Skip to content
Reading time: 3 minutes
person with lei standing at a podium with an award
Amy Agbayani (Photo credit: Michael Taylor, East-West Center)

Amefil (Amy) Agbayani, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa emeritus assistant vice chancellor for student diversity, received the East-West Center’s 2023 Women of Impact Award for her lifetime work toward a more equitable and inclusive society. The award was presented to Agbayani at a private event on October 20.

“I am humbled and proud to receive this award,” Agbayani said. “Mahalo plenty to the East-West Center and many other organizations and individuals who continue to address inequities and give voice and visibility to marginalized communities. I am so very grateful to the center for awarding me a scholarship and bringing me to Hawaiʻi nearly 60 years ago, and providing me with lifelong friends from all across our region.”

A history of public service

people pose for a photo and award
(Photo credit: Michael Taylor, East-West Center)

Agbayani was born in the Philippines and received her education from UH Mānoa, University of the Philippines and East-West Center. At UH Mānoa, Agbayani advocated, developed and administered student equity and diversity programs for Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, African Americans, Pacific Islanders, students with disabilities, women, LGBTQ+ students, senior citizens, immigrants and other underserved groups. She also conducted research on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in higher education.

Agbayani served as chair of the Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission, the Judicial Selection Commission and the Filipino Community Center. She is co-chair of Hawaiʻi Friends of Civil Rights, and board member of the Patsy T. Mink PAC and The Legal Clinic, an organization that ensures justice for low-income immigrants and migrants in Hawaiʻi.

Most recently, Agbayani was selected by President Biden to serve on the White House Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. In April 2023, she received the Guardian of Immigrant Justice award from The Legal Clinic for her significant contributions to Hawaiʻi over 60 years.

Inspiring future generations

three people sitting and watching the stage
First Lady Jaime Kanani Green, Amy Agbayani and Suzanne Vares-Lum (Photo credit: Michael Taylor, East-West Center)

Each year, UH Mānoa awards the Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award, which recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated an ongoing commitment to enhancing diversity. The award was established to recognize Agbayani’s lifetime commitment to diversity and social justice in Hawaiʻi.

“For decades, Amy has given so much to our East-West Center community as an invaluable mentor and alumni leader,” said East-West Center President and UH Mānoa alumna Suzanne Vares-Lum. “We are so thrilled to be able to be able to honor her in return for her unwavering commitment not just to the center, but to all of humanity.”

Back To Top