.
What started as a small donation drive for clothing and toys quickly became a massive technology donation program. By the end of the program, they had received enough donations to support the refugees at Camp Atterbury, as well as 53,000 other refugees across the country.
With all these donations, Asian American Alliance partnered with organizations across the U.S. to set up classrooms and computer labs at all nine refugee bases across the country.
Another of AAAI’s signature programs is their “Seat At The Table” leadership series, which hosts candid conversations about the Asian American community. These conversations showcase important leaders in the community while keeping the spirit of that first founding dinner meeting alive. They also inspire AAAI members to get involved in local business, politics and community affairs.
“There is more and more collaboration happening between Indiana and Asian businesses,” said Thanawala. “We want to make sure that we advocate for them, welcome them and help them integrate in our community.”