Immigrant Heritage Awards
Each year, AIISF recognizes special individuals whose work bears witness to the exceptional contributions of Asian immigrants - a group once excluded from entry into the United States.
Dennis immigrated to the Bay Area from the Philippines. He became a business leader as an accounting partner at Deloitte and a civic leader as the first person of color elected as President of the Commonwealth Club of California, and the President of the Cal Business Alumni Association. He currently serves as the Board Chair of Recology, the Chair of NACD, and as the Chair of APAPA. He also currently serves as a Member of the Board of the Committee of 100.
Vijay was appointed United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2001.. He was awared the Padma Shri for enhancing India's image overseas. In 2006, Vijay founded The Vijay Amritraj Foundation, a charity serving the destitute. Vijay is an ESPN anchor and host, actor, and tennis player. Vijay has repeated as a Quarterfinalist at Wimbledon and the US Open. Vijay also had the distinct honor of carrying the Olympic Torch at the 1988 Seoul Games.
Thuy and her family fled their native Vietnam by boat at the end of the Vietnam War, winding up in a refugee camp in Guam before being allowed to settle in America. Now an award-winning Bay Area broadcast journalist, she currently co-hosts KQED “Newsroom.”
Joe and Eliz Chan
Joe's maternal grandmother, aunt, father, and mother were detained at the Immigration Station. Eliz's father, mother and oldest brother were also detained after immigrating from China. Joe married Elizabeth A. Wong in 1964. After retiring, Joe graduated from the Angel Island State Park docent training in 2002. Eliz joined him as a docent in 2004. They return Bay Area every summer to resume their mission on Angel Island leading guided tours at the US Immigration Station.
The Honorable Mazie K. Hirono, U.S. Senator from Hawaii
Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012, the country’s first Asian-American woman Senator. In the U.S. Senate, Hirono has spearheaded efforts to protect the civil rights of disenfranchised individuals, and has been an outspoken leader denouncing the recent political attacks against immigrants, refugees, and Muslims.
Kathy Ko Chin
As President & CEO of the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), Kathy Ko Chin spearheads the organization’s efforts to influence policy, mobilize communities and strengthen organizations to improve the health of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders (AAs and NHPIs).
Felicia Lowe is an award winning independent television producer, director, and writer with more than 35 years of production experience. Her film, Chinese Couplets unfolds the impact of America’s Chinese Exclusion Acts on four generations of women. Carved in Silence, documents Chinese immigrants detained at the Angel Island Immigration Station. It has become a classic teaching tool and helped bring greater awareness about this chapter of immigration history.
Daniel Quan is an interpretive planner, exhibition designer and architect with over forty years of experience interpreting our natural and cultural worlds through designed environments and exhibitions. Daniel is a licensed California architect. Founder of Daniel Quan Design in 1977, he has built a national reputation with projects at Point Reyes, Yellowstone, Valley Forge, the California State Capitol, Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, and Angel Island Immigration Station.
Words that best describe C.C. Yin . . . community involvement for the betterment of the community. The Yin Family operates 32 restaurants and supports each as active leaders in business, civic, education, charity, government and public affairs. Time and financial assistance is given to countless charities, schools, sports programs, and the arts as well as to seniors, youth, minorities, disabled persons, and the homeless.
Regina Yin, born in China and raised in Taiwan, left wonderful parents to come to America to attend graduate school in social work at the University of Washington. There she met her husband, C. C. Yin. Over the past 33 years, Regina and C.C. participated not only in business but, more importantly, contributed to the betterment of schools, the homeless, veterans, the sick and the needy.
Ieoh Ming Pei
I.M. (Ieoh Ming) Pei, was born in Canton, China in 1917. He came to America as a student and was admitted at the Angel Island Immigration Station on August 28, 1935. He studied Architecture at M.I.T. and received a Masters from the Harvard School of Design. Recognized as one of the greatest modern architects, Mr. Pei’s work includes the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the pyramid at the Louvre in Paris, and the the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong.
Norman Mineta’s mother Kane was a picture bride who arrived on Angel Island in 1914. As a young boy he was sent, with his family, to the Heart Mountain Internment Camp. After graduating from U.C. Berkeley, Mr. Mineta served in the U.S. Army and later was elected as a San Jose City Councilperson, Mayor and U.S. Congressman. He also served as the Secretary of Commerce under President Bill Clinton and the Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, where he distinguished himself during 9/11.
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. While studying engineering at Stanford, he and David Filo created a guide to the World Wide Web, which became Yahoo!, a company Mr. Yang served as Chief Yahoo and CEO. Mr. Yang and his wife donated $75 million to Stanford University, partly to build a multi-disciplinary research, teaching and lab building.
India Community Center
Founded in 2003 by a group of successful entrepreneurs, ICC’s mission is to cherish India’s heritage and preserve its culture in the U.S. They seek 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.
Dr. Herbert Yee
Dr. 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. In 1948, Dr. Yee graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons. He served as the President of the California State Board of Dental Examiners; President, International College of Dentists and 40 years on the University of the Pacific Board of Trustees.
Disney legend Tyrus Wong arrived at the Angel Island Immigration Station at nine years old. A painter, muralist, ceramicist, lithographer, designer and kite maker, Mr. Wong was the lead artist on Disney’s groundbreaking animation classic, Bambi. In addition he was with Warner Brothers for 26 years as a film production illustrator drawing set designs and creating storyboards. He also worked with Hallmark, having designed a Christmas card that sold more than 1 million copies.
He was the first Indo-American Founder & CEO to take a venture-backed company, Excelan, public on the NASDAQ. In addition Mr Rekhi co-founded Inventus, a leading early stage venture company. In 1995 he co-founded TiE, The Indus Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit support network to provide advice, contacts, and funding to Indian Americans hoping to start businesses. Born in Rawalpindi, Punjab, Mr. Rekhi came to America in 1967.
Marn J. Cha, Ph.D.
Professor Cha is a professor emeritus of political science at California State University, Fresno where he taught over forty years. He has documented and written extensively about Korean immigrant heritage in Central San Joaquin Valley. His effort has produced the seminal book, Koreans in Central California: A Study of Settlement and Transnational Politics by University Press of America, in 2010. He is a founding president of the Central California Korean Historical Society.
Larissa Constantinovna Krassovsky
Larissa was born of Russian parents in Harbin, China before moving to Shanghai where she started her community service work at 16 years old organizing events to raise money for uniforms for a local women’s hockey team. Her boundless energy and a lifetime devoted to volunteerism with the Russian-American Women’s League and the Russian Orthodox Church have made her a beloved and valued figure in the Russian community.
For 25 years, retired educator Al Cheng has led hundreds of Chinese Americans back to China to search for and visit their ancestral villages. With the late Him Mark Lai, Mr. Cheng founded the Him Mark Lai Family History Project, a program which involves a year-long commitment to researching one’s Chinese American family history and genealogy, and culminates in a visit to their paternal and/or maternal ancestral villages in China.
Steven C. Owyang
Steven is a co-leader at the Him Mark Lai Family History Project. He served as an administrative law judge with the Office of Administrative Hearings, State of California, from 2005 to 2012. Actively involved in the community, he previously served for more than 20 years as the executive officer of California’s civil rights agency, the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, where he was responsible for the Commission’s adjudicatory, regulatory, and legislative functions.
Norman became the first Asian American mayor of a major metropolitan U.S. city when he became mayor of San Jose in 1971, then was elected to Congress in 1975. He was instrumental in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which provided redress for Japanese Americans who were interned. Mineta is the first Asian American to serve on a presidential cabinet, serving as Secretary of Commerce for President Clinton and Secretary of Transportation under President George W. Bush, who presented him with the Medal of Freedom in 2006.
Born in Vienna, Deborah and her brother escaped Nazi Austria along with their parents on the last boat to Shanghai during WWII. Deborah is a well-known San Francisco philanthropist credited with organizing large and high profile fundraising events, including the first ever HIV/AIDS benefit in the 1980s 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.
Lata, with her husband Ajay Shah, co-founded Shah Capital Partners, where she serves as CFO. Krishnan was founding president of the American India Foundation, which is committed to accelerating social and economic development in India and strengthening the bonds between the U.S. and India. 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.
Judy Yung, Ph.D.
Prof. Yung is Emerita of American Studies at UC Santa Cruz. She received her Master’s in Library Science and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. At UC Santa Cruz, she established the university’s first Asian American Studies program. Prof. Yung’s award winning books include Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island 1910-1940, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco, and The Adventures of Eddie Fung: Chinatown Kid, Texas Cowboy, Prisoner of War.
Erika 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. Prof. Lee has received numerous awards for her teaching and academic leadership and her book, The Making of Asian America: A History.
Catherine was honored as one of 15 women “Champions of Change” and is a Social Justice Fellow at Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. A Fremont resident, Catherine holds a BA in Political Science from UC Berkeley, where she contributed to policy changes in campus support for undocumented students. She has shared her story of being “undocumented and unafraid” through articles on the Huffington Post and in the Harvard Education Review.
Lit and Sintao Ng
In the 1960s, long before Costco or Wal-Mart, Lit and his family pioneered the concept of large stores selling more than groceries as they developed Monte Marts, a business that grew to become an institution in Monterey County. Since selling his stores to Albertson’s in the 1974, Lit and his wife, Sintao, have traveled to China, where they have helped build seven hospitals and 45 schools, and are also actively engaged in wildlife conservation.
After moving to Canada in 1974 and to California in 1995, Kumar worked for large companies, including Hewlett-Packard. In 1995 he co-founded Brocade Communications Systems, and is currently CEO, co-founder and chair of InMage Systems. The first Indian native inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame, his educational philanthropic endeavors began with digital learning centers in rural India and have extended to universities in the United States and Canada.
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
The Magnes is the repository of remarkably diverse archival, library and museum holdings including art, ritual objects, texts, music and historical documents about Jews in the Global Diaspora. It focuses on preserving the legacy of vanishing communities around the world. In the 1960's, the Magnes expanded the canon of Jewish cultural history, integrating visual, musical and material cultures with traditional text-focused approaches.
Linda is an author and community volunteer. She chaired “Jews in Modern China,” an exhibit at the Presidio in 2010 and helped organize the Israel-China Cultural Festival in 2012 featuring the "Dr. Feng Shan Ho & the Rescue of the Austrian Jews " exhibit at the Chinese Historical Society of America documenting the story of the “Chinese Oskar Schindler” and the Jewish escape through Shanghai.
Vish is the Board President of The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) and Venture Director, Clearstone Venture Partners. A South Asian immigrant who describes himself as a “mentor capitalist,” Mishra has a long history as an active community and philanthropic leader with his work on the boards of the India Community Center and TiE.
Yuan Yuan Tan
She is a Principal Dancer for the San Francisco Ballet Company. A Chinese immigrant, she is the only Chinese ballet dancer to reach the rank of principal dancer at a major international ballet company, and the youngest in SF Ballet history to reach this rank, at age 20.
Chinese Hospital Health System, San Francisco
With a history dating back to 1899, the Chinese Hospital was founded to serve the immigrant Chinatown community at a time when other San Francisco providers denied access. Now an acute care, community-owned, non-profit hospital, the Chinese Hospital continues to deliver quality, cost-effective health care while remaining responsive to the community's cultural uniqueness.
Justice Joyce L. Kennard
Justice Kennard has been a member of the California Supreme Court since 1989. She is the longest-serving justice on the court, and has been retained by California voters three times. She was born in Java of Chinese, Indonesian and Dutch parents. She has received eight honorary Doctor of Laws degrees and countless legal, community and disability rights awards.
Fourth generation Japanese American Kristi Yamaguchi won a gold medal in figure skating at the 1992 Albertville Olympics. Kristi and pairs partner Rudy Galindo won the U.S. championships title in 1989 and 1990 before she decided to focus on singles skating. After winning Season 6 of Dancing with the Stars, she established the Always Dream Foundation, whose purpose is to inspire and embrace the hopes and dreams of children.
Andrew is on the board of directors of the Asian Pacific Fund and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association. These organizations provide funding for the Asian community and also mobilize it to become more involved in community affairs. His business, Sugar Bowl, supplies many area hotels with baked goods. Now their products are sold in the Philippines, Canada, Mexico, and Asia.
May and Sinclair Louie
The Louies have been very active philanthropists, making generous donations to organizations such as the Chinatown YMCA, where Sinclair spent time playing sports growing up, Chinese Historical Society of America, and Chinese for Affirmative Action. Sinclair’s father had opened the China Bazaar on Grant Avenue, and the family added more stores. As the business grew, the Louies had as many as seven gift stores in Chinatown.
Jewish Family and Children’s Services
JFCS was founded in 1850 by thirteen men, including Levi Strauss, and originally was dedicated to serve widows and orphans during the Gold Rush period. Over the years, it has helped thousands of immigrants, including Russian Jews from 1896 to 1918, Jews escaping the Holocaust (many of both of these groups came through Angel Island), and now including immigrants and refugees from throughout the world including the Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Iran, and Bosnia.
Justice Ming Chin
Justice Chin is a descendant of Angel Island detainees. He attended high school in San Jose and received his BA and JD degrees from the University of San Francisco. He received a United States Army Commendation and a Bronze Star for his service in the Vietnam War. Justice Chin was appointed to the California Supreme Court, the first Chinese American to be appointed, and he was retained by the voters of California in 1998.
“Head Monster” Noel Lee
Between demonstrations at trade shows and at dealerships, Lee began to build his business. Today the privately-held company is estimated to have annual sales of over $100 million and around 550 employees throughout the world. Monster has supported organizations that address issues including the elimination of AIDS, wounded military veterans, and low income families in the Bay Area.
Asian Americans for Community Involvement
Focusing on the diverse Asian American community, AACI’s mission is to improve the health, mental health, and well-being of individuals and their families by providing an array of human services. They empower the Asian American community by working collaboratively for equality and social justice. AACI is the largest community-based organization serving Asian Americans in Santa Clara County.