ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Since 2018, Shally Wong has served as Orange County’s Liaison to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Community.
Mayor Demings created the position when he took office, along with liaisons to the Hispanic, Latin American, and LGBTQ+ communities.
Orange County’s population is approximately 6 percent Asian-American but they only account for approximately 3 percent of the county’s employees.
Part of Wong’s role is trying to even out that discrepancy.
She also works with local Asian-American non-profit organizations.
On Friday, she stopped by the Asian supermarket on Colonial Drive to remind the manager there about the county’s Rental Assistance program.
Wong says the toughest part of the job is simply convincing people to advocate for themselves.
“Most of the people are immigrants. Let’s say they don’t have that right in their country, so they do not think voicing out is going to make a difference,” Wong says. “You are now in America. You have a way to voice now.”
And she encourages them to do so, especially since the country is listening so closely now, in light of recent incidents of violence against Asian Americans.
“The Mayor gave me a very clear message...He came to me and asked me. He is ready to talk, he is ready to listen, so now is the best time to raise your voice...This is a time that we need to have representation so we can move forward.”
Wong says it’s important for that representation to extend into politics as well.
Nationally, the numbers mirror those of Orange County’s with Asian-Americans making up about 6 percent of the U.S. population, but only about 3 percent of the House of Representatives. There are only 2 Asian-Americans in the Senate.