Immigrant Heritage Award

Each year, Angel Island Immigration Station presents the Immigrant Heritage Award, which is given to individuals and organizations whose work celebrates the important contributions immigrants have made to our country.

Award Recipients in 2017


Ieoh Ming Pei

Lifetime Achievement Award

Ieoh Ming Pei, known by I.M. Pei, arrived in America in 1934 as a student, an exempt class allowed by the Chinese Exclusion Act. He briefly passed through Angel Island for the processing of his immigration papers. Mr. Pei received a B.A. in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then a M.Architecture from Harvard. He became a naturalized citizen of the U.S. in 1954. His best known works include the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library in Boston, the Grand Louvre in Paris, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Mr. Pei has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, and on July 4, 1986 was one of twelve naturalized American citizens to receive the Medal of Liberty from President Ronald Reagan.


Norman Mineta

Visionary Award

Norman Mineta’s mother Kane was a picture bride who arrived on Angel Island in 1914. He was born in 1931 and with his family, interned in the Heart Mountain incarceration camp as a teenager. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Mr. Mineta served in the U.S. Army in Japan and Korea and then joined his father in his insurance agency. He served in the San Jose city council and then became mayor in 1971 and U.S. Congressman in 1975, where he served until 1995. After working in the private sector, he became the first Asian American to serve in a presidential cabinet when President Bill Clinton appointed him to be Secretary of Commerce. Mr. Mineta then became Secretary of Transportation in the administration of President George W. Bush, where he distinguished himself during the events of 9/11. He rejoined the private sector in 2006 with Hill and Knowlton.


Jerry Yang

Philanthropy Award

Jerry Yang was born as Yang Chih-Yuan in Taipei, Taiwan in 1968. His father died when he was two, and his mother brought Jerry and his brother to San Jose in 1978. He received a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering from Stanford and while studying there, he and David Filo created a guide to the World Wide Web, which became Yahoo! and achieved great popularity. Mr. Yang served as Chief Yahoo and CEO with the company and was affiliated with Yahoo! until January of 2012. Since that time, he became a mentor to technology startups and started a venture firm, AME Cloud Ventures. Along with a number of corporations, he has served on the Stanford University Board of Trustees. In February of 2007, Mr. Yang and his wife Akiko Yamazaki donated $75 million to Stanford University, partly to build a research, teaching and lab building.


India Community Center

Community Leader Award

Over sixty years ago, a group of successful entrepreneurs founded the Indian Community Center to cherish India’s heritage and preserve its culture in the U.S. Its mission is to promote Indian culture and values by providing social, cultural, recreational and community programs, thereby uniting the Indian community, and raising awareness about Indian culture in the local community. ICC welcomes all without regard to racial, ethnic, regional, religious, political or socio-economic background, and has a 38,000 square foot center in Milpitas and a 10,000 square foot table tennis center. ICC has a significant focus on community service such as free legal, medical, and career clinics, and extensive senior and teen programs. It has classes that include Bollywood dance, yoga, fitness, language, and college entrance exams.


Dr. Herbert Yee

Community Leader, Individual Award

Dr. Herbert Yee was born in Toishan, China in 1924. He and his mother plus three-year old Calvin were processed through Angel Island in a week. Herbert's only recollection is that the man interrogating him gave him a shiny penny, and told him it was gold. In 1948 Herbert set up his dental practice above his father's herbal office after graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, affiliated with Stanford University. HIs outgoing personality opened the door to lifelong friendships and opportunities in community service, banking, and real estate . Some of Dr. Yee's accomplishments include owning three shopping centers, President of the California State Board of Dental Examiners, President of the International College of Dentists, director of five banks, 40-year member of the Board of Trustees for the University of the Pacific and Grand President of the National Yee Association. Dr Yee has assisted hundreds of students with scholarships in dentistry, pharmacy and law school. Building a school in his village and restoring the Fiddletown Herb Museum have been among his proudest moments. In 1945 the most important event in his life was his marriage to Inez Fong (71 years) and providing for a loving and highly successful family. An American immigrant's dream come true.