LEAP celebrated its 31st of “Growing Leaders” at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday, July 25, 2013, where James Y. Ryu, O. Fahina Tavake-Pasi, Alan and Joanne Kumamoto, and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund were honored for their continued commitment, successes and contributions to the API community through leadership.
The gala began with a general reception where LEAP supporters and alumni were able to reconnect, network, and bid on Silent Auction items. The C3Trio played beautifully as the attendees awaited the start of the program. As Thelma Kailiwai, LEAP’s Board Chair, welcomed the audience, she also speake on the lack of API representation across the public, private, and non-profit sectors—a problem that LEAP continually strives to combat through the development and implementation of community forums and leadership programs.
The night continued forward with a welcome speech presented by LEAP’s President and CEO, Linda Akutagawa. Linda discussed challenges and expectations; sharing her experiences being in the role with a few refreshing “A-HA” moments. She delivered a thought-provoking speech, expressing the need for the community to step up and “do something” about the serious lack of API representation in the highest levels of leadership by mentoring, sponsoring, and promoting the development of diverse leaders in all sectors. This is when she announced the development of two new programs that LEAP was developing. The first, A+: An Association of Asian Corporate Directors, is specifically for API Directors who sit on the boards of Fortune 500 companies. The second, is a nonprofit leadership program specifically for API women executive directors.
After inspiring remarks from the leadership of the organization, the honorees had their turn. Each honoree was recognized for the amazing work they do and the night closed with heartwarming remarks from long time LEAP supporters Joanne and Alan Kumamoto.
Below is more information about the honorees.
Joanne and Alan Kumamoto
Principals of the Los Angeles-based Kumamoto Associates, Joanne and Alan have provided management, marketing and communications services to more than 100 nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and corporations. They are recipients of the coveted National Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Award for creating a multi-ethnic outreach campaign on behalf of the National Marrow Donor Program for Asian Pacific Americans and Native Americans. In addition, their collaboration with the State Library Partnerships for Change led to the implementation of a statewide program that was adopted into the California State University Library School curriculum. Next November, they will be honored by the International Visitors Council of Los Angeles for their efforts as Citizen Diplomats.
Together and as individuals, the Kumamotos generously lend their time and expertise to numerous boards and committees. Alan helped develop the Center for Nonprofit Management, serving as its President and Executive Director and assisted with the formation of the University of Southern California Asian Pacific Alumni Association. Joanne has worked extensively with new and emerging Asian and Pacific Islander communities and is recipient of American Women for International Understanding’s 2012 Bernice Behrens Founders Award. Among their many community affiliations include the Little Tokyo Community Council, CORO Foundation, Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation, Los Angeles County Library Foundation, National Council for International Visitors, Fulfillment Fund, and Little Tokyo Business Association.
James Y. Ryu
James Ryu is the publisher of KoreAm and Audrey magazines. KoreAm began in April 1990 when James teamed up with his father, Jung, to launch an English-language monthly for the rapidly expanding Korean immigrant community in Los Angeles. Together, their mission for KoreAm was to have quality coverage of both cutting-edge issues affecting the struggling community and the noteworthy achievements of Korean descendants. In March 2003, James launched another magazine, Audrey, named after his daughter. This magazine is a celebrity-driven premium lifestyle magazine that focuses on the latest fashion, beauty, health, dining and home decor trends for Asian American women. With Audrey and KoreAm, James is planning to build a viable Asian American publishing house and continues to explore new projects.
KoreAm, now based in Gardena, CA, claims more than 50,000 readers and is the most widely circulated independent English-language publication focusing on Korean America. James and KoreAm have won numerous awards including: the Pioneer Award from the Korean American Coalition (KAC)-Washington and KAC-Orange County, Many journalism awards from New America Media, the PACE Setter Award from the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), a Community Service Award from the Korean American Bar Association-Los Angeles and KAC-San Francisco, a nomination for the GLAAD Media Award and the APA Community Award from California State Assemblymember Ted Lieu.
The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund (SALDEF) is the oldest Sikh American civil rights and educational organization. Founded as the SIkh Mediawatch and Resource Task Force (SMART) in 1996, they empower Sikh Americans through advocacy, education and media relations.
SALDEF’s mission is to protect the civil rights of Sikh Americans and ensure a fostering environment in the United States for future generations.
SALDEFs vision is to create an America where:
• Sikh Americans are recognized and respected as an integral part of American society
• Sikh Americans take a leadership role in shaping public policy and strengthening civil rights for all Americans
• Sikh Americans are represented at the highest levels of government and in the media.
Their national office is located in Washington, DC.
David R. Barclay Alumni Leadership Award
O. Fahina Tavake-Pasi
O. Fahina Tavake-Pasi has been the Exectutive Director of the National Tongan American Society (NTAS) since November 2003. Her leadership took NTAS from an all-volunteer nonprofit, running an annual festival for nine years, to an organization impacting thousands of Pacific Islanders (PIs) residing in Utah. Under her leadership, an efficient staff and hundreds of volunteers successfully implement programs which include health education and programs, benefits enrollment, community wellness coaches, weekly bilingual radio show, immigration assistance, scholarships, translation and cultural promotion programs, etc. Her main interest centers around decreasing health disparities within the PI community.
Currently, Fahina co-chairs the Regional Health Equity Council (RHEC VIII), serves as secretary for the international Tongan Research Association, and sits on Utah’s Governor’s MLK Commission. Fahina has partnered with Utah Department of Health and University of Utah to successfully implement several PI specific researches. In addition, she represents the PI community on a rare community-campus-partnership called the Community Faces of Utah, which impacts five different underserved ethnic groups of Utah. Among her awards, are the Governor’s Women’s Achievement of the Year Award, Leadership Award from Salt Lake Community Action Program and in December 2012, NTAS received the Organization of the Year Award from OCA-Utah.
2013 Gala Sponsors
VIP Reception Sponsor
Toyota Financial Services
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
Comcast / NBC Universal
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
Southern California Edison
Wells Fargo Foundation
Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE)
Kumamoto Associates (2)
Loyola High School
Margaret Ashida (2)
Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy, LLC
Nikkei Women Legacy Association