Meet The Staff

Madalene Mielke | President & CEO

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Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke is the President & CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) as well as the Founder and Principal of Arum Group, LLC.  She brings more than 20 years of experience working in political campaigns and specializes in political/non-profit fundraising and political training. Ms. Mielke began her professional career working at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the Training Division of the Political Department and later for the Clinton/Gore Coordinated ’96 campaign as a Regional Field Director in Pennsylvania.  

Ahmir Rashid | Chief of Staff

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Ahmir Rashid assumed the role of Chief of Staff at APAICS in September 2017. Ahmir has a diverse background spanning more than a decade that includes work for and proven results at non-profit organizations, engineering companies, private firms, large corporations, and political campaigns. He has led successful projects in many states and several countries.  Ahmir was born and raised in Michigan and earned a BSE and MSE in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan.

Helen M. Ruggiero | Chief Operating Officer

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Helen Ruggiero has over 20 years of experience in office administration and finance. In her current position, she is in charge of financial responsibility, fundraising, grant writing and event planning.  She is also liaison for APAICS Board and Advisory Council.


Vimala Phongsavanh | Director of Programs and Community Engagement

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Vimala is the proud daughter of Laotian refugees, and was born, raised, and educated in the state of Rhode Island.  She will be joining APAICS from the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF) — where she led the organization’s policy department and advocated for issues that build power for AAPI women and girls. Vimala has experience organizing in the Southeast Asian American community, she served in elected office as the chairwoman of the school committee in her hometown, and has led successful local and state campaigns in voting rights and government reform, education, and health. She holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Rhode Island, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Providence College.


Nashwah Akhtar | Communications Associate

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Nashwah Akhtar currently serves as the Communications Associate at APAICS. Nashwah was born and raised in the Bay Area, CA and attended the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, where she earned her BA in Communication, and Master’s in Public Diplomacy. Following graduation, Nashwah studied the refugee crisis in Paris, France, and also worked with the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in a communications and outreach capacity, facilitating hundreds of voter registration drives before the 2016 Election. In this role, Nashwah will be working to build relationships with press, create and distribute content for APAICS’ social media and website, and provide general support of APAICS’ programs. In her free time, Nashwah enjoys traveling, reading, and practicing Arabic calligraphy.

Contact Us

CALL: (202) 296-9200