The APAICS Annual Awards Gala Dinner is the culmination of our nation’s recognition of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May, a celebration of the culture, traditions, history, and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. We expect more than 1,000 attendees from across the country, including community, business, and political leaders.
The gala is the largest gathering of Asian American and Pacific Islander elected officials and government appointees at the federal, state, and local levels. Past speakers and awardees at the dinner include President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, Senator Mazie Hirono, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, Martha Choe, Deepa Iyer, George Takei, Daniel Dae Kim, and Randall Park, among others.
The theme for the 25th Anniversary Gala is Honoring our Past, Inspiring our Future.
Ticket Levels and Prices
Unfortunately, the 25th Anniversary Gala Awards Dinner is completely sold out. Please click below to check out our other great events happening during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Gala Program Book Ads
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Nancy Pelosi is the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, having made history in 2007 when she was elected the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House. Now in her third term as Speaker, Pelosi made history again in January 2019 when she regained her position second-in-line to the presidency, the first person to do so in more than 60 years.
Speaker Pelosi was an original charter member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) alongside then-Representatives Norm Mineta, Bob Underwood, Patsy Mink, Neil Abercrombie, and Don Edwards.
U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016 after representing Illinois’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms.
Duckworth attended college at the University of Hawaii and earned a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University. Following graduation, Duckworth, who is fluent in Thai and Indonesian, moved to Illinois and began pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science at Northern Illinois University. She also worked at NIU’s School of Nursing researching public health and environmental causes of cancer. Later, Duckworth worked for Rotary International as a manager for administration of Rotary clubs in the Asia Pacific Region.
In 2004, Duckworth was deployed to Iraq as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois Army National Guard. On November 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm.
Senator Duckworth spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where she quickly became an advocate for her fellow Soldiers and testified before Congress about caring for our Veterans and wounded warriors. Following her recovery, she became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, working to create a tax credit for employers who hired Veterans, establish a first-in-the-nation 24/7 Veterans crisis hotline and develop innovative programs to improve Veterans’ access to housing and health care.
In 2009, President Obama appointed Duckworth to be Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs. At VA, Duckworth coordinated the joint initiative with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to end Veteran homelessness. She also created the Office of Online Communications to improve the VA’s accessibility, especially among young Veterans, and also worked to address the unique challenges that Native American and female Veterans face.
Since her recovery, Duckworth has resumed flying as a civilian pilot and fulfilled a promise she made at Walter Reed by completing several marathons. In her spare time, she volunteers at local food pantries and enjoys couponing and flea markets. In 2015, Duckworth completed her Ph.D. in Human Services at Capella University.
In the U.S. House, Duckworth was an advocate for working families and job creation, introducing bills like her bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers Act to ensure new mothers have access to safe, clean and accessible lactation rooms when traveling through airports, which passed the Senate. She introduced the In the Red Act to help put our nation on the path toward debt-free college, the Get the Lead Out Act to keep America’s drinking water safe and bipartisan legislation to help close the skills gap while helping people find good-paying jobs. Duckworth also co-sponsored the No Budget, No Pay Act, which would ensure members of Congress only get paid if they pass a budget.
She also served on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where she was Ranking Member of the Transportation and Public Assets subcommittee. She introduced and helped pass several important policies through her work on these committees, including the Clay Hunt SAV Act to help reduce Veteran suicide and improve VA mental health services and the Troop Talent Act which helps returning Veterans find jobs in the private sector. She also effectively cut waste and fraud at the Pentagon and throughout government, including passing a common-sense provision to reduce redundancy in Armed Forces uniforms that the nonpartisan U.S. Government Accountability Office found will save taxpayers more than $4 billion over 5 years.
In the U.S. Senate, Duckworth serves on several influential committees that give her an important platform to advocate for Illinois’s working families and entrepreneurs: the Senate Armed Services Committee; the Environment & Public Works Committee; the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee; and the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee. As Senator, she advocates for practical, common-sense solutions needed to move our country and our state forward like: rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, keeping our water systems safe and lead-free, growing manufacturing jobs while supporting minority-owned small businesses, investing in communities that have been ignored for too long, and making college more affordable for all Americans. And Duckworth continues with her lifelong mission of supporting, protecting and keeping the promises we’ve made to our Veterans as well as ensuring that we stand fully behind the troops we send into danger overseas.
Senator Duckworth and her husband Bryan are the proud parents of two daughters, Abigail and Maile.
Gala Honorary Co-Chairs
Ted W. Lieu represents California’s 33rd Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Rep. Lieu is serving in his third term in Congress and currently sits on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He was also elected by his Democratic Colleagues to serve as a Co-Chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee.
Rep. Lieu is a former active duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and currently serves as a Colonel in the Reserves, stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base. In Congress, Rep. Lieu has established himself as a leader on the environment; cybersecurity; civil liberties; government ethics and veterans.
He has been an outspoken proponent for tackling climate change. The first bill Rep. Lieu introduced after coming to Congress was the Climate Solutions Act, which aims to make California’s ground-breaking renewable energy goals and climate emissions reduction targets a national model. In 2019, Rep. Lieu introduced an even more aggressive version of the legislation in order to tackle society’s most pressing issue.
As one of only four computer science majors currently serving in Congress, Rep. Lieu is frequently sought out for his insight on technology and innovation matters including cybersecurity, cloud computing and innovation as well as the sharing and creative economy. He has also introduced legislation to prioritize consumer safety in technologically-advanced cars as well as legislation that would ensure law enforcement and tech companies protect consumer privacy.
Rep. Lieu has been a leader in Congress against ethnic and racial profiling, and discrimination against the LGBT community. He serves as Whip of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Vice Chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, and Co-Chair of the Cloud Computing Caucus.
Rep. Lieu was first elected in 2014, having taken over the seat of Henry Waxman, who retired after serving in Congress for 40 years. In 2015, Rep. Lieu was elected president of the Democratic Freshman class by his colleagues. In his first term in Congress, seven pieces of legislation sponsored by Rep. Lieu were signed into law. This includes bills to provide housing for homeless Veterans and retrofit vacant buildings at the West LA VA campus; combat foreign propaganda and misinformation; and require more stringent cleaning instructions for medical devices.
Prior to serving in Congress, Rep. Lieu was elected to the California State Senate in 2011 and the State Assembly in 2005. Rep. Lieu’s legislative accomplishments include authoring landmark legislation regulating the subprime mortgage industry; a first-in-the-nation ban on gay conversion therapy for children; and a first-in-the-nation ban on the use of tanning beds for minors. Rep. Lieu fought for California state tax reform that saved small businesses from millions in retroactive taxes, and tax incentives for film and TV production. Rep. Lieu also co-authored California’s landmark Global Warming Solutions Act and co-authored the law banning state pension funds from investing in Iran’s nuclear and energy industries.
Rep. Lieu started his elected service as a Member of the Torrance City Council in 2002. Prior to serving on the Council, Rep. Lieu was a Torrance Environmental Quality Commissioner.
Looking for a better life and opportunity, Rep. Lieu and his family immigrated to the United States when he was three years old. His parents went to flea markets and sold gifts and jewelry to make ends meet. Rep. Lieu’s family went from being poor and not speaking English well to opening up a gift store where Rep. Lieu and his brother would help out in the family business. After many years of perseverance his parents were eventually able to expand to six stores. With the support of hard-working parents and a country that provided limitless opportunity, Rep. Lieu would go on to attend Stanford for his undergraduate degrees in Computer Science and Political Science, and then Georgetown University, where he received his law degree magna cum laude after serving as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. Rep. Lieu also received four American Jurisprudence Awards.
Recognizing the great opportunities America had given to his family, Rep. Lieu wanted to serve his country to preserve the American Dream. He joined the United States Air Force, where he served in the JAG corps. After serving on active duty for four years, Rep. Lieu wanted to continue to serve his country and joined the Reserves. Rep. Lieu has received numerous medals for his outstanding military service, including the Air Force Humanitarian Service Medal and multiple Meritorious Service Medals.
After serving active duty, Rep. Lieu joined the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson as a litigator. In 2003, Rep. Lieu joined the legal office at UBS Financial Services.
Rep. Lieu’s wife, Betty, is a Water Commissioner and a former California Deputy Attorney General. They live in Torrance with their two sons, Brennan and Austin.
U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy proudly represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes all of Seminole County and much of northern Orange County, including downtown Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, and the University of Central Florida. She currently serves on the influential House Ways and Means Committee, where she is a member of the Subcommittee on Trade and the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support.
Previously, Congresswoman Murphy was a businesswoman and college instructor after serving as a national security specialist in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Defense where she received numerous awards for her distinguished service, including the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service. She worked on a wide range of security issues from counterterrorism to foreign military relations to strategic planning for the department. Prior to her public service, Stephanie was a strategy consultant at Deloitte Consulting.
Congresswoman Murphy holds a M.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Economics from the College of William and Mary. She lives in Winter Park, Florida, with her husband and two young children.
Karen Korematsu is the Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute and the daughter of the late Fred T. Korematsu. In 2009, on the 25th anniversary of the reversal of Fred’s WWII U.S. Supreme Court conviction, Karen established the Fred T. Korematsu Institute. This year marks the 100th birthday of Fred T. Korematsu and the 75th anniversary of Korematsu v. United States.
Fred T. Korematsu was a national civil rights hero. In 1942, at the age of 23, he refused to go to the government’s incarceration camps for Japanese Americans. After he was arrested and convicted of defying the government’s order, he appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In 1944, the Supreme Court ruled against him, arguing that the incarceration was justified due to military necessity. In 1983, documents were discovered that the government engaged in misconduct when they hid evidence from the Supreme Court that Japanese Americans had committed no acts of treason to justify mass incarceration. Fred’s case was reopened and in a pivotal moment in civil rights history, his conviction was overturned. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Clinton in 1998, and remained a tireless advocate for civil liberties and justice throughout his life.
Since her father’s passing in 2005, Karen has carried on Fred’s legacy as a civil rights advocate, public speaker and public educator to ensure that history is not repeated. She shares her passion for social justice and education at K-12 public and private schools, colleges and universities, law schools, teachers’ conferences and organizations across the country.
Masters of Ceremonies
Tamlyn Tomita made her screen debut as Kumiko in “The Karate Kid, Part II” with Ralph Macchio and Pat “Noriyuki” Morita and has since appeared in numerous feature films, television and theatre projects. She is perhaps known for her roles as Waverly in Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club” and as Kana, a Hawaii plantation worker in the early 1900’s in Kayo Hatta’s “Picture Bride”, and starred opposite Dennis Quaid in Alan Parker’s “Come See the Paradise”, a film exploring the lives of a Japanese-American family and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. Her list of film credits is a mix of studio pictures and independent films that include: “Tekken”, “The Mikado Project”, “Two Sisters” opposite Yun Jin Kim and directed by Margaret Cho; “The Day After Tomorrow”; Greg Pak’s “Robot Stories”; Robert Rodriguez’s “Four Rooms” opposite Antonio Banderas; “Living Out Loud”, Lane Nishikawa’s “Only the Brave” and the Brazilian-Japanese film “Gaijin 2 – Ama me Como Sou” alongside Nobu McCarthy in her last film. She happily reunited with her co-star, Yuji Okumoto, and can be seen in National Film Society’s “Awesome Asian Bad Guys”.
On television, Tamlyn recurs in the MTV series, “Teen Wolf”, and ABC’s “The Returned” and “How To Get Away With Murder”, and will be in the new CBS series, “Zoo”, airing this summer. She has had recurring roles on: “True Blood”, “ Chasing Life”, “Glee”, “Law and Order: Los Angeles”, “Chicago Code”, “Heroes”, “Eureka”, “JAG”, “24”, “Stargate: Atlantis”, “Days of Our Lives” and “General Hospital”. Other credits include: “NCIS: Los Angeles”, “Bones, “Touch”, “Make It or Break It”, “Memphis Beat”, “Private Practice”, “CSI: Miami”, “Criminal Minds”, “The Mentalist”, “Monk”, “Saving Grace”, “Women’s Murder Club”, “Pandemic”, “Twenty Good Years”, “ Supreme Courtships”, “Commander in Chief”, “Stargate: SG-1”, “Jane Doe”, “Strong Medicine”, “Walking Shadow- Spenser For Hire”, “North Shore”, “Threat Matrix”, “The Agency”, “For the People”, “The Shield”, “Providence”, “Crossing Jordan”, “Will and Grace”, “Freaky Links”, “Nash Bridges”, “Seven Days”, “The Michael Richards Show”, “Chicago Hope”, “Sisters”, “Quantum Leap”, “Babylon 5”, “Living Single” and “Vanishing Son”.
She was a cast member of the series “The Burning Zone” and “Santa Barbara” and also appeared in PBS’s “Storytime” and “Hiroshima Maiden”; and “To Heal a Nation” and “Hiroshima: Out of the Ashes”.
Tamlyn also appeared in several stage productions including; “Heart Song” (Fountain Theatre); “A Distant Shore” (Kirk Douglas Theatre); “Question 27, Question 28” (East West Players/ Japanese American National Museum); “The Square” (Mark Taper Forum’s Taper, Too); “Summer Moon” (A Contemporary Theatre and South Coast Repertory); “Day Standing on its Head” (Manhattan Theatre Club); “Nagasaki Dust” (Philadelphia Theatre Company); “Don Juan: A Meditation” (Mark Taper Forum’s Taper, Too) and “Winter Crane” (Fountain Theatre) for which she received a Drama-Logue Award.
Keeping herself busy in an industry that has been slow to receive actors of an ethnic demographic, Tamlyn is selective in the roles she chooses, steering away from images
perpetuating stereotypes. She is always searching for ways to create and balance images with stories about Asian Americans. Having worked on a variety of Asian American projects such as the upcoming “The Unbidden”, “Starlight Inn”, “The Charles Kim Show”, “My Life…Disoriented”; “Day of Independence”; “Hundred Percent”; “Life Tastes Good”; “Four Fingers of the Dragon”; “Soundman”; “Requiem” and “Notes on a Scale”, Tamlyn proudly supports Asian American filmmakers and artists in the pursuit of giving the world a gallery of portraits from a golden perspective.
A resident of Los Angeles, she is always ready to lend her support to community events and organizations, and keeps her life simple, focusing on love, work and family.
A native of Naperville, Illinois, and a musical theater graduate from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in Downtown Chicago, Parvesh is best known for playing Gupta on NBC’s sitcom Outsourced. He is also the voice of the Transformer Blades on Discovery Family Channel’s Transformers: Rescue Bots. He also just wrapped three years on the CW’s critical hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend airing its final season on Friday evenings.
Cheena made his film debut as ‘Samir’ in Barbership and reprised his role in the sequel, Barbershop 2: Back in Business. He also appeared opposite Diane Keaton in Because I Said So, the international hit Hollywood Adventures, and the The Tiger Hunter.
Parvesh can be seen in the last season of Arrested Development on Netflix. His previous work includes NBC’s Sean Saves the World and A to Z. Recent appearances include ABC’s The Goldberg’s and CBS’ The Big Bang Theory. Along with a bunch of voice work on shows you might watch along with your children on Disney Channel.
Stage work includes the Midwest premiere of Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink, Romeo and Juliet at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and A Widow of No Importance and The Who’s Tommy at East West Players and most recently Leah Nanako Winkler’s Two Mile Hollow at Artists At Play.
Cheena currently resides in Los Angeles, California, where he regularly performs long form improvisation with his South Asian team, Browntown. Parvesh is also a fourth term Los Angeles Local Board Member of SAG/AFTRA.
Please contact Helen Ruggiero