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Meet all 2013 ABC7 Asian Pacific Islander Salutes honorees

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Harmeet Dhillon - Vice Chair, California Republican Party

Harmeet Dhillon was born in India in the home of a physician. She moved to America at the age of two, living throughout the United States and making her proud to become an American citizen. As a first generation immigrant who has lived in the Bronx, rural North Carolina, Washington DC and now California, she has gathered a special collection of life experiences that shaped her character, conservative beliefs and American patriotism. Dhillon grew up in the home of two very conservative parents learning the importance of self-defense. They instilled in her the importance of embracing and protecting the tenets of our Constitution such as freedom of speech, religion, the right to bear arms, the right to vote, and protecting life. At naturalization, her family registered Republican and immediately engaged in the political process to promote freedom. Dhillon's mother was a volunteer Republican election judge in Johnston County. The Dhillon family were staunch supporters of conservative stalwart Senator Jesse Helms, hosting fundraisers at their home and organizing volunteer efforts in the 1970s and 1980s.

At the age of 16, Dhillon went to Dartmouth College, where she gained national fame as the Editor in Chief of the conservative Dartmouth Review newspaper, and was featured on 60 Minutes in a piece about liberal college speech codes. After graduation, she began work at the internationally renowned Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she was the Assistant Editor of Policy Review magazine. Dhillon then attended the University of Virginia Law School, where she served as an editor of the prestigious Law Review and as President of the largest chapter of the Federalist Society in the nation.

Dhillon's longtime friend and colleague from Dartmouth, conservative leader Dinesh D'Souza, recruited her for a position at the conservative public interest law firm The Center for Individual Rights in 1991. The following summer, she worked for the US DOJ. Following graduation, Dhillon clerked for conservative 4th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Hon. Judge Paul Niemeyer befor embarking on an international business litigation career.

In 2005, Dhillon was elected to the San Francisco County Republican Central Committee. In 2008, she enthusiastically ran for State Assembly in Assembly District 13, making history as the first Indian American major party nominee for state office in California history. She ran an aggressive campaign, receiving nearly double the vote of GOP registration in a tough district. During her campaign, Dhillon met her husband Sarvjit, a retired nuclear engineer.

In 2011, after Dhillon was first elected Chair of the SFGOP, Dhillon and her husband sailed to their wedding on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. In 2012, she started Sea Ranch Woolworks, manufacturing and selling northern California-made yarn, inspired by her husband who wanted to wear products made in California, not China. Through her small business and her law firm she has created many economic opportunities for Californians and knows the challenges job creators face every day from oppressive regulation and taxation.

For more information: http://cagop.org/index.asp




Stephen Gong  Executive Director, Center for Asian American Media

Stephen Gong is the Executive Director of the Center for Asian American Media. Stephen joined CAAM after working for 18 years at the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, most recently as Deputy Director. Previously, he held positions at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C. He has been a lecturer in the Asian American Studies program at UC Berkeley, where he developed and taught a course on the history of Asian American media.

For more information: http://caamedia.org/




Jane Kim - Supervisor, San Francisco Board of Supervisors

Supervisor Jane Kim is serving her second year on the Board of Supervisors, representing District 6, one of the most dynamic and diverse districts in San Francisco, encompassing the Tenderloin, South of Market, North Mission, Civic Center, South Beach, Mission Bay, Treasure Island/Yerba Buena Island and Downtown neighborhoods. She has dedicated her career to serving our communities in San Francisco, starting as a Community Organizer at Chinatown Community Development Center, then a Civil Rights Attorney at Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and most recently as President of the San Francisco Board of Education.

Prior to serving on the Board of Education, Jane was a fellow at The Greenlining Institute, where she developed economic development policies and advocated for increased consumer protections for communities of color. In 2001, she left The Greenlining Institute for the Chinatown Community Development Center in San Francisco, where she worked as a Senior Community Organizer. For the next six years, Jane Kim worked as a community advocate to strengthen tenant protections and improve public safety for her community.

As Director of CCDC's Adopt-an-Alleyway program, Jane Kim led hundreds of volunteers on monthly outings to clean up the alleyways in Chinatownthe thoroughfares that the City neglected to clean. Jane successfully grew this community clean-up program by over 350% in number of active participants, earning her nationwide recognition for innovative community problem solving. Jane also directed a youth leadership program where youth collaborated with seniors and families living in SRO's in intergenerational social activism.

In 2005, Jane Kim was elected to serve as President of the San Francisco People's Organization, an advocacy coalition that included over forty community organizations and labor unions working together to map a progressive agenda for San Francisco through legislating and organizing. Based on her experiences as a community organizer working with young people, Jane Kim was encouraged to run for a seat on San Francisco's Board of Education. She received the most votes citywide in her 2006 election. In that election, Jane placed first out of fifteen candidates in District 6earning over 1,000 more votes than her closest competitor.

In addition to her civic engagement, Jane Kim has been a supporter of the arts community in San Francisco. She is a co-founder and co-director of Locus Arts in the North Mission and SOMA, a performance venue that showcased over 400 local emerging artists. Jane also served on the Board of Directors for the Asian American Theater Company from 2002-2004, and helped in the fight to save the popular SOMA Filipino community arts space, Bindlestiff Studios.

Her non-profit experience has extended from teaching young leaders the skills to engage in innovative philanthropy (Full Circle Fund) to advocating for expanded representation for women in the public arts and non-profit sector (Women's Foundation Community Action Grant Committee). Jane is also a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, plays the electric bass guitar and continues to serve on the juror committee for Youth Speaks's nationally recognized annual Hip-Hop Slam.

Jane's family immigrated to the United States in the early 1970's and she took her first job at the age of 14 at the Coalition on Homelessness in New York City. She worked at the Coalition for four years, where she gained valuable insight into the systemic roots of homelessness and began a lifelong commitment to advocating for the underserved, as well as developing successful anti-poverty policies.

Jane received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, where she studied Political Science and Asian American Studies. She went on to receive her law degree from U.C. Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall. Jane Kim resides in District 6--- she lives in the Civic Center area.

For more information: http://www.sfbos.org/




Karen Korematsu - Director, Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education

Karen Korematsu is the daughter of the late Fred T. Korematsu and in 2009 co-founded the Fred T. Korematsu Institute for Civil Rights and Education at the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco. Karen shares her father's passion for social justice and education.

One of her significant accomplishments was working with Assembly member Warren Furutani in successfully establishing the "Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution" for the state of California on January 30 in perpetuity. Fred Korematsu is the first Asian American in United States history that has been honored with a statewide day. The official launch was on January 30, 2011.

Since her father's passing in 2005, Karen has been carrying on her father's legacy through education as a civil rights advocate and public speaker. She speaks to K-12 public and privates schools, universities, law schools and organizations. Some speaking engagements around the country have included UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Seattle University School of Law, Northwestern School of Law, Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside, CA and University of Michigan. Karen has given presentations on Fred Korematsu K-12 curriculum to the California State Conference on Social Studies, Service-Learning Leadership, California Council for the Social Studies Conference, Hawaii State Social Studies Teachers Conference and many other state teacher's workshops. National presentations have included the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) Conference and the National Forum on Education Conference (CEP).

In 2006, Karen signed on to the amicus brief for Odah v. United States in support of the Guantanamo Bay detainees regarding habeas corpus and was interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) regarding her position on that case. Also, in 2007 Karen signed on to the amicus brief for Turkman v. Ashcroft in support of the rights of Muslim immigrants. In 2012, Karen signed on to the amicus brief for Hedges v. Obama challenging the potential infringements on constitutional rights violations of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

As of 1983 Karen has been a volunteer with the Asian Law Caucus and in 1989 co-founded the Fred T. Korematsu Civil Rights Fund. Since 2000, she has served on the Asian Law Caucus Board of Directors and currently holds the position of Secretary. Karen is a key member of both the National Advisory Board of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality at Seattle University School of Law and the Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai'i at Manoa. She also sits on the National Board of Directors for the Asian American Justice Center in Washington, DC.

For more information: http://korematsuinstitute.org/




Jenny Lam - Director of Community Initiatives, Chinese For Affirmative Action

Jenny is the Director of Community Initiatives at Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA). As the Director of Community Initiatives her responsibilities include overseeing CAA's local community building, policy, and advocacy programs concentrated in the areas of workforce development, language access, immigrant rights, and education.

A second-generation Chinese American and Bay Area native, she has dedicated her career to public service. Prior to joining CAA, she held various leadership roles including serving as Executive Director of GirlVentures in San Francisco and Deputy Director, respectively at Oakland Asian Students Educational Services (OASES).

Jenny was appointed to the San Francisco Redistricting Taskforce by the Board of Supervisors in 2011 and served as Vice-Chair. She also served on the Board of Directors for the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) based in New York City.

She is a mother of two children, both attending San Francisco public school. Ms. Lam received her B.A. in Political Science and Asian American Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

For more information: http://www.caasf.org/




Manufou Liaiga-Anoa'i - Executive Director, Pacific Islander Community Partnership

Manufou "Fou" Liaiga-Anoa'i is the proud wife and mother of four children. A product of public education at Lowell High School, American Samoa Community College and University of San Francisco.

She is the Founder and Executive Director of Pacific Islander Community Partnership and is the first Pacific Islander to be inducted as a Commissioner to San Mateo County's Commission on the Status of Women.

She is a native San Franciscan of Samoan descent who fully embraces community activism. She is a stakeholder in numerous organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area such as the SF Asian Pacific American Heritage Celebration, API (Asian Pacific Islanders) Circle, SF Community Challenge Grant, SF District Attorney's Community Forum, One Global Family Foundation, API Caucus to Hon. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Daly City Family Health & Literacy Faire Committee, M.P. Brown PTA Officer, Samoa Victim Support Group, SF Samoan Flag Day Committee, Miss Samoa Golden Gate Pageant.

Anoa'is commitment to her community is seen through the founding of Camp Unity-Pacific Islander Enrichment Camp, a free Pacific Islander summer program which serves students in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition since 2009, on-going humanitarian efforts to provide support to American Samoa and Samoa which devastated the islands. Village Reading Rooms is a heart project that has has provided thousands of books to the villages of Samoa to encourage the love of literacy these local efforts are in partnership with Samoa Victim Support Group which is the first Violence Support center established now in Samoa and Sydney, Australia.

Manufou served as the City and County of San Francisco's first Pacific Islander Liaison and Special Assistant to District 11 under former Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr. throughout his administration.

In January 2011, Manufou was nationally recognized by Asian Pacific Americans for Progress as an Unsung Hero. Her work with voter education and registering over seven hundred new California Pacific Islander voters this past year was applauded and her community work was celebrated.

For more information: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Islander-Community-Partnership-PICP




Steve Suzuki  Executive Director, Asian Neighborhood Design

Steven Suzuki has been with Asian Neighborhood Design since 1982 beginning as a project manager, then architect and eventually Principal Architect; he currently serves as its Executive Director since 2008. A graduate of U.C. Berkeley's Department of Architecture, he has over 25 years of professional experience on a variety of projects including low-income housing renovation, new construction, community facilities design, and supportive housing projects.

Steve was Board President of Kokoro Assisted Living Inc. from 1998-2006, and served on the boards of the Japanese American Religious Federation  Housing Inc., Break the Silence Coalition on Anti-Asian Violence, African-Asian American Roundtable, Nihonmachi Little Friends, the Japanese Community and Cultural Center of Northern California, and the Chinatown Beacon Center. In 2005, he was awarded a Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco's Immigrant Rights Commission. Most recently, Steve was selected as one of 11 honorees for the 2011 Cherry Blossom Festival  Senior Appreciation Brunch for his work for the Japanese American community as Board President of Kokoro Assisted Living. An Oakland-native, Steve now lives in San Francisco with partner Esther Leong of Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach and their two children.

For more information: http://www.andnet.org/




Flo Oy Wong - Artist

Flo Oy Wong, a Sunnyvale, California-based mixed media installation award-winning artist, is a visual storyteller who began her career at the age of forty. Born and raised in Oakland California's Chinatown, she has received recognition for her narrative work, including three National Endowment for the Arts awards, a 1995 National Women's Caucus for the Art Award, a 2007 City of Sunnyvale Art Award, a 2008 Norman Y. Mineta Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club and an award from Kearny Street Workshop in honor of her landmark exhibition entitled made in usa: Angel Island Shhh.

In March of 2012, she was recognized by two organizations, Art in Action, a Menlo Park, California-based non-profit organization and the Joyce Gordon Gallery of Oakland, California. For her role in co-founding the Asian American Women Artists Association Flo received a Joyce Award. Flo has exhibited widely on a regional, national, and international basis. In California, she has shown at the de Young Memorial Museum, the Angel Island Immigration Station, the South of Market Cultural Center (San Francisco), the Luggage Store Gallery (San Francisco), the Chinese Historical Society of America (San Francisco), the Oakland Museum, the Euphrat Museum of Art, the 40 Acres Art Gallery (Sacramento), the Japanese American Museum of San Jose, and the Japanese American National Museum (Los Angeles).

On a national level, Flo has exhibited in New York at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, the Ethan Cohen Gallery, and the Flomenhaft Gallery. She is represented by the Flomenhaft Gallery. She was also a featured artist in a national traveling exhibition entitled Women Only! In Their Studios. Currently her art is being shown in three national traveling exhibitions Reimagining The Distaff Toolkit(completed recently), Women Call for Peace: Global Vistas and The Complex Weave: Women and Identity in Contemporary Art.

On an international level, Flo has exhibited at the United States Embassies in Lusaka, Zambia, and Copenhagen, Denmark. She has also shown in Beijing, Hong Kong and Nagoya, Japan.

Flo has attended artist residencies, including Art Omi in New York, Headlands and Djerassi in California. She was an artist resident at the Edenfred Artist Residency in Madison, Wisconsin in 2009. She has been a visiting artist at Rutgers University, Camden, New Jersey, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Northern Illinois University, and Penn State University. In 2012, she began a teaching residency at Rooftop School in San Francisco. In 2004 and 2005, she traveled to the People's Republic of China to present her art at colleges and universities in Beijing, Xian, and Shanghai. She led the 2005 tour, which was recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the best tours that students have experienced.

A co-founder of the Northern California-based Asian American Women Artists Association, Flo also served as a national board member for the Women's Caucus for Art, and has served on the boards of the Arts Council Silicon Valley, the Euphrat Museum of Art, the Asian Heritage Council, and the Asian Americans for Community Involvement.

Writings and images of her art have appeared in many news outlets and publications, including Art and Politics Now, Sweet & Sour: Chinese Family Restaurants, History As Art, Art As History: Contemporary Art and Social Studies Education, The Encyclopedia of Asian American Artists: Artists of the American Mosaic, the Arcadia Images of America books about Angel Island, Oakland Chinatown, Chinese in San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley, San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News, Yellow Light: The Flowering of Asian American Arts, Art Asia Pacific, Women Artists of the American West, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the San Francisco-based SPARK KQED television program, and YouTube. She is featured in the Menlo Park, CA Art in Action's educational guide entitled Art and the American Experience along with Judy Chicago, Dorothea Lange, Robert Rauschenberg and other prominent artists. She is also featured in educational films  Amazing Art Adventures: Variety and Emphasis and also I Can Fly, Part V and Mixed Media Masters: Alison Saar, Al Loving, and Flo Oy Wong. In June of 2013, she will be featured on the website of the National Center for Creative Aging as an example of an elder who is still actively pursuing her art.

Flo Oy Wong is currently working on a 2013 75th birthday project entitled "75 x 75 x 75" with the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Center (APICC). It which will feature a musical collaboration in June with the African American musician Marcus Shelby and an exhibit with the students of Rooftop Alternative K  8 School of San Francisco. The Rooftop collaboration will culminate in an exhibit at the Tenderloin National Forest in October. In November, the Luggage Store Gallery will mount an exhibit in honor of Flo's 75th birthday.

To expand the collaboration Flo forges with the contemporary art community she and Luggage Store Gallery have invited 75 local, regional, and national artists to contribute art pies that deconstruct stereotypes or feature someone who has built this country.

For more information: http://www.flo-oy-wongartist.com/




Leslie E. Wong - President, San Francisco State University

Leslie E. Wong was appointed as the 13th president of San Francisco State University effective August 1, 2012. Previously, he served nine years as president of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Michigan.

Dr. Wong is actively committed to student success and to fostering an institutional environment that is adaptable to the needs of 21st century students. He encourages students at San Francisco State University to "own their own minds" by developing their ability to independently evaluate information in an increasingly partisan world. As the leader of a campus that is deeply invested in its community, Dr. Wong invites students to find their voices, though he cautions that being remembered is more important than being heard. As president, he leads a talented group of faculty and staff committed to social justice, equity and making public higher education an essential asset to our collective future.

For more information: http://www.sfsu.edu/