Mary Kunmi Yu Danico

Mary Kunmi Yu Danico

Award-winning Public Scholar, Writer, and Expert on the Asian American Diaspora, Race, and Ethnic Relations



Mary Yu Danico, PhD, is an award-winning public scholar, writer, and prominent expert on race and ethnic relations, international migration, the Asian American diaspora, immigrant families, and social justice. She recently accepted a new position at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa, as Director for the Center of Oral History and faculty in the Department of Ethnic Studies.

As an immigrant and first-generation college student, Mary has always been curious about the role of family, community, and place on one’s identity. Her work is grounded in an anti-racist and anti-oppression framework that examines how socio-cultural factors shape us and her research centers around the intersectionality of ethnic identity, gender sexuality, class, community formation, family, generations, and social justice.

Her acclaimed leadership experience working with a diverse body of faculty, staff, and students as well as community, non-profit, and industry leaders has yielded a vibrant collaborative track record. She has extensive experience collaborating with community partners, developing leadership trainings, executive coaching, creating peer mentoring programs, partnering for student success, and creating opportunities for professional growth for emerging leaders and scholars.

Previously, Mary was a Cal Poly Pomona professor of Sociology for 25 years, where she also served, more recently, as the Director of the Michi and Walter Weglyn Endowed Chair of Multicultural Studies. While at Cal Poly Pomona, she was also the Director of the Asian American Transnational Research Initiative which, as a global information hub, aims to assess the impact of Asian Americans across the nation and around the world. The initiative was also a personal quest for Danico. As a child immigrant from Seoul, South Korea, and a senior Fulbright Scholar in Korea, she understands the importance of global connections and relations. For the past 15 years, she has also been studying hallyu which refers to the global boom in Korean pop culture - from music, movies, and TV dramas to online games and Korean cuisine.

Mary has published numerous articles and book chapters, and is the author of The 1.5 Generation: Becoming Korean American in Hawaii and Asian American Issues. She also co-edited Transforming the Ivory Tower: Challenging Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism in Higher Education and edited Asian American Society Encyclopedia Volume 4. She is currently working on her fourth book, MILLENiGens: Everything We Want to Know About Millennials and GenZ (tentative title).

Additionally, she has collaborated with the Chinese American Women Biography project and the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to document the pioneers who championed Asian American/Native American/Pacific Islander-serving Institution designation (2017-2019). She was the past president of the Association for Asian American Studies (2012-2014), the past chair of the Asia and Asian America section of the American Sociological Association (2012-2013), and an Advertising Education Foundation fellow (2013).

Understanding Asian American Microaggression History, Asian American activism and coalition building

Anti-Asian racism, hate, and violence and connection to systematic racism

Transforming the Ivory Tower: Challenging Racism, Sexism, and Homophobia in the Academy

Minority-Serving Institutions: Asian American and Pacific Islanders Struggle for Inclusion

The New Era of Ethnic Studies: Confronting the “Isms” in the Ivory Tower

  Topic Areas

Professional Development
Leadership Development
Race/Racial Justice/Racism
Asian/Asian American

  Related Links


Anti-Asian Hate conversation with Mary Kunmi Yu Danico and Linda Palacios

“Mary is an authentic, engaging, multifaceted, and highly resourceful presenter. Participants genuinely connected with the information that she shared, her approach and her lived experience, so this was an invaluable professional development opportunity. She is truly a breath of fresh air to any organization or institution seeking to create a culture of care!”
Sarah Hopkins Director, Human Resources, Sonoma County CA Junior College District

Related Speakers