Ami Chen Mills is a 30-year resident of Santa Cruz County, mother of two teens, author, essayist and national non-profit founder/director who launched the National Community Resiliency Project with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in multiple sites across the United States. In this role, she secured funding for and oversaw multiple projects in different states and with very different populations—managing the org and project budgets, leading the national project and collecting outcome data, as well as reporting outcomes to funders.
For six years, she worked for Santa Clara County’s Health and Hospitals System–throughout multiple departments, in the county jail, juvenile hall and youth correctional ranches, and with employees and teams from across the County. She has also worked with several agencies in Santa Cruz County. (See some outcomes of all this work, here)
She is a global speaker and mental health educator who has engaged with thousands of individuals from all walks of life to improve individual lives, schools, and communities and to increase civic engagement, reduce stress and depression, and reduce crime and school drop out rates. She is also a former investigative journalist, radio show and podcast host, climate and social justice activist and community organizer.
Ami won two First Place awards from the CNPA in Investigative and Environmental Journalism, while based in Santa Cruz, and has written for Inc. Magazine, Mother Jones, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Santa Cruz Sentinel and more. Her two books, for educators and youth: State of Mind in the Classroom and The Spark Inside: A Special Book for Youth are translated into several languages and are in use globally.
Until launching her campaign, Ami co-hosted “Unheard Voices” at KSQD and created “Moment of Truth” with Alvin Dawkins–in Alabama–on national politics, the climate crisis, healing racism and tapping our innate resilience as we navigate troubled times. Her YouTube channel: “Heart of America” looks at issues of income disparity, the climate crisis and cross-divide dialogue.
She helped organize the 2019 Climate Strike (with a broad coalition of groups), the 2017 Tax Day March in Palo Alto—featuring Anna Eshoo; the International Women’s Day March (2017), the 2016 Inauguration Day March, and, in 2019 lobbied Senators and Rep. Jimmy Panetta in DC with Citizens Climate Lobby for a national carbon tax with dividends to citizens. She has helped found local climate activist groups, and continues to work toward divestment from fossil fuels.
Ami is a member of Asian-Americans in the Santa Cruz Area and has been instrumental locally in bringing issues of Chinese-American history to the fore to be seen and healed. She is a supporter of Black Lives Matter and has spoken and written in Medium and elsewhere about this, and many other forms of racial healing—including for Asian Americans, the Indigenous and others. Her election will bring a Chinese-American woman to a currently all white, all male board and invoke healing and justice after decades of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian sentiment in our County’s deeper past.