History and Values

Our History

In late 2008, Advancing Justice – Atlanta’s former Executive Director, Helen Ho, heard of a proposed English-Only Driver’s License bill that was predicted to pass swiftly through the 2009 Georgia Legislative Session. The bill sought to prohibit immigrant citizens and residents from taking the permanent driver license exam in a language other than English, when 40% of AAPI adults in Georgia are Limited English Proficient. Realizing that the majority of Asian Americans were either unaware or misinformed about the impact of this bill, Helen began speaking one on one with individual grassroots leaders she knew through her volunteer and community work. As understanding and momentum built, these one-on-one conversations led to community group meetings which led to the formation of a new coalition of Asian grassroots organizations and associations that worked in concert to defeat this bill. Later, in Spring 2010, Helen founded the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center (AALAC).

In 2014, we became part of the national Asian Americans Advancing Justice affiliation. Since then, we have re-organized our focus areas more specifically into four groups: policy advocacy, leadership development, civic engagement, and legal services.

In 2015, Advancing Justice Atlanta’s founder and Executive Director, Helen Kim Ho decided to step down from her role following a 5 year tenure. Following her announcement, the Advancing Justice - Atlanta Board of Directors organized a transition team to conduct a search for Helen’s replacement. In the fall of 2015, Stephanie Cho was hired as interim Executive Director to work with Helen during her transition. Stephanie was chosen out of many candidates for her extensive experience in community organizing, strategy planning, and fundraising at the local and national level. In mid-2016, Stephanie was unanimously installed by the Board of Directors as the permanent Executive Director for Advancing Justice Atlanta.

Since 2016, Advancing Justice - Atlanta helped to convene the Georgia Immigrant Alliance for Civic Empowerment, a 27 member coalition that protects the rights of immigrants, refugees, and other communities of color. The majority of our partner groups serve the AANHPI community or specific ethnicities therein, but other groups serve the Latino community, the Caribbean community, the African diaspora community, etc. This coalition is one of the cornerstones of our base building efforts. Moving forward into the near future, we hope to strategically grow this coalition to include even more groups to maximize our impact.

Our organization has made incredible leaps in progress in the past few years. Since our founding, our organization has been instrumental to engaging Asian American voters in Georgia. In the November 2016 election our efforts led the way for the more-than-doubling of the Asian American vote in the state.

Our Values

  • Bottom up vs. top down: community members inspire our work.

  • Community groups are not our clients but our partners.

  • We believe in collaboration and movement building.

  • Human rights is the core of our work.