JERSEY CITY, NJ — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has named Jason T. Lagria, a 34-year-old second generation Filipino American to the Advisory Committee on Diversity for Communications in the Digital Age on Monday, March 11. He will serve for a term of two years, which coincides with the charter of the committee.
The mission of the committee is to make recommendations to the FCC regarding policies and practices that will further enhance the ability of minorities and women to participate in telecommunications and related industries.
Lagria, an Asian American Justice Center (AAJC) telecommunications and broadband policy senior staff attorney, said he was honored to represent the Asian American community at the FCC.
It is important for all communities to “have a seat at the table, especially when it comes to advising the FCC on diversity issues in the communications field,” Lagria said.
He is also concerned about the lack of diversity in ownership of broadcast radio and television stations, where women and minorities own very little stations. ” I hope the committee works on policy proposals to increase those numbers, ” Lagria added.
According to AAJC, as of 2011 – the most recent year available – only 11.9 percent of full power TV stations were owned by women or minorities. Asian Americans owned only six, or 0.5 percent.
At AAJC where he has worked for nearly three years, Lagria advocates for policies that promote universal access to broadband and reduce barriers to critical technology and services for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other underserved communities. He also works to increase diversity in the mass media.
Lagria said he initially joined AAJC as a Pro Bono Attorney for AAJC’s Judicial Nominations program where he advocated for the nomination and confirmation of AAPI candidates to positions in the judicial and executive branches. He was transitioned to the telecom position a few months after.
Prior to working at AAJC, Lagria was employed by a large New York-based law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy as a patent litigator at its Washington, DC office. His practice concentrated on intellectual property dispute and other complex litigation.
He also participated in various pro bono cases, including successfully negotiating a trademark dispute for a national Asian American non-profit organization. He is a former volunteer and law clerk for the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center and an active member of KAYA: Filipino Americans for Progress and APABA-DC.
Besides having a biomedical engineering degree from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, he also holds a law degree from the George Washington University. While this combination of academic degrees seemed a rarity, Lagria said he always” tried to work in some sort of area that involved technology, whether it was patents at my previous job or telecommunications now.”
“In DC at least, there are a ton of telecom attorneys! I think I’m very lucky that I have a job that is at the cross section of civil rights and technology – two of my passions,” Lagria said.
Lagria is a national co-chair of KAYA, an organization which started in 2008 as Filipinos for Obama but has transitioned into a political organization.
According to Lagria, KAYA’s mission is to mobilize the Filipino American community to vote, advocate for policies that affect the community and increase the number of Filipino Americans in all levels of government.
“We’ve been successful in electing Filipino American candidates such as Mark Pulido and Rob Bonta in California. We’re nationwide right now with four chapters and still growing. We are open to everyone and membership is free,” Lagria said.
He emphasized, however, that his involvement “in the Obama campaign didn’t have anything to do with the FCC appointment. The appointment came about because of my work at AAJC.”
“A big reason why I am involved in the Filipino and Asian American community is because of my parent’s involvement in Filipino organizations when I was growing up,” Lagria said.
Lagria was raised in Houston, Texas. His parents are from Lila, Bohol who came to the U.S. in the early 70s but are now spending their time between Houston and Bohol as retirees. He has an older sister and younger brother who also reside in Houston.
Lagria is not the first FilAm appointed to an advisory committee of the FCC. Mia Martinez from the National Asian American Coalition (formerly Mabuhay Alliance) was also named to the Consumer Advisory Committee in 2011. Elizabeth Andrion is another Filipino American who serves as a legal counsel for the Chairman of the FCC.