Award Recipients

Alexa Khan (She/Her/Hers)
Excellence in Film Media Arts Award
Her ability to portray elegance with power and strength with grace has landed her parts in several films. Her recent feature film roles include the heroic shamanic medium, Zara in the psychological thriller The Chain, also a frantic and tragic alien captain in the children's sci-fi adventure, A World Away featuring Rowan Blanchard. Khan's short films include the psychological thriller Monochopsis about anxiety and depression, where her gripping portrayal of Anxiety garnered much attention. Khan recently narrated the audio book The Eagle Huntress by Liz Welch and Aisholpan Norgaiv, published by Hachette Audio. The audio book is based on the story told by the Oscar Shortlisted and Bafta nominated documentary The Eagle Huntress.
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Cecilia Chung (She/Her/Hers)
Excellence in Community Empowerment Award

A trailblazing advocate for the transgender community and individuals living with HIV/AIDS, Chung was born in Hong Kong in 1965. After immigrating to the U.S. in 1984, she faced significant challenges during her gender transition, leading to homelessness and involvement in sex work. Despite these hardships, Chung embraced her authentic self and devoted her life to advocacy. 

In 1994, she joined San Francisco's Transgender Discrimination Task Force, catalyzing anti-discrimination policies.  President Obama appointed her to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, and in 2015, she founded Positively Trans. Chung’s advocacy earned her numerous awards, including the Levi Strauss & Co. Pioneer Award and the Human Right Campaign Community Service Award. Her inspiring story even inspired a character on the ABC miniseries When We Rise (2017), showcasing her indomitable spirit in the face of adversity. Today, she serves as the Director of Evaluation and Strategic Initiatives for the Transgender Law Center, continuing her legacy as a fierce civil rights advocate and devoted public servant.
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Sally Wong-Avery, J.D (She/Her/Hers)
Excellence in Humanitarian Award

Sally Wong-Avery, a dedicated advocate and community leader, has spent her life making a profound impact on San Diego's Chinese community. Born in Hong Kong, she moved to the United States and pursued education, graduating from San Diego High, Mesa College, and UCSD. Wong-Avery founded the Chinese Professional Services, offering free services to low-income individuals and teaching English to Chinese senior citizens.

 In the mid-1980s, Wong-Avery became a teacher, helping hundreds of Chinese immigrants attain U.S. citizenship. As the Principal of the oldest Chinese School in San Diego, she was pivotal in preserving the Chinese language and culture. Opening her law office in the mid-1990s, she provided free legal services to those in need. Wong-Avery's dedication continued when she founded the San Diego Chinese Service Center, offering assistance and coordinating community events. Recognized for her decades of service, she received numerous awards, including the Susan B. Anthony Leadership Award and Special Recognition from the Asian Heritage Awards, highlighting her exceptional commitment to cross-cultural understanding, education, and community empowerment. The Women's International Center proudly honors Sally Wong-Avery with a Living Legacy Award for her transformative work in San Diego's diverse community.
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Keiko Matsui (She/Her/Hers)
Excellence in Performing Arts Award

An internationally acclaimed pianist, composer, producer, and humanitarian, Matsui is renowned for her captivating and emotive musical expressions. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Keiko embarked on her musical journey at a young age, displaying prodigious talent and an innate connection to the piano. With a career spanning several decades, she has become a trailblazer in contemporary jazz and New Age music.

Keiko’s distinctive style seamlessly weaves together jazz, classical, and traditional Japanese influences, creating a sonic tapestry that transcends cultural boundaries. Her compositions, marked by intricate melodies and evocative arrangements, have garnered widespread acclaim, establishing her as a leading figure in instrumental music. Beyond her contributions to the music world, Keiko Matsui is recognized for her humanitarian endeavors. Committed to making a positive impact, she has been actively involved in various charitable initiatives, using her influence to promote social causes and support underserved communities.
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Dante Dauz (He/His/Him)
Excellence in Community Service Award

Dante Dauz was born and raised in San Diego and developed and implemented numerous community engagement and empowerment programs with the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) throughout San Diego for 13 years. Programs included: community violence response, victim support, gang prevention, homeless advocacy, youth mentorship, employment, and business development for individuals with serious mental illness.

Over the last 5 years, Dante spearheaded the development of a community center and social enterprise called “UPAC Neighborhood Enterprise Center” (NEC) that focuses on advancing diversity, building neighborhood unity, and developing youth leaders.  Dante has been a well-respected and reliable community advocate for 25 years and earned a reputation of being at the front-line of serious matters that impact the community. Prior to joining UPAC, he was a successful probation officer, business owner, and community advocate. Dauz is the recipient of several awards including: Probation Officer of the Year, Restaurant of the Year, Peacemaker of the Year, and recently named the Anthony Medina People’s Champion. 
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Ana Cabato (She/Her/Hers) PASACAT
Excellence in Cultural Awareness Award

On September 7, 1969, during a salute to San Diego’s 200th Anniversary by the Filipino-American Community Association of San Diego County, with Delfin Labao as president, San Diego witnessed the birth of this performing arts group in the first Philippine Cultural Extravaganza held at the Organ Pavilion, Balboa Park. The enthusiasm from this performance was tremendous and served as a catalyst to form PASACAT on May 23, 1970,

, the first formally organized Philippine dance company in San Diego. In November 1970, PASACAT became the first organized officially Philippine Dance Company in San Diego. Led by Executive Director Ann Cabato, PASACAT’s mission is to preserve and promote Asian Pacific Culture through the arts, thereby, extending goodwill and enhancing cultural understanding. Under the artistic direction of George Ragaza, from 1985 to 1989, the Senior Company presentations were enhanced tremendously by his expertise in Philippine dance techniques and styles, costuming, and ethnic music. Joji Ramirez Castro, former member of the world-famous Bayanihan National Philippine Dance Company, joined PASACAT’s artistic staff in 1986 and has guided the development of the energetic and eager Junior PASACAT Dancers. 
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Lindsay Reva (She/Her/Hers) HEIVA San Diego
Excellence in Cultural Awareness Award

Reva Tahiti Productions and Heiva San Diego, founded by Lindsay in 2010, stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to fostering cultural understanding between Tahiti and the United States. Serving as the organization's Founder and CEO, Lindsay has pioneered initiatives to share the rich traditions of Tahiti and the South Pacific islands with local and international audiences. 

Through her leadership, Heiva San Diego has become a prominent platform for showcasing the vibrant heritage of Tahiti, bringing communities together in celebration of diversity. Under Mc Nicol'sguidance, the organization annually produces the Miss Heiva San Diego USA® Pageants, nurturing the next generation of Tahitian Ambassadors and instilling a profound sense of cultural pride and connection among young Pacific Islanders. Her vision transcends borders, aiming for a future where the Pacific Islander Community can continue sharing their unique cultures, fostering enduring bonds and deep cultural understanding among diverse communities. Through McNicol's tireless dedication, Reva Tahiti Productions and Heiva San Diego stand as beacons of cultural appreciation and unity.
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Neha Patel (She/Her/Hers) NAAD Studios
Excellence in Cultural Awareness Award

Established in 1997, founded by Artistic Director Neha Patel, NAAD STUDIOS continues its impeccable tradition of enriching young lives through Indian classical and folk dances dedicated to imparting the vital ingredients of performing arts- Raga(melody), Taal(rhythm), Bhava(expression). Through Naad Studios, Patel has contributed significantly to the dance world by conducting workshops, lectures, and performances globally for for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Naad Studios is Patel’s medium to give back to the community, share her knowledge and nurture many more budding artists. It has become an integral part of the Indian dance community in San Diego,  spreading the joy of Indian dance through many volunteer opportunities/workshops. A testament to Naad Studios’ success is the first-ever Indian dance performance at Comic-Con 2023 for the teaser launch of an Indian Sci-fi movie, “Project K.” Naad studio artists are ready to embark on more such projects and spread the color of Indian dance to the community. 
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Inki Welch (She/Her/Hers) House of Pacific Relations
Excellenced in Community Outreach Award

The House of Pacific Relations International Cottages, a cherished sanctuary within San Diego's Balboa Park, is a beacon of cultural unity and enlightenment. Initially erected in 1935 for the California Pacific International Exposition, these cottages have blossomed into a vibrant community hub, housing 33 diverse groups dedicated to fostering multicultural goodwill and understanding through education and cultural programs.

In 2021, this harmonious enclave expanded, embracing new cottages representing Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Peru, India, Korea, Palestine, Turkey, and the Chamorros, the indigenous people of the Mariana Islands, symbolizing an enduring commitment to cross-cultural understanding. Since January 2023, this vibrant community has been guided by an inspiring leader, Inki Welch, the first Korean/Asian American woman elected President. With a remarkable professional background and a profound commitment to addressing vital issues such as education, healthcare, and affordable housing, Welch champions a vision of a thriving community founded on transparency, accountability, and the empowerment of the younger generation through mentorship and youth programs. 
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Eric Michelson (He/His/Him)
10 Years of Commitment & Dedicated Service

Eric Michelson is a seasoned professional with over 30 years of expertise in the realm of digital media. As the owner and operator of Carma Media Productions, he has an impressive portfolio that spans television, films, corporate training programs, music videos, and documentaries. Michelson serves as the Creative Director at ACMA, contributing his extensive knowledge both on-camera and behind the scenes for various projects.

His credits include producing, writing, cinematography, and editing for television and films, showcasing his versatility in the industry. A vital ally supporting ACMA's mission, Michelson has been instrumental in the development of the Take One program since 2013. His contributions go beyond teaching; he generously donates professional media tools and oversees vocational training workshops, student film projects, and career mentoring. In addition to his filmmaking prowess, Michelson is a skilled digital, photographic, and fine artist, drawing inspiration from the pre-Raphaelite and Art Deco era. His diverse portfolio includes mixed media oil, acrylic surrealism pieces, and digitally enhanced photographic images. Currently serving on the ACMA Media Advisory Board, Michelson stands as a pillar of expertise and creativity within the organization.
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Ryan Stanly (He/His/Him)
Excellence in Exemplary Service Award

Ryan Stanly, a prodigious talent in filmmaking and music, exudes boundless creativity and passion in every endeavor he embarks upon. His fascination with storytelling and the enchantment of visual media creation began at the tender age of 13. Since 2014, Stanly has meticulously crafted his cinematic narratives, showcasing his multifaceted talent as a writer, producer, and editor.

Within the dynamic landscape of filmmaking, he has emerged as a formidable force, leading his production venture, Ryan Stanly Productions. A proud graduate of ACMA's Take One program in 2019, Stanly's trajectory at ACMA is a testament to his exceptional dedication and skills. His commitment radiates as he not only lends his creative brilliance to the production process but also imparts his knowledge and expertise as an assistant instructor for the TAKE ONE program. Additionally, he serves as a vital production assistant for ACMA's short film projects and the Asian Pacific Voices TV series. Stanly undeniably represents a beacon of artistic innovation, a promising talent poised to make an enduring impact on film and music.
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David Kreider (He/His/Him)
Exemplary Ally Award

David Kreider is not just a seasoned Registered Investment Advisor at Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc. He is a multifaceted individual with a rich background. With over three decades of experience in the financial advisory field, Kreider brings a wealth of expertise and knowledge to his clients, helping them navigate the complexities of investments and financial planning. 

Before delving into the financial world, Kreider was a dedicated teacher, shaping young minds and inspiring future generations. He was also a skilled wrestler and coach in his earlier years, demonstrating his passion for discipline, determination, and mentorship.  What truly sets Kreider apart is his unwavering support for ACMA, where he has served as a dedicated ally for the past five years. His commitment to ACMA's mission and programs has been instrumental in the organization's growth and impact. With a unique blend of financial acumen, teaching experience, and a heart dedicated to community support, Kreider continues to make a significant difference in the financial industry and the lives of those he touches.
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2022 Award Recipients

Arnold Chun
Excellence in Media

Arnold Chun is an American Actor/Director. He's appeared in many hit shows, including Kidding, The Big bang Theory, Hawaii 5-0, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and The Last Ship. Arnold also plays Kotomichi on the Emmy-winning Amazon series The Man in The High Castle

As a filmmaker, his short film Eli's Liquor Store won the award for Best Short Film at the Harlem Int. Film Fest in 2008. The film has continued on to 25 film festivals domestically and was the opening presenter at the Smithsonian National Martin Luther King Consortium during Black History Month.

Arnold is also passionate about community. He has helped expand a senior center in Koreatown for the mentally ill in addition to addressing mental health issues in the Asian American community. 
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Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja
Rising Star Award

Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja is an Indonesian American actress who lives in Los Angeles. Her acting in A24's feature film After Yang (2021) opposite Colin Farrell gained rave reviews from critics such as Awards Watch, The Hollywood Reporter and Indie Wire. She is also known for her recurring guest star roles on iCarly (2021) and on Disney Channel shows Coop and Cami Ask the World (2018) and Raven's Home (2017).

Malea is also a singer. Her National Anthem video in the LA Galaxy game went viral in 2018 and was included in Google Year in Search in 2018. Since then, she was cast as Molly in the star studded Annie musical at the Hollywood Bowl in July 2018. 

She was invited to sing "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" with Tony and Grammy awards winner, Jennifer Holliday, on Good Morning America and was invited to audition on American Idol and was awarded with golden ticket even though she was too young to compete. Malea speaks English, Mandarin, Indonesian and Spanish. She plays piano, violin, guitar and ukulele. Malea also loves contortion, gymnastics, dancing and soccer.
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Le Ly Hayslip
Humanitarian Award

Le Ly is an internationally known Vietnamese-American author, philanthropist, peace activist, and speaker. She grew up in Ky La (now known as Xa Hoa Quy), Vietnam during the American-Vietnam War, which she recollects in her memoirs, When Heaven and Earth Changed Places and Child of War, Woman of PeaceThey've been published in 17 different languages and are used as college course material to study women in history and the American/Vietnam War. In 1993, the books were adapted into the film Heaven & Earth, directed by the award-winning director Oliver Stone and starring Hiep Thi Le and Tommy Lee Jones. 

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Christine Miranda
Excellence in Community Service
Christine also opened a school in the recent years to provide opportunities for the youth in her community to learn cultural dance, and music. With her love and passion for dance, music and culture, Christine is always striving to perpetuate the Polynesian culture with honor and respect - Haumana for life, sharing the foundation of Aloha with many.
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Hyosoon Park
Excellence in Community Service

A community activist with a passion for promoting Korean culture, Hyosoon co-founded a non profit organization called San Diego Pungmul Institute with her husband in 2009 to create awareness of Korean folk music in the United States while fostering and mentoring second generation Korean Americans teaching then about the importance of cultural roots and tradition.

Since then, she has been performing with her group at dozens of cultural events and festivals annually throughout Southern California. Hyosoon currently works as a full time high school’s math teacher at SDUHS and volunteers her time at various non profit organizations in the Korean community.
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Korean American Youth Performing Artists (KAYPA)
Excellence in Cultural Awareness

KAYPA is a non-profit organization rooted in Southern California. They focus on enriching the community through Korean traditional dance and modern K-pop dances. KAYPA provides its members the opportunity to further educate themselves about their Korean heritage through dance, as well as share their culture with others.

Students are also able to build leadership and time management skills through volunteer based performances and leadership positions. 
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Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association (VAALA)
Excellence in Community Outreach

VAALA was founded in 1991 by a group of Vietnamese American journalists, artists, and friends to fill a void and provide a space for artists to express themselves as a newly resettled immigrant community. Their mission was to support Southeast artists with an emphasis on Vietnamese literature and visual arts. 

Over the years, this community-based non-profit organization has collaborated with diverse community partners to organize numerous cultural events to connect and enrich communities, including art exhibitions, book signings, music recitals, plays, and annual events such as the Viet Film Fest and the Children’s Moon Festival Art Contest.
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2021 Award Recipients

Claudia Lin
Community Outreach Award

Claudia Lin founded Legacy Maker LLC, after 24 years of working in the risk management, insurance, financial and legal industries. Lin recognized a need for a more holistic approach for businesses and entrepreneurs her founding of Legacy maker while concurrently serving as Senior Vice President at HUB International Insurance Services was a culmination of her vision and approach 

implementing holistic strategies and precise execution in global insurance programs, risk management, philanthropic giving, and financial planning throughout the world. Lin is deeply committed to helping others achieve their goals and leave behind a legacy full of purpose and impact. Claudia is a passionate supporter of Arts and Cultural organizations, such as Blue Ribbon at The Music Center in Los Angeles, Women Leadership Council, East Meets West Parent Education Club, and served as the president of Harvard-Westlake Chinese Cultural Club. Lin was also appointed to serve as a commissioner at Los Angeles County’s Arts Commission from 2015 to 2019. Lin most recently became one of the core members of Women Leadership in Philanthropy at Asian Pacific Community Fund, as well as the Asian Women Empowered program at the Asia Society Southern California.
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Crazy Woke Asians
Performance Arts Award

Crazy Woke Asians founded and produced by Kiki Yeung, (as seen on Asian Voices, Sweet and Sour Chicks, and upcoming Global Comedy Club on Apple TV), features the funniest Asian American comedians in Los Angeles. CWA had SOLD OUT SHOWS at The World Famous Comedy Store, Laugh Factory, The Ice House, Santa Monica Playhouse, sold out tour twice IN SEATTLE. 

Recently performed at Carolines on Broadway for The New York Comedy Festival. Coming soon: Crazy Woke Asians at Notoriety Live Las Vegas co-produced by Laugh After Dark Amazon Prime. The show has been featured in The Seattle Times, NW Asian Weekly, Broadway World, San Diego Union Tribune, Asian Journal, ASAM News and King 5 New Day Northwest and more. CWA partnered with NBC for the first ever All Asian Solo Performance Festival at the Santa Monica Playhouse.
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Georgina Tolentino
Rising Star Filmmaker Award

Georgina Tolentino is an actress and writer based in Los Angeles working on various projects, including "Operation Blackbird" and a feature film called "Untitled Watsonville Project.” Born and raised in San Francisco, where she attended New Conservatory Theatre and later UC Santa Barbara. She worked for numerous production companies in Los Angeles.

before starting Urduja Films, which focuses on amplifying women’s perspectives and intersectional storytelling. Recently she filmed a short film called “No Dogs” co-written with Alex Fabros about the Watsonville riots that premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. “No Dogs” won the Audience Award and jury awarded the Petite Grand Prix at the Chelsea Film Festival.
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James Kyson
Film Media Arts Award

Born to South Korean Parents and growing up in New York City, James Kyson spent most of young years exploring biographies and fables from different cultures, and playing sports. After receiving education at Bronx H.S. of Science, Boston University and New England Institute of the Arts, his easy going attitude with an affinity for risk and adventure, set him off on a journey to LA with a single suitcase and an one-way ticket.

After honing his craft in theatre, music, and dance, his first television audition in 2003 landed him his first small-screen gig on CBS’s J.A.G. The following years, James, voted by TV Guide as “Hollywood’s 25 Hottest”, continued to work in television and film; Hawaii 5-0, NCIS: LA, HBO’s Animals, FX Justified, just to name a few. Other televisions credits include appearances on CSI, The West Wing, Heist, Threat Matrix, All About the Andersons and most notably playing super sidekick “Ando Masahashi” on NBC’s Emmy-Nominated ensemble series smash hit, Heroes.
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Kaanchan Farkiya
Community Service Award

Kaanchan S Farkiya is a social activist, beauty queen, former Indian television actress, Ms. Asian North America 2016, and now she is Miss WorldClass Ms. USA 2021. Currently, she serves communities as an educator, MMTC Board of Directors, Global Executive Committee IATB President California, yoga instructor, and Honorary International Brand Ambassador OXFORD EDUAERVE India 2021.

Kaanchan has been serving the community as a Judge for pageants, guest of honor for events.  She appeared on the cover of many international magazines and was honored as a RISING STAR from the Star Central Magazine from Australia 2021. Kaanchan is a part of a mentorship program established to help individuals focus on personal and professional growth with an emphasis on guidance, encouragement, and awareness. She has received many international awards and recognitions such as VIP Guest of Honor in a Community Hero’s Parade 2021, and Guest of Honor at IDYM International Award of Excellence 2021.
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Makani Kai
Cultural Arts Award
Makani Kai was founded in 1993 by a group of professional Polynesian dancers.  This group performed regularly at Sea World and throughout San Diego during the 90's. Later Makani Kai became a thriving Polynesian entertainment troupe completed with live drumming and a live band "Moku Kani". These days we are still blessed wtih a school that provides opportunity to learn cultural dance, and music.
Our members consider our connection to one another as a halau (dance group) to be more ohana (family).Instructors at Makani Kai are always learning from the best and striving to perpetuate the Polynesian culture with honor and respect. Haumana for life.  Always a student seeking knowledge. This is our path for continued growth. The love of dance, music and culture is our uniting bond. The foundation of aloha is shared.
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Marilyn Chin
Literary Media Award

Marilyn Chin was born in Hong Kong and raised in Portland, Oregon. She received a BA from the University of Massachusetts and an MFA from the University of Iowa. She is the author of five collections of poetry, including most recently A Portrait of the Self As Nation: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2018) and Hard Love Province (W.W. Norton, 2014), which won the 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. 

In addition to writing poetry, she has translated poems by the modern Chinese poet Ai Qing and co-translated poems by the Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu. She is also the author of a novel, Revenge of the Mooncake Vixen (W. W. Norton, 2009). She has received numerous honors for her poetry including the 2020 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Fulbright Fellowship to Taiwan, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the PEN/Josephine Miles Award, five Pushcart Prizes, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship at Harvard, the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at Bellagio, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the SeaChange fellowship from the Gaea Foundation, the Stegner Fellowship, and the United Artist Foundation Fellowship, as well as residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Lannan Foundation, and the Djerassi Foundation.
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Nancy Kwan
Lifetime Career Achievement Award

Nancy Kwan is a Chinese-American actress, philanthropist, and former dancer who played a pivotal role in the acceptance of actors of Asian ancestry in major Hollywood film roles. At just 18, Nancy Kwan was studying dance with England's Royal Ballet School, when she was spotted by producer Ray Stark, who gave her the starring role alongside William Holden.

She followed it the next year with the hit musical, Flower Drum Song(1961), and became one of Hollywood's most visible Asian actresses. Born in China to a Chinese father and British mother, Kwan spent the 1960s commuting between film roles in America and Europe (including the pilot for Hawaii Five-O (1968)), but faded from view in the West, when she returned to her native Hong Kong in 1972 to be with her critically ill father. Divorced from her second husband, screenwriter David Giler, and with a young son from her first marriage to Austrian hotelier Peter Pock, Kwan intended to stay a year, but wound up staying a decade.
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Ova Saopeng
Cultural Awareness Award

Ova Saopeng is an actor, teaching artist, co-artistic director and producer with TeAda Productions. Born in Savannakhet, Laos, and raised in Hawaii he received a B.A. in Theater from the University of Southern California. He and his partner, Leilani Chan, are co-creators of community based theatrical works Masters of the Currents, a play about the Micronesian community, Refugee Nation 

a play about the Lao-American experience, and Global Taxi Driver, about immigrant taxi drivers. These critically acclaimed stage plays have toured the continent from Hawaii to Massachusetts. Previous works with TeAda Productions include:Kalo Projects, Native Immigrant, TeAdaWorks, Delicious Reality, Refugee State, all work that focus on highlighting the refugee and immigrant experience. He performed in the world premiere of Global Taxi Driver at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis and the west coast premiere at East West Players in Los Angeles.  He is an experienced teaching artist, facilitating workshops and creating performances with youth and adults from all over the world. Ova was one of six playwrights selected to write for Our American Voice a part of the Smithsonian Institutes’ exhibit I Want the Wide American Earth at the Japanese American National Museum exploring Asian American immigration. Film credits include Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean:World’s End, Love is Good, Burmese Refugee, Seeds of Hope, Go to Sleep: A Lao Ghost Story, Naikhoo:Teacher and WarSol. For more information please visit or IG:og_ova
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Rasha Goel
New Media Arts Award

Rasha Goel is an Emmy nominated Television Host/Producer and International Correspondent. She has worked for networks such as CNN, ESPN, REELZ Channel, HBO Asia, as well as Facebook, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Disney. She has been an invited speaker at the renowned World Communication Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Rasha is a returning co-host for Dick Clark Productions 

Live Red Carpet Show for the Golden Globes and a co-host on the Shorts TV Podcast: Awards Season. In addition, she is the Anchor/Producer of “Star Talk” on TV ASIA - leading the way in providing content that highlights the South Asian diaspora.  She is one of the few South Asian American women who has worked both for the US market and internationally. Through her work, she aims to be an advocate for the representation of diverse perspectives. Recently, Rasha launched her talk show “RAW with Rasha” creating a space to talk about taboo topics openly. She believes in the power of healing and connectivity through conversation. She has now made it her mission to give a voice to those who may feel alone and isolated due to cultural stigmas. 
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2020 Award Recipients

Dr. Marissa Pei
Radio Broadcast Media Award

Dr. Marissa’s newest book “8 Ways to Happiness from Wherever You Are” has hit 8 Bestseller Lists including #4 Denver Post and #1 Amazon and 4 Book Award Medals, becoming the foundation to her Happy88 Mission, helping 8 million more people be 88% happy in the next 8 years.

Dr. Marissa, introduced to Oprah as the “Asian Oprah” shares her passion and knowledge as an organizational psychologist on radio, TV, online media and corporate stages worldwide.

Lisa See
Literary Media Arts Award

In her beloved New York Times bestsellers Snow Flower and the Secret FanThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird LanePeony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls, Lisa See has brilliantly illuminated the strong bonds between women. These books have been celebrated for their authentic, deeply researched, lyrical stories about Chinese characters and cultures.

Hula Ramos
Podcast Media Award

Hula Ramos is a former On-Air Radio Personality and Producer in his hometown of San Diego. He has worked over 19 years on various radio stations in San Diego including Channel 933, Star 94.1, Energy 103.7, KSON KyXy 96.5, and Sunny 98.1. Hula has become a widely known Filipino-American radio personality-becoming a beacon to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Community Outreach Award

Founded in 1983 as the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Advancing Justice - LA serves more than 15,000 individuals and organizations every year.  Through direct services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, leadership development, and capacity building, Advancing Justice - LA focuses on the most vulnerable members of Asian American and NHPI communities while also building a strong voice for civil rights and social justice. 

Japanese Friendship Garden
Cultural Awareness Award

The Japanese Friendship Garden (JFG) is an expression of friendship between San Diego and its sister city, Yokohama. It illustrates two cultures and creates an immersive experience into Japanese culture. JFG’s design is based on centuries-old Japanese techniques adapted to San Diego’s climate and florae and seeks to foster a relationship between humans and nature, providing a respite attuned to Japanese simplicity, serenity, and aestheticism.

Shaina Ghuraya
Rising Star Filmmaker Award
Shaina is a graduate of the University of Southern California's Master of Fine Arts program in Film and Television production. She jokes that she is a triple threat (disabled, Punjabi, and a woman), and is a fierce activist for people with disabilities. At USC Shaina has developed her style as a director - bold, unrelenting, and quirky - and is focused on making comedies that promote diversity and inclusion. 
Sasha Foo
Broadcast Journalism Award

From San Diego, CA, Sasha Foo had her very first broadcasting role in the 1980s and has since spent decades in the news and broadcast journalism space all over the United States. Sasha Foo was CNN's very first Asian-American news anchor–a breakthrough for representation on mainstream media. She most recently left KUSI after 17 years of unique and personable reporting and storytelling.

Quyen Tran
Film Media Arts Award

Based in Los Angeles, CA, Quyen Tran is a cinematographer and storyteller. Most widely known for her work on Pali Road (2015) and Palm Springs (2020). When creating any piece, documentary, or narrative feature, Quyen Tran makes the aspect of telling a story a priority above all else. For her ability to create such an impact through film media, ACMA has awarded her the Film Media Arts Award. 

Past Award Recipients

Lifetime Achievement Award

Honoring an individual who has performed an outstanding service and accomplishment spanning a lifetime career in Television and Film.


Clyde Kusatsu

Clyde has appeared in hundreds of roles calling for a variety of indeterminate ethnic origins spanning over 40 years including Hawaii Five-O, Kung Fu, MASH, Magnum PI and Midway and Star Trek Next Generation.

Clyde was the first Asian American to be elected as the President of SAG/AFTRA, local Los Angeles Chapter and was elected the first National Vice President Los Angeles, an office he currently holds having been re-elected in 2015.



Excellence in Media Awards

Honoring API individuals namely Writers, Directors, Producers, Actors, Authors and Show Hosts for their notable accomplishments in Television, Film, Print and Online Media as well as creating a positive impact on the API community through original content.

John Shin

John is a successful entrepreneur, motivational speaker, and philanthropist. He is the Executive Producer of the movie, THINK: The Legacy of Think and Grow Rich and author of Think and Grow Rich! An Asian Choice.

John is the Founder and CEO of AXIANTA Financial Partners, LLC. (AFP) and commands a sales force of nearly 6,800 agents, practices in 26 states, with all 42 offices throughout the United States. Additionally, John is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called “ALL FOR ONE” which provides child prosperity centers for children around the world.


Lane Nishikawa

Lane is a Sansei (third generation) Japanese American actor, filmmaker, playwright, and performance artist. His work often deals with Asian American history and identity issues. He is widely known for a series of one-man shows, including Life in the Fast Lane, I’m on a Mission From Buddha, Mifune and Me and others.

He directed and starred in the independent feature film, Only the Brave and has written and directed two short films about World War II veterans, Forgotten Valor and When We Were Warriors. Lane’s latest film products include two documentary short films called Never Forget and Our Lost Years.


Eric Yoon

Eric has been in the forefront of promoting Korean culture, music, and entertainment through Television Media in the US for over a decade. He is the founder and CEO of Television Korea 24, Inc, the first 24 Hour Korean network available nationwide as a digital cable service, currently reaching over 30 million households.

tvK, tvK2, and tvK-Pop are distributed by International Media Distribution (‘IMD”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Comcast NBCUniversal, a leading provider of single language and multi-ethnic television programming. tvK is available throughout the US on Comcast, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, and many other video service providers.

Bai Ling

Bai is an award winning Chinese-American actress originally from Chengdu, Shichuan in China.  Bai’s first major American film role was in The Crow (1994). In 1997, she played the lead female role, opposite Richard Gere, in the American film Red Corner.

Bai was named one of People’s “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1998 and has starred in dozens of films including Crank: High Voltage, Wild Wild West, Anna and the King and Southland Tales including TV shows Entourage and Lost.



Rising Star Media Award

Presented to an individual (age 29 and below) who have achieved incredible accomplishments and exemplary leadership in Media, while still early in their career.


Alexandra Cuerdo

A Filipino-American director, producer, and editor, Alexandra was recently named one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women In the World by the Filipina Women’s Network. MSN ranks her feature directorial debut, ULAM: Main Dish as one of the “Top 5 Food Documentaries to Watch” now and more.

As a content producer and editor, Alexandra’s videos for BuzzFeed have achieved over 150 million views and over 1 million shares on Facebook. Previously, she has worked on films, television and digital content for HBO, ABC, NBC, Netflix, Hulu, Sony/Columbia Pictures, Participant Media, Walt Disney Imagineering and more.


Excellence in Broadcast Journalism Award

Recognizing inspiring API individuals in the news media industry who have made a positive impact in our community by addressing challenging social justice, diversity and civil rights challenges that our API community face.

Liberty Zabala

Liberty is a 2x Emmy-winning Reporter, Weather Anchor & fill-in News Anchor for NBC 7 San Diego. Previously, she worked as a multimedia journalist for KCOY/KKFX, the CBS/FOX affiliate covering California’s Central Coast and has conducted several high-profile interviews including presidential candidates Rand Paul, Ron Paul & Newt Gingrich, world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, comic creator Stan Lee and media mogul Oprah.

Liberty is a dedicated member of Asian American Journalists Association or AAJA where she served as a board director for the Los Angeles chapter and currently serves the San Diego chapter as president. She was also awarded AAJA National 2017 “Chapter President of the Year”.


Excellence in Cultural Awareness Award

Honoring API individuals and organizations that have contributed to promoting the API community and culture through media programs and services

Peter Lai

Peter is an award-winning fashion designer known for his colorful, flamboyant designs and originality reflecting the dual influences of his American fashion training at Otis-Parson with his experience as a customer in Hong Kong for television and Chinese Opera.

For over 3 decades, Peter avidly collected Japanese antiques and Japonaiserie to populate his retirement dream of creating a whimsical “Japanese Cultural Village” in an expansive 5,000 sq. ft. museum, boutique and event space designed to exhibit his collection and promote Japanese art and culture.


Eddy Taengkaew

Eddy is a Thai American immigrant who was born and raised in Bangkok, Thailand. He has been in the US for almost 20 years. Eddy received his bachelors from Brigham Young University-Hawaii in International Management and he received his MBA from the University of Wisconsin, with an emphasis in finance. He is currently attending law school. Eddy has been in banking and investment for over 10 years and is currently working for Bank of America and Merrill Lynch as a Financial Advisor. He devoted over 10 years of his life serving his Thai community in San Diego and Southern California promoting Thai Culture. He was a principal of Thai Language and Cultural School in Escondido, board member for Toys for Thailand and BYU Management Society of San Diego. He was a co-founder for Thai American and Asian Alliance of San Diego and served as the president for 4 years.



Rohini Bedi

A couturier and fashion influencer, Rohini is the most acclaimed name in promoting high-end couture out of India in America. An Indophile who spent the last two decades in the US, Rohini’s journey began in the mid-eighties in New Delhi where she mastered the myriad techniques of hand embroidery and rich embellishments.

Rohini’s career graph is indeed chequered and dotted with many accomplishments. She has behind her over two dozen befitting charities, myriad promotional tours and a host of Indian designer shows showcasing Indian haute couture.



San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute

Founded by Korean American couple Hojin and Hyosoon Park in 2009, San Diego Korean Pungmul Institute (SDKPI) is a largely self-funded, volunteer-based non-profit organization to create awareness of Korean traditional music culture in the US.

The institute focuses on teaching second-generation Korean-Americans to experience a variety of traditional Korean musical culture and often perform in various events to share Korean culture with other communities. Pungmul School performs in various cultural events and festivals in Southern California throughout the year namely Rose Bowl Parade, Hollywood Parade, Disneyland Parade, and many others.


San Diego Chinese Historical Museum

Founded in 1996, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is a nonprofit organization that has since expanded to encompass three state-of-the-art facilities. It is funded by local and international patrons as well as the City and County of San Diego. The museum is dedicated to both Chinese and Chinese American history, which puts us in the ideal position to facilitate cross-cultural communication and understanding.


Excellence in Community Outreach Award

Honoring companies or individuals who have contributed to creating greater awareness and understanding about the API community and/or culture through community service and various outreach programs

Dr. Emily Letran

Dr. Letran is a High-Performance Coach, Author, Dentist, Philanthropist, Mentor, and International Speaker.

She is the author of several books. “From Refugee to Renaissance Woman” she shares her story coming to the US as a refugee at 13 years old, and her newest book, “Commit to Embracing Your Big Life” offers insights and strategies to building a strong business.

Dr. Letran is actively involved in community services, sponsoring multiple local schools and charity events. She created the Emily Letran Foundation dedicated to providing basic dental care to veterans and families of the disadvantaged background, including the monthly Free Dentistry Day, where she and her dental teamwork to provide free dentistry for the less fortunate in area communities.


Dr. Morgamhom Nalanchang      

Dr. Nalanchang aka Dr. Gamberry is a certified Master Herbalist and is on the board of the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board. She currently holds title as MH, NC, HHP, NMD, and 5 Ph.Ds.

For the past 12 years, Dr. Gamberry has provided training on herbal studies and natural medicine to over 20,000 registered members in the USA and over 10,000 in Thailand. She was awarded ANMA/USA American Naturopathic Medical Association for three consecutive years 2016 – 2018.

In 2010, Dr. Gamberry founded Cancer Hope village, a non-profit organization committed to offering alternative treatments and inspiring hope for disadvantaged terminal ill cancer patients to get support and care during the last stage of life through an integrated, holistic approach with nature’s herbal treatment.


Dennis-Michael Broussard

Founder of Silkroad Productions, Dennis Michael is the recipient of numerous awards, commendations, and recognition for his community involvement and outreach efforts. For the past decade, he has hosted and produced many cultural events and festivals in San Diego namely the Asian Cultural Festival of San Diego, the San Diego Ramen Festival, the AMP Music Festival and many other large community events.

Additionally, Dennis-Michael is known for his humanitarian efforts around the globe. He volunteered at an orphanage in Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand, helping to build a classroom; volunteered at an educational center in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, teaching English; distributed water filters where there is limited to no access to clean drinking water in slums and villages in Senegal, Kenya, and Tanzania as well as teaching supplies and school equipment to a poor school district in the eastern part Nepal.


Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo has been supporting nonprofit organizations that work to strengthen and empower communities. Using financial and human capital to keep the communities strong, diverse, and vibrant, Wells Fargo’s culture of giving back through volunteer efforts connects enthusiastic team members in the communities in which they live and work.