By BRYAN THAO WORRA
AAP staff writer
LOS ANGELES (July 21, 2011) — Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP) recently held its 23rd Annual Leadership Awards Dinner on last weekend at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Hundreds gathered to recognize and honor Asian American leaders whose work has affected the community at national and local levels.
Newscaster David Ono served as the Master of Ceremonies following a welcome by Margaret Ashida, Chair of LEAP and JD Hokoyama, the President and CEO of the organization. Hokoyama’s pending retirement was also announced at this event, following a long and distinguished career of service.
Founded in 1982, the Los Angeles-based non-profit Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics is guided by the idea that “in order for API communities to realize their full potential and to foster robust participation in the larger democratic process, those communities would have to begin producing leaders who could advocate and speak on their behalf.”
Among the honorees this year was Victoria Tung, who received the David R. Barclay Alumni Leadership Award. Tung is the Associate Director for Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs for the Office of the Secretary and Senior Advisor on Asian American and Pacific Islander Affairs at the Department of Commerce. Prior to her appointment to the Obama Administration, she also served as the first Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
Daphne Kwok, Chair of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders was recognized for hew work which has included her service as the Executive Director of Asians & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California as well as many other organizations ranging from the Organization of Chinese Americans, the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, and the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies. She was also a founding member of the Asian & Pacific Islanders American Scholarship Fund.
The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund was also recognized at the Awards. Since its founding in 2003, it has become the nation’s largest non-profit organization that works to provide scholarships to Asian Pacific Islander Americans in financial need.
The APIASF’s mission is to make a difference in the lives of APIA students by providing them with resources that increase their access to higher education which serves as the foundation for their future success and contributions to a stronger America.
LEAP recognized the service and contributions of S.K. Gupta, who was the former Vice President of Operation of Lockheed Martin Space Systems for 10 years of the 28 years he worked for them before retiring. He was recognized in 2010 with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor for “a life dedicated to the American way of hard work, self improvement and community service,” among many other awards over the years, including the Lockheed Corporation’s Robert E. Gross Award as Engineer/Scientist of the Year.
Finally, Dr. Vishakha N. Desai, the President and CEO of Asia Society was honored for her work in strengthening partnerships among the people, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States. Founded in 1956, Asia Society has a unique approach that connects culture, commerce, and current affairs to more than 35 countries in Asia.
Dr. Desai became President and CEO of Asia Society in 2004 and significantly expanded the scope and scale of the organization’s activities including new offices abroad, a new center on US-China relations and several new initiatives involving the environment, Asian women leaders and partnerships among the next generation of exceptional leaders.
It’s been a busy month for LEAP. Just a few weeks earlier, from July 6 to 9, over forty Asian American professionals in higher education gathered in Pomona, California for an intensive 4-day experience known as the Leadership Development Program in Higher Education sponsored by LEAP.
The vision for the program began in 1997 under the organization of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. who partnered with Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education to meet the needs of their peers and emerging voices in the community. Now in its fifteenth year, the aim was to enhance the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islanders and prepare college/university administrators, faculty, and staff to move into leadership positions and to take on positions of greater visibility and influence on their campuses.
Participants appreciated the hands-on workshops, mentoring, and interactive dialogues with API educational leaders, developing personalized leadership career plans from the experience. In addition, the program works to build networks among participants, leading college and university presidents, faculty and senior administrators.
You can learn more about the work of LEAP at their website at www.leap.org.