2019 APA Heritage Awards & Reception
San Francisco’s APA Heritage Month kickoff event
- Sandy Mori, Second Annual Edwin Mah Lee Public Service Award Recipient
- Professor Gordon H. Chang, Community Inspiration Award Recipient, for launching the Chinese Railroad Workers Project of Northern California
- Steven Lee, Special Community Recognition Recipient for the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project
- The Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University for the 50th Anniversary
Celebrating Significant Community Milestones
Moving Mountains: 50 Years of Asian American Studies at SF State
The Asian American Studies (AAS) department at San Francisco State University celebrates its 50th Anniversary as the oldest and largest such department in the country. Its inception was the result of the 5-months Black Student Union/Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) student strike after which the nation’s first College of Ethnic Studies was founded at San Francisco State. The Asian American Political Alliance, Intercollegiate Chinese for Social Action, and Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor—were members of the TWLF and these organizations worked together to develop the Asian American Studies Department.
Through the years, AAS has grown to host 45 undergraduate and 8 graduate courses, with an average of 2,500 students per semester. AAS majors graduate at a rate of 94%, some of the highest at SF State and its students contribute thousands of hours to community service. The program has dedicated courses focusing on diverse ethnic groups including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Cambodian, Vietnamese, South Asians and Asians of Mixed Heritage. Members of the AAS faculty continue to distinguish themselves in research and publications, garnering awards at the Association of Asian American Studies conference annually over the past five years.
With its strong legacy of student activism, community involvement, and solidarity with other people of color, the Asian American Studies at San Francisco State remains steadfast in its commitment to promoting justice and equity.
Celebrating Significant Community Milestones
Honoring Chinese Railroad Workers for the Completion of the Transcontinental Railroad - 150th Anniversary
May 10, 2019 marks the 150th anniversary of Leland Stanford’ s driving the famous “golden spike” to connect the Central Pacific and Union Pacific lines at Promontory Summit, Utah, signifying the completion of the railroad connecting the east and west of country.
The Transcontinental Railroad was viewed as the epitome of 19th century engineering and has been credited for opening up California to trade and commerce. The railroad project started in about 1865, with large number of Chinese workers from communities in California. Soon after, shiploads of Chinese workers were recruited from China by Central Pacific Railroad to join the workforce. Historians estimate that at any one time, as many as 10,000 to 15,000 Chinese were working on the construction.
While Chinese workers were the key to the completion of the railroad, yet their contribution was never acknowledged for over a century. Chinese workers were not invited to the Golden Spike Ceremony in 1869, and nor did they receive any public recognition or acknowledgement during the Centennial Celebration in 1969. And finally in 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor inducted the Chinese Railroad Workers into the Hall of Honor.
In 2012, Stanford University Professor Gordon H. Chang launched the Chinese Railroad Workers in North America Project to focus on documenting the history of Chinese Railroad Workers. The project coordinates research in the United States and Asia in order to create an online digital archive available to all. Included as part of the project is an Oral Interviews Gallery that offers the public access to the video interviews with families of the workers’ descendants. As a result of this monumental research project, there is now a digital library of historical resources and a compilation of materials to be used in classrooms. Professor Chang has authored and co-edited a number of books on the subject, and the latest one published in the Spring of 2019 is titled Ghosts of Gold Mountain.
This effort in documenting the true stories of Chinese Railroad Workers has inspired many other projects to recognize the role of Chinese in this important part of American history, including the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial Project spearheaded by Steven Lee. This monument will be installed at the Placer County Rest Stop in Gold Run, California, honoring the first 500 Chinese workers who were hired as tests by Charles Crocker to work for the Central Pacific Railroad.
The APA Heritage Foundation also wishes to acknowledge the work of the late Philip Choy, the Chinese Historical Society of America and many other historians in pursuing recognitions for the role and presence of Chinese Railroad Workers.
Second Annual Edwin Mah Lee Public Service Award
Sandy Ouye Mori
Sandy Ouye Mori has served the people of San Francisco for nearly five decades and her contributions to the API community have had impact both locally and nationally.
Sandy has held the position of Executive Secretary to the San Francisco Health Commission for fourteen years. Her tenure in public service also included her appointment, by the late Mayor George Moscone, to the Commission on the Status of Women in 1976. In 1979, Sandy became the President of the Commission, the first Asian American woman to chair a City Commission.
A founding member of the Dignity Fund Coalition, Sandy’s passion has been in improving the care and services for seniors. In 1971, she co-founded Kimochi, Inc., a non-profit community-based organization dedicated to providing much needed services to primarily Japanese American and Japanese-speaking seniors in the Western Addition/Richard/Sunset districts of San Francisco. Presently, Sandy serves on the Mayor’s Long Term Care Coordinating Council. She is also the President of the Japantown Task Force whose mission is to preserve San Francisco’s Japantown, one of the three remaining Japantowns in the country.
Sandy Mori and Mayor Lee both shared a background in activism and civil right, with steadfast dedication to protecting those without a voice. They both followed the path of working within City government to create positive changes that benefit the diverse communities of San Francisco.
APA Heritage Awards
Celebration Theme and Past Honorees
In the United States, the month of May each year is celebrated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This annual celebration provides a special opportunity for promoting awareness and appreciation of the diverse history, cultures and traditions of Asian and Pacific Islanders. More about the origin of APA Heritage Month.
As part San Francisco’s annual celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the APA Heritage Celebration Committee presents awards to honor individuals and organizations that have achieved distinct impact in serving the APA community in San Francisco.
The APA Heritage Celebration Committee is proud of the tremendous talents in our community and hopes that the awards program will help promote their visibility and open doors for them.
And beginning in 2006, the APA Heritage Awards have been presented annually as part of the celebration to honor exemplary individuals and organizations for their distinct achievements that positively impacted the APA community.
Read more about past APA Heritage Awards honorees.
2018 Award & Milestones
A new addition to this year’s APA Heritage Awards program is the Edwin Mah Lee Public Service Award. This award is launched in memory of Mayor Lee and in honor of his legacy. To be presented annually at the APA Heritage Awards, the goal of this award is to inspire Asian Pacific Americans to pursue a career in public service with the same dedication and core values exemplified by Mayor Lee.
Edwin Mah Lee Public Service Award
Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu
Assessor-Recorder Carmen Chu has served the City and County of San Francisco for over a decade in various leadership positions. After serving as the Deputy Budget Director in the Mayor’s Office of Public Policy and Finance, Carmen was elected in 2007 to the Board of Supervisors representing District 4. During her tenure on the Board, Carmen played a pivotal role in improving the City’s budget process. As Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee, Carmen led the implementation of the City’s first two-year budgeting process. She was able to build consensus among business, labor and community advocates to ensure that the budget is appropriated to serve the needs and in the best interests of the people.
Since taking office as San Francisco’s elected Assessor-Recorder in 2013, Carmen has the distinction of being the only Asian American Assessor in all 58 of California’s counties. Under her leadership, the Office of the Assessor-Recorder has generated over one-third of San Francisco’s General Fund revenue to support crucial needs including fire, police, neighborhood improvements, health and family support services. Carmen has also implemented a number of innovative programs, including launching a new e-Recording system and a digitization project that provides a new and efficient platform to store and access over 210,000 properties.
Recognizing that planning for one’s financial future is a top priority for San Francisco families, Carmen recently created a Family Wealth Forum that featured free seminars, multilingual workshops, and one-on-one financial consultations on asset building and estate planning.
Over the years, one of Carmen’s priorities is to nurture and inspire the next generation of Asian Pacific American leaders. She has hosted and mentored many student interns, effectively building a pathway for Asian Pacific Americans aspiring to a career in public service. One notable success story is Katy Tang, who was appointed by Mayor Lee to serve on the Board of Supervisors when Carmen was appointed to serve as the Assessor-Recorder of the City.
Through her public service career, Carmen has been able to achieve positive results through hard work, innovative approaches and building consensus towards implementing effective policies and much like Mayor Lee, always modest and without seeking attention or recognition.
Celebrate Community Milestones
Chinese Historical Society of America (55 years)
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum - 55th Anniversary The Chinese Historical Society of America Museum (CHSA) is the oldest organization in the country dedicated to the interpretation, promotion, and preservation of the social, cultural and political history and contributions of the Chinese in America.
When founded in 1963, there were fewer than 250,000 people of Chinese descent living in the U.S. and CHSA was a lone voice for the study and dissemination of the history of this segment of the U.S. population. Today, as the number of Chinese in the nation has risen to nearly 4 million, CHSA strives to be a responsible steward of the remarkable narrative of this rapidly growing and increasingly visible community by promoting Chinese in America contributions through exhibitions, publications, film screenings, book readings, workshops, panel discussions, educational and public programs in the Museum and Learning Center.
Some of the Museum’s recent major exhibits include: Remembering 1882; Finding Jake Lee: The Paintings of Kan’s; The Chinese and the Iron Road and Chinese Americans: Exclusion/Inclusion.
Nihonmachi Street Fair (45 years)
Founded in 1973, the Nihonmachi Street Fair was an idea conceived by community leaders Steve Nakajo, Ron Kanzaki, and Kenny Kanzaki.
The objectives of the project were to provide leadership and mentorship opportunities for the youth of Japantown and to honor Japanese culture and tradition. Since then the annual event has grown from a four-booth affair to a two-day event expected to draw over 30,000 attendees in 2018.
The Nihonmachi Street Fair considers itself the original “melting pot” of street fairs, with many aspects of Asian Pacific American life and San Francisco’s cultural life expressed through performance, tradition, art, music, food, and community outreach and service. The street fair is produced, staffed, and organized by an all volunteer Planning Committee that are the driving force in keeping this important community event alive and ensuring its future. This year the event is slated for Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5 in San Francisco’s Japantown.
Pistahan Parade & Festival (25 years)
For 25 years, the annual Pistahan Parade and Festival has showcased the best of Filipino art, dance, music and food at the Yerba Buena Gardens in the heart of downtown San Francisco. This year, the Pistahan Parade kicks off the festival weekend on Saturday, Aug 11. It’s a colorful display of Filipino community pride and diversity as it marches along Market Street from Civic Center to the Yerba Buena Gardens with festive floats, ethnic dances, lively community contingents and more!
The two-day celebration of Filipino culture and cuisine will be held from Saturday Aug. 11 to Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018 between 11 am to 5 pm. The Pistahan Festival is expected to draw over 80,000 people. Admission is free and fun for the entire family. This year’s event will feature the return of the popular balut eating contest, delectable Filipino cuisine and desserts, cultural and artisan merchandise by local entrePinoys, world class performances and 7 pavilions celebrating arts, innovation, leadership, health, dance, sports and cuisine.
The Pistahan was founded by the Filipino American Arts Exposition in 1994 after more than 4,000 Filipino families were displaced during the redevelopment of the Moscone Convention Center and the Yerba Buena Gardens Complex. The Pistahan Parade and Festival continues to be held at the Yerba Buena Gardens since its inception 25 years ago, out of the community’s activism to honor, preserve and celebrate the enduring legacy of the Filipino American community’s struggles, triumphs and deep roots in SOMA Pilipinas, the new Filipino cultural heritage district in San Francisco.
San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (35 years)
The San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra (SFSYO), recognized internationally as one of the finest youth orchestras in the world, celebrates its 35th anniversary this season and more than 50% of its musicians are of Asian and Pacific Islander descent. Founded by the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) in 1981, the SFSYO’s musicians are chosen from more than 300 applicants in annual auditions.
The SFSYO’s purpose is to provide an orchestral experience of pre-professional caliber, tuition-free, to talented young musicians from the greater Bay Area. The more than 100 diverse musicians, ranging in age from 12 to 21, represent communities from throughout the Bay Area.
The SFSYO rehearses and performs in Davies Symphony Hall. SFSYO members also have the opportunity to work with many of the world-renowned Asian artists who perform with the SFS including renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Sarah Chang and violinist Midori Goto. Over the past three decades, the SFSYO has toured and performed in many major cities throughout Europe and Asia, including Paris, Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, to name a few.
2017 Celebrate Youth Leadership
Born in a small village in Bhuttan, Jyoti Gurung grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal after her family was forced to leave the village. Fifteen years later, Jyoti moved to the United States with her family in 2009. She attended the last two years of high school at Oakland International High School (OIHS), a school for newly arrived refugee and immigrant youth.
As a high-achieving student and youth advocate at OIHS, Jyoti was chosen to be a peer tutor for the Refugee Transitions (RT) after-school program. In this role, Jyoti assisted newcomer students as a tutor and mentor. She understood that newcomer youths were often socially and linguistically isolated, and strived to build a community based on listening to and giving voice to each other. After graduating from San Francisco State University in May 2016, Jyoti continues to dedicate herself to serving the underrepresented youth and being a voice for the newcomers’ community.
Jyoti is a committed leader in every community that she touches: at high school and college, in her ethnic community, and in the larger newcomer community. The organizations Jyoti has helped founded include the first leadership club at OIHS; the first and only Nepali Club at San Francisco State University, the Foundation for Conscious Activism, a youth empowerment nonprofit as well as a Nepali girls’ dancing group. Jyoti’s inspiring story was included in a film as part of the Refugee Transition’s “Pursuing Dreams” project and has been featured in multiple film festivals.
Presently, Jyoti is working at Refugee Transitions as a Development and Program Associate. She identifies herself as a Bhutanese-Nepali-American.
She hopes to inspire and be inspired, and in her words, “to become a better human above and beyond color, religion or border.”
Founded in 2006, Chinatown CDC’s Campaign Academy’s goal is to enable youth to emerge as powerful and engaged leaders who will bring about positive social changes towards building communities and enhancing the quality of life for San Francisco residents. The annual goal is to provide 10 Asian American youths, ages 14-17, with comprehensive training and experience in organizing multi-coalition, citywide campaigns that involve positive peer education and interaction with community stakeholders.
The Academy’s program is a yearlong commitment to community service through the identification and coordination of an issue campaign. This program is entirely peer-led and participants select the issue they will focus on, develop campaign goals and strategies, conduct community outreach and organize service-learning opportunities. This work is augmented by a comprehensive curriculum of workshops, trainings and focused retreats conducted by Chinatown CDC youth staffs and Campaign Academy graduates.
Academy youths have provided leadership in a number of issues campaigns, including “Free Muni for Youth” that resulted in the allocation of over $10 million in resources, providing 17 million rides for low-income youths from the age of 5-18. Over the years, other successful advocacy efforts also included the following: installation of a full pedestrian scramble at the intersection of Clay and Kearny Streets, a high-injury corridor in Chinatown; promoting the City’s Vision Zero campaign by creating bilingual pedestrian safety messages targeting Chinatown seniors and youths; advocating for healthier school lunches with the addition of salad bars in cafeterias and securing the establishment of an Ethnic Studies Program in the San Francisco Unified School District.
Since the Academy’s inception, over sixty-five youths have graduated from the program and in the past five years, every participating student was inspired to pursue higher education. chinatowncdc.org
2017 Celebrate Community Milestones
Co-founded in 1987 by Jon Jang and Francis Wong, Asian Improv aRts’ mission is to produce, present and document artistic works that represent the Asian American experiences and perspectives. As a non-profit arts presenter and as a recording label with over 70 titles, the organization has produced a significant multidisciplinary body of work in the San Francisco Bay Area and Chicago in community based and major venues. Over the years, it has also brought its productions on tour throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.
The following are the goals of Asian Improv aRts: 1) To make it possible for artists to create innovative works that are rooted in the diasporas experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage; 2) To engage the next generation of community members in the arts through arts education; 3) To ensure sustainability for artists and arts organizations in the challenging economic environment and 4) To facilitate creative collaborations that brings together major institutions, artists, and multigenerational audiences and participants. asianimprov.org
CAAMFest (presented by the Center for Asian American Media) is the nation’s largest showcase for new Asian and Asian American films, annually presenting approximately 120 works to audiences totaling 26,000 in San Francisco and Oakland. CAAMFest is a major cultural attraction for the city, welcoming more than 200 guest filmmakers and film professionals from around the country and internationally for the 11-day event. The festival has been
an important launching point for Asian American independent filmmakers as well as a vital source for new Asian cinema.
Founded in 1982 as the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the festival took its current name, “CAAMFest: Food, Music and Film” in 2013, expanding programming to include food and music which, along with film, provide unique ways to explore and express cultural connections and storytelling.
Motivated by the innovative ways Asian Americans are contributing to and shaping American identity and culture, CAAMFest aspires to incite dialogue and community engagement.
Starting in 2018, CAAMFest is moving to the month of May - Asian Pacific American Heritage Month – a time in which civic, cultural and corporate entities celebrate Asian American legacies and communities. caamedia.org
The idea of a festival to showcase Japanese and Japanese American culture was conceived in 1968 by Hisao Inoye to commemorate the grand opening of the Japanese Cultural and Trade Center (Japan Center). This festival has become known as the Cherry Blossom Festival when the vision of this community celebration evolved to include the celebration of Spring, a season that is symbolized by the blooming of the Cherry Blossoms.
With the support from a dedicated group of business and community leaders, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival has grown significantly over the past fifty years. Today, this event is regarded as the second largest of culturally focused events of this type in the United States. It was also named as one of the top ten cherry blossoms festivals in the world.
Drawing hundreds of thousands visitors to San Francisco’s Japantown annually, this festival takes place over two weekends in the month of April. The highlights of the festival’s program include various Japanese regional food and beverages, entertainment stages featuring performing artists from the Bay Area regions as well as from Japan, community information booths as well as a festive parade.
The San Francisco-Osaka Sister City Association was founded in 1957 under the leadership of then Mayor George Christopher. It is San Francisco’s oldest sister city relationship, and was created to promote peace and cultural exchange. Presently, the Association is co-chaired by Kathleen Kimura and Allen Okamoto.
Through the years, the Sister City Association has provided educational opportunities and life-changing experiences for students. Between 1986 and 2012, one college student from Osaka and two high school students from San Francisco were selected as student ambassadors for a three-week home-stay to experience life and culture in each country. Currently, two high school students from San Francisco continue to visit Osaka each year. And in celebration of the 60th anniversary, Osaka will be sending five high school students for a two-week home-stay with San Francisco high school students in 2018.
Today, through cultural, business and technology exchanges, this alliance continues to build bridges of friendship and commerce between these two vital centers of culture and finance. A delegation to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Association, led by Mayor Lee, is scheduled to take place in the fall of 2017.
2016 Celebrate Community Milestones
Celebrating 50th Anniversary of the Asian Art Museum
In 1959, Chicago industrialist Avery Brundage agreed to donate part of his vast collection of Asian art to San Francisco on the condition that the city build a new museum to house it. Completed in 1966, the new facility opened on June 11, 1966, in a space constructed as a wing of the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park. Subsequently, Avery Brundage made a second gift in 1969 and, in 1973 the institution—until then known as the Center for Asian Art and Culture—was renamed the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. When Avery Brundage died in 1975, he bequeathed his remaining Asian art to the museum. In total, he donated more than 7,700 objects to the City of San Francisco—all housed at the museum.
After the museum’s collection began to grow it became clear that the institution had outgrown its Golden Gate Park facility. The City of San Francisco, understanding the museum’s limitations in Golden Gate Park, offered the city’s former Main Public Library building to the museum. The museum chose renowned Italian architect Gae Aulenti—widely recognized as the designer who converted a railway station into the Musée d’Orsay in Paris—to redesign the building. The Asian Art Museum opened at its current Civic Center location in March 2003.
Today, the museum is celebrating 50 years of sharing Asia’s diverse cultures through one of the world’s finest collections of Asian art. The museum’s collection now stands at more than 18,000 objects, making it the largest museum in the United States devoted exclusively to the arts of Asia. In addition, the museum offers a robust schedule of special exhibitions, educational and public programs throughout the year. Find out more at www.asianart.org.
Celebrating 40th Anniversary of the San Francisco – Seoul Sister City Committee
San Francisco and Seoul became Sister Cities in May 1976. Thereafter, San Francisco - Seoul Sister City Committee (SFSSCC) was established in 1983 to actively promote and exchange of education, arts, and trade between the two cities. First Mayor of San Francisco to visit Seoul was Senator Diane Feinstein in 1983 and this tradition was most recently continued by Mayor Edwin Lee in 2013. Also in the same year, Mayor Won Soon Park of Seoul visited San Francisco and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to engage in a staff exchange program. This staff exchange program has strengthened understanding, appreciation, and friendship between two cities. Currently our mission is to strengthen cultural and commercial ties between two cities and through enduring friendship, civic engagement, and a shared vision, the committee strives to unite these two global cities together.
Few facts around Seoul, South Korea:
South Korea is conveniently located in the Eastern Asian region between China and Japan, with Hong Kong and Taiwan to the south. For a small country of 100,210 square kilometers (38,691 square miles), its capital is the world's second largest metropolitan area with almost half of all Korean living in Seoul. In Korea, there is no end to what people can see and experience, but trying Korean food is on the top of most to-do lists that visitors cannot wait to cross off! Following 5 best dishes that are rated “must-eat” items by locals as well as international visitors:
- Bibimbap, or cooked rice mixed with vegetables, sautéed beef, and twigak (dried seaweed or vegetables fried in oil) is one of the definitive Korean dishes in the eyes of Koreans and also globally.
- Samgye-tang is made by simmering a whole young chicken stuffed with ginseng, hedysarum root, jujubes, and sweet rice. Considered an energy-boosting dish best eaten on hot days, it is a classic Korean dish that has become popular among international diners as well.
- Bulgogi is prepared by marinating thin slices of beef before grilling them.
- Naengmyeon, cold buckwheat noodles, is considered a summer food, but it used to be enjoyed over a warm ondol floor (subfloor heating system) during the freezing winter temperatures.
- Kimchi is a fermented dish made with vegetables and a variety of seasoning ingredients. There are over three hundred varieties.
Current SFSSCC Board Members:
Hagen Choi, Chairman; Claire Chang, Vice Chair; Christina Jang, Treasurer; Stuart Fong, Secretary; Joy Boatwright, Elizabeth Fullerton, Sohyeong Kim, Philippe Lee, Jean Kim, Chong Hui Park, ChungSoon Lee, and Mike Kim. David Kim and Jane Kim are Advisors.
Celebrating 110th Anniversary of San Francisco Japantown
This year, 2016, is the 110th Anniversary of Japantown in the Western Addition. Prior to San Francisco’s 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, Japanese enclaves were dispersed in parts of Chinatown, South of Market, South Park and Western Addition.
San Francisco was the first entry point for Japanese to America beginning in 1860 with the arrival of the Kanrin Maru ship with a diplomatic embassy delegation to formally establish relations between the United States (U.S.) and Japan. San Francisco soon became home to the first Japantown including the establishment of the first Japanese Consulate in America. It also became the birthplace of the first Japanese American community organizations including the first Boy Scout Troop, baseball club, Young Buddhist Association, YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army, Buddhist temple and Christian church in America. San Francisco’s Japantown, or Nihonmachi, is one of only three Japantowns that remain in the U.S., the other two being in Los Angeles and San Jose.
Today, we can celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Japantown because of the generations that came before us – the Issei and Nisei generations. Although the Issei are gone, we still have the opportunity to recognize the Nisei while they are still living. Most Nisei are in their mid to late 80’s and early 90’s today, it will probably be the last significant anniversary they will be around to celebrate, which makes this year very important and special.
There are many events scheduled throughout the year and you can find a list on
or at www.apasf.org. Some upcoming events include an Open House in June at Kokoro Assisted Living, concerts and performances by various groups, the 85th Anniversary of Obon Odori in July, community picnic on September 24, in Golden Gate Park and, the Issei Tribute Garden Dedication in November in historic Cottage Row.
2015 Celebrate Creativity in Design
Born in Los Angeles, Dave Young Kim found his passion in art when his mother enrolled him in art classes during his childhood years. He began as a graffiti artist during a time when graffiti was a common part of the neighborhood streetscape. To pursue his learning in art, Dave attended the University of California at Davis where he studied with renowned artist Wyane Thiebaud. Subsequently, he studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Design in London and received the Master of Fine Art degree from Mills College.
When Dave moved to Oakland in 2007, a local graffiti group connected him to the Community Rejuvenation Project, a prominent mural association. Following that, Dave transitioned his painting talents onto walls and launched his career as a mural artist.
Dave’s work continues to straddle the lines between classical and street arts as he explores the complexities of living as a Korean American while struggling to embrace the heritage of his parents. Dave is currently working on a documentary that examines this tension.
Over the years, Dave has dedicated much of his artist talents to his neighborhood and communities. Some of his most notable projects include his work with World Impact on the Eighth Street mural in West Oakland, his work with Attitudinal Healing Connection to create a mural on San Pablo, Highway 580 underpass in Oakland and with YMCA to create a student driven mural about the struggles and successes of West Oakland youth.
Crisanta is truly a success story of someone who was self-taught and who believes that ‘practice makes perfect.’ Growing up in Angeles City in the Philippines, Crisanta Malig started sewing and designing at the age of five. She came from a family with artistic talents, her father being an artist and her mother a dressmaker. Crisanta did not have the attend art or fashion design school and she learned the art of fashion design from years of practice working with patterns and sewing.
In 1971, Crisanta opened her first dress shop boutique in the heart of Angeles City commercial areas. That was a dream come true and within two years of operations, she had twenty four seamstresses working for her making pre-order Ready to Wear Fashion. This was during a time when Ready to Wear Fashion was not yet common and Crisanta’s creative design and hard work had indeed launched a new frontier in the fashion business.
Crisanta moved to Texas in 1979 and then relocated to San Francisco the year after where she launched her fashion designing business. When asked what inspired her to fashion design, Crisanta said, “I love beautiful clothes that I cannot afford to buy and I was born with a gift of creativity.”
Over the years, Crisanta has been generous in supporting the community. Tue to her passion in fashion design, Crisanta founded the Fashion Arts and Youth Enterprises Inc. (FAYE) to help young emerging artists who do not have the means to go to fashion design schools to pursue their dreams. Crisanta is very proud of her granddaughter Brittany Hampton who also started sewing at age five and was the winner of the House of DVF (DIANE VON FURSTENBERG) reality show.
A San Francisco native and Third Generation Japanese American, Linda Tomoko Mihara began her lifelong origami journey at age 5. She is the granddaughter of Tokinobu Mihara, author of two of the first books on origami written in English in the early 1950’s.
Linda is an award-winning designer of complex origami art. Her ‘Star Tessellated Dress and High Heels’ won the 2009 Innovation Award at the California State Fair Fine Art Competition, the first time origami was recognized as Fine Art in the history of the fair. In 1996, she created the ‘Peace Sphere’- a three-dimensional sphere of 18 cranes folded from a single sheet of paper, inspired by origami techniques dating from the 18th century.
In addition to her many commercial projects, Linda has donated her origami art to fundraisers for nonprofit orgnaizations including the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital, Center For Ecosystem Survival, Nihonmachi Little Friends, Kimochi Senior Services and the Asian Women’s Shelter.
For the past 48 years, Linda has been an integral volunteer to the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. And in the past four years, she was commissioned by the APA Heritage Foundation to create awards for San Francisco’s annual APA Heritage Awards ceremonies.
2014 Celebrate Innovations
Diosdado (Dado) Banatao is known for having pioneered the personal computer (PC) chip set and graphics acceleration architecture that continue to be two of the foundation technologies in every PC today.
As an engineer, he is credited with having developed several key semiconductor technologies and is regarded as a Silicon Valley visionary.
Currently as Managing Partner of Tallwood Venture Capital, Dado brings his innovative approach to technology investments, creating opportunities in areas involving computing, communications and consumer platforms. Prior to forming Tallwood, Dado was a venture partner at the Mayfield Fund and also held positions in engineering and general management at National Semiconductor, Seeq Technologies, Intersil and Commodore International. He was the co-founder of three technology startups: S3 (SBLU), Chips & Technologies (INTC) and Mostron.
Over the years, Dado has made tremendous contributions to the Asian Pacific American community in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as in the Philippines. Through his leadership skills and commitment, he has helped forge multiple partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors to advance worthwhile causes for the betterment of the community.
Both Dado and his wife Maria are deeply committed to education and have contributed to the launching of numerous educational initiatives including the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at the UC Berkeley College of Engineering. They have sponsored a number of scholarship programs making it possible for both high school and college students to pursue their academic and career goals.
For his tireless efforts, Dado was honored by many organizations including the Asian Business League of San Francisco and KGO-TV. He was a recipient of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is awarded
to exemplary United States citizens. A celebrated Filipino American, Dado has also received many distinct recognitions in the Philippines, including being designated the country’s first Special Envoy of Science and Technology.
Over the years, Jonathan Leong has committed much of his time to serving
the community. Among his many successes, Jonathan has been most widely recognized for the distinct impact he has achieved in advancing solutions to help save the lives of Asian Pacific Americans who are infected by diseases that require stem cell transplant.
In 1989, two Asian leukemia patients were in desperate need of bone marrow transplants and were unable to find a match within their families. Turning to the National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP) Registry, they found only 123 Asian donors listed and were told that the prospect of finding compatible donors were virtually impossible.
This situation compelled Jonathan to help establish the Asian American Donors Program (AADP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing the availability of bone marrow transplants for Asian Pacific Americans.
In the words of Jonathan, “Each Asian community must be treated individually. There is no such thing as an ‘Asian.’ You are Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, etc. and if you are going into these communities to educate and recruit, you must understand the community.
Educational and recruitment materials must be designed for each individual community, taking into consideration their language and generation. You must respect the culture, its language and the people.”
Jonathan’s vision and innovative approach in reaching out and educating potential donors have led to a steady increase in the Be the Match Registry. Today, there are over 800,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders Americans registered donors in the United States.
A graduate of San Francisco State University, Jonathan began his career in commercial insurance and has since owned many businesses. A champion for small business, Jonathan was a founding member of the National Council of Asian American Business Associations and a delegate to the white House Small Business Conference. Through the years, he has also served in leadership positions of numerous community organizations including the Asian Business Association, Asian American Theatre Company and Self Help for the Elderly.
Seiichi Tanaka has been recognized nationally and internationally for his contributions towards the preservation of Japanese traditions and culture, and one very unique musical art form of that culture is Taiko drumming.
Born in Japan in 1943, Seiichi Tanaka discovered the calling of his life during his first visit to the United States in 1967. While at the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown, he was surprised to learn that there was no Taiko drumming at the festival, or in fact anywhere else during his travels in the country.
Upon his return to Japan, Seiichi sought out Taiko Grand Master Daihachi Oguchi of Osuwa Daiko to teach him the art, traditions, and philosophies of Taiko. In the following year, Seiichi returned to the San Francisco Cheery Blossom Festival as the sole Taiko drummer and this was the beginning of his decades of dedicated efforts introducing and preserving this powerful musical art form in American.
And as part of his innovative approach to achieve this goal, Seiichi established the world-renowned organization the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. A first school of its kind, Taiko Dojo has provided opportunities for over 10,000 men, women and children of all walks of life to learn the art of Taiko drumming. As a result, many of these students have gone on to launch other Taiko groups across the country and beyond.
It has been Seiichi’s dream that Taiko drumming be integrated in America’s culture and communities. In addition to innovative teaching methods, Seiichi has also been innovative in his approach to music and has collaborated in performances with musical luminaries such as Tony Benett, Bobby McFerrin, Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey and Tito Puente.
Among the many honors that Seiichi has received was his naming by the National Endowment for the Art as a National Heritage Fellow, for artistic excellence, authenticity and contributions to his field.
2013 Honoring Achievements in the Performing Arts
Brenda Wong Aoki is a writer, performer and educator. Her plays, monodramas and libretti are presented in such venues as the Kennedy Center, New Victory Theater on Broadway, Hong Kong Performing Arts Center, the Adelaide International Festival in Australia, the Esplanade in Singapore, the Graz Festival Austria, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Apollo Theater. Inspired by family and home, she has garnered National Endowment Theater Fellowships, Hollywood Drama-logue Awards, a Critics’ Circle Award, Innovation Awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a USPAAC (US Pan Asian Chamber of Commerce) award and a PAAWBAC (Pacific Asian American Women Bay Area Coalition) Woman Warrior Award, as well as INDIE awards for Best Spoken Recording. Brenda has been in the vanguard of giving voice to the Asian American experience. Since the 1980’s she has been an artist in residence at colleges, universities and schools through the U.S. Brenda has deep roots in San Francisco. Her grandfather was a founder of Japantown in the 1890s, and her grandmother was a leader of the first Chinatown garment union in the 1920s. Brenda’s latest work, MU, inspired by a Japanese legend and the lost continent, will premiere in San Francisco in September 2013.
Malu Rivera-Peoples was a principal dancer of Dance Theater Philippines and a soloist of Ballet Philippines. She has been the owner and director of Westlake School for the Performing Arts since 1991, with an enrollment close to a thousand students training in dance, music, and theater. In 2004, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012, it was named “Outstanding School” by the largest student ballet competition in the world, the Youth America Grand Prix. Initiating a non-profit parent-based organization in 1994, she has since created a community that supports the artistic endeavors of the students. They helped raise funds for trips to the Philippines, Maui, Scotland, and China, showcasing WSPA students on the international stage and for the annual productions of the school’s Nutcracker, Urban Paradise, and Seasonal Galas.
Rivera-Peoples has set several award winning choreography for competitions and was named “Outstanding Choreographer” several times in local competitions. In the Filipino community, she was honored with a Pamana Arts Legacy Award from the Filipino- American Arts Exposition, and selected in Washington, DC, as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the US” by the Filipino Women’s Network. She is extremely proud of her students and programs. Fully understanding that not all will pursue a career in the performing arts, WSPA’s legacy of hard work, discipline, and “putting your best foot forward’ will always stay with them for a lifetime. These are the factors that make WSPA a unique and valuable addition to the community at large.
Founded in 1987, Asian Improv aRts’ (AIR) mission is to produce, present and document artistic works that represent the Asian American experience. Asian Improv aRts goals:
- To make it possible for artists to create innovative works that are rooted in the diasporic experiences of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage.
- To engage a next generation of community members in the arts through arts education.
- To enable sustainability for artists and arts organizations in a challenging economic environment.
- To facilitate creative collaborations that bring together major institutions, artists, and multigenerational audiences and participants.
As a non-profit multidisciplinary arts presenter it has produced high quality arts and cultural events for 25 years in the San Francisco Bay Area in community based and major venues such as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Great American Music Hall, and Zellerbach Playhouse (Cal Performances) as well as various venues outside the Bay Area including the Museum of Contemporary Arts (Chicago), Flynn Center (Vermont), Library of Congress (Washington DC) and Banlieues Bleus Festival (Paris, France).
AIR pursues a strategy of collaboration between artists, community resources and mainstream institutions to create cultural and educational programming that brings together diverse sectors across generational, cultural and social experiences.
2012 Advancing Education
Emalyn Lapus is the Project Director of the AACE Educational Services Talent Search Program, (AACE TS), a federally funded program administered by the Japanese Community Youth Council, a non-profit youth development organization in San Francisco. She received her Bachelor’s from UC Berkeley and Master’s degree from SF State University. During her tenure, JCYC’s educational component expanded from one to four pre-college outreach programs, now known as the JCYC Educational Hub, having the common goal to increase the number of low-income youth to graduate from high school, and enroll in college. Under Emalyn’s leadership, the San Francisco College Access Center was created, the AACE TS program expanded in the Daly City area, and the JCYC Educational Hub received funding from the College Access Foundation of California to award scholarships for its youth. Emalyn has reviewed grants for the U.S. Department of Education, and scholarship applications for the UC Berkeley Incentive Awards Program. She served on the board for the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel, SF Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, and is now a board member with Asian American Recovery Services.
Elaine H. Kim is Professor of Asian American and Comparative Ethnic Studies and Associate Dean of the Graduate Division at UC Berkeley. She was also Former Chair of the Comparative Ethnic Studies Department, Former Faculty Assistant for the Status of Women, and Former Assistant Dean of the College of Letters and Science.
Her research interest lie in Asian American literary and cultural studies, Korean American Studies, Asian and Asian American Feminist Studies. She has written, edited, and co-edited ten books, beginning with Asian American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context (1982), as well as Fresh Talk/Daring Gazes: Conversations On Asian American Visual Art (2003). Elaine has also served as an Associate Producer of several films and was Director and Writer of Slaying the Dragon Reloaded: Asian Women in Hollywood and Beyond (2011).
Elaine co-founded several organizations, including the Korean Community Center in Oakland, Asian Women United of California, and Asian Immigrant Women Advocates. She was the recipient of Rockefeller and Fulbright grants and honorary doctorate degrees from the University of Massachusetts in Boston and Notre Dame University. In 2011, she received the Association for Asian American Studies Lifetime Achievement Award.
4C the Power is a nonprofit organization created to connect youth with their community, culture and creativity, and at the same time build confidence, thus the 4-C’s. Specifically, the organization facilitate workshops for youth in the area of dance, hip hop music, singing, composition, filmmaking, photography and comedy/skits. In addition, the organization organize small events to benefit the community, and staff the International Secret Agents shows. The first 4C the Power event was held in 2007 and we have kept moving forward since. The idea of 4C the Power came from a need in the Sacramento Area’s Asian American community. Diann Kitamura’s “day job” was as an educator before becoming 4C the Power’s Executive Director. Her career as an educator spans 28 years where she has been a teacher, counselor, vice principal, principal, and numerous positions at the district office level including assistant superintendent. As an educator, Diann saw a huge disconnect between Hmong, Vietnamese and Cambodian students graduating from high school. They didn’t feel like they belonged and didn’t have the confidence to compete with students in the mainstream. Diann had met the Far East Movement and wanted the students to hear the group members’ personal stories of struggle and determination to achieve their goals. Bringing the Far East Movement to Sacramento to mentor the Asian students was the beginning of 4C the Power and its relationship with the Asian American community. It continues with our work with the International Secret Agents shows as well as with our workshops.
2011 Celebrate Community Voices
Lisa Lee is the publisher of Hyphen, a nonprofit, all volunteer-run Asian American culture magazine and website. A graduate of
U.C. Berkeley with degrees in mass communications and theater and performance studies, Lisa is committed to using her communications and social media background to help Hyphen reach a broad constituency and to create a more complex representation of Asian America. Lisa
is also the co-founder, along with the actress Lynn Chen, of Thick Dumpling Skins, the first online forum dedicated to body image issues and eating disorders within the Asian American community. She is a frequent speaker on media-related Asian American issues and has led workshops for college students, young professionals, and nonprofit managers. When not volunteering at Hyphen, Lisa daydreams about the coffee shop that she’ll own one day and works at Facebook as a user operations site integrity associate.
David Louie has been a reporter for ABC7 News for 40 years and currently covers the technology and business beat in the Bay Area. David has built a reputation of trust and experience with viewers and has covered a wide range of APA issues ranging from tobacco companies targeting Vietnamese immigrant youth to smoke to the Bay Area’s role in the Pacific Rim economy.
David was the first minority elected Chairman of the Board of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in 1994, which bestows TV’s coveted Emmy Award. He helped establish and lead the San Francisco Chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and served as chapter president and National President where he helped raise money for student scholarships and mentoring dozens of youth aspiring and entry-level journalists. He currently serves on the board of the Radio Television Digital News Association and trustee of the foundation where he was instrumental in the creation of a new national “UNITY” Award for coverage of communities of color.
Jan Yanehiro As founding co-host of “Evening Magazine,” a television magazine program which aired on KPIX-TV from 1975 to 1990, Jan Yanehiro had “the best job in the world.”
For her radio and television work, Jan received an Emmy, a Clio, and Telly; The Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award from the United Nations of San Francisco; and induction into the Academy of Television and Radio Hall of Fame and The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
She is Director of the School of Multi Media Communications at the San Francisco Academy of Art University and serves on the boards of Kristi Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation, Osaka-San Francisco Sister City Association, and is a Founding Member of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Jan graduated from California State University, Fresno, with a degree in Journalism. She has three children and three stepchildren, and co-authored the books “Having a Baby,” “After Having a Baby,” and “This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down.”
Founded in 2003, Hyphen is a volunteer-run nonprofit news and culture organization that illuminates Asian America through hard-hitting investigative features on the cultural and political trends shaping the fastest-growing ethnic population in the country. Hyphen engages people through its print magazine, website, and events to fulfill its mission: to tell the untold stories of Asian Americans with accuracy, nuance and complexity; to showcase emerging artists, creators, and leaders of our community; and to build a socially and politically aware community through media, dialogue, and cultural event.
Hyphen has been honored by Chinese for Affirmative Action with the “Flames of Justice” award in June 2008, and nominated by The Utne Reader for the 2004 Utne Independent Press Award for Best New Title, in 2007 for Best Design, and again in 2010 for Best Social/Cultural Coverage. Additionally, Hyphen’s seventh issue (“The Body Issue”) won “Best Cover” at the Independent Press Association’s 2006 Convention in San Francisco.
2010 Fostering Unity
Thomas Li is the President of the San Francisco State University Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega, a national fraternity devoted to community. A native San Franciscan, Thomas has participated in at least two service projects per week since 2007. He is currently a Sophomore student pursuing a degree in marketing.
Thomas has been active in the community at a young age and has volunteered for countless Bay Area nonprofits. Graphic and web design has always been a passion for Thomas. One of his distinguished contributions was his service as Online Chair of the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life for the past 5 years. In addition, Thomas has volunteered his design skills for countless Bay Area non-profits, building websites for Chinatown Neighborhood Center, North Beach Neighborhood Association, American Orient Performing Arts and Miss Asian America Pageant.
Thomas Li is also the Projects Coordinator at Community Youth Center, spearheading the Computer Clubhouse afterschool program to teach Asian youth media arts like graphic and web design twice a week.
Edward Chow, M.D., F.A.C.P., has been an internist in private practice for over 40 years in San Francisco and has been addressing health disparities at both the national and local levels.
For over twenty five years, Dr. Chow has worked with Chinese Hospital and the Chinese Community Health Care Association to create the nation’s first and only bilingual and culturally competent health plan, the Chinese Community Health Plan (CCHP.) He also spearheaded the creation of the Chinese Community Health Resource Center, providing Chinese bilingual educational programs, publications, and research nationally. Today, this integrated system serves over 30,000 San Franciscans through CCHP and six other plans including being the only private practice system participating in Healthy San Francisco.
Dr. Chow is currently the Vice President of the San Francisco Health Commission. Having served on the Commission for over 20 years, Dr. Chow continues to advocate for the healthcare needs of the Asian community, including: requiring culturally competent programs to meet our needs, sustaining the Chinatown Public Health Center, rebuilding Laguna Honda and San Francisco General Hospital, and promoting County support for the Hep B Free Program.
Founded in 1987 as a grassroots response to the HIV/AIDS crisis in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center (APIWC) is a health services, education, research, and policy organization. Its mission is to educate, support, empower and advocate for Asian and Pacific Islander (A&PI) communities, and particularly for those living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS.
The oldest North American nonprofit that focuses on A&PI communities around sexual health and HIV/AIDS services, APIWC has been effective in putting innovative, holistic and effective programs and services in place that benefit all communities of color in San Francisco.
In addition to health and counseling services, the organization has launched numerous innovative initiatives to fight stigma as well as promote generational understanding of issues within Asian Pacific American families.
2009 Celebrate Community
- Community Impact - Asian American Donors Program
2008 Celebrate Legacy
- Community Impact – Ted Fang
2007 Celebrate Unity
1st year of APA Heritage Awards program
- Youth Activist – Deepa Sharma
- Community Hero – Benny Wong
- Exemplary Organization – PAAWBAC
2006 Celebrate Life
Celebrating the Centennial of the 1906 earthquake and rebirth of San Francisco and honoring 100-years old APAs for his or her lifetime of community contributions