Dinner With APA Leaders

Asian Pacific American Heritage Dinner and Leadership Awards
The annual APA Heritage Dinner was held on May 15th at the Crowne Plaza in celebration of Asian American Heritage Month and to recognize leaders in the community. The Council On Asian Pacific Minnesotans 2010 Leadership Award Winners were: Malichansouk Kouanchao - Excellence in the Arts; Mao Heu Thao and Kaimay Yuen Terry - Community Service; and the late Dixie Lee Riley for a Lifetime Achievement award.

Dr. Franklin Odo gave a keynote speech. He was the founding director of the Asian Pacific American Program at the Smithsonian for 13 years and is an author, scholar, historian, and activist.

"With your help, we have been able to increase the representation of APIA perspectives at the Smithsonian and build networks of supporters across the country." -Dr. Odo

I sat with Mali's parents which meant I was on my best behavior. US Senator Amy Klobuchar came over to congratulate Mali's parents on having an exceptional daughter. The Senator then spent the next fifteen minutes meeting and taking photos with everyone. When I grow up, I want to be like her.

"You're going to regret it later, trust me," Senator Klobuchar, after removing my name tag before the picture was taken.

With my friend and award winner, Malichansouk Kouanchao. Mali is a visual artist who has inspired the direction of my work and those of others, no doubt. Get to know her and her work at djai.net/mali

Sneak attack on my dear friend Karen Lyu, who provided the musical entertainment for the night. Karen is jazz vocalist extraordinaire who flew all the way from Tennessee to be with us.

Fredina Latu, David Zander, and Saymoukda Vongsay. "It was a long day," said David after I made an outcry about his eyes being closed in the photo and wanted a re-do. Fredina, however, tolerates my diva behavior. =)