SEATTLE — The Asian Hall of Fame, the premier initiative of the Robert Chinn Foundation, has announced the Honoree list.
The honorees include Olympic Swimmer Nathan Adrian; Former U.S. Sec. of Commerce and Transportation, Norman Mineta; stage, screen and television actress Grace Park; and former National Football League star Manu Tuiasosopo.
The Induction Ceremony will take place Saturday, May 31, 2014 in Seattle, Washington.
Since its founding in 2004, the mission of the Asian Hall of Fame is to honor achievement, inspire the next generation, and build the national community of Asian Pacific Americans.
“The Asian Hall of Fame is important for Asian Pacific Americans as they need to be honored by their own community on a national basis, and Asians Pacific Americans have contributed much to the American experience and should be recognized for it,” said Karen Wong, President of the Robert Chinn Foundation. “These honorees are important as they need to inspire the next generation to be successful, provide a positive and credible face instead of negative. Asian Pacific Americans should have something they can be proud of. A celebration dinner where we can showcase successful Asian Pacific Americans from all professions and hear their stories is invaluable.”
The honorees and the Asian Hall of Fame are selected in part in how they represent the life and work of Robert Chinn. They are recognized as having similar virtues and by distinguishing themselves in their various professions.
“Robert Chinn founded the first Asian owned bank in the US to help Asians own their own businesses and homes, as many were turned away from mainstream banks,” Wong said. “He was nationally known in the field of banking. Another virtue: they give back to their community. His bank United Savings Bank supported many community organizations. He himself gave a scholarship to the University of Washington for a deserving student. His other virtues were honesty, credibility, reliability and his word was his bond. Once he made a quote for a loan, and the interest rate went up, he kept his word by giving the loan at a lower interest rate. From these virtues, the community trusted him and became loyal customers. He mentored young businessmen and inspired them to be successful like him. The Asian Hall of Fame honors people like him. Robert Chinn always felt Asian Pacific Americans should distinguish themselves and should be honored for it.”
A native of Bremerton, Washington and of Hong Kong descent, Nathan Adrian is one of the top swimmers in the country.
While attending the University of California at Berkeley, Adrian became an 11-time NCAA champion and led UC Berkeley to its first NCAA team title in 31 years. In 2012, he graduated with honors, a degree in public health, and the Neufeld Scholar-Athlete Award, which is given to the graduating athlete with the highest cumulative GPA.
On the international stage, Adrian has won a total of 15 medals in major competitions (12 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze). He holds the American record in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle events.
Adrian is a two-time Olympian (Beijing 2008 and London 2012) and three-time Olympic gold medalist. He is now training to be a multiple medal threat at the 2016 Rio Games and looks to become the first American to win the 100m freestyle in back-to-back Olympic Games since 1928.
Adrian is actively involved with the Salvation Army’s “Red Kettle Campaign.” He is a prominent spokesperson, promoting sponsor product launches and making appearances at major events (Fashion Week, the Oscars, and the Emmys) for sponsors and charities. He has appeared on Mythbusters, Access Hollywood, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and The Today Show, and numerous magazine publications.
In addition to continuing his swimming career, Adrian aspires to become a leader in public health and to influence policy and patient care.
Born and raised in San Jose, Norman Mineta and his family were among the thousands of Japanese Americans interned during World War II. After the war, Mineta graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Business Administration and served as an intelligence officer in the US Army.
Mineta was appointed to the San Jose City Council in 1967, beginning his rise through the political ranks. In 1971, Mineta was elected the 59th Mayor of San Jose, becoming the first Asian-American mayor of a major U.S. city.
Mineta was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, a post he held from 1975 to 1995. He co-founded the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus during his tenure, and achieved the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which officially apologized for the injustices endured by Japanese Americans during World War II.
Mineta resigned in 1995 and took a position at Lockheed Martin Corporation. Then, in 2000, he was appointed by President Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. The next year, President George W. Bush named Mineta as the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Mineta was the first Asian American to hold both of these roles, as well as the only Democrat to serve in Bush’s Cabinet.
As Secretary of Transportation during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Mineta issued an order to ground all civilian aircraft traffic for the first time in U.S. history. In the aftermath, he guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration and sent a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding the practice of racial profiling.
Upon stepping down in 2006, he was the longest-serving Secretary of Transportation in the history of the position. Today, Mineta is the Vice Chairman of Hill & Knowlton, based in Washington, D.C. He is married to wife Deni with two sons and two stepsons.
Of Samoan heritage, Manu Tuiasosopo was born and raised in Southern California and is best known for his accomplishments on the football field.
Tuiasosopo played Defensive Tackle and Nose Tackle for the UCLA Bruins football team from 1975-1978 and was a member of the 1976 Rose Bowl Championship Team. While earning his Sociology degree, he earned All-Pac 8/10 League Honors three times, two Defensive Player of the Year recognitions, and was named ABC-TV Chevrolet Player of the Game in 1976.
Tuiasosopo was a first-round draft pick (17th overall) of the Seattle Seahawks in 1979, playing five seasons with the team as Defensive Tackle and Nose Tackle. He received NFL All-Rookie honors in his first year and was a member of the Seahawks’ first-ever playoff team in 1983.
In 1984, Tuiasosopo was traded to the San Francisco 49er’s and played three seasons with them as Defensive Tackle. His first season as a 49er was a stellar one, as the team had a 15-1 season win-loss record and went on to become Super Bowl XIX Champions.
Today, Tuiasosopo is active in community service, coaching and counseling youths, volunteering with a range of local and national non-profits, and working to strengthen the voice of the Samoan and Pacific Islander communities. He is employed with the Alaska Airlines’ Cargo division and also an entrepreneur. Tuiasosopo has been married to high school sweetheart Tina since 1977, and they share five children and nine grandchildren.
Grace Park was born in Los Angeles, and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. Of Korean heritage, Park is known for her work as an actress throughout North America.
After graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Psychology, Park began her acting career. She took on a small role in “Romeo Must Die” and a guest spot in “Secret Agent Man” before quickly landing a role in the teen drama “Edgemont” the same year.
“Edgemont” gave Park a consistent presence throughout the show’s five seasons on CBC, spurring on guest star roles in other series, as well as work on the Canadian show “The Immortal.”
In 2003, Park’s career was catapulted forward when she was cast in the Sci Fi Channel’s remake of “Battlestar Galactica.” Park’s regular work in two lead roles earned her critical acclaim, a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in Television at the AZN Asian Excellence Awards, and a place in TV Guide’s “100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History” for her compelling work in season one of the series.
After “Battlestar Galactica,” Park took on co-starring roles in dramatic series, such as “The Cleaner” and “The Border” (the latter role earning her a Gemini Award nomination), and “Enterprise” of the Star Trek franchise. In 2010, CBS debuted the new television series “Hawaii Five-0,” starring Grace Park in the role of Officer Kono Kalakaua.
Today, Park continues as one of the leads of the show. Her role is the only female lead role, which is a change from the original series, which had a male Officer Kono Kalakaua. Park is married to husband Phil Kim and resides in Vancouver, BC.
On what it means to be honored in the 2014 Asian Hall of Fame:
Nathan Adrian — “It is an amazing feeling to be honored in the 2014 Asian Hall of Fame. I have always taken pride in my heritage and to be recognized by the community is very important to me.” –
Norman Y. Mineta — “It is a great honor to be selected for the 2014 Asian Hall of Fame and to be with this group of very distinguished Asian American Pacific Islanders. For me, I am proud to be selected for this Asian Hall of Fame but I know that I have been able to accomplish many things only by standing on the shoulders of giants who have preceded us. I will be eternally grateful to the men and women who served with valor and integrity in the armed services in World War II, especially in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team/100th Battalion and the Military Intelligence Service. I have aways felt that If it had not been for their truly outstanding service and record in the European Theater of Operations and the Pacific Theater of Operations that it would have been very, very difficult to pass “The Civil Liberties Act of 1988” which called for an apology and payment of a nominal redress for the forced evacuation and internment, for the duration of World War II, of all those of Japanese ancestry. ”
Grace Park — “It is both an honor and surprise to be inducted in to the 2014 Asian Hall of Fame. Since I work and live under the pretense that no one sees it, and I remain totally anonymous, I suppose I will have to reconsider that if I allow myself to accept this honour. Until recently I was not aware of the Asian Hall of Fame, so not only will I explore what it means, but I will surely be telling my family that I finally made it, and never have to get a real job after all.”
Manu Tuiasosopo — “I am truly honored to be included with this year’s outstanding Asian Hall of Fame honorees. Each of this year’s honoree has distinguished themselves in their field of specialty and has contributed to the history and fabric of our country. This year’s honorees have represented their families and profession with dignity and excellence. And more importantly, they’re great role models for young and old from all different backgrounds and ancestry to inspire to.”
“I am extremely honored & humbled to be the first Samoan Pacific Islander included in the Asian Hall of Fame. I am delighted for the positive exposure this experience will bring to our Samoan families and culture. I am excited for the Asian communities at both the local & national level to know more about our Samoan families and culture. I feel blessed and confident for this opportunity that will open the door to many well-deserved individuals, my brothers & sisters with Samoan heritage, to be recognized for their diligent, faithful service.”
On why the Asian Hall of Fame is important for Asian Pacific Americans:
Nathan Adrian — “The Asian Hall of Fame is a place where people can honor their heritage. I feel that in the cultural melting pot of the United States it is important for the Asian Pacific Americans to be able to recognize others and try to build off of that success.”
Norman Y. Mineta — “The Asian Hall of Fame is important for all APAs because it shows the wide breadth of opportunities that have opened up to all APAs. It shows that with self determination, perseverance, hard work, good mentoring and networking, there are all kinds of opportunities to pursue – even those which were felt to be unattainable or closed in the past.”
Grace Park — “The Asian Hall of Fame is important because there are many outstanding achievements and endeavors by Asian Pacific Americans, and the Asian Hall of Fame highlights these successes and the people along with them. It helps us to recognize our unique place in this world, many of us straddling two cultures, and the adaptations and tools we learned and often take for granted as a result. It is the amalgam of cultures and these experiences, plus inspiration and striving, that forge our story, and ultimately the American story.”
“As a process, we explore where we came from, how we express ourselves in, and move through this world, and who we are as individuals. It allows us to further question what it means about us as a collective, and what we want to do with that influence, using it as an opportunity to experience, impact, and connect.”
Manu Tuiasosopo — “The Robert Chinn Foundation, which established the Asian Hall of Fame, strives to continue Chinn’s work of helping his local neighbors prosper through its mission to improve the civic, educational and cultural quality of life of Asian Pacific Americans. The Asian Hall of Fame is critically important for the Asian Pacific American individuals and community to share Chinn’s message to inspire and encourage young and old Asian Pacific Americans to pursue their dreams and passion and ultimately bring a sense of joy, hope and peace of mind to and for all Asian Pacific Americans, to contribute at any level to the well being of their local and national community.”
“The Asian Hall of Fame can serve to inform and educate our friends, neighbors & co-workers about Asian Pacific American individuals and community. Our heritage and its goals are no different than any other groups of people that originally immigrated to the United States to seek prosperity and opportunity. Education is a great tool to aid in this process. We can ALL learn to live and enjoy the american dream, regardless of our background, if each of us will carry out Robert Chinn’s missionary work of helping local neighbors prosper to improve civic, educational & cultural quality of life within our community and when each community across our nation can work together to achieve the same goals, how great would that be.”
On the way that their heritage has impacted their lives and achievements:
Nathan Adrian — “My heritage is something that I have always been aware of, however, some would say that there is a disproportionately low number of Asians as professional athletes. I take pride in trying my best to be a role model to show young Asian American boys and girls that they are only limited by the size of their dreams.”
Norman Y. Mineta — “My heritage and the experience of those of Japanese ancestry has driven me in many of the actions of my career in public service. As I reflected and acted on these needs of the Japanese American community, I came to realize that the totality of the Asian American Pacific Islander community was not much different. Therefore, I have in the last 10-15 years been more devoted to the idea of Pan Asian community needs. That is what I feel the Asian Hall of Fame and the efforts of the Robert Chinn Foundation are aimed at and are attempting to address.”
Grace Park — “It is hard to know how my Korean heritage has impacted my life and achievements without thinking about my parents. To be honest I don’t know where the heritage ends and my parents begin. To me my parents represent Korea. A Korea trapped in the 1970’s, but Korea nonetheless. The tireless work ethic, community mindedness, striving ambition, restrained expression, and societal hierarchy and pressures, are not unique just to the Korean heritage. They did however, shape me.”
“There is a liberty that exists with the ability to float between two cultural worlds. It allows one to be more aware of oneself, as apart from society, as well as feeling one can choose which rules to play by. Perhaps this influenced me to strive for what I wanted, and even if I were to obtain it, I always had the other society’s perspective to bring it into balance.”
Manu Tuiasosopo — “My mother came to the United States after completing her nursing program in American Samoa to pursue nursing opportunities in the US. My father left Samoa and enlisted in the Navy…My parents met in the United States, married and decided to raise their family in Southern California – Los Angeles/Long Beach area. Our church was the center of our Samoan community consisting of extended family members.
“Our parents and extended family leaders brought our Samoan culture, called “Fa’a Samoa” (Samoan Way), to America. This cultural occurrence help individuals, families and community maintain our Samoan heritage with providing financial and material support for families and/or Samoan organizations.
“Our family was one of a few Samoan families living in the Long Beach, California Area in the 1960’s. There maybe were a dozen churches, with about 50-60 members stretched between San Diego to San Francisco California during this time period. Those churches and membership numbers have exploded today with the growth and influx of Samoans and Pacific Islanders into Southern California. The Samoan churches not only served as a place for worship, but also served as centers of community. A place for Samoan families to gather and socialize.”
On the way that their heritage has impacted their lives and achievements:
Manu Tuiasosopo — “Growing up in Long Beach, California, there were only a handful of Samoan families living in the area and everyone knew one another and we were motivated to do our best with whatever activity we were involved in. From age 12, I grew up in a single parent home (my mom) and my uncles & aunts who rallied to support my mom to help in raising and instilling the faith and values with me, my brothers and sister. As the oldest child, I wanted to do well in high school to earn a college scholarship to help my mom. I would be one of a couple “kids” from my immediate family to achieve this accomplishment. Fortunately, I received a football scholarship to UCLA and joined my cousins, who were on the UCLA football roster, which was one of the reasons I selected UCLA.
There were a handful of individuals, with Samoan heritage, that received football scholarships at division 1 colleges. Our situation became a source of pride for our families and other families, especially with young Samoan kids to do well in school and athletics to earn a chance at a college scholarship.
I’m proud of my Samoan heritage and I’m grateful for the opportunities our colleges, businesses and government agencies provide people if they’re willing to work hard for it. I’m also grateful for my heritage for the love and support shown my mother and our family. This love of family helped me with my immediate family. I appreciate my wife, of 37 years, for her love and support with raising our family.”
For more information visit www.asianhalloffame.org and www.facebook.com/asianhalloffame.