November 29, 2022
From left, Kevin Kwan, Roy Yamaguchi, Kourtney Kang and Karen Wong, after being inducted into the Asian American Hall of Fame by the Robert Chinn Foundation on May 5 in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of Mike Nakamura Photography)

SEATTLE (May 6, 2018) — The Robert Chinn Foundation inducted a new class of honorees in the 2018 Asian Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 5, at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. The four new inductees include: Kourtney Kang, writer and producer of TV’s Fresh Off the Boat and How I Met Your Mother; Kevin Kwan, best-selling author of Crazy Rich Asians; Melissa Lee, host of Fast Money on CNBC; and Roy Yamaguchi, Chef/Founder of Roy’s, Humble Market Kitchin and Eating House 1849 Restaurants. Kang, Kwan and Yamaguchi were present for the ceremony in Seattle while Lee addressed the audience in a video message.

The event included special guest performer Luna Lee, world-famous Gayageum artist from South Korea, and an audience of 250 local and regional Asian-Pacific Islander community members, business leaders, elected officials and news media. Ryan Yamamoto, two-time Emmy Award winning KOMO TV reporter, emceed the event.

Established in 2004, the Asian Hall of Fame is a national recognition event for Asian Pacific Americans that honors achievements across industry and ethnicity with a national reach.

“My father, Robert Chinn, would be so proud of the foundation’s continuing his legacy through the Asian Hall of Fame, by honoring deserving Asian Pacific Americans from all industries and ethnicities,” said Karen Wong, President of the Robert Chinn Foundation. “The Asian Hall of Fame is important to promote awareness of Asian American accomplishments to the nation and serves as a source of pride for all Asians.”

“It is such an honor to be here and to be recognized,” said Kang. “I asked Karen Wong about how the Asian Hall of Fame began and she told me that a few years back she realized that there needed to be someone who pulls people together and celebrates the accomplishments of Asians and Pacific Islanders. And I found myself feeling a little choked up…nights like this and organizations like this that reach out and make a difference are so important.”

“I’m very honored to be here – this is pretty neat stuff,” said Yamaguchi, who credited his mother for much of his success in life and considers himself blessed to have gotten to know many World World II veterans. “I’m very proud to be here and hopefully as I continue to live my life I’ll be able to inspire the younger Asian Americans to go out and do, and do a lot for us and for our country.”

“Thanks so much for this honor,” said Melissa Lee by video message from the set of Fast Money. “I found my voice through the show. Finding your voice means being comfortable with showing who you are, 360 degrees. And I use my voice to educate, to influence to be a role model. So, thank you to the Robert Chinn Foundation for amplifying all our voices through the Asian Hall of Fame so we can be heard beyond our community.”

“Asians are now speaking up in ways they never before and that gives me so much hope,” said Kwan, who referenced the bravery of many past Asian Hall of Fame inductees. “These are people who really dared to be different and push the barriers and made choices that may have seemed provocative– but they triumphed. So, I really want to applaud the Robert Chinn Foundation, because for so long Asians have preferred to stay invisible, but people in our community are doing amazing things that really deserve to be recognized and I think that now more than ever so many young people are desperately looking for role models.”

Last year, the foundation inaugurated the Asian Hall of Fame exhibit at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, presenting a collection of images and memorabilia representing past honorees, as well as honorees from past years, such as Gary Locke, Former Washington State Governor and Ambassador to China; Rick Noji, Track and Field Athlete; Yuji Okumoto, Actor; George Tsutakawa, Painter and Sculptor; and Z.Z. Wei, Painter. The exhibit honors the achievement and inspires the next generation of national community of Asian Pacific Americans.

Learn more about the Robert Chinn Foundation and Asian Hall of Fame at www.robertchinnfoundation.org.

About the Inductees

Kourtney Kang
Kourtney Kang is best known as writer/co-executive producer on ABC’S Fresh Off The Boat and writer/executive-Producer on CBS’s How I Met Your Mother. She has written and executive produced multiple pilots for NBC and CBS. Last year she wrote and executive-produced the NBC comedy pilot Where I’m From, which was based on her life as the only girl in the only mixed race family in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Kang is of Korean-Irish decent and was born in Hawaii. She is currently developing a new show with JJ Abrams and writing a feature script to direct.  She recently worked on the upcoming Warner Brothers feature film Crazy Rich Asians (written by fellow inductee Kevin Kwan), White Girl Problems for Lionsgate, and Amusement Park for Paramount Animation.

Kevin Kwan
The Hollywood Reporter named Kevin Kwan one of the “Five Writers to Watch” on its list of Hollywood’s Most Powerful Authors in 2014. Born and raised in Singapore, Kwan migrated to the U.S. at the age of 11 and later forged a career that included work with Martha Stewart Living and Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine. His own creative consultancy produced visual projects for high profile clients such as the New York Times, TED.com, Elizabeth Taylor and Oprah Winfrey. In 2013, Kwan’s debut novel Crazy Rich Asians, garnered rave reviews and became an international best seller, and is now being adapted as a film by Warner Brothers Studios and director Jon M. Chu. The first sequel to the book, China Rich Girlfriend (2015), was also a best seller, and his third book in the trilogy, Rich People Problems (2017), debuted on the New York Times’ Bestseller List.

Melissa Lee
Melissa Lee is the host of CNBC’s Fast Money and Options Action, and is a member of the ensemble cast of Power Lunch.  Previously, she co-anchored other programs on the network including Squawk on the Street and Money in Motion Currency Trading. She also covered investment banking, hedge funds and private equity for the network, and has reported several one-hour documentaries for the network. Lee received a 2010 Gracie Award for Outstanding Host-News and a Gerald Loeb Award nomination in 2009 for a CNBC Special Report: Is Your Money Safe? The Fall of Lehman Brothers, for which she co-anchored. Lee also has been nominated for two Emmy awards in Business News. Prior to joining CNBC in 2004, Lee worked for Bloomberg Television and CNN Financial News.

Roy Yamaguchi
Roy Yamaguchi is a James Beard Award winning chef, restaurateur, and media personality who took the memories of his childhood – growing up on an American military base in Japan, his father’s Hawaii roots and his training in classic French cuisine to create his own, uniquely personal style of modern Hawaii Inspired cuisine. Today he is the chef and founder of Roy’s Restaurants, Roy’s Beach House, Eating House 1849, and Humble Market Kitchin. Yamaguchi is also known as a television personality, hosting six seasons of the PBS series, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi and was featured on the Food Network’s My Country, My Kitchen in an episode that takes him back to his roots in Japan. Yamaguchi also competed as one of twelve of the nation’s most notable chefs in Bravo’s Top Chef. He has published four cookbooks: Pacific Bounty, Roy’s Feasts from Hawaii, Hawaii Cooks: Flavors from Roy’s Pacific Rim Kitchen and Roy’s Fish and Seafood.

The Robert Chinn foundation is the only Asian community foundation that serves Asian and diverse communities on a local and national level. Robert Chinn founded the United Savings and Loan in 1960, the first Asian-owned bank in the United States. In honor of their father, the family established the Robert Chinn Foundation in 1986, to continue his work of helping the community. The Asian Resource Center was built in 1994 to provide a location in the International District for meetings, classes, community activities, athletics, and special events.  With the sale of the Asian Resource Center in 2014, the foundation has transitioned into a grant-based philanthropic organization which supports programs and initiatives that lead to the enhancement of the civic, economic, educational, and cultural quality of life. The foundation funds non-profit organizations serving diverse communities. The Asian Hall of Fame was first held in 2004 with 22 honorees inducted in previous installments.

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