Washington, D.C. (April 5, 2011) – Asian American Action Fund on Tuesday commemorated its 11th year of helping elect Democrats to office with a major Celebration at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Highlights included heartfelt appreciations from Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawai’i, whose Lifetime of Public Service award was given by his former Legislative Director and current AAA-Fund Deputy Executive Director Melissa Unemori Hampe, and by Rep. Mike Honda, Chair of the AAA-Fund Honorary Board, who was honored with a “Michael Honda Fellowship” inaugurated in his name.
Rep. Judy Chu, honored for her recent ascent to the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, related how the AAA-Fund had made a difference with endorsements, money and peoplepower in her election to Congress.
Former Congressman and Cabinet Secretary Norman Mineta, who was standing by the door and referred to himself jokingly as “the doorman,” gave a speech that reminded everyone that we get our jobs in government because we are subject matter experts. But once we are elected or appointed, then we must remember that we are Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and do our part to help that community and keep the doors open for the generations that follow.
Among the other highlights were Rep. Colleen Hanabusa’s speech, drawing a connection between attending a CAPAC training session for state legislators many years before and her finally being elected to Congress from Hawai’i last year with the strong help of the AAA-Fund. Rep. Hansen Clarke, newly-elected Congressman from Detroit, was true to his training as a painter. His speech painted three unforgettable visual portraits of his father (who immigrated to this country from pre-partition India), his marriage to a Korean American, and his continuing challenges as a Black-AAPI multiracial (who pays fees to be a member of both the Black Caucus and AAPI Caucus in Congress).
Both Patrick Gaspard, Executive Director of the Democratic National Committee, and Jeffrey Lerner, DNC Political Director, celebrated the impact of the AAPI community on key races across the country, and committed themselves to strengthening relationships with and support for the AAPI community in all DNC work. Rep. Gerry Connolly’s remarks were very personal because, even though he is an Irish-American, he represents the largest AAPI community in the D.C. metro area (Northern Virginia), has several AAPI staff members, and won his race for Congress with the help of strong AAPI support.
The AAA-Fund Reception, widely considered the high point for Asian American and Pacific Islander Democrats in Washington each year, brought together Members of Congress, state legislators, AAPI community leaders, and up-and-coming leaders who are members of the AAA Group. Among the prominent attendees not mentioned above were Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawai’i, Rep. Barbara Lee of California, Connecticut State Representative William Tong, Former Houston City Council Member Gordon Quan, and many federal government officials.
At the end of the evening, money was raised for “Direct Relief International,” a group that gives money directly to relief efforts in Japan. AAA-Fund Board Member John Tagami had just returned from Japan, and gave the audience a few of his observations. A Live Auction also was held, which featured a pair of Suite Level Redskins tickets and a Family Pack that includes professional make-up by Erwin Gomez and a family portrait.
Host Committee Members included Yeni Wong, Bel Leong-Hong, Irene Bueno, Melissa Unemori Hampe, John Tagami, Gautam Dutta, Marybelle Ang, Ami Bera, Junelle Cavero, Caroline Fan, Tom Goldstein, Mel Chiogioji, TX Rep. Hubert Vo, Nasima Hossain, Gloria Caoile, Howard Moon, Bruce Chen, Roberto Llames, Jacqueline Wong, AAA-Fund of Greater Chicago, Sheela Modin, Miki Hanada, Sam Yoon and AAA Group. The Mistress of Ceremonies was Emmy Award-winning reporter and anchor Joie Chen.
PAC donors included the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Service Employees International Union, New Vision America, the National Education Association, and DirecTV, as well as Pacific Gas and Electric, AMGEN, and the Indian American Leadership Initiative. Special thanks were given to Aman Ayoubi from Local 16 for providing wine.
Although the annual Reception is over, contributions are still welcome at www.aaa-fund.org. All contributions will support the AAA-Fund’s continuing efforts to elect AAPI Democrats and empower the AAPI community. For more information about the event or the AAA-Fund’s ongoing work, please contact Lida Peterson at [email protected].
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