Gary King with members of the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans, including William Tigue, Elsa Javines Batica, Ligaya Carlos, Fernando Oconer, Antoinette Fugen Burkhart, Maryjane Ungemach, Carla Murdock, Willen Agdan Korkowski, and Gary Alexander Rios Paz. (Contributed photo)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (May 4, 2012) — The State Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans held its annual Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month Dinner Friday at the Hilton Garden Inn.
The dinner is to present annual Asian Pacific Leadership Awards to honor, recognize, and celebrate the work of organizations and individuals who have demonstrated continuous commitment and leadership to the Asian Pacific community. The Council presented the 2012 honors to: MayKao Hang, Glen King, Kyoko Kishimoto, True Thao, the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans, and Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota.
“The Dinner is such a wonderful gathering space for the community to celebrate Heritage Month. We are humbled once again at the number of community members who embrace and hold sacred this month,” stated Ms. Ilean Her, Executive Director of the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, the main organizer of the dinner.
Dr. Rose Chu, Assistant Commission at the Minnesota Department of Education was the keynote speaker.
MayKao Y. Hang is recognized for her outstanding contributions in the field of Human Services as a Visionary Leader. Using her education and leadership skills, she is the first woman and the first person of color to be President and CEO of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.
Prior to assuming this role, Ms. Hang was the Director of Children and Family Services for the Wilder Foundation where she was responsible for leading, directing and guiding the strategic work and operations for children and families. She Hang was also the Director of Adult Services for the Ramsey County Human Services Department.
Hang held the position of Resident Services Director at the St. Paul Public Housing Agency, managing 4,200 units of public housing and related community services for residents. She is also an active community member who works to improve services and systems for the most vulnerable in society.
Hang has a BA degree in Psychology from Brown University and a MA degree in Social Policy and Distributive Justice from the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. She currently serves as a Director for the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, serves on the boards of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, Twin Cities LISC, is a member of the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable, and was selected to serve on the Minnesota Health Care Reform Task Force by Governor Mark Dayton.
“MayKao Hang has been an unwavering leader ensuring systems, organizations, and professionals are responsive to the different needs across human services,” says Robyn Hansen, chair of the board of directors as Amherst H. Wilder Foundation.
Glen R. King is recognized for her selfless service to the Filipino Minnesotan and Asian Pacific communities through her efforts as a teacher and leader. She was awarded the Heritage Award from the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans in 1999 and is being awarded this year’s Life Time Service Award.
Ms. King originally hails from Cebu, Philippines and arrived in Minnesota in 1969 to attend the University of Minnesota as a teaching assistant at the graduate school of the Physics Department. She joined the Society of Filipino Americans (CSFA) in 1975 and immediately became an important persona in the society. She later became president of CSFA in 1995-1997 and again in 2002-2004.
King was instrumental in starting the PAMANA series, a program that showcases folk dances of the Philippines. She has been the coordinator of the SCFA Dance Troupe for many years, practicing and performing Philippine folk dances in the Twin Cities metropolitan area for 35 years.
King is on the board of the Filipino Community Organization, a leadership group with the purpose of insuring communication and cooperation among the various Filipino organizations in the Twin Cities.
“With her encouragement and leadership, the community’s involvement has strengthened familial values and preserved many young people’s respect and appreciation for their culture and heritage,” says Lita V. Malicsi, advisor of Fil-Minnesotan Association.
Dr. Kyoko Kishimoto is recognized for her outstanding contributions to the education sector and for her work in community service. Using her education and leadership skills, she has inspired young adults in the community with her wisdom and knowledge of social justice.
Kishimoto is a Japanese American from Texas. During her time at St. Cloud University she has taught various Ethnic Studies and Asian Pacific American courses, given presentation on the Japanese American interment and other Asian American issues. Using her educational background, Kishimoto was instrumental in building the Asian Pacific American Minor at St. Cloud State University.
She is a member of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and an active member of the Community Anti-Racist Education team. She is currently the Interim Director of the Multicultural Resource Center at SCSU and an Associate Professor at the Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies at St. Cloud State University.
Kishimoto is an “In Praise of Women of Color” awardee and “Professor of the Year” awardee at Saint Cloud State University.
“One of the aspects of Dr. Kishimoto’s leadership that I respect the most is the collaborative and community-based philosophy that informs her leadership style… Her vision for the program is a very community-based one, which is ultimately why the program will succeed,” said Beth Berila, director of SCSU’s Asian Pacific American Studies minor and Woman’s Studies Department.
True Thao is a “Pioneering Award” awardee and recognized by the Twin Cities Business Journal as one of the state’s “40 under 40” leaders. Mr. Thao is recognized for his outstanding contributions to the fields of mental health and social services.
Using his outreach skills, Mr. Thao founded the program called DSWAP to recruit and train individuals from immigrant and refugee backgrounds to become clinicians to expand the availability of mental health services to these populations.
Thao is a Hmong refugee who immigrated to the US in 1976 at age 11. He was the first Hmong Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in Minnesota and provides clinical consultation for the Hmong American Partnership, Lao Family Community of Minnesota and the Southeast Asian Adolescent Collaborative Service team.
Aside from being the Program Manager/ Clinical Supervisor for the Diversity Social Work Advancement program at the Family Partnership, Thao maintains a private practice which offers therapeutic services to immigrants and refugees. He is a well-known consultant and trainer in the state of Minnesota in the area of cross-cultural mental health.
Mr. Thao “diligently practiced counseling and psychotherapy in a manner sensitive to the needs of people unfamiliar with Western approaches to mental health issues,” said Stephen Maxwell, Director of Field Instruction. “More importantly, he shared his wisdom wand insight with other provides.”
The Cultural Society of Filipino Americans is a 501 c (3) non-profit, charitable organization based in the Twin Cities and founded in 1971. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and share valued Filipino customs and traditions through cultural, educational, social and philanthropic activities.
On Sept. 17, 1972, forty-two Minnesotans signed the constitution and bylaws of the Cultural Society of Filipino Americans which marked the birth of the organization of Filipinos and Americans dedicated to the preservation of the Filipino culture in Minnesota.
CSFA seeks to encourage unity and closer ties among its members and constituents to improve and preserve the Filipino culture, to give aid when necessary to all needy members to fight against racism, discrimination and oppression, to unite in a central organization all Filipino Americans interested in restoring and preserving the Filipino cultural identity, to encourage and maintain a cultural educational and social spirit of good fellowship, sociability and fair play through sponsored activates and family participation, to cooperate with other organizations which have similar broad purposes and to constantly strive in charitable activities.
The Cultural Society of Filipino Americans has played a significant and unwavering role in representing the Filipino and Asian communities in Minnesota. Marcelo J Alojada, President of University of the Philippines Alumni in MN, noted that “CSFA expanded its influence by creating and taking on many diverse projects for the benefit of the Filipino-American community here in Minnesota.”
Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota is a registered 501 c (3) non-profit, charitable organization established in 1992. The mission of the non-profit is to preserve and promote the rich Tibetan culture and spiritual values under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
As the Tibetan population in the Twin Cities grew it was becoming more challenging and difficult for the community to look for places to host variety of events. The community envisioned a place where Tibetans could preserve their traditional values and cultural heritage; a hub where Tibetans of all ages could gather and participate in constructive community programs. The center is aimed to bring in diverse people to see and learn about Tibetan culture. In July 2003, TAFM purchased a building conveniently situated on the border of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The building itself is 6,000 square feet with capacity for about 250 people in the main prayer hall.
TAFM eagerly accepts visits from the larger Minnesota community to learn more about Tibet and its people. Over the years the community center has received number of visitors from diverse backgrounds. The Center for Spirituality & Health at the University of Minnesota had this to say about TAFM: “TAFM’s vision and leadership- socially, educationally and economically- are powerful contributors to a quality of life experienced by resettled Tibetans and Minnesotans alike.”
The dinner is supported by the financial contributions of businesses and community based non-profits and organizations. Lead sponsors are Blue Cross Blue Shields of Minnesota, Taj Technologies, ECOLAB, and Minnesota Historical Society.
In 1993, to honor the achievements and contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans, the Congress, by Public Law 102-450, as amended, has designated the month of May each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.”