National Geographic Celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

National Geographic staff celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month this May with virtual events hosted by Nat Geo’s Asian Pacific Entertainment Connection (APEX).

APEX Nat Geo is an employee resource group committed to celebrating cultures and employees of the Asian continent and Pacific region, promoting diversity and inclusion, and offering opportunities for growth and learning at National Geographic.

In this time of uncertainty, I was humbled and proud to see our colleagues come together to celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Month. We amplified voices often unheard and shared stories often untold, showing that honoring and respecting our differences can truly unite us.


The celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month included a master class on creativity with Galen Hooks. Galen Hooks is a well-respected choreographer, creative director, producer, singer/songwriter, and actress who worked on multiple Disney channel specials, America’s Got Talent, The Voice, and choreographed for artists including Camila Cabello, Ciara, Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson and Ne-Yo. This conversation is part of APEX DC’s "Breaking the Mold" series, which highlights Asians and Pacific Islanders who forged their own paths in industries where AAPI are often underrepresented.

Galen discussed how she thinks dance as a storytelling tool can create change. She believes that dance can better help a person understand them self, and can better help people understand other people and other cultures. Galen finished her master class by leading viewers in a virtual dance-mediation follow along.

APEX Nat Geo also hosted Virtual Belly Dance Benefit Class, led by Rachel Kay Brookmire of Sahara Dance Studio, a premier dance school dedicated to Middle Eastern dance. Proceeds from the class went to Feed Your Hospital, a food relief effort that delivers meals to frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers and supports local Asian restaurants.

Later in the month APEX Nat Geo hosted a virtual leadership panel, "Navigating Change in a Time of Disruption," focused on how leaders are guiding their teams to adapt to the new normal. The panel featured three Nat Geo Asian American and Pacific Islander executives: Indira Lakshmanan, Senior Executive Editor of Nat Geo Media; Akilesh Sridharan, Chief Financial Officer; and Grace Hong, Director of Development, Partnerships.

[LEFT to RIGHT] Grace Hong, Akilesh Sridharan and Indira Lakshmanan participate in APEX DC’s "Leadership Insights: Navigating Change in a Time of Disruption" discussion via Zoom. May 21, 2020.

APEX closed out Asian and Pacific-Islander Heritage Month and led into Pride Month with a virtual watch party of director Alice Wu’s new film, “The Half of It.” This virtual event was cohosted with Nat Geo PRIDE.

The virtual watch party was followed the next day by Alice Wu doing a virtual Q&A for several of the Disney BERGs. The Q&A was moderated by Pixar’s Andrea Goh and Yun Lien.

APEX also worked with National Geographic’s Image Collection team to curate beautiful archival photos that staff could download and use for virtual Zoom backgrounds. The archival photos, which are of iconic heritage sites in Asia, showcase the Image Collection and the beauty of Asian-Pacific Islander history.