Press Statements

CIPC Board of Directors Appoints Shiu-Ming Cheer and Whelma Cabanawan as Interim Co-Executive Directors

With Cynthia Buiza’s upcoming transition as Executive Director, the Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Shiu-Ming Cheer and Whelma Cabanawan as Interim Co-Executive Directors at CIPC.

Hector Villagra, CIPC Board Chair says:

“Whelma and Shiu-Ming have a long history of policy advocacy and movement building work, and they are well known leaders in the community. We have every confidence that they will be able to carry out the critical mission of this organization as we recruit CIPC’s next Executive Director.”

Shiu-Ming Cheer has over 25 years of experience in immigrant rights and social justice movements. She has been the Deputy Director of Programs and Campaigns at CIPC since 2021. Her prior positions include Soros Justice Fellow and Managing Attorney at the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Civil Rights Coordinator at South Asian Network, Children’s Attorney at the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, and Director of Movement Building and Strategic Partnerships at the National Immigration Law Center. She has been a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at UCLA School of Law. Apart from her day jobs, Shiu-Ming has continuously volunteered with grassroots organizing groups. She has served on the Boards of Khmer Girls in Action, the Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance (KIWA), and the Filipino Migrant Center. She has received awards for her legal and community work from the National Lawyers Guild – LA, UCLA School of Law’s Public Interest Program, the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition, and KIWA, as well as for her work on the LA Justice Fund and LA Raids Response Network.

Whelma Cabanawan has 17 years of nonprofit management, human rights advocacy, and community organizing experience. As CIPC’s Deputy Director of Administration and Finance, Whelma is focused on guiding CIPC to be an innovative and sustainable organization. From 2007 to 2013, Whelma worked with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA) to support voter mobilization programs, community education initiatives, and advocacy campaigns that led to historic wins, such as the CA Dream Act, the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, and DACA. Her passion for social justice led her to pursue a human rights fellowship in Budapest and. Before joining CIPC, Whelma worked with Organize Florida and the Fight for $15 Campaign. She received a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Central Florida, an MBA in Nonprofit Management from American Jewish University, and an M.A. in Human Rights from Central European University in 2015. She is a doctoral candidate of the Organizational Leadership program at Adler University. Whelma has been awarded fellowships from Resource Leaders, the Wally Marks Leadership Institute, and the Fundraising Bright Spots Program. In her work to carry the legacy of People Power, she currently serves as a board member at the Filipino Migrant Center. 

Cynthia Buiza, CIPCs outgoing Executive Director adds:

“It has been the privilege of my vocation as an immigrant rights advocate and activist to work with these two amazing immigrant women whom I have known for nearly two decades. Their commitment and understanding of immigrant rights work, and deep roots in the movement makes me feel confident that the great work that CIPC has done and continues to do for immigrant communities will keep moving forward.”

CIPC is committed to ensuring that we have a smooth and responsible executive transition process, and the appointment of these two leaders as interim co-EDs is testament to that commitment. 

In solidarity,

Hector Villagra

Chairperson, CIPC Board of Directors