Paul Ong, director of UCLA’s Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, was featured by the American Planning Association  in a tribute to Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders who have shaped the nation’s history and communities.

Ong, who is a research professor in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, was one of 12 planners, architects, historians and community organizers who have “influenced our built environment, fought for historical and cultural preservation, and championed social justice to help make great communities for all,” the association’s Planning magazine said.

He joins a list including modernist architect I.M. Pei, statesman Norman Mineta, Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin and racial justice attorney Manjusha Kulkarni, who co-founded the hate crime reporting center Stop AAPI Hate. 

As a UCLA researcher and educator, Ong has specialized in urban planning, social welfare and Asian American studies, with a focus on labor, environmental justice and immigration. Over the past year, Ong has examined the direct and indirect impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on people and communities as part of the COVID-19 Equity Research Initiative at the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge. The initiative focuses on systemic racial and class inequalities with the goal of developing insights that will lead to a just and fair recovery. 

The APA said its list of honorees, compiled in consultation with Asian American Studies scholars, is “intended to shine a spotlight on the many ways that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have built careers in service of their communities, especially in the face of adversity.”