In presenting the 2015 Community Leader Award to Norman Mineta, AIISF honors someone who has worked tirelessly throughout his life on behalf of his fellow citizens. From internment at the Heart Mountain Camp in Wyoming as a child, he went on to serve in the US military as an intelligence officer. He became the first Asian American mayor of a major metropolitan city, San Jose, California, and represented that region in Congress as the first Japanese American from the mainland elected to the House. Mineta was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which sought redress for Japanese Americans who were interned. In 1994, he co-founded the Asian Pacific American Caucus and served as its first Chair.
He is the first Asian American to serve on a presidential cabinet, when President Clinton appointed him Secretary of Commerce in 2000. He was appointed Secretary of Transportation in 2001 by President George W. Bush, who also presented him with the Medal of Freedom in 2006. He is the longest serving Secretary of Transportation in United States history. Mineta was also awarded the Grand Cordon, Order of the Rising Sun by the government of Japan in 2007. He has also been awarded the Distinguished Medal of Honor for Lifetime Achievement and Public Service from the Japanese American National Museum in 2012. Mineta is married to Danealia (Deni) Mineta, and has two sons and two stepsons.
Born in Vienna, Deborah Strobin and her brother Ilie Wacs escaped Nazi Austria along with their parents on the last boat to Shanghai during WWII. Their odyssey is captured in a new memoir entitled An Uncommon Journey--From Vienna to Shanghai to America: A Brother and Sister Escape to Freedom During World War II. Written from two perspectives, that of a teenage boy eager for adventure and a young girl whose parents are determined to keep her innocent and protected, An Uncommon Journey is a three-dimensional picture of the harsh and chaotic reality of life in the Shanghai ghetto.
Today Deborah Strobin is a well-known San Francisco philanthropist credited with organizing large and high profile fundraising events over the past two decades, including the first ever HIV/AIDS benefit at Davies Symphony Hall in the 1980s, the city’s first Yves St. Laurent couture fashion show to benefit the San Francisco Symphony, and the largest fundraiser in US history for stem cell research in 2006. Deborah also served as the Deputy Chief of Protocol for the city of San Francisco and commissioner of the Public Library Commission. Her late husband, Ed Strobin, was chief executive officer of Banana Republic and one of the founders of Discovery Channel stores.
Lata Krishnan is CFO for Shah Capital Partners. She was a co-founder and Chief Financial Officer of SMART Modular Technologies, a publicly held company recognized as one of Fortune Magazine's 100 Fastest Growing Public Companies. Lata has also held corporate accounting and finance positions at Montgomery Securities, Arthur Andersen & Company LLP, and Hill Vellacott & Company in London, England. She received a B.S. with honors from the London School of Economics and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Lata is a Board Member of the Silicon Valley Bank Financial Group.
She is also the Chair of the American India Foundation (AIF) since serving as Founding President in 2001. AIF is a premier foundation with a long-term commitment to accelerating social and economic development in India and strengthening the bonds between the US and India and its Honorary Chair is President Clinton. AIF has three offices - Silicon Valley, New York and India.
Krishnan’s other community activities include: The Commonwealth Club Board Member and a Fellow of the American Leadership Forum.
Lata was born in Palghat, India and spent part of her childhood in Kenya. Today Krishnan has established herself as a leading light in the Indian American community while serving as CFO of Shah Capital Partners which she co-founded with husband Ajay Shah. Krishnan lives with Shah, a son and a daughter in Los Altos, California. Since the 1990s she has devoted much of her energies toward serving the marginalized in the bay area, India and East Africa, inspiring others to do the same. "If I can help one child have a better future, that’s meaningful. This is what I would want to be remembered for.”
Professor Judy Yung
Judy Yung, Professor Emerita of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz, is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who were detained on Angel Island. She received her Master’s in Library Science and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. At UC Santa Cruz, Prof. Yung established the University’s first Asian American Studies program. She worked as a librarian and journalist before joining the faculty at UC Santa Cruz, where she taught courses in Asian American history, women’s studies, ethnic studies, and oral history. Her publications include Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island (winner of the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award), Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco (winner of book awards from the Western History Association, Association for Asian American Studies, and Women’s Heritage Museum), Chinese American Voices: From the Gold Rush to the Present, The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War, and most recently, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (winner of the Caughey Western History Association Prize). Professor Yung has also directed exhibits and written two pictorial history books on Chinese American women and San Francisco Chinatown. For the past two decades, she has volunteered her services as a historical consultant to the Chinese Historical Society of America and Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation. She is the recipient of the Association for Asian American Studies’ Lifetime Achievement Award and UC Santa Cruz’s Excellence through Diversity Award and Excellence in Teaching Award.
Professor Erika Lee
Erika Lee is an American historian, Director of the Immigration History Research Center and the Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair in Immigration History at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of two award-winning books: At America's Gates: Chinese Immigration during the Exclusion Era, 1882-1943 and Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America (co-authored with Judy Yung), as well as several articles and book chapters related to immigration and Asian American history. At America’s Gates won the 2003 Theodore Saloutos award for the best book in immigration studies and the 2003 History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. Angel Island won the 2010 Caughey Prize in Western History for the best book in Western History, the 2010 Adult Non-Fiction Award in Asian Pacific American Literature from the American Librarians’ Association, and the 2010 “Honorable Mention” for the History Book Award from the Association for Asian American Studies. It was also named to the “Best Book of 2010” list by the San Francisco Chronicle. Prof. Lee has received awards for her teaching and academic leadership and has been an invited speaker in the United States and internationally. In 2012, she was invited by the U.S. State Department to give a series of lectures in Taiwan. Her next book, The Making of Asian America: A History will be published by Simon and Schuster in September, 2015.