BY Gerrye Wong   June 2,  2024

Congressman Ro Khanna,  who represents District 17 in California, held a fireside chat event  recently in Cupertino’s Quinlan Center in celebration of Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  When speaking before the gathered crowd, he said CA-17 has a long history of AANHPI representation on the national stage, but our strength has always been in our community leaders and organizers and their invaluable contributions. So, in recognition of community  dedicated efforts, he gathered members of the different communities at a reception event for all to gather to reflect on our significant progress, look towards the future, and honor members of the community.  His special guest of the event was California Assemblyman Alex Li  with whom Khanna opened a Q and A session where they answered queries from the audience on various such topics of how can Asians get more active in government and how can non profits apply for funding for their individual community projects through federal or state aid programs. .

Caption:  US congressman Ro Khanna introduces fireside chat guest California Assemblyman Alex Li

Highlight of the afternoon event was Congressman Khanna awarding citations in recognition for the honorees commitment in promoting cultural stewardship and for outstanding and invaluable services to the community. First AANHPI Heritage Month honoree was Dr. Douglas Nguyen, who as Vice Chair of the Federation of Vietnamese Americans is deeply involved in the Vietnamese community by advocating for the welfare of  Vietnamese expatriates. Currently a professor of Modern Language at the California University of Hayward , he also is an advisor to the Dean of Evergreen City College on minority communities in the Bay Area.

Caption:  Honorees from different segments of the Asian Pacific community were honored.

Second honoree introduced by Ro Khanna was Dr Herbert Chiu, who co-founded the Asian American Donor Program, a minority bone marrow recruitment organization and Citizens for Better Community in Fremont.  His long list of community service included once serving on the Board of Ohlone College Foundation, the American Cancer Society and Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce. During the pandemic, Dr. Chiu spearheaded large scale PPE donations to healthcare personnel, senior care facilities along with fire fighters and postal workers in the area.

Judge Johnny Gogo  has been involved for over 20 years with the local bar associations and the SCC High School Mock Trial Competition. Having served as the president for the Northern California Chapter of the National Asian Pacific Islander Prosecutors Association,  he actively worked with local law enforcement to hold gun buyback events that resulted in over 4000 firearms being removed from SCC communities.  Appointed to the Bench in 2019 by Governor Newsom, he is currently assigned to handle Domestic/Family Violence cases.


Caption:  Keiko Tachibana receives citation of honor                    Fellow nonagenarians celebrate hoors

Honoree Keiko Tachibana got wholehearted applause when Congressman Khanna announced she was a 93 years old second generation Japanese American. Through Executive Order 9066 , Keiko was 11 years old when along with family, she was incarcerated in Tule Lake from 1942-45. When released from camp,  the family could not buy a home due to the discriminatory Alien Land Laws in California so lived once in a decommissioned train car before finding housing working for wealthy families in Menlo Atherton. Her busy life has been spent  working in the Santa Clara Unified School District, active member of West Valley JACL, tutoring ESL students at Peterson Middle School and volunteering member of the Mountain View Buddhist Church.


Caption:  CATS Executive Director Leianne Lamb  s congratulated by her fellow CATS Board members and friends

Third generation Chinese American, Leianne Lamb  has always been passionate about celebrating Asian American culture and advocating for AAPI representation through the arts.  Currently she is the Board Chairperson and Executive Director of Contemporary Asian Theater Scene (CATS) in San Jose, an organization dedicated to promoting AANHPI theater, film and music as well as showcasing emerging artists.  She served on the Boards of San Jose Taiko and a social justice organization focused on protecting seniors in SF Chinatown during anti-Asian hate times.  Many of her CATS Board members were in the audience applauding her honoree award.

Van Le was noted to be a refugee who worked hard to overcome many barriers and dedicates her life in America  serving her community of immigrants and refugees’ families.  Having served on the Board of Trustees for East Side Ahigh School District, she was elected as president in 2015 and 2021.  While on Board Van worked diligently with all stakeholders to support the district’s vision of creating equitable school communities that welcome and support students no matter who they are or where they came from.   She continues to serve as Board member of many organizations that support immigrants, homeless students and women suffering from domestic abuse.


Caption:  Gerrye Wong receives proclamation.         Chi Am Circle members gather to meet Congressman Khanna       Chinese Historical and Cultural Project President David Yick & Diana Ding

I was honored to be among Congressman Khanna’s noted community citizens. He cited my work in co founding the Chi Am Circle, a 55 year old organization of Asian American women in Santa Clara County , and the Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, which under my leadership built the Chinese American Historical Museum and gifted it to the city of San Jose as a token of friendship  from the Chinese community,  and opened at History San Jose Park in 1991. Khanna acknowledged my Board positions on the Chinese Historical Society of America, the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation and the Self Help for the Elderly where my passion was being instrumental in helping establish museums highlighting Chinese American history as well as serving the needs of the Asian senior communities.


Caption:   Board members of the Chi Am Circle, an Asian American women’s club, aappl;aud all honorees at event.

It is very gratifying to be among this group of distinguished citizens who have made an impact in serving the  community we live in, and to be recognized by our local government leader,  Congressman Ro Khanna.





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