Helen Zia is an award-winning author, journalist, activist and Fulbright Scholar. She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, about the contemporary struggles of Asian American communities to be full participants in this American democracy. She is the former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine and board chair of the Women’s Media Center.
The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Helen has been outspoken on social justice issues ranging from human rights and peace to women’s rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 2008, she was one of 79 people in North America who carried the Olympic Torch in San Francisco. Her work on the landmark 1980s civil rights campaign against anti-Asian violence is documented in the Academy Award nominated film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?” She was profiled in Bill Moyers’ PBS documentary, “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience.”
Helen is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of British Columbia and she holds an honorary Doctor of Laws from the Law School of the City University of New York. She is a graduate of Princeton University’s first coeducational class. After college Helen attended medical school but quit after completing two years, then went to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life’s work as a writer.