By Jason Cruz
Northwest Asian Weekly
A former Major League Baseball player, an actor, an engineer, and a Silicon Valley executive were honored on Saturday night, May 13 at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in downtown Seattle. The Asian Hall of Fame inducted its 2017 honorees, which benefits the Robert Chinn Foundation.
Johnny Damon, Daniel Dae Kim, Duy-Loan Le, and Sonita Lontoh were present at the dinner to acknowledge their achievements. The Asian Hall of Fame is a national recognition event for Asian Pacific Americans highlighting heritage, culture, and achievements of the APA population. The Robert Chinn Foundation supports programs and initiatives that lead to the enhancement of the civic, economic, educational, and cultural quality of life in diverse communities.
Duy-Loan Le immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in the spring of 1975, when her home country was torn apart. She arrived in Houston, Texas at the age of 12 and spoke no English. At 16, she was valedictorian of her high school class. She then went on to graduate magna cum laude at the University of Texas at Austin. She went on to a remarkable career at Texas Instruments, where she started as a design engineer and worked her way up. She was elected as a Texas Instrument Fellow in 1999 and Senior Fellow in 2002. She was the only woman in Texas Instruments’ history to be named a TI Senior Fellow, which is the highest elected technical title.
Sonita Lontoh is an executive at Siemens, a global industries conglomerate. She is known as a technology executive with expertise in the Internet of Things (IoT), ‘Smart’ Connected Energy/Devices, and Green Technology. She serves as a mentor for TechWomen, a U.S. Department of State’s women-in-technology initiative originally launched by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I don’t view it as an honor for myself, but rather, as an honor for the hard, work commitment and trailblazing that has been done by so many other accomplished Asian American brothers and sisters before and around me,” said Lontoh.
Daniel Dae Kim is best known for his role as Jin Soo Kwon on the hit TV series “Lost.” He was a part of the cast that earned a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble. Currently, he plays Detective Lieutenant Chin Ho Kelly on the CBS series “Hawaii Five-O.” In addition, Kim will serve as executive producer of a new ABC series, “The Good Doctor,” through his production company, 3AD. The premise of the show is based on a South Korean format in which a young surgeon with Savant syndrome is recruited to a surgical unit at a prestigious hospital.
Since Kim shoots “Hawaii Five-O,” he is not able to visit his sister who lives in Portland, Ore. In his acceptance speech, he noted how fortunate he was that his sister came up to see him receive the honor.
Damon is best known as a center fielder for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. He played a total of 18 seasons in the major leagues. He also was a part of the 2013 Thailand National Baseball team that attempted to qualify for the World Baseball Classic. Damon noted that his mother, who is Thai, was as proud of him to represent Thailand as she was with his play in the major leagues. Damon was a two-time All-Star and won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Babe Ruth is the only other player to have won World Series rings with the two rival franchises.
Damon notes that his mother instilled the values and traditions of her birthplace in his life. “I have constant reminders every day of her journey and love for Thailand.”
“My Thai heritage has given me a positive attitude,” said Damon in his acceptance speech. “She taught me true values.” As part of the night, Damon auctioned off two bats he used when he played for the Yankees and Red Sox. He joked, “I apologize for beating up on Seattle all those years,” referring to the times he played against the Mariners.
The evening featured a cocktail hour and entertainment from the Morning Star Korean Cultural Center.
The program was emceed by King 5 news anchor Mimi Jung and a live auction was carried out by King 5 Evening host Jim Dever.
Among its other accomplishments this year, the Robert Chinn Foundation installed a new Asian Hall of Fame exhibit at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport at the beginning of May. The exhibit is located in the South Satellite Terminal.
*This article was updated to reflect that Duy-Loan Le never worked at Micron.
Jason can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.