By James Tabafunda
Northwest Asian Weekly
At one point, the stage, filled with Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) members and supporters dressed in various traditional Asian and Pacific Islander dress, mirrored the packed, top-floor banquet room at China Harbor Restaurant alongside Seattle’s Lake Union.
KING 5 and Northwest Cable News anchor Sula Kim, the event’s master of ceremony, greeted attendees to the Northwest Asian Weekly and Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation’s Visionary Award Gala on Oct. 9. The event honored eight individuals, such as Aegis Living founder and CEO Dwayne Clark and University of Washington’s Business and Economic Development Center founding director Michael Verchot, for their creative ideas and professional accomplishments.
It also recognized two local, trailblazing organizations.
“Tonight, we are honoring dreamers,” said Assunta Ng, owner and publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post. “They dream about the impossible.”
Similar to Seattle’s jazz-club scene in the 1940s, Chera Amlag and Geo Quibuyen’s talent for blending hip-hop, spoken-word performance art, and community organizing carry on the city’s tradition of improvisation. As co-owners of the monthly pop-up restaurant, Food & Sh*t, they’ve expanded their passion to include creating Filipino American food and offering desserts online at the Hood Famous Bakeshop.
Sarah Baker has a passion for bringing communities of color together and more recently, the parents, friends, and family of lesbian, gay, and transgender Asians and Pacific Islanders.
The North Seattle College student body president and president-elect of the Seattle chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League said, “Putting together an Asian Pacific Islander LGBTQ conference did not require courage. It required a blind sense of determination.”
“Individuals living their lives in silence because they don’t have support from their family or community, that takes courage. Hearing these stories inspires me to make a difference.”
She said, “By forming bonds and creating stronger communities, we can and will change the world.”
As founder and president of Sirius 6, Lorraine Yu started her consulting business in 2009 and has built it into a multi-million dollar company. It now provides brand advocacy, training, and a Learning Management System.
Prior to being a business owner, she helped create the first Asian Pacific Leadership Development Conference at Microsoft in 2006.
She and her husband Toni are also American Kennel Club breeders of Labrador retrievers. “So what I learned from that is: Don’t be a stranger,” she said.
“You don’t know the people you’re going to meet here at this event, and at the table next to you. You have the chance to learn more about them and have them learn more about you.”
Seattle Sounders FC sports scientist and performance analyst Ravi Ramineni’s ideas rely on using heart-rate monitors and global positioning system technology on team players. The resulting information can then be used by team coaches to help achieve success on the soccer field.
As Ramineni’s presenter, Sounders FC sports science and performance manager Dave Tenney said, “He had actually taken up a spot in the very center of the practice field on a daily basis with the Sounders. Their practice didn’t start until Ravi said it was okay to start.”
The Greater Seattle chapter of OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates is an organization that stands up for civil rights and social justice for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
Presenter Connie So, chapter vice president and University of Washington senior lecturer, said she was proud to be part of the organization’s board.
“We work well collaboratively, are friends, and most of all, we are all committed to our community.”
Representing 47 distinct countries since 1996, the APCC exists as the only Asian and Pacific Islander cultural center in Pierce County and has many active partnerships with other community organizations.
Both the APCC and its founder and board president Patsy O’Connell were honored.
O’Connell’s presenter, APCC executive director Lua Pritchard, spoke clearly and sincerely about her friend as well as O’Connell’s volunteer work over the last 19 years.
She said, “No matter what your definition of success is, you cannot succeed without first trying! That’s exactly what Patsy did.”
On O’Connell’s vision of what should happen, she said, “As an artist, she went through life experiences that gave her the inspiration to imagine the future with a dream of Asia Pacific people coming together, in one place … and most of all, respect one another as an Asia Pacific people.” (end)
James Tabafunda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.