Helen Zia

Leadership Council Co-Chair, CAPA21


Helen Zia is writer, journalist and former Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine. Her award-winning articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including Ms., New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, Essence, The Advocate, and OUT. She is the author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People (2000) which was quoted by President Clinton in the Rose Garden on two separate occasions; and is coauthor, with Wen Ho Lee, of My Country Versus Me(2002), the story of the Los Alamos scientist who was falsely accused in unsubstantiated front page stories of being a spy for China in the “worst case since the Rosenbergs.”

Ms. Zia testified before the US Commission on Civil Rights 1997 about inaccurate and biased news coverage of Asian Americans during the spotlight on campaign finance. She traveled to Beijing in 1995 to cover the UN Fourth World Congress on Women as part of a UNITY journalists of color delegation. Her work on the Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence is documented in the Academy Award nominated film, “Who Killed Vincent Chin?”

A second generation Chinese American, Helen Zia is a Fulbright Scholar. She was an Expert Fellow with University of Southern California’s Justice and Journalism program of the Annenberg School of Journalism, and was Writer/Scholar-in-Residence at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/Institute for 2004-2005. She received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Law School of the City University of New York and was the first recipient of the Suzanne Ahn Journalism Award for Civil Rights and Social Justice. She is a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, where she was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar and a member of the university’s first graduating class of women. She quit medical school 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.