June 17, 2015 (DALLAS) – Back by popular demand, non-profit Against The Grain Productions will host their 4th Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers – a diverse panel of remarkable Asian American industry leaders brought together to share their inspiring personal stories and paths to success. For the first time ever, this year’s event, which promotes leadership and mentorship, will be co-hosted with the National Association of Asian American professionals of DFW (NAAAP-DFW) at the NAAAP National Convention to be held in Dallas (another first) under the theme “Resilience: Power of the Asian Leader.”
DALLAS (Aug. 10, 2015) – Asian American leaders gathered together Saturday to share their motivating personal stories to success at Against The Grain Productions’ 4th Annual Groundbreakers Speak Event during the National Association of Asian American Professionals National Convention at the Hilton Anatole. In TED-inspired presentations, question-and-answer lightning round and round robin-style intimate audience discussions, a record 200 attendees from the Convention and the Dallas community listened to each speaker’s individual takes on the Convention’s theme “Resilience: Power of the Asian Leader.” NAAAP President Fabian De Rozario opened with encouraging remarks along with 2014 Groundbreakers panelist, Partner at Ernst & Young, ATG Ambassador and previous NAAAP 100 winner Thear Sy Suzuki, whose comment on courage as a key trait of great leaders rang true throughout the afternoon.
The ATG family is excited that the NAAAP 100 committee has selected our very own President and Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee to be recognized at the upcoming National Convention in Dallas, at the evening Gala on Aug. 8! The NAAAP 100 Award, Presented by Buick recognizes the most exemplary leaders in the Asian community. NAAAP, as the premier leadership organization for Asian professionals, offers these awards annually to the most influential leaders who have made significant contributions to their profession and the Asian community. Previous award winners include the late Senator Daniel Inouye, Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, Superbowl MVP Hines Ward, and playwright David Henry Hwang.
NAAAP members, chapters, and members of the public nominate candidates for NAAAP 100 consideration. These nominees are reviewed by individuals and a committee in a highly-selective process with final approval by the NAAAP National Board of Directors. Typically, only three to four individuals each year are recognized as honorees, who are celebrated at the NAAAP National Convention culminating in a Saturday evening awards gala. For more information on the NAAAP 100 program, please visit www.naaap.org/programs/naaap-100/.
Tammy was inducted alongside Ronald W. Chang (President of UPS Capital and advocate for Asian Americans) and Lieutenant Commander Albert Wong (a judge, diplomat and community leader).
DALLAS, TX – Seven game-changing female Asian American leaders gathered to share personal stories about their paths to success at Against The Grain Productions’ 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak event on Saturday March 2, 2014, hosted at The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Despite the blustery weather conditions, guests packed into the museum’s main gallery to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, coffee and art before settling in to listen to each speaker’s TED-inspired personal presentation around this year’s theme: “Game Changers: Playing to Win.” After sharing their diverse perspectives, speakers joined together as a panel to answer questions and cover hard-hitting issues about identity, cultural barriers, motivation and solutions to nurture leadership in the community. Imparting their insight, there were moments both humorous and poignant. The event concluded with a unique half hour where guests got to interact with speakers one-on-one.
The goal of the afternoon was to give people of all ages a chance to hear and meet influential leaders. It was also about providing mentorship and inspiration, empowering individuals to realize their potential. President/Founder and event moderator Tammy Nguyen Lee said, “Groundbreakers Speak was created to fulfill a need and is unlike most any other event that ATG does. It’s meant to be more intimate and engage with people on a personal level, to create meaningful conversation, provoke deep thought and spark serious leadership. We’re trying to give people a glimpse into who they can be and what we are capable of becoming as a community.”
It was a rewarding and memorable day for our speakers as well. Here’s what they are saying, as they continue to motivate and inspire others to go “Against The Grain”:
Manager of eSports at Blizzard, Kim Phan: “DO what makes you passionate instead of thinking about what makes you passionate. The rest will follow. And remember the words of George Eliot, ‘It is never too late to be what we might have been.’”
Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives for NBC, Grace Borrero Moss: “I am so honored to be included in such an incredible group of strong and successful women. Listening to everyone’s stories and engaging with other young Asian Americans who are, themselves, making waves in their respective fields is really empowering. I now feel even more motivated and energized to make an even stronger impact in my field. Events like these and organizations like ATG are at the forefront of making breakthroughs within the Asian American community.”
Senior Reporter at KERA, Doualy Xaykaothao: “We must remember to continue building bridges across diverse communities, whether via social media or right in your own neighborhoods. A morsel of new information can have great impact in our lives, in our universe. And don’t forget, service to the public is possibly one of the greatest gifts you can give.”
Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, Thear Sy Suzuki: “I left the event inspired and energized! The connections made were priceless. Thank you panelists, guests, ATG and The Crow Collection of Asian Art for your authenticity and willingness to share your stories.”
Award-winning Children’s Book Author/Illustrator, LeUyen Pham: “If this amazing panel of women were anything to judge by, I think I came away with one conclusion that I feel certain of: To succeed as each of these women have, it takes not just brains and passion, but immense courage. I was honored to be among them, and hope that my story of how I achieved my own dreams will affect someone else, no matter to what small degree. All change starts with something small.”
Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation, Cynthia Yung: “It was great to hear from strong Asian women who are changing the stereotypes of model minorities. Being quiet and obedient may make you invisible but not immune to unfair treatment.”
Lawyer, Advocate, Executive Director and General Counsel of The Asian Resource Group, Inc., Lesley Varghese: “No shortage of inspiration at Against the Grain Productions and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Grateful to Tammy Nguyen for a unique opportunity to meet a few of the most dynamic Asian American women in the country, surrounded by mind-blowing art like “China Porsche!”
Video clips of each speaker will be available on ATG’s YouTube Page.
Read the Asia World Media Coverage.
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.
Words of Praise
“A surprise Dallas snowfall on the afternoon of Sunday, March 2nd, set the tone for an equally unpredictable and fascinating afternoon at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. I found myself hanging on every word from each expert speaker, and their surprising stories echoed through my mind long after I returned home. The obstacles they had overcome! The talents they possessed! The goals they had marked, achieved, and surpassed! Not only were the panelists’ experiences in life and careers remarkable from a groundbreaking Asian American perspective, but they sparked a drive within me to maximize my potential as a modern working woman. Kudos to ATG Productions, and I look forward to the next Groundbreakers event.” – Lisa Petty, Editor, DFW Style Daily
“My first experience at Groundbreakers Speak last year helped to forge a new relationship between ATG, NAAAP and Dallas Women’s Foundation. This year the experience confirmed exactly why it is imperative for all women to embrace their individual stories for the collective good of women everywhere. The dynamic women who shared their stories not only inspired me to embrace my personal journey but they reminded me why female ‘gamechangers’ are valuable and relevant. Women and girls should strive to take on careers and opportunities that challenge the status quo. ATG Against the Grain Productions’ Groundbreakers Speak definitely embodies that message.” – Akilah Wallace, Dallas Women’s Foundation
“ATG’s Groundbreakers Speak this year was so wonderful with strong inspiring women paving the way to success through leadership. We are so grateful to be a part of this annual event!” – Dii Kim, Founder/Owner, Pho is for Lovers
“Thanks to Tammy and the entire ATG team! It was a tremendous honor and thrill to get to know each of you.” – Sylvia Komatsu, EVP | Chief Content Officer, KERA/KXT
“So BLESSED to be in this audience and experience this panel! Each offered such insights and knowledge of what it takes to be a FEMALE game changer.” – LeeAnne Locken, TV Host/Actress/Author
“So honored that I had the opportunity of attending an Against the Grain event hosted by the remarkable Tammy Nguyen. The wealth of talent in the room was unmeasurable. Every single guest can contest to walking away from the flawless event being inspired, motivated, and driven to DREAM BIG.” – Yasmeen Tadia, CEO & Founder, Fluffpop
“So inspired to be surrounded by brilliant, powerful Asian American women leaders who are passionate about their careers and fostering the dreams of women around them.” – Karen Liu Pang, Director of Business Administration and Process Effectiveness, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
“Congratulat[ions on] a successful event. The panelists were impressive, informative and a lot of fun. I am glad that we could be a partner and host.” – Jill VanGordon, Director of Education, Crow Collection of Asian Art
DALLAS, TX – In honor of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, seven trailblazing Asian Americans told their personal stories about their paths to success at Against The Grain Productions’ 2nd Annual Groundbreakers Speak event on Saturday May 11, 2013. Surrounded by the beautiful pieces at The Crow Collection of Asian Art in Downtown Dallas, more than 100 guests packed into the museum’s main gallery to enjoy champagne, hors d’oeuvres and art before settling in to listen to each speaker’s TED-inspired personal presentation. After sharing their diverse perspectives, speakers joined together as a panel to answer questions and cover hard-hitting issues about identity, cultural barriers, motivation and solutions to nurture leadership in the community. Imparting their insight, there were moments both humorous and poignant. The event concluded with a unique half hour where guests got to interact with speakers one-on-one.
The goal of the afternoon was to give people of all ages a chance to hear and meet influential leaders. It was also about empowering individuals to realize their potential. President/Founder and event moderator Tammy Nguyen Lee said, “Groundbreakers Speak was created to fulfill a need and is unlike most any other event that ATG does. It’s meant to be more intimate and engage with people on a personal level, to create meaningful conversation, provoke deep thought and spark serious leadership. We’re trying to give people a glimpse into who they can be and what we are capable of becoming as a community.”
It was a rewarding and memorable day for our speakers as well. Here’s what they are saying, as they continue to motivate and inspire others to go Against The Grain:
Former Dallas Cowboy and the first Vietnamese player in the NFL, Dat Nguyen: “There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, But you have to put time and effort in order to gain an edge. It’s all about attitude.”
Director of Education at The Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dr. Karin Oen: “Maybe part of our goals in our generation is to contribute and build to create visibility across the new border whether you choose to be in the arts or entertainment.”
Vice President of Programming, Brand Integration at HGTV and DIY Network, Kent Takano: “Be prepared for the opportunity… find something you really want to do, because if you didn’t enjoy doing whatever, you’re not going to be good at it.”
Founder and CEO of Fur Face Boy, Hai Mai: “I hope my words, thoughts and passions could make the slightest difference in someone’s life. I know that the words that everyone spoke of their life definitely sparked emotions for me.”
Emmy-nominated journalist, host and KHOU news anchor, Lily Jang: “What a wonderful experience to share, learn and inspire all at the same time. We all have a story.. and ATG Productions allowed me to tell mine. I’m grateful for this experience to be among some amazing trailblazers. Can’t wait to come back!”
Lawyer, advocate and politician, Richard Jung: “Instead of being afraid to lose face, be courageous enough to make a face and make face in the direction that you want.. because you have qualities and characteristics that are going to help you succeed.”
Founder of Baal Dan Charities, Tanya Pinto: “It was an honor to be part of this event as a panelist. The sheer talent and tenacity of the speakers featured is a testament to the achievements of the Asian American citizens of Texas!”
Video clips of each speaker will be available on ATG’s YouTube Page.
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.
Words of Praise
“In a few words; it was one of the best speaking engagements I’ve attended; ‘Great life stories on self motivation and powerful accomplishments.’ – David Rico of BB&T Bank
“Uber Dallas wants to thank ATG for allowing us to be apart of this wonderful event. The Groundbreakers Speak event was truly an enlightening experience. From the beautiful setting itself to the panel discussion, all were able to get a deeper understanding of the issues past and present facing the Asian American community and the path to future growth. We look forward to future partnerships with Tammy and the ATG team!” – Leandre of Uber Dallas
Published: 15 May 2013 11:12 PM
Updated: 16 May 2013 11:25 AM
Dat Nguyen was often told he was too small to play football. Yet he was the first Vietnamese-American in the NFL. He was drafted by the Cowboys and said he couldn’t believe he was playing with Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
“There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big,” said the ESPN sportscaster. “But you have to put time and effort in order to gain an edge. It’s all about attitude.”
Nguyen was one of seven panelists who shared their journeys at Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation With Asian American Movers and Shakers. Saturday’s event was sponsored by Against The Grain Productions and held at the Crow Collection in Dallas. Tammy Nguyen Lee, founder of ATG, moderated the discussion.
Kent Takano, a vice president for HGTV and DIY Network, said he never expected to watch television for a living. In an acting class, he met someone in television who helped him land an internship. Takano’s been in television ever since.
Karin Oen, director of education at the Crow Collection, is passionate about building community through art institutions. UT Arlington graduate Ha Mai carved a path from design studio work to Fur Face Boy, his independent apparel line. Lily Jang said she loves what she does as a television journalist in Houston. Lawyer, advocate and politician Richard Jung joked that he wanted to be Nguyen, but admitted he found his calling in immigration law and helping others.
Tanya Pinto left a large advertising agency to start Baal Dan Charities, a nonprofit helping children around the world. She also runs her own firm, Shakti Consulting.
Nguyen Lee said each of the panelists “put fear aside to follow their passion.” This is her second Groundbreakers event, which she holds in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Visit againstthegrainproductions.com.
Asian Celebrity Groundbreakers Speak 2013, Featuring Dat Nguyen, Kent Takano, Lily Jang And More
By Asia World Media
In honor of Asian American Heritage Month, Tammy Nguyen Lee of Against The Grain Productions (ATG) and Amy Lewis Hofland of the Crow Collection of Asian Art Museum partnered up to host the 2nd Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers in Dallas, TX. The family-friendly event brought together an amazing and diverse panel of Asian American professionals and celebrities, including Dat Nguyen (ESPN Radio Host & Former NFL/Dallas Cowboy Linebacker), Kent Takano (Executive Producer of Branded Entertainment for HGTV), Richard Jung (Attorney/Advocate/Politician), Tanya Pinto (Founder of Baal Dan Charity), Karin Oen (Director of Education at the Crow Collection of Asian Art), Ha Mai (Founder/CEO of Fur Face Boy) and Lily Jang (TV Host and News Anchor at KHOU). Each speaker has a unique experience to share his/her inspiring, personal and success story.
Over 100 guests crowded into the Crow’s Bronze Circle Room surrounded by exquisite works of art from China, Japan, and India. While enjoying champagne and dessert, guests have the special opportunity to engage with Asian American movers and shakers on important issues affecting the Asian American community.
“Being a groundbreaker has to do with pushing asides fears and embracing new challenges, ” said Richard Jung, managing partner of Jung Ko, PLLC. A passionate advocate for the Asian American community, Richard Jung believed, “As Asian Americans, we must overcome the cultural inhibitions about standing out and standing our ground. Our elders, our children, our communities need leaders who willing to stand out and stand up for their interests.”
Elsewhere Dat Nguyen’s speech at NFL and Dallas Cowboy’s Day was pretty legendary, giving the other amazing speech a run for its money. An inspiration to many Asian NFL enthusiast, Dat Nguyen is the first Vietnamese American to play in the NFL as a Dallas Cowboy linebacker during the late 1990s. After a successful career in the NFL, Dat Nguyen is currently with Sports talk Radio at ESPN San Antonio. Dat Nguyen articulate, “I would like [for you] to walk away from the event knowing don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, but you have to put time and effort in order to gain an edge. It’s all about attitude!”
“Everyone can be a groundbreaker – they simply have to figure out what their unique talent is and then follow that passion to create something, … Then watch the magic unfold, ” said Tanya Pinto, Founder of Baal Dan Charity.
DALLAS, TX – Dallas-based nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions hosted their inaugural Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Asian American Movers & Shakers on Saturday, July 28th. Event guests received a docent guided tour of elegant The Crow Collection of Asian Art before packing the main gallery to enjoy champagne, coffee, dessert and experience a lively panel discussion comprised of a diverse cross section of Asian American industry leaders. Each panelist represented a different occupational field, from medicine to fashion, business to film, sports to politics and was carefully selected to share their unique perspective and journey that led to their ultimate success. After awarding the 2012 Sunna Lee Leadership scholarship to recipient Rebekah Kim, the stimulating discussion topics ranged from witty and profound advice and anecdotes, insightful personal confessions, cultural observations on being raised by Asian immigrant parents, thought-provoking questions for self-actualization and identity, a strong call to action for more mentorship in the community and a round-robin of humorous answers to Inside the Actors Studio questions.
Leadership scholarship founder Sunna Lee said, “Many countries, many age groups and many professions were represented [at Groundbreakers], yet the challenges we face are so similar. It was refreshing and encouraging to hear a point of view of empowerment rather than that of a victim.” The Groundbreakers Speak panel included NASCAR/Formula One Racer Nur Ali, U.S. Olympian Rebekah Kim, judge and activist Ramey Ko, plastic surgeon/entrepreneur Dr. Sam Lam, marketing executive Sunna Lee, fashion designer Khanh Nguyen, filmmaker Patrick Wang and film/tv producer and philanthropist Tammy Nguyen Lee moderating the discussion. Nguyen Lee, who is ATG’s President and Founder, conceived of the event to continue the organization’s unique method of community outreach in an engaging and entertaining format, while also dealing with an issue she views as lacking in the Asian American community. Said Nguyen Lee, “Up to this point, ATG has made great strides in promoting emerging Asian American artists and fundraising for our causes. However, this year, we wanted to add more education to our repertoire and bring leadership to our focus so that we can inspire others to step up. It’s a subject that we need to address, understand, nurture and educate ourselves on so that we can evolve into a stronger community and truly give back to the best of our potential.”
Dr. Sam Lam, a triple-board certified plastic surgeon and author of numerous books, acknowledged that one of the biggest ways to impact the lacking leadership in the Asian American community was through mentorship. Dr. Lam is well acquainted with the significance of ATG events, putting his money where his mouth is by supporting the organization as a year-round sponsor for the past several years. “Tammy Nguyen Lee once again has proven how talented she is at putting together and leading a first-rate panel to inspire present and future generations of Asian American leaders.” Nur Ali continued, “We as Groundbreakers need to be more available as mentors to youth and adults alike in our community and work to give them the strength to follow their hearts. It can be a bit worrisome, but the payoff can also be huge.”
With years already under his young career belt, activist and attorney Ramey Ko shared one of the day’s most poignant thoughts that “if you ever find yourself saying ‘someone ought to do that,’ perhaps that someone ought to be you.” Ko acknowledged ATG as an example that proves “Asian Americans are not only breaking new ground, but we’re doing it in style” and adding that “the tremendous diversity of the panel demonstrates that there are no doors that are closed to Asian Americans, if we have the passion, the commitment and the faith to make our dreams happen.”
With the success of the first Groundbreakers Speak, ATG plans to take Ko’s thoughts to heart and continue hosting this panel as one of its staple community outreach events. Said Nguyen Lee, “This was a great beginning, but there is so much more we can do to help engage and nurture future Asian American leaders. We’ll bring more voices to the table. This was just the tip of the ice berg.”
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, promotes Asian American cultural awareness through compelling media projects and raises funds for international orphanages. In addition to giving out an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American students pursuing a degree in the arts, they also produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at over a dozen film festivals nationwide and received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.
DALLAS, TX – For the first time, Dallas-based non-profit ATG Against The Grain Productions brings together influential and successful Asian American leaders to host an engaging and educational event called Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Asian American Movers & Shakers. The panel is comprised of dynamic and influential industry leaders who will speak on their inspiring path to success. The family-friendly event will take place from 2-4 pm at the Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, TX on Saturday, July 28th. In addition to the panel, event guests will get an opportunity to enjoy Asian art, champagne, coffee and dessert.
The 2012 Groundbreakers Speak panel includes leaders from areas of business, law, medicine, sports, fashion, the arts and philanthropy. They include NASCAR/Formula One Racer Nur Ali, U.S. Olympian Rebekah Kim, judge and activist Ramey Ko, plastic surgeon/entrepreneur Dr. Sam Lam, marketing executive Sunna Lee, fashion designer Khanh Nguyen and filmmaker Patrick Wang. The panel will be moderated by ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee.
Admission to Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Asian American Movers & Shakers ranges from $10-15 and can be purchased online at www.againstthegrainproductions.com/events.
The “Groundbreakers Speak” Panelists:
“I am honored to be part of the first Groundbreakers event, highlighting Asian-American Movers and Shakers in the community. I look forward to the panel’s conversation and their insight.”
Nur Ali grew up in Germany surrounded by Formula One Racing. Ali developed his passion for racing at a very young age. Through his fourteen year career, Ali has amassed two Championships in the Southwest Formula Mazda Regional Series and a second place finish in the Legends Series. He has also raced in twelve countries for the A1 Grand Prix Series – The World Cup of Motorsport, with a top ten finish in Durban, South Africa. By 2011, he received his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series license and later on in 2012, Ali was sanctioned and licensed by the NASCAR Nationwide Series and hopes to make his debut in the current season.
“I feel extremely honored and excited to be attending ATG’s very first “Groundbreakers Speak” event. I’ve been impressed by reading about all of the things ATG has been doing for the Asian American community, and I am hoping that I can be a positive addition in supporting their vision and purpose.”
Rebekah “Becky” Kim is currently attending the University of Southern California pursuing a M.A. in Teaching. In 2004, she she led Ohio State’s Synchronized Swimming Team to win a National Collegiate Championship, winning gold in all three events (duet, trio, team). The eight-time national team member helped the U.S. win gold at the 2006 World Trophy Cup in Moscow, Russia, which marked the first victory over the Russians who have been reigning champions for the past ten years. In the following year, Rebekah participated in the 2007 Pan Americans Games, where the U.S. finished gold, securing their spot in the 2008 Olympic games. She is the first Korean American to have ever made the U.S. Olympic Synchronized Swimming team. Kim made her Olympic debut in Beijing, 2008 where the U.S. placed fifth. Following the Olympic games, she returned back to OSU to complete her schooling where she led the team, as team captain, to win another National Championship in 2009. That same year she was named Athlete of the Year.
Currently, Kim gives back to the sport by raising and coaching the next generation of synchronized swimmers. She is involved in the governing body of USA Synchro. She was selected as the United States Olympic Committee Athlete Advisory Council Representative, where she was one of five officials who selected members of team USA for the 2012 London Olympic Games. To help her community, she partners with the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games (SCCOG), is a speaker for Ready, Set, Gold! (RSG!) and serves on the leadership team at Sarang Community Church in Anaheim . Kim is the winner of the 2012 Sunna Lee Leadership Scholarship.
“I am honored and humbled to be included in the very first leadership event organized by Against the Grain. As the U.S. Census and numerous recent polls, studies, and news reports have indicated, Asian Americans are now the fastest growing racial group in America. We have also achieved unprecedented levels of success, whether it’s the groundbreaking appointment of three AAPIs to President Obama’s cabinet, the more than doubling of the number of AAPI federal judges since 2009, or the increasing visibility of Asian Americans in entertainment and arts from Hollywood to YouTube. With new opportunities also come new responsibilities, so it is more critical than ever that Asian Americans rise to the challenge of becoming the leaders, the innovators, and the agents of change in a diverse and changing America.”
Ramey Ko is a partner with Jung Wakefield PLLC, an immigration and business law firm, and an Associate Municipal Judge – the first Asian American judge in Austin. Ko is also an adjunct lecturer in Asian American Studies at the University of Texas and serves on the Austin Public Safety Commission and the Advisory Board of the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce. In September 2010, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which advises federal agencies on how to better serve the AAPI community.
“I am honored to be part of this distinguished group of Asian community leaders and hope to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, leaders, movers, and shakers.”
Dr. Sam Lam graduated from Princeton. He is an entrepreneur, triple board-certified facial plastic surgeon and author of 6 major medical textbooks and over 150 scientific articles and book chapters. Dr. Lam lectures nationally and internationally throughout the year and has given over 150 lectures to date. He is national course director for a Hair Transplant Workshop in St. Louis each year as well. He is the current owner and operator of the 27,000 square-foot Willow Bend Wellness Center in Plano that houses his other two businesses, The Spa at Willow Bend and the Jose Eber Salon. Dr. Lam’s newest venture is a skincare line named Ova that features plant-derived stem cells and has taken him two years to develop.
“I am thrilled and honored to be part of ATG’s first leadership forum as this speaks to which I am most passionate. The need for promoting, developing leadership among the Asian community is what drove me to create the Sunna Lee Leadership scholarship. We need to understand what this means today and in the future for all generations to come. Leveraging the talent, intelligence and vision of Asians to drive strategic thinking, innovations, creativity that change the way we live is the ultimate step in assimilation to American society where the focus is not in rebuilding a life here but influencing other lives. Leadership comes in various ways. I am very excited to hear others’ perspective and most importantly, to create a meaningful dialogue that will build a foundation for years to come.”
Sunna Lee is a first generation Korean American with 25 years as an executive in product development, which includes trends, design, marketing and sourcing for brands and retailers small to large, private and publicly traded companies with $7 million to $2.5 billion in revenues. She has served as Vice President of Marketing for Priss Prints and NoJo, Vice President of New Business Development for Crown Crafts Infant Products, Vice President of Merchandising for Riegel, Director of Fashion for Dorel Juvenile Group and currently the Director of Product Development for Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. At Cracker Barrel, she leads the women’s group, Woman’s Connect, as a member of the steering committee to develop future women leaders of the organization.
“I am honored to be a part of Groundbreakers Speak for its first year. It is a great opportunity to voice what I have learned throughout my years in the industry and to learn what others have experienced as well. Everyday, we are thankful to be asked to be a part of such great events and to help make aware to the community all the organizations out there that make a difference.”
Khanh Nguyen has been surrounded by fashion and art throughout her life. Nha Khanh’s designs focus on modern glamour, inspired by art, architecture and most importantly, nature. “Nha,” in Vietnamese, is a feminine word implying ‘light’, whereas “Khanh” is a masculine word, meaning celebration. The fusion of the words creates a balance of unison between what is feminine and what is masculine. Nguyen attended the University of North Texas and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in Fashion Design. During her education, Khanh’s most notable recognition was the “Top Achievement Award at the Dallas Career Day Design Competition,” allowing her the opportunity to embark on an internship in Paris, France. Upon her return to Dallas, Nguyen started her own fashion firm, Nha Khanh. The company was officially established in January 2010. Design and production of the line are all based in Dallas, Texas, while the sales, marketing and public relations of the collection are based in New York City.
“I’m very much looking forward to the conversation that will come out of such a diverse panel. Our individual paths have been unusual and unpredictable, so who can guess where this dialogue will go.”
Patrick Wang is a graduate from MIT with a degree in Economics and a concentration in Music and Theatre Arts. Wang has become a well-known theatre and film director. He recently released his first feature film, In the Family, to critical praise. As an economist, he has studied energy policy, game theory, and income inequality at the Federal Reserve Bank, the Harvard School for Public Health and other organizations. As a theatre director, he has specialized in classical verse drama (world premiere of Diane Arnson Svarlien’s translation of Medea) and new works (Surviving the Nian, Jonathan Larson Award).
“This is the first time ATG has hosted a speakers panel for the sole purpose of community outreach and education. Bringing together Asian American leaders of this caliber and diversity from all over the country to come to Dallas to share their experiences, perspective and insights is a rare opportunity. They are all groundbreakers in their own right and have amazing stories to share. We can learn so much from them and walk away inspired by what we can achieve as a community. ATG is also so excited to partner with the wonderful team at the Crow Collection of Art to give a beautiful backdrop to our event.”
Tammy Nguyen Lee is a passionate producer, filmmaker and actor who founded ATG with her family as a result of her own experience as an American actor and filmmaker, fueled by the determination to give other Asian Americans a creative outlet, while raising awareness for Asian American issues and aid for worthy causes. Nguyen Lee graduated with a B.A. in Cinema from Southern Methodist University and earned a M.F.A. from the elite UCLA Producer’s Program. She produced/directed her first feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, an independent passion project that took nearly 5 years to produce and won the Audience Choice Award at the 2009 Vietnamese International Film Festival and Philadelphia Asian Film Festival. She has worked extensively in film/television production and has overseen the development and marketing of a heavy slate of non-fiction television series and documentary programs for major cable networks. In 2010, she was honored with SMU’s prestigious Distinguished Alumni Emerging Leader Award. Now, as a new mom, Nguyen Lee’s focus is on her family, growing ATG and continuing to work as an actor, film/television producer and development consultant.
ATG Against The Grain Productions, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to producing films, media, programs and events that promote awareness and unity of Asian American culture, artistry and identity. Signature events are Cocktails for a Cause and Fashion for a Passion, as well as the Artistic Scholarship fund. Their premiere documentary feature, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, has received the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film at the Vietnamese International Film Festival and the Documentary Audience Choice Award from the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival. For more information, visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com or www.TheBabylift.com.