NAAAP100, Inspire, & Pride Awards

The honorees chosen for our prestigious NAAAP 100, Inspire, and Pride awards will be recognized at the gala during our leadership convention in Washington DC this August. The programs were created to recognize exemplary leaders in the AAPI community to celebrate, inspire, and confirm possibilities for many more future leaders.

NAAAP100 Awards

In 2008, NAAAP established the NAAAP100 Awards to recognize exemplary leaders in the Asian community who have made significant contributions to their profession and the Asian community.

Inspire Award

In 2016, NAAAP established a parallel program to recognize promising up-and-coming leaders in the Asian community. Like NAAAP100 honorees, NAAAP Inspire honorees have created significant impact through their roles in various sectors such as business, government, or nonprofit.

Pride Award

In 2019, the NAAAP Pride award was created to honor influential leaders in the Asian American LGBTQ+ community who have made significant contributions to advancing LGBTQ+ leadership, equality, and visibility.

NAAAP100 winners


Charles Lee, 2022 NAAAP100 winner

Charles Lee is widely recognized as a true pioneer in the arena of environmental justice and helped to give birth to the environmental justice movement in the United States some forty years ago.  He was the principal author of the landmark 1987 report, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States, organized the historic 1991 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, and helped to spearhead the emergence of federal environmental justice policy, including Executive Order 12898, EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), and the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice.  

Mr. Lee is currently the Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  He has served in multiple capacities, ranging from creating the United Church of Christ’s environmental justice program to directing EPA’s environmental justice office. He was a charter member of the NEJAC, where he chaired its Waste and Facility Siting committee, and served on the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine Committee on Environmental Justice as well as numerous other panels.  In these capacities, he led efforts to incorporate environmental justice into EPA’s rulemaking process, develop models for collaborative problem-solving, transform brownfields redevelopment into a community revitalization paradigm, advance approaches to address cumulative risks and impacts, lay a strong science foundation for integrating environmental justice into decision-making, and advancing environmental justice at the state level.  

Mr. Lee has authored numerous papers, reports, journals, and articles on environmental justice over the past four decades, most recently on “Confronting Disproportionate Impacts and Systemic Racism in Environmental Policy” (Environmental Law Reporter, vol. 51, no. 3, March 2021). He has taught or presented at numerous schools and conferences, including the seminal academic conference on “Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards” at the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the American Public Health Association’s first Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy presented to him the EJ Pioneer Award on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 12898. In February 2017, the 122nd Session of the South Carolina House of Representatives passed Resolution H*3732 to honor his lifetime of accomplishments in environmental justice and contributions to bettering the lives of communities in that state. 

Piyush Malik, 2022 NAAAP100 winner

Piyush Malik is a startup executive, entrepreneur, board advisor, and business and technology transformation leader in the domain of emerging technologies. Through his engineering, product management and customer success experiences he has built worldwide teams and scaled his firms’ businesses many folds.

He has been serving as the founding President of American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) Silicon Valley chapter since 2015 and also serves as National Chairman of this 4 decade old organization of scientists and engineers focused on mentorship, youth and community building.He champions servant leadership and for over 2 decades has been active in community giveback initiatives spanning sustainability, engineering entrepreneurship, diversity, equity, inclusion and youth empowerment via several nonprofits such as OVBI, TiE, IAHV, IAIDQ, ASEI and more to develop the next generation.

Professionally, Piyush has served Fortune 500 clients in over 40 countries spanning diverse industries over the past 3 decades as a management and technology consultant and executive. Currently he serves as the Chief Digital and Transformation Officer at a private-equity backed cloud and digital innovation services startup Veridic Solutions. Previously as SVP at Google partner startup SpringML and before that as the leader of Worldwide Big Data & Analytics Center of Excellence within IBM’s consulting business, he focused on data science, applied AI/ML, IoT and all things related to cloud, analytics and data. He started his career with the Tata group in India and after migrating to the US, also built the Global Information Integrity practice for PwC.

Piyush has always been passionate about education and giving back over the years. From serving on school site councils for various California public schools to being appointed Technology Advisor to Fremont School District and University of California, Irvine to being a champion for STEM via math and science olympiad coaching to being recognized as NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awardee in 2022 as educator/mentor for encouraging and mentoring women in computing, he is always ready to help build the next generation. Professionally, he has been previously recognized by appointment to IBM’s prestigious Academy of Technology and conferred Global Data Quality Leadership and Service Award by IAIDQ (International Association for Information and Data Quality) in 2015.

He earned an engineering degree in electronics and communications from Delhi University and a masters in management of technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi prior to immigrating to the Silicon Valley.


Padmasree Warrior, 2021 NAAAP100 winner

Padmasree Warrior is the Founder, President and CEO of Fable, a mobile-first company that brings stories for everyone, anywhere. Previously, Padma was the Chief Executive Officer of NIO U.S., Chief Development Officer and Board Member of NIO Inc., a manufacturer of smart, electric and autonomous vehicles. In this role she scaled the company from start-up to a successful IPO NYSE:NIO in 3 years.

Padmasree Warrior has been widely recognized for her creative, visionary leadership. Forbes has named her one of “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” for three years running. In 2013, The International Alliance for Women gave her the World of Difference Award. In 2012, Business Insider called her one of the “25 Most Influential Women in Wireless”. The Wall Street Journal has called her one of “50 Women to Watch.” Fast Company included her among the “100 Most Creative People in Business.” The Economic Times listed her as “the 11th Most Influential Global Indian.”


Helen Zia, 2020 NAAAP100 winner

Helen Zia is a writer, activist and Fulbright Scholar. Her latest book, Last Boat out of Shanghai: The Epic Story of the Chinese who Fled Mao’s Revolution, was an NPR best book of 2019 and shortlisted for a 2020 national PEN AMERICA award. Her first book, Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People, about the contemporary civil rights struggles of Asian Americans, is a staple of Asian American studies classes.

The daughter of Chinese immigrants, Helen was born and raised in New Jersey during the civil rights, anti-war and women’s movements and her journalism centers on stories of social change and justice. She was Executive Editor of the iconic feminist publication MS.magazine, and has been outspoken on issues ranging from human rights to countering gender and hate violence and homophobia. Her work on the Asian American landmark civil rights case of anti-Asian violence appears in the Oscar-nominated film, Who Killed Vincent Chin? In 2010, Helen became a witness in the federal case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made marriage equality the law of the land.

Helen has received honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco and the City University of New York Law School. She attended Princeton University on a full scholarship and was a member of its first graduating class of women. Helen quit medical school to work as a construction laborer, an autoworker, and a community organizer, until she discovered her life’s work as a journalist and writer.

Helen’s social media & website:

@HelenZiaReal (FB, IG, Twitter);

Ryan Patel, 2020 NAAAP100 winner

Ryan Patel is a world-renowned go-to authority on global business, political economy and corporate governance. An expert in scaling businesses, he has worked for startups to public traded companies; his deep knowledge in strategic global market development, concept scalability, digital transformation, innovation, consumer-driven marketing has made him a thought leader in the global business realm. He is a frequent CNN contributor, Board Director and Senior Fellow with the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University.

Patel is a strong believer in giving back to the community and paying it forward. He currently serves on several advisory boards ranging from social responsibility to technology.  From being a part of the Mastercard Innovation Collective to the Board at the Drucker School of Management his passion for combining social good and business has led him to discuss relevant and real-world situations which are accessible to both students and professionals alike. In 2015, he was awarded “Executive of the Year” by the Los Angeles Business Journal and received Special United States Congressional Recognition for outstanding services to the community. In 2017, Inc. magazine listed him as one of nine executives and innovators who serve as an inspiration for how all businesses can make a difference.

Patel’s unique and inherent knowledge of the ever-changing nature of trends and how it impacts business has been vital in providing valuable strategy and leadership in developing domestic and international growth plans across multi-cultural and cross-functional teams for some of the world’s most innovative companies.

Ryan is a multigenerational communicator who is able to break down complex global business issues in a digestible way. He is a contributor at CNN, BBC, Fox Business, The Hill, CGTN and more. He accompanies his literary talents with both domestic and international keynote appearances at company meetings and universities such as Money 20/20, World Government Summit, LEGO, London School of Economics, Wharton School of Business and more.


Ryan’s social media:

Linkedin –

Twitter @RyanPatelGlobal –

Instagram @RyanPatelGlobal –

Website –

Cecilia Chung, 2020 NAAAP100 winner

Cecilia Chung, Senior Director of Strategic Projects and Evaluation at Transgender Law Center (TLC), founder of Trans March, migrated from Hong Kong to San Francisco in December 1984. She has worked locally and internationally to advance LGBT rights, the rights of people living with HIV and sexual and reproductive health and rights. She is the first transgender woman and first person living openly with HIV elected as Chair of San Francisco Human Rights Commission (SFHRC). Under her leadership, SFHRC issued groundbreaking reports on bisexual invisibilities, unrecognized family relationships, the civil and human rights impact of REAL ID Act on San Franciscans, education as human right, discriminations of Native Americans and community concerns on racial and religious profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian communities. Cecilia is the architect of the nation’s most ambitious publicly funded program addressing economic justice within the transgender community. Her community service spans nearly three decades, and her life story was portrayed in the ABC’s miniseries, When We Rise.

Cecilia currently serves on the Health Commission where she successfully championed for San Francisco to become the first city in the U.S. to cover gender affirming surgery for the city’s uninsured transgender patients. In 2015, Cecilia launched Positively Trans, a national network of transgender people living with HIV led by transgender people of color living with HIV that focus on the leadership development transgender people of color living with HIV through storytelling, community-driven research, organizing and policy advocacy.

Cecilia’s social media:

Twitter: @cecilia_c_chung

Instagram: @smallglimpses


Apa Sherpa, 2019 NAAAP100 winner

Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa was born in Thame, a village 3860 meters high in the Everest region of Nepal near the Chinese border. When he was 3 months old, he and his mother were caught in an avalanche; Lhakpa was thrown from the basket on his mother’s back and came to rest under an ice ledge by a stream. After his mother found him unhurt 2 hours later, she took him to the Lama to pray and give thanks. It was at this point that Lhakpa was renamed “Apa” which means “much loved.”

Apa’s dream was to become a doctor, but his dreams were shattered when his father died. Following his father’s death, twelve-year-old Apa took up the responsibility of providing for his family, consisting of his mother, two sisters, and three younger brothers. He dropped out of school and started working as a porter and a kitchen boy for mountaineering groups. He reached the summit of Everest for the first time in 1990 and then proceeded to summit the famed mountain 20 more times over the next two decades; he holds 13 Guinness Book of World Records for his mountaineering feats and held the world record for most summits of Mount Everest until 2018. As a Sherpa, Apa has never lost a climber.

In 2009, Apa founded the Apa Sherpa Foundation, dedicated to the improvement of education and economic development in Nepal. Reflecting on his dream to be a doctor, Apa created the foundation to provide opportunities to young people in Nepal to pursue careers other than the dangerous work of a Sherpa. Without an education, many young Nepalese have no choice but to brave the icy slopes of Everest to support their families.

Mia Yamamoto, 2019 NAAAP100 winner

Born Michael Francis Yamamoto in Poston Relocation Camp in Yuma County, Arizona, in 1943, Mia Frances Yamamoto is the co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Southern California; co-founder and current co-chair of the Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance (a coalition of 17 minority, women’s and LGBT bar associations); and founding board member of International Bridges to Justice, a human rights group providing due process education and advocating against investigative torture in the judicial systems in China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Mia graduated from Cal State University, Los Angeles, in 1966 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Government. She then served in the United States Army’s 4th Infantry Division, USARV, from 1966-1968, earning the National Defense Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal and Vietnam Service Medal.

Following her service, Mia attended UCLA’s School of Law, where she co-founded the Asian Pacific Islander Law Student Association, graduating with her J.D. in 1971. Mia began her legal career at the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where she worked from 1971 to 1974. She served as Deputy Los Angeles County Public Defender and California State Public Defender from 1974 to 1984 before transitioning into private practice.

Mia has previously served on the boards of the L.A. County Bar Association, Korean American Bar Association, and ACLU of Southern California. She has served on the California Judicial Council State Task forces on Jury Improvement and Access to Justice and is the past president of California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, a statewide organization of 2,500 private and public defenders, and past president of both the Japanese American Bar Association and the Asian pacific American Women Lawyers Alliance.

Mia’s past honors and awards include one of three inaugural Stonewall Awards, the Spirit of Excellence Award from the American Bar Association, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association Trailblazer Award, the Harvey Milk Legacy Award from Christopher Street West/L.A. Pride and the Rainbow Key Award from the City of West Hollywood, among many others.

Rachelle Arizmendi, 2019 NAAAP100 winner

In 2014, Rachelle Arizmendi became the first person and woman of color to be elected to the City of Sierra Madre City Council in California. She was selected by her colleagues to serve as Mayor in 2017 and was recently re-elected to her second term as a City Councilmember.

Rachelle is a CA Governor Appointee on the California Department of Food & Agriculture Board, Board President of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, and Board Member/Governance Committee Chair of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific Association of Community Development. She represents Sierra Madre on the Foothill Workforce Development Policy Board, serves as an Advisory Member of the South Coast AQMD Local Government & Small Business Assistance Advisory group, and is a Board Member on the League of California’s Cities (LOCC) Women’s Caucus. Past leadership positions include Board Member of LOCC, Board Member of LOCC’s Asian Pacific Islander (API) Caucus, and CA Governor Appointee to the State Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Intervention.

Rachelle is also the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of PACE (Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment). PACE is a non-profit community development corporation that serves over 50,000 people every year in the areas of job training and employment, business development, early childhood education, financial education and asset building, affordable housing, energy and weatherization.

In 2018, she was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World by FWN. Other recognitions include Top 30 Alumni by the Southern California Leadership Network, CA Assembly Member Holden’s Woman of Distinction, and one of Los Angeles County Supervisor Antonovich’s Women of the Year.

Born in Carmel, California, Rachelle is a graduate of San Diego State University where she earned two Bachelor’s degrees prior to pursuing her Master’s degree at Eastern Illinois University. She’s a dietitian by education and has taught Nutrition courses at Pasadena City College. Rachelle, her husband Fili, and dog Madison, have resided in Sierra Madre for over twelve years.

Hitesh Ramchandani, 2019 NAAAP100 winner

Due to a complication at birth, Hitesh Ramchandani was born with cerebral palsy. Doctors predicted he wouldn’t live for more than 24 hours. As a toddler, Hitesh struggled to hold a baby bottle; it took him three months to learn to ride a bicycle.

Never letting the challenge of his cerebral palsy discourage him from striving for excellence, Hitesh began swimming and playing football at nine years old, eventually going on to become a Paralympic medal winner with the Singapore Cerebral Palsy Football Team.  In April 2015, Hitesh authored his autobiography, “Better Than Normal,” which has sold more than 15,000 copies worldwide.

Hitesh’s mission is to inspire 50 million people to be “better than normal” by 2050 and has spoken to more than 2 million people of more than 32 nationalities around the world. He is the recipient of the South-East Asia Excellence-Special Mention of Outstanding Achievements Award for his inspirational work as a role model to youth around the world.


Ben Chestnut, 2018 NAAAP100 winner

Ben Chestnut is co-founder and CEO of MailChimp, the leading marketing platform for small businesses. Headquartered in Ben’s hometown of Atlanta since 2001, MailChimp is privately held and profitable, with over 800 employees and millions of global users. In 2017, MailChimp was named Company of the Year by Inc. Magazine and recognized as one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.

Ben is a dedicated leader whose mantra for employees is “listen hard, change fast.” He has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from Georgia Tech and was named an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016.

Ben is a native Georgian.

Chaiwon Kim, 2018 NAAAP100 winner

Chaiwon Kim is the first Asian American woman to serve as CEO / President of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services, Inc. (CPACS). CPACS is the first and only multi-service community center in the Southeast serving the Asian and Pacific Islander (API) communities. Her efforts have grown CPACS from a volunteer-run organization formed to help local Korean Americans, into a multi-service organization with a diverse staff of more than 40 full and 80 part-time employees with the ability to speak 15 different languages (Asian and non-Asian). Under her direction, CPACS capacity has grown from 791 clients served per month in 1999 to over 3,600 clients served per month in 2018.

A Registered Nurse (RN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Addiction Counselor by Profession, Mrs. Kim recognized the need for a clinic in 1990 when she began working at CPACS as a volunteer receptionist. Soon after, she spearheaded the development of CPACS free clinic which provides basic health checks and immunizations for the immigrant community. In 1999 she initiated the Asian Breast Care program—a comprehensive program aimed at providing culturally and linguistically appropriate, affordable breast cancer screening to uninsured and underinsured API women. Out of the Asian Breast Care Program Mrs. Kim developed the Korean and Chinese cancer support groups, the first and only in-language support groups of their kind in Georgia.

In 2000, CPACS became a certified HIV testing and counseling center and in 2006 Mrs. Kim secured funding through HUD to develop the first Georgia senior housing complex —only the second for Asian Americans in the nation. She graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology in 2001 and become a state certified addiction counselor (GACA) in 2003. In 2008 Mrs. Kim opened the RICE (Research Institute and Counseling Education) Center, a CPACS satellite office, to provide mental health counseling. Finally, in 2013 Mrs. Kim opened CPACS Cosmo Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center, staffed by bi-lingual, bi-cultural physicians.

Frank Wu, 2018 NAAAP100 winner

The City University of New York (CUNY) on March 30, 2020, named Frank H. Wu the president of its Queens College. Wu, who will assume office on July 1, 2020, will be the second Asian American leader of a CUNY college.

At time of the 2018 NAAAP100 award, Frank H. Wu was a Distinguished Professor, holding the highest rank accorded a faculty member, at University of California Hastings College of Law. He previously served as Chancellor & Dean at the school, receiving unanimous renewal to a second term after having been voted the most “influential” dean in legal education in a poll by National Jurist magazine. UC Hastings is the unique standalone institution affiliated with the University of California system, with its own governance and independent finances.

Before joining UC Hastings, he was a member of the faculty at Howard University, the nation’s leading historically black college/university (HBCU), for a decade. He served as Dean of Wayne State University Law School in his hometown of Detroit, and he has been a visiting professor at University of Michigan; an adjunct professor at Columbia University; and a Thomas C. Grey Teaching Fellow at Stanford University. He taught at the Peking University School of Transnational Law in its inaugural year and again a decade later. In his leadership roles at UC Hastings and Wayne, as well as on the faculty at Howard, he was the first Asian American to serve in such a capacity.

He is dedicated to civic engagement and volunteer service. In April 2016, he was elected by the members of Committee of 100 as their Chair, and he held that office for two years; then in February 2017, the Board named him as the group’s first-ever President. C100 is a non-profit membership organization based in New York City and professionally staffed. Founded by individuals such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, architect I.M. Pei, businesswoman Shirley Young, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, financier Henry Tang, and philanthropist Oscar Tang, it invites Chinese Americans who have achieved the highest levels of success to join, working on twin missions of promoting good relations between the US and China and the participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of public life. C100 sends delegations to China, holds a Capitol Hill briefing series in Washington, D.C., and publishes a unique “mirror” survey of American attitudes toward China and Chinese attitudes toward America.

He was appointed by the federal Department of Education to its National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI), which advises the administration on higher education accreditation, and by the Defense Department to the Military Leadership Diversity Commission, which submitted to Congress the report From Representation to Inclusion. He currently is a Trustee of Deep Springs College, a highly-selective full-scholarship school enrolling twenty-six on a student-run cattle ranch near Death Valley, where he previously taught for several short periods. He was a Trustee of Gallaudet University, the only university in the world dedicated to deaf and hard of hearing persons, from 2000 to 2010, and Vice-Chair of the Board for the final four years of his tenure. He served on the Board of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund from 2004 to 2010.

Professor Wu is the author of Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White, which was immediately reprinted in its hardcover edition, and co-author of Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese American Internment, which received the single greatest grant from the Civil Liberties Public Education Fund. He blogged regularly for six years at Huffington Post (“HuffPo”), and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, Chronicle of Higher Education and National Law Journal. He is writing a book on the Vincent Chin case; he appeared on an episode of the TV show Fatal Encounters entitled “Killer Swing,” about the case, and his co-authored script of a trial reenactment of the Vincent Chin case has been performed around the nation.

Over the years, Professor Wu has maintained an extensive schedule of media appearances and public speaking. His professional credits include commentary for National Public Radio and Now with Bill Moyers. He has appeared as a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show, O’Reilly Factor, and C-SPAN Booknotes with Brian Lamb, and as part of a roundtable hosted by George Takei (the original “Mr. Sulu” on Star Trek) discussing the restored Charlie Chan films broadcast by Fox Movie Channel. In summer 2017, he visited Australia for a lecture tour featuring multiple events in Sydney and Melbourne.

Prior to his academic career, he held a clerkship with the late U.S. District Judge Frank J. Battisti in Cleveland and practiced law with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco – while there, he devoted a quarter of his time to pro bono work on behalf of indigent clients. He received a B.A. from the Johns Hopkins University and a J.D. with honors from the University of Michigan. He completed the Management Development Program of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Professor Wu was born in the United States in 1967, to immigrants from Taiwan. He is married to Carol L. Izumi. They live in San Francisco. He is an avid runner, completing 36 half marathons in 2016; and photographer, shooting on film with a vintage Contax G2.

Lani Wong, 2018 NAAAP100 winner

Lani Wong is a recognized community leader who has served the local, national, and international communities for over 38 years, currently serving as Chair of National Association of Chinese Americans (NACA) Atlanta. Ms. Wong attended school in Taiwan and later at the University of Hawaii. After marrying, she moved to Atlanta, had two children, and served the community since then. At leisure time, she enjoys gardening.

Ms. Wong is a true pioneer in her vision and foresight in promoting U.S.-China relations, excellence in education, participation of Asian Americans in the political process, and the importance of charitable organizations to serve the greater needs of the community. She has been recognized for 11 years as one of the most 25 Influential Asian Americans in Georgia by Georgia Asian Times. She actively participates in various community organizations by serving on the Board or being a member. Those include Public Broadcasting of Atlanta, St. Joseph’s Health System, DeKalb County Economic Development Authority, Women’s Solidarity Society, International Women’s Forum of Georgia, Georgia Perimeter College, Leadership Atlanta Foundation, Delta Airlines Global Diversity Alliance to name a few. Appointed by Georgia governors and Atlanta mayors for many roles, The Georgia House of Representatives passed Resolution #1804, “recognizing the special contributions and the efforts of Ms. Wong to promote peace and the development of commercial, cultural and educational ties between the United States and China.” A member of the National Committee on US-China Relations and World Affairs Council Chairman Circle, she is also recognized as an Honorary Citizen by the People’s Republic of China; appointed as Advisor to the 6th, 7th and 8th National Congress of the All-China Federation of Returning Chinese; and as Advisor for the International Cultural Exchange Association for Consecutive 5 term; selected as one of five U.S. citizens to attend Fifth Session of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as a non-voting delegate. As a female leader, she received the Legacy of Leadership Award from Spelman College, and Lifetime Achievement Award from Advancing Justice Atlanta.

2017 Winners

Bernie Wong, 2017

Bernarda Wong, better known as “Bernie,” is a founder and the President of the Chinese American Service League (CASL). Under Bernie’s leadership, CASL has grown from a one-person shop in 1978 with an annual budget of $30,000 to $13 million. She spearheaded the initiative to build a $6.7 million Senior Housing facility as well as CASL’s new facility, the Kam L. Liu Building, a community service center located adjacent to the Senior Housing facility. Prior to her work with CASL, Bernie served as Director of Social Services for a community center and a Head Start Day Care Program in a predominantly African American community. 

Li-Young Lee, 2017

LiYoung Lee (born August 19, 1957) is an American poet. He was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Chinese parents. His maternal grandfather was Yuan Shikai, China’s first Republican President, who attempted to make himself emperor.  He draws on his Chinese-American heritage in his poems, in particular his early experience of exile and migration.

Linda Yu, 2017

Linda Yu is a Chinese-American former news anchor and author. Yu is best known as co-anchor on the Eyewitness newscast for WLS-TV in Chicago, Illinois from April 1984 until November 2016. Yu became Chicago’s first Asian–American broadcast journalist when she began her news career in Chicago at WMAQ-TV in 1979. For her broadcasting work, Yu has received a total of five local Emmy Awards including one for her report examining the aftermath of 9/11 in 2001. In 1984, Yu was honored with a National Gold Medal from the National Conference of Community and Justice for her documentary, “The Scars of Belfast”.

2016 Winners

Thomas Park Clement, 2016

Thomas Park Clement is the Founder and CEO of Mectra Labs, an inventor with 42 U.S. medical patents, a humanitarian, the author of The Unforgotten War and Dust of the Streets: The Journey of a Biracial Orphan of the Korean War, and a prominent leader of the Korean American Adoptee community.

Victor Dzau, 2016

Dr. Victor J. Dzau is the President of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly Institute of Medicine) and Vice Chair of the National Research Council. He is the Chancellor Emeritus and James B. Duke Professor of Medicine at Duke University, the past President and CEO of the Duke University Health System, and previous Chairman of the Department of Medicine at both Stanford University and Harvard University.

Omar Ishrak, 2016

Dr. Omar Ishrak is the Chairman and CEO of Medtronic, which is the world’s leading medical technology company with more than $28 billion in annual revenue and operations reaching approximately 160 countries. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees of the Asia Society.

Santa Ono, 2016

Dr. Santa J. Ono is the 15th President and Vice Chancellor of the University of British Columbia and former President of the University of Cincinnati. He is recognized as one of the most admired leaders in higher education and a visible, outspoken advocate for social progress. Dr. Ono has also held faculty and administrative roles in medicine and biology at Johns Hopkins, Harvard, University College London, and Emory universities.

2015 Winners

JuJu Chang, 2015/6

Juju Chang is an acclaimed and prize-winning journalist for ABC News. She was the first Korean American to serve a prominent role on a national U.S. morning news television show when she joined Good Morning America in 2009 and is a founding member of the Korean American Community Foundation. She received her NAAAP 100 award at a ceremony in February 2016 hosted by The National Society of Leadership and Success.

Ronald Chang, 2015

Ronald Chang is President of the UPS Corporate Treasurer, the highest ranking Asian American at UPS, and chair of NAAAP’s national board of directors. Mr. Chang has worked for 28 years at UPS, with an early role in 1991 as a supervisor in Finance and Accounting. In 1996, he moved to Singapore to become Controller of the Asia Pacific Region, where he was responsible for a $700 million book of business, comprised of twelve subsidiaries and countries spanning across Asia. In 1999, UPS relocated Mr. Chang to London to become Vice President of Mergers & Acquisitions, Treasury for Europe and Asia, where he worked on cross-border acquisitions, joint ventures, currency hedging, and debt placements. When Mr. Chang was asked to become Vice President of Finance for UPS’ Pacific Region in 2005, he assumed responsibility for one of the corporation’s largest business units. His promotion to Global Head of M&A and Intellectual Property in 2007 marked an expansion of his strategic role, for which he led an M&A team to fulfill his acquisition vision while working with investment banks and the UPS Board of Directors. Mr. Chang’s service as Vice President of Strategy at UPS Capital in 2013 was quickly followed within a year to his promotion as the President of UPS Capital, which offers financing and insurance services to protect companies from risk and manage cash in their supply chains.

As an individual of Korean descent, Mr. Chang has also volunteered his time to uplift the Asian community and promote inclusion in general. He has mentored and served as a role model to his fellow coworkers at UPS, helping to shape the company’s Asian talent development initiative and diversity leadership program. In 2010, Who’s Who in Asian American Communities recognized Mr. Chang with a Leaders & Legends Award for his influential contributions. Mr. Chang has also volunteered his time and supported several community organizations, including the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), and the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP). Mr. Chang earned his Masters Degree from Pepperdine University and lives with his wife and two children in Atlanta.

Tammy Lee Nguyen, 2015

Tammy Nguyen Lee is President and Co-Founder of Against The Grain Productions and is an award-winning producer and filmmaker, professional actor, and philanthropist.

Born in Saigon, Mrs. Lee fled Vietnam on a boat when she was less than three months old and spent over a year in a Hong Kong refugee camp before being reunited with family in Dallas. After graduating near the top of her class from an International Baccalaureate program with intensive training in theater and music, she declined a scholarship to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to be closer to family, matriculating at the esteemed Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University (SMU). As an undergraduate, she was a leader in several Asian organizations, and her short films Lunar Cycles and First Slow Burn were screened in various film festivals across the country. Mrs. Lee also reigned as Miss Asian American Texas from 1999-2001. Soon afterwards, she earned her M.F.A. at UCLA while producing films and continuing her work as a professional actor and spokesmodel.   In 2005, Mrs. Lee co-founded the nonprofit Against The Grain Productions, which is dedicated to Asian Americans in the arts and has raised funds for orphanages in Vietnam and given scholarships to emerging Asian leaders. Her documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam has won numerous national and international film festival awards and has brought attention to the aftermath of what has been called “one of the most humanitarian efforts in history.”

For over a decade, Mrs. Lee has made a tremendous impact in her local community through ongoing charitable and civic efforts. Mrs. Lee serves as an educator in promoting awareness around poverty, Asian culture, and female leadership, with key roles at the SMU Hegi Family Career Development Center and the SMU Meadows Alumni Advisory Council. In 2010, Mrs. Lee was honored with a Distinguished Alumni award, and in 2012, she received the NAAAP DFW Leaders of Excellence Award. Her work on the Board of Directors for Women in Film Dallas and her close work over the past four years with NAAAP DFW have made her one of the most well-known and respected leaders in the Dallas Asian community. Mrs. Lee lives in Dallas with her husband, their two daughters, and their miniature schnauzers, Oscar and Emmy.

Albert Wong, 2015

Lieutenant Commander Albert Wong is the President of AKW Global Enterprises, a judge, an advisor, a diplomat, and a community leader.


Born in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, Mr. Wong immigrated to Canada in 1971. Immediately after receiving his Canadian citizenship in 1976, he became one of the first Asian Canadians to join the Canadian Armed Forces. For over 35 years, Mr. Wong has served as an officer and has been recognized as one of the top public affairs professionals within the military for strategic communications, issues of national security, and emergency management. Mr. Wong has also served on a number of UN peacekeeping missions in Africa and worked with President Karzai and his team to help stand up the government in Afghanistan. In addition to leading AKW Global Enterprises, his management consulting and communications company, Mr. Wong is the Chief Aide-de-Camp to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, a Citizenship Judge for the Greater Toronto Area, a member of the Regimental Senate, and a Reserve Public Affairs officer.

Mr. Wong has dedicated a significant portion of his personal time to mentoring and helping others in Canada and abroad. He has acted as a mentor and served as a highly sought-after speaker for the Asian Canadian community, especially for those interested in military service. While in Afghanistan, he raised funds for orphanages and schools for mentally handicapped children and began initiatives to aid in the healing of post-traumatic active and veteran military. He served as the Chair of the Mississauga Board of Chinese Professionals and Businesses which raises funds for community initiatives. For his various efforts, Mr. Wong has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Canadian Forces’ Decoration, the Canadian Peacekeeping Service medal, the Vice-Regal Commendation, the United Nations Eritrea medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee medal, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal, the Chinese Canadian Legend award, and most recently in June 2015, the Transformation for Public Service award.

nd Success.

2014 Winners

Gary Locke, 2014

On March 9, 2011, President Barack Obama nominated Gary Locke to be the 10th Ambassador of the United States of America to the People’s Republic of China. He was confirmed by the Senate on July 27, 2011 and was sworn in on August 1, 2011. He assumed duty as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the People’s Republic of China on August 13, 2011, serving until February 21, 2014.


Previously, Ambassador Locke served as the Secretary of Commerce, where he helped implement President Obama’s ambitious agenda to turn around the economy and put people back to work. As the administration’s point person for achieving the President’s National Export Initiative, he presided over a 17 percent increase in exports from 2009 to 2010, while exports to China saw a 32 percent increase. Ambassador Locke also oversaw a significant first step in the

President’s export control reform effort that strengthened national security, while making U.S. companies more competitive by easing their licensing burden for exports to partners and allies.

Before his appointment to the President’s Cabinet, Ambassador Locke served two terms as Governor of Washington, the nation’s most trade-dependent state. He expanded the sale of Washington products and services by leading ten productive trade missions to Asia, Mexico, and Europe. During the eight years of the Locke administration, Washington State gained 280,000 jobs, despite two national recessions.

As both Governor and Commerce Secretary, Locke’s innovations in government efficiency, customer focus, and priority-based budgeting, as well as successful and under-budget management of high risk initiatives, have won him acclaim by nationally recognized authors and organizations, including Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Along with his longstanding commitment to public service, Ambassador Locke has extensive experience working with China. As Secretary of Commerce, he co-chaired two sessions of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade that resulted in important changes to Chinese trade policy, helping to level the playing field for U.S. businesses exporting to and operating in China. As Governor of Washington, he successfully strengthened economic ties between China and Washington State, more than doubling the state’s exports to China to over $5 billion per year. As a partner in the Seattle office of the international law firm, Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, he co-chaired the firm’s China practice.

Ambassador Locke is the first Chinese-American to serve as Ambassador to China, as Secretary of Commerce, and as Governor. His grandfather emigrated from China to Washington State, initially finding employment as a servant, working in exchange for English lessons. His father, also born in China, was a small business owner, operating a grocery store where Ambassador Locke worked while receiving his education from Seattle’s public school system.

Ambassador Locke earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Yale University and a law degree from Boston University. He is married to Mona Lee Locke, and they have three children together: Emily, Dylan, and Madeline.

Grace Lee Boggs, 2014

Born in 1915, Grace Lee Boggs is a legendary activist, philosopher, writer, and speaker whose seven decades of visionary thinking and political involvement encompass the major U.S. social movements of the past hundred years. She developed a twenty-year political relationship with social activist C.L.R. James, followed by extensive civil rights activism in Detroit in partnership with her husband, James Boggs.

Dr. Boggs’ published writings include Revolution and Evolution in the Twentieth CenturyConversations in Maine: Exploring Our Nation’s FutureLiving for Change: An Autobiography (1998), and The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (2011). Her writings and interviews have also been widely disseminated through newspapers, magazines, websites, and academic journals. In her nineties and at the time of the NAAAP100 awards, Dr. Boggs was exceptionally active as a community activist and columnist for the Michigan Citizen.

She also received  lifetime achievement awards from the Detroit City Council, Organization of Chinese Americans, Anti-Defamation League (Michigan), Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, Museum of Chinese in the Americas, and Association for Asian American Studies. Dr. Boggs was also named as Detroit News Michiganian of the Year and has a place in both the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Harry Q. H. Lee II, 2014

Harry Q. H. Lee, II was Vice President of Corporate Contracts, Pricing and Supply Chain at Northrop Grumman Corporation, a Fortune 100 company and one of the world’s largest global security companies. Mr. Lee led all aspects of contracts, pricing and supply chain, including responsibility for the company’s risk review process and the development of company-wide contracts and pricing policies, direction, and training. Mr. Lee also was responsible for developing and implementing Northrop Grumman’s supply chain strategies and key processes, including socio-economic business planning, strategy, and compliance. With over 35 years of combined aerospace and defense business management experience, Mr. Lee served as the principal interface with key government regulators regarding all contracts and pricing matters, government regulatory policy, and oversight.

Mr. Lee has degrees and certificates from California State University, Fresno,  University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. At Northrop Grumman, he was an executive sponsor for the Asian Pacific Professional Network employee resource group and is also an active advisor to the South Bay chapter of the National Contract Management Association (NCMA).  Among other community leadership roles, Mr. Lee served on NAAAP’s Senior Advisory Council for many years. 

David H. Tsubouchi, 2014

David H. Tsubouchi is the Registrar and CEO of the Ontario College of Trades, is appointed as the Honorary Consul General for Mongolia, and is author of his memoir “Gambatte,” which was nominated for the Speaker’s Book Award. He also currently sits on the Board of Governors for Seneca College and on the Board of Directors for the Markham Stouffville Hospital. Mr. Tsubouchi has worked as a partner in several law firms and has also served on other Boards of Directors, including for Hitachi Canada, York University, the Canadian Professional Golf Tour, and Teranet Income trust. He also was appointed by the Republic of Vietnam as the Co-Chair of the Canada Vietnamese Business Council.


Mr. Tsubouchi holds the distinction of being the first Japanese Canadian to have been elected to any position in Canada. In 1988, he was elected as a Councilor for the Town of Markham, serving for six years. In 1995, he became the first Japanese Canadian to be elected to a provincial legislature and also to serve as a Cabinet Minister. Mr. Tsubouchi served as a Member of the Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Markham for two terms and has held several cabinet posts in the Ontario Legislature, including Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Solicitor General, Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet, and Minister of Culture. As a campaign chair, Mr. Tsubouchi has raised millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations and institutions, including Seneca College, Georgia Brown College, the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and the Rising Sun Campaign to assist victims of the tsunami and earthquake in Japan.

Mr. Tsubouchi has received several other awards and honors, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, the Bruce Bryden Award from York University, the Award of Merit from the Japanese Canadian Community, and the Canadian Horse Racing Industry Award of Recognition. Mr Tsubouchi is a frequent lecturer and key note speaker, speaking on matters including business development and the imprisonment of Japanese Canadians during WWII.

Born in Toronto, Mr. Tsubouchi’s parents were interned during World War II, when Canadians of Japanese descent were imprisoned and their property, possessions, and businesses were confiscated. His memoir “Gambatte,” which is a Japanese word meaning “do your best and never give up,” recalls his family and outlines his unusual career path, which has included acting, writing, law, politics, and community service. Mr. Tsubouchi holds a B.A. from York University, a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School, and an LL.D. from Assumption University.

The following NAAAP100 award winners were also honored between 2008 and 2013.

  • Mr. George Takei, Actor, Narrator, and Author (2013)
  • Mr. Tom Hom, founder, Tom Hom Group (2013)
  • The Honorable Daniel Inouye, U.S. Representative, Hawaii (2013)
  • Ms. Constance Lau, President and CEO, Hawaiian Electric Industries (2013)
  • Mr. Don Liu, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary, Xerox Corporation (2013)
  • Mr. Chris Lu, U.S. Cabinet Secretary, Assistant to the President, and co-chair, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2013)
  • Mr. Lang Lang, Pianist (2013)
  • Ms. Thear Suzuki, Partner, Ernst & Young, LLP (2013)
  • Dr. Doris Ching, Vice President of Student Affairs, University of Hawaii (2012)
  • Mr. Richard Lui, News Anchor, MSNBC and NBC News (2012)
  • Senator Vivienne Poy, Senator of Canada, author, entrepreneur, fashion designer, and historian (2012)
  • Mr. Ike Song, Vice President of Situation Awareness Systems, Northrop Grumman (2012)
  • Mr. Hines Ward, NFL Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers; and Commissioner, White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (2012)
  • Ms. Tracey Doi, Group Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (2012)
  • Mr. Brad Furukawa, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Northrop Grumman (2011)
  • The Honorable Mike Honda, Congressman of California’s 15th Congressional District (2011)
  • Dr. Jim Yong Kim, physician and president, Dartmouth College (2011)
  • Ms. Svetlana Kim, author, White Pearl and I: Memoirs of a Political Refugee (2011)
  • Ms. Sachi Koto, founder and CEO, Sachi Koto (2011) Communications, Inc. (2011)
  • The Honorable Norman Mineta, U.S. Secretary of Transportation and U.S. Secretary of Commerce (2011)
  • Mr. I.M. Pei, architect and founder, Pei Cobb Freed and Partners (2011)
  • Ms. Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO (2011)
  • Mr. John Cho, Actor (2010)
  • Ms. Martha Choe, Chief Administrative Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2010)
  • Ms. Chan Hon Goh, Director, The Goh Ballet Academy and Former Prima Ballerina, The National Ballet of Canada (2010)
  • Ms. Sonya Gong Jent, Vice President of Operations, State Farm Insurance (2010)
  • Ms. Doreen Ho, President and CEO of United Commercial Bank (2010)
  • Mr. Neil Horikoshi, President and Executive Director, Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (2010)
  • Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health, Department of Health and Human Services (2010)
  • Dr. Qi Lu, President, Online Services at Microsoft Corporation (2009)
  • Ms. Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, Washington D.C. Public Schools (2009)
  • Ms. Mable Yee, CEO and Founder, Engage Her, Inc. (2009)
  • Mr. Scott Oki, Founder and Chairman of Oki Developments, Inc. (2009)
  • Mr. David Lum, Motorola, Director of Asia/Pacific Product & Support Operations, Government & Public Safety (2009)
  • The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Former Secretary of Labor (2008)
  • Mr. David Henry Hwang, Playwright (2008)
  • Mr. J.D. Hokoyama, President and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP) (2008)
  • Mr. Bill Imada, Chairman and CEO of IW Group(2008)
  • Mr. Paul Lee, Esq., Partner of Goodwin Proctor (2008)
  • Ms. Maya Lin, Artist and Architect (2008)

NAAAP Inspire Award winners


Michelle MiJung Kim, 2022 Inspire Award Winner

Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer Korean American immigrant woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the award winning author of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change. She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and leaders from Fortune 500 companies, tech giants, nonprofits, universities and beyond on their equity education journey. Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. She currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named LinkedIn’s Top Voice in Racial Equity, Fast Company’s Queer 50, and Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.

Onchantho Am, 2022 Inspire Award winner

Onchantho Am is a child of Cambodian refugees. Her parents raised the family in a housing project until the scars from the war resulted in Onchantho and her siblings being placed into foster care. Onchantho’s zeal for advocacy started at a very young age and during challenging circumstances. As a teen, she advocated on behalf of her siblings to have them reunited under one roof. Onchantho embraced her experiences to fuel a passion for public service and child advocacy. She “aged out” of the foster system and went on to become the first in her family to attend university at the University of Florida, where she also provided guidance to the Governor and Legislature on the Florida systems and services for older and former foster youth. This role helped shape legislation for child welfare, and her footprint on legislation in Florida is seen daily. Following this passion, she graduated from Stetson University College of Law and pulled from her personal experience to motivate youths while continuing her community outreach work. To increase her scope, she served on the Board of Directors for IMPOWER, Inc., a not-for-profit serving children, adolescents, adults, and families with Mental Health Services, Substance Misuse Treatment Programs. Onchantho eventually became IMPOWER’s first Vice President of Quality and Chief Legal Office while co-chairing the Florida Coalition for Children Legal Issues Committee. She continues initiatives that help children and families and has recently joined the University of Central Florida – College of Medicine as an Associate General Counsel. In her role, she leverages her legal knowledge, business acumen, and leadership skills to impact a growing academic health sciences center in a university setting.

Onchantho’s commitment to the Asian American Pacific Islanders (“AAPI”) community is steadfast. She has worked with local and state officials for the betterment of the AAPI community. Onchantho is President of the Orange County Bar Association Foundation, the Secretary of the National Association of Asian American Professionals -Orlando Chapter, and a past President of the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association. She co-founded the Asian American Pacific Islanders Coming Together (“ACT”), an independent, non-partisan grassroots group making a difference in the underrepresented community through voter engagement. Onchantho is a graduate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Leadership Advancement Program and the Florida Bar Leadership Academy. She has received the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Pro Bono Award of Excellence, was selected by the Central Florida Women Lawyers for its Women of Distinction Trendsetter Award, and was selected as one of the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards.


Alpa Amin, 2021 Inspire Award Winner

Alpa Amin is a leading voice in public interest immigration law in the state of Georgia, and serves as the Executive Director of Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network (GAIN).

A graduate of Virginia Tech University and Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, Ms. Amin has worked with GAIN since 2008, during which time she built and managed the Victims of Violence program serving Georgia’s immigrant survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence, and sexual assault, and served as GAIN’s first Director of Legal Services before taking on the top executive role.

Ms. Amin oversees all aspects of GAIN’s work, including the provision of pro bono legal services through GAIN’s Asylum and Victims of Violence programs, and has led the organization in an expansion of their legal service model to include holistic services, social service needs assessments and referrals, and client-informed programs. She works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement and is a frequent guest speaker on issues affecting vulnerable immigrants.

Ms. Amin is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy, Leadership Buckhead, and the Anti-Defamation League’s Glass Leadership Institute, and a past chair of the Georgia Immigration Collaborative and the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Task Force, where she helped to create the groundbreaking Statewide Labor Trafficking Roundtable and Report. She is the recipient of the Atlanta Bar Association’s 2018 Rita A. Sheffey Public Interest Award and has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s Top 40 Under 40. 

Tony DelaRosa, 2021 Inspire Award winner

Tony DelaRosa (he/they/siya) is an aspiring Anti-Bias & Anti-Racist Educator, DEI Consultant, Spoken Word Poet, and Coalition Builder. He holds a BA in Asian Studies at the University of Cincinnati and a Masters in Education at Harvard University. 

 In 2013, he co-founded Pulse Poetry, a school school program which uses spoken word pedagogy and public speaking to empower youth voices in various cities. Because of his youth work, he was handpicked by the US-Phippine Embassy to serve as a delegate and on the board of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO). In 2019, he founded Tony Rosa Speaks LLC which provides DEI motivational speaking services. Tony Rosa Speaks LLC has been selected as an official CatalystEd Network provider, which consults for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the New Schools Venture Fund, and the like. His work has been featured in KQED,  Bain & Co, Harvard Ed Magazinethe Smithsonian, Columbia University’s Hechinger Report Hyphen Magazine, and elsewhere. 

Today, he currently works at Teach for America Florida, where he coaches the next wave of Miami’s teacher-leaders and is the cofounder of NYC’s first Asian American teacher support, development, and retention initiative called AATEND under NYC Men Teach, the NYC DOE, and Office of the Mayor.


Francesca Hong, 2021 Inspire Award winner

Born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, Francesca Hong is a first generation Korean American mother, chef and community organizer. In 2016 after the birth of their son, Francesca and her partner Matt opened Morris Ramen Restaurant in downtown Madison. Shortly after, she co-founded the Culinary Ladies Collective (CLC) and currently serves as Board President. CLC is an organization which aims to empower women and non-binary food and beverage professionals through shared resources, networking, and fundraising for non-profit organizations. In 2020 Francesca co-founded Cook It Forward Madison, an initiative that brings healthy meals directly to under-resourced communities while uplifting restaurants and their ecosystems. Francesca is a resident of the Tenney Lapham neighborhood and the Wisconsin State Representative for the 76th Assembly District.


Symington W. Smith, 2020 Inspire Award winner

Symington W. Smith is an award-winning youth advocate and global affairs expert who serves as the founder of The Winterflower Group. His mission is to inspire and show society that with action, young people can and do change the world.

Born in Atlanta but raised globally, Symington attended Peking University, where he studied as the only American student in the Chinese Language and Literature Department. Afterward, he attended King’s College London, briefly working for the U.K.’s Cabinet Office as Assistant Editor. 

In 2018, he launched The Winterflower Group, a global youth platform that today counts Effie Award, Cannes Lions, and University of Cambridge scholarship recipients amongst its hundreds of members. In 2019, he joined American multinational law firm Baker McKenzie and helped develop its London Corporate M&A China Practice into one of the top legal teams in the EMEA+ region.

His passion for sustainability has led to ambitious projects and donations to charitable causes. To date, Symington has donated thousands of dollars to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems, including plastic pollution, access to education, extreme poverty, and more.

In 2020, Symington was one of five people worldwide to be elected a Life Fellow of The Royal Asiatic Society for his commitment to Asian affairs and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts for outstanding achievements in social progress and development. He is a recipient of Tatler Asia’s Leader of Tomorrow Award and has been ranked as a key leader shaping the future of Asia.

Symington’s social media:






Nydia Han, 2019 Inspire Award winner

Nydia Han is an Emmy award winning journalist specializing in consumer investigations. She is also a news anchor, TEDx speaker, Speaker Who Dares, and creator of the documentary series, #ThisIsAmerica, a fresh, provocative look at who we are as Americans.

As a consumer reporter, Nydia is committed to getting real results for viewers. She is dedicated to exposing scams, protecting families, and encouraging businesses and agencies to do the right thing.  Nydia also covers general news as a news anchor and has traveled numerous times to cover national stories.

In her work related to #ThisIsAmerica, Nydia hopes to inspire all of us to get to know each other’s unique American stories, check our own biases, and act as positive agents of change and unity in our communities.

Nydia has worked in television markets in Philadelphia, Houston, and Oklahoma City. She started her career as a reporter in Pocatello, Idaho.

Nydia is dedicated to helping our community in a myriad of ways. She is on the community advisory board for the Asian American Women’s Coalition and volunteers her time for many other organizations, especially to work on diversity and inclusion initiatives.  She is also passionate about raising awareness and desperately needed funds for lung cancer research after the passing of her mother in 2009.

Nydia received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism with a focus on International Studies from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.  Fluent in Korean, Nydia also graduated from a program at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.

Nydia is a mom to two young children, a wife and a friend. She enjoys good food, good wine, and most of all, a good laugh.

Nydia invites you to view her work and connect with her at


Aisha Yaqoob, 2018 Inspire Award winner

Aisha Yaqoob is a professional advocate for immigrant rights at the state Capitol, working with legislators on both sides of the aisle to push for civil rights for immigrants and people of color. As policy director for a nonprofit legal and advocacy center, Aisha monitors local, state, and federal policies that affect immigrants and works to fight for their rights.

Aisha is passionate about voting rights, access to healthcare and education, and immigration. She believes in upholding the civil rights and civil liberties for all people, especially those whom have been historically underrepresented.

Aisha moved to Gwinnett County at the age of 6 from south Florida. Since then she has lived in the Collin Hills area, Suwanee and now Duluth. Aisha is the middle of five children and has always been surrounded by a large extended family.

Growing up in Georgia, Aisha took advantage of every opportunity given to her. She graduated with honors from North Gwinnett High School and earned the HOPE Scholarship to attend the University of Georgia where she earned her Bachelors of Arts in Journalism in 2013, and a Masters of Public Administration & Policy in 2016.

In college, Aisha took a special interest in working with students with disabilities and worked at the University’s Disability Resource Center. After her undergraduate career, she continued her passion for individuals with disabilities working at Gwinnett Technical College in the Disability Services department. Shortly thereafter, she joined her graduate program to study Public Administration & Policy to learn more about how to make an impact in government.

While in graduate school Aisha founded the Georgia Muslim Voter Project, an organization whose mission is to increase voter turnout in the American Muslim community. In 2016 she and her team helped to increase voter turnout across Georgia in a community that has historically rarely participated in the electoral process.

Aisha is actively involved in her community. She was a co-organizer of Atlanta March for Social Justice & Women (January 2017), which saw an estimated 60,000 people peacefully march in downtown Atlanta. She also earned a scholarship to participate in the National Labor Leadership Initiative, Southern Program.

Aisha has participated in the Gwinnett Citizens Academy (Fall 2016 Cohort) and served on the Advisory Committee for the Downtown Suwanee Redevelopment Commission (2014-2015).

She earned a 40 Under 40 Georgia Muslim Award from the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta (October 2016) and the Rising Star Community Champion Award from Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta (October 2016). In 2015, Aisha earned a commendation from the Georgia General Assembly for work in the Georgia Muslim Community.


Nanxi Liu, 2017 Inspire Award winner




Brian Wong, 2016 Inspire Award winner

NAAAP Pride Award winners


Schuyler Bailar, 2022 NAAAP Pride winner

Schuyler Bailar is an internationally acclaimed educator, author, and advocate, and the first transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team. 

As a teenager, Schuyler was one of the nation’s top breaststrokers and set a national age-group record at 17. He was recruited by Harvard Women’s Swimming but after transitioning during a gap year, he was also offered (and accepted) a slot on the Harvard Men’s swim team – making him the first trans athlete to compete on any D1 men’s team. At Harvard, he swam on the most successful Harvard swim team in 50 years. Schuyler chose to be public about his transition to ensure that other kids saw at least one example of a transgender athlete doing what they love, and his choice and his transition was historic and timely. His story has appeared everywhere from 60 Minutes to The EllenShow

His public advocacy work is uniquely educational and engaging. With nearly half-a-million social media followers and over 400 talks to some 75,000 in-person attendees, Schuyler is considered one of the leading DEI educators on transgender inclusion and gender literacy. 

After speaking at hundreds of events around the globe, it was clear that when Schuyler shared his humanity with audiences, the experience was transformative. For those who were resistant to trans people, they learned & opened up, allowing themselves to see Schuyler in their own humanity. This shared humanity breaks down prejudice, phobias, and biases and has the power to create lasting change. To enable more widespread access to this experience, Schuyler created LANECHANGER, the first comprehensive DEI-focused Gender Literacy Learning Series offering extensive and affordable resources to every individual, company, school, or organization. In LANECHANGER™, Schuyler discusses everything from pronouns to locker rooms to dating and his intersectional heritage and exposes his humanity in a way that begs the viewer to explore theirs. The series is on-line and self-paced and being used now at startups and multi-national companies – at healthcare providers and sports groups.

Schuyler is also an advisor to several companies and continues his academic pursuits through work he is directing at two Harvard-affiliated psychology labs. And, with the release of his groundbreaking middle-grade novel Obie Is Man Enough Schuyler is also an author.

Schuyler has become known as one of the leading advocates fighting for the inclusion of trans athletes in sports – at all levels. This includes opposing rules that ban trans athletes at elite levels, and legislation which bans trans kids from playing sports at K-12 levels and/or prohibits basic life-saving healthcare for them.

Schuyler is one of the most sought-after transgender spokespersons in the press with nearly 1 billion media impressions. His tireless advocacy has earned him numerous notable honors including being a Grand Marshall at New York City’s 2022 Pride March, Instagram’s LGBTQ Educator of the Year, the A100, Out100, Queerties, and dozens of others.


Urooj Arshad, 2021 NAAAP Pride winner

Urooj Arshad is the Senior Program Manager, Dignity for All, LGBTQI+ Assistance Program at Freedom House. Dignity for All is a consortium of eight leading human rights and LGBTQI+ organizations that provides rapid-response financial assistance, project funding for time-sensitive initiatives, and holistic security support to human rights defenders and civil society organizations under threat or attack due to their work for LGBTQI+ rights. Prior to Freedom House, Urooj was the Director, International LGBTQ Youth Health and Rights Programs at Advocates for Youth, where she built the capacity of organizations working on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the global south. She also designed a project that addresses the reproductive and sexual health needs of Muslim youth. She is the co-founder of the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity, which addresses the intersectional impact of islamophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. 

Urooj has presented about her work globally, including at the International HIV/AIDS Conferences; the European Science Foundation’s conference on Religion, Gender and Human Rights; the Obama White House’s LGBT Pride and Heritage Event; the National Press Club, Capitol Hill, the State Department, Funding Forward, and at national convenings of Muslim leaders including at (re)Presenting American Muslims: Broadening the Conversation organized by Harvard University’s Alwaleed Islamic Studies Program.

Urooj was a member of the Center for American Progress’ Women’s Health Leadership Network and its Faith and Reproductive Justice Institute and a fellow with the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute. She was on the board of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Urooj is the recipient of the Latino GLBT History Project’s annual Mujeres en el Movimiento award, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance’s Community Catalyst Award, and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition’s We Speak award. She was also inducted as an honorary member of the Lavender Leadership Honor Society-University of Maryland, College Park. Urooj served on the U.S. delegation to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in 2015. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, NBC News, and USA Today.



Ocean Vuong, 2020 NAAAP Pride winner

Ocean Vuong is the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, out from Penguin Press (2019) and forthcoming in 30 languages. A recipient of a 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, he is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.


Vuong’s writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Granta, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker,  Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, Interview, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker.


Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst. 


Ocean’s social media: 

Instagram @ocean_vuong –


Telly Leung, 2019 NAAAP Pride winner

Born and raised in New York City, singer, songwriter, actor and producer Telly Leung is an influential leader in the Asian American LGBTQ+ community. 

Telly most recently starred in the title role of Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater. Other Broadway and national touring credits include Flower Drum SongPacific OverturesWicked, the final company of RentGodspellAllegiance, and In Transit. Telly has performed live all over the world and has appeared on television in “Glee” (Fox), “Instinct” (CBS), “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” (NBC), among other shows.  He was also heavily featured in the PBS documentary Broadway Or Bust as a teacher and performance coach for the Jimmy Awards. 

Telly passionately believes in “paying it forward” to the next generation of theater artists and performers. He often teaches as a guest instructor in master classes all over the country. In 2013, he was selected to be the Tam & Young Arts Chair at Iolani High School in Honolulu and spent a week teaching and performing alongside the students and faculty. He continues to teach young performers as part of a team of coaches at Music Theater College Auditions (MTCA), an organization that helps high school students gain admission to competitive university training programs. In 2013, Telly joined the faculty at NYU’s New Studio on Broadway as an adjunct professor.