Category: Community Outreach

2020 Virtual SEAPI Heritage Camp Recap

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asian Pacific Islander (SEAPI) Camp in Colorado ran a little bit differently. From August 7-8, 2020, ATG Ambassadors Nikki Duong Koenig and Carol Nguyen presented a virtual workshop for high school campers that centered around Art Therapy. It was wonderful to see many returning families during the opening and closing ceremonies – families joined from all over the United States, as well as from Hawaii and France. Founding Board Member/Advisor, Jared Rehberg, performed a special song that he wrote for camp this year. During our 1.5 hour workshop, we spent the first part catching up with the campers and what they did, what they accomplished, and what they enjoyed over the summer. We then discussed the Elements and Principles of Design to help them to express their feelings through a timed art session, while we discussed tougher topics pertaining to the current pandemic. Every camper was assigned a word, and after the art session, we asked them to guess the 2 full phrases, “Use your voice to speak up for others,” and “Every voice is an important part of the conversation.” We had 2 lucky winners!

During the last portion of our workshop, we showed examples of how our previous featured entertainers and designers have been using their time/talent/resources to give back in this time of quarantine and isolation. We also included ways the campers (and their parents) can help in a tough situations related to bullying, as well as list resources they able to read in order to educate themselves on the issues of racial equity.

At the end of camp, the organizers were proud to conclude by sharing the collage we made during our workshop, which was a wonderful way for the high school campers to act as role models for younger campers and give everyone a quotable takeaway. Below are a few screenshots we took during the weekend!

Opening Ceremony


Location of Campers

Jared Rehberg Performing

High School Art Therapy Workshop – Final Collage Piece

2019 Heritage Camp Recap – “Sights and Sounds of SEAPI”

Opening Ceremony at Assembly Hall

ATG Co-Director of Community Outreach Hue Dao and Ambassador Carol Nguyen returned to participate as workshop presenters at the Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp (SEAPI) on August 1-4. This is their shared experience at camp and how the ATG team made an impact on this year’s events.

“We were given such a warm welcome on our return to SEAPI Heritage Camp this year. Many organizers and parents were excited to be assigned to help us teach NINE workshops throughout the weekend. We were told that being ATG assistants are a coveted role each year! This was the first time we were teaching in the Longhouse cabin, which was a challenging space due to it not being a true kitchen. However, our coordinator Kristi Kremer made sure we had everything we needed way in advance, and the space was set-up with butane burners, pans, and all the cooking utensils for class.

We taught a diverse range of ages, 1st graders to high schoolers, and a few cooking classes for adults. The theme for 2019 was “Sights & Sounds of SEAPI,” so we spoke about how along with our sense of taste, the senses of sight and hearing also play important roles in how we enjoy eating food. The goal was for everyone to make and decorate a stuffed rice balls that would then be judged on use of color, texture, and creativity. Some of the techniques we taught were how to flip food in a pan, seasoning the filling, stuffing the rice balls, and prepping veggies a variety of ways to enable fun decorations. We were even taught our adult campers how to make puffed rice noodles! The process for each workshop included: 1) make the stuffed rice balls, 2) decorate the base and anchor of the plate, 3) decorate the rice balls. We were so impressed by all the fun creations (many cute animals)! We were touched when several parents came to us afterwards to say that their kids were excited to try making them together at home. After our final workshop, we still had toasted almonds left, so we taught an impromptu class on how to make a smoky/salty almond brittle.

Songkran Time!

The schedule on Saturday allowed a few free hours for Hue to participate in the annual and epic Songkran (water balloon fight)! The ability to breathe in fresh air, view mountains in the background, and delightfully chuck a water balloon at your camp bestie as they are distracted while refilling their water canon — pure delight.

As the camp continues to grow and incorporate more culture from other countries in Southeast Asia and Pacific Islands, we continually meet and connect with other organizations and families that help bring authenticity to the camp. On Friday night, we were invited to the Thai cabin, and were treated to a delicious homemade meal of larb and Thai beef jerky. After a lovely conversation that lasted well into the evening, their generosity extended to giving us their extra garlic for our workshop, and a full bag of homegrown mint. On Saturday, we were invited to the Filipino cabin for a traditional boodle fight. The preparation for this bounty had taken all day and included fresh fruits (pineapple, jack fruit, mangos), fried fish, panic, chicken adobo, beef and vegetable stir fry, lumpia, purple potato, stews, cassava cakes, and fried coconut mochi. It was a feast for our eyes and our souls. 

Packed room for the dragon dance!

The final night was as festive as ever. The gala showcased a huge team of dragon and lion dancers, a hip hop dance troupe from California, and a hilarious skit performed by the campers. The goodbyes were emotional as we see them all growing up each year, standing taller, and asking more poignant questions. As always, we were humbled to be asked to share our knowledge with Heritage Camp. But we will always lovingly play our part in teaching and encouraging pride in heritage and identity.”

Support our efforts at Camp by donating today!

Postcards from 2018 SEAPI Camp

In mid July, our ATG Tribe flew to Estes Park, Colorado to present at Southeast Asian/Pacific Islander Heritage Camp as a part of Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families. We are proud and honored to help adoptee youth spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities.

Here are some of their memories about this wonderful trip:

“Stronger side by side was the theme of the camp this year. We represented that theme weaving in the food, dances, culture and traditions at Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage (SEAPI) Camp. The parents and students all thoroughly enjoyed ATG’s cooking workshops taught by Carol, Hue and Jennifer. It was a hands-on approach that unified and differentiated the significant beef dishes of each country where campers are most represented at the camp – Bo Luc Lac from Vietnam, Bistec Tagalog from the Philippines and Nam Tok from Thailand. They also presented the class with alternatives to address food allergies and dietary restrictions. ATG team members Jimmy, Lisa and Hue also taught the “Honoring Your Child’s Vietnamese Culture.” With Hue’s adoption background, she was speaking to the parents from personal experience. Hue brought up things that she felt students wished they could tell their parents, from a place of cultural understanding and vulnerability. After coming seven years, she has been watching students grow from young campers to counselors and presenters of workshops themselves. It was fulfilling to see them pay it forward. ~ Hue Pederson (Co-Director of Community Outreach)

“Attending SEAPI Heritage Camp with my husband and three young children for the first time was a privilege and blessing. My husband, Jimmy, and I helped facilitate the cooking workshops as well as Co-presented on the topic of ‘Honoring My Child’s Vietnamese Heritage.’ Through those experiences, we were able to connect with adoptive parents who are invested in ensuring that their adoptive and biological children have an understanding and appreciation of their birth cultures. As the Co-Director of Community Outreach and Country Advisor to Thailand for ATG, this experience impacted me greatly and reignited my passion for serving an organization where one of its goals is to provide aid to orphanages in Southeast Asia. My husband and I are already committed to volunteer at next year’s camp!” ~ Lisa Tran (Co-Director of Community Outreach, Advisor – Thailand

“This was my 1st Heritage Camp and I enjoyed meeting people from many diverse perspectives — adoptees, siblings, parents, community volunteers and alumni (to name a few).  At some point, all our backgrounds blended into one another, allowing us to soak in the beautiful environment and the company of those around us.”  ~ Jimmy Tran (former Director of Community Outreach)

“It was so wonderful to have the ATG tribe back at SEAPI Camp. A diverse group of Asian Americans fit perfectly with this year’s camp theme, “Stronger Side By Side.” Over a span of four days, the tribe presented 10 workshops including cooking, dancing, Vietnamese culture and parenting. Thank you to Carol Nguyen, Hue Pedersen, Jimmy & Lisa Tran, Jennifer Devay and Bryan Florece. You are all the role models our kids need to help build their self esteem and educate them on their heritage.” ~ Jared Rehberg (Advisor and Vietnamese Adoptee)

ATG also gave two Heritage Camp Scholarships to Mai Miller and Alex Jantzen.


You can help us continue this important work by donating to help offset the costs of our team’s travel and expenses.


Meet Our 2018 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!

SEAPI Heritage Camp: (L to R)  Mai Miller, Carol Nguyen, Alex Jantzen, Jennifer Devany and Hue Pederson


ATG is Proud to Announce our 2018 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!

Alex Thanh Jantzen, 11

Overland Park, Kansas

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

It has several meanings. One of them is standing up for what you believe in – no matters what the others may think. Also, standing up for what is right. When you sand or saw wood, you can go against the grain. It’s OK to be different from others.


How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

In my family, I stand out because I look different. Some kids who don’t know my family don’t realize that my sister and I are actual siblings – because I’m adopted.  Not following the crowd when they laugh at another kid is another example of going against the grain. Standing for what’s right.



Mai Miller, 17

Longmont, Colorado

 What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

To me, ‘Against The Grain’ means not letting others stop you from being yourself. This includes standing up for what you believe in and not being afraid to be different.


How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?
I go ‘Against The Grain’ by embracing my Vietnamese heritage. I am very proud to have been adopted from Vietnam and am always eager to share Vietnamese culture with others. Additionally,  I go ‘Against The Grain’ by not letting the opinions of others affect what I enjoy doing. I feel comfortable with being myself and will continue to be who I am without worrying about following trends.




Samuel Dieu Schlumpf Butler, 10

Chicago, Illinois

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?

What “against the grain” means to me is feeling and being free to love myself without any urge to follow the crowd ; a feeling of freedom and happiness of who and what I am inside and to express the true “me.” It means that I am the only person that I truly want to be.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?

I can be, and am going against the grain by being myself and being happy and proud of what I think of myself instead of what others think of me. I can be who I want to and stick to it by being happy of myself. Then, I will make long lasting friendships with people who respect and appreciate who I am.

For example, a kid who used to think that I was “nerdy” and “weird” ended up actually rethinking and wanting to be my friend after I started dressing goofy because it tends to make me happy and comfortable throughout the day. The next day, he walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play with him and his friends at recess. I was amazed at what being myself could change other’s perspectives and feelings about me and how wonderful it felt to be myself. In conclusion, these long lasting friends over time can help others find themselves as well. So I guess I can say that being against the grain has changed my life and how I view myself.

Apply Today for the 2018 ATG Culture/Heritage Camp Scholarship

The 2018 Against The Grain Southeast Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Camp Scholarship application process is officially open! Following our support of orphanages and underprivileged children in Asia, Against The Grain also provides scholarships here at home to ten young Asian American adoptees each year to attend culture camps such as Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and Heritage Camps for Adoptive Families SEAPI (Southeast Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Camp). Last year, we raised $1,000, allowing ten youths to spend a few days in the summer connecting with their heritage, bonding with new friends and participating in enriching activities for this year’s Heritage and Culture Camps.


Eligibility: Proof of camp registration with Catalyst Foundation’s Vietnamese Culture Camp and HCAF SEAPI Heritage Camp. Sorry, past recipients are not eligible for this year’s scholarship.

Due Date: Saturday, July 1, 2018

Application: Simply submit the following in an email to

  1. Name of Applicant
  2. Age of Applicant
  3. City and State
  4. Photo of Applicant
  5. Question 1: What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me?
  6. Question 2: How do I go ‘Against The Grain’?



2017 Underprivileged Children and Orphanage Aid Update (Holiday): Thailand

Thanks to the help of our Ambassador, Nong Thangsaksathit, ATG was able to finish our final disbursement for the year to Thaplamu Safe Haven and Learning Center in the Phang-Nga province in southern Thailand. We were able to provide aid to 71 children from the ages of 3-10 years old. Aid was given in the form of clothes, nutritious food for school staff to prepare school lunch, milk, drinking water, supplementary food for small children, first aid kits and learning materials (stationary, textbooks, etc).

Nong’s report:

The pre-school in Thaplamu provide day-care and early education opportunity for undocumented Myanmar migrant children in Thaplamu district in Phang-Nga province. It is estimated that at least 10% (4 to 5 million people) of the Thai workforce are migrants, the majority coming from Myanmar. Myanmar migrants often bring their families with them and sadly, many children have been left behind when their parents get arrested and deported. Thai policy allows migrant children equal access to compulsory education; however, in most instances, migrant children are discriminated against in the Thai education system (mainly due to language barrier) and many parents cannot afford to enroll their children due to their economic difficulties. Most parents are working in fishing and construction sectors. The school depends on workers’ charity and partially parents’ contribution which are insufficient and not sustainable to even cover basic service. Children don’t have enough books and stationary for study. The school doesn’t have a proper classroom and in some months the school cannot afford to provide milk or lunch to children (in which normally children spare some lunch from school for their own dinner at home). This pre-school does not only provide education but also protection to the children as they will be very vulnerable at home when their parents are at work.

The kids were very happy and teachers and parents highly appreciated support from ATG. There was a little conversation, which I think it was cute and would like to share. We told children a bit about ATG in a very simple way, like they also helped other children in other countries… and there was a little girl said “now I know who ATG are; they are kind people from the other side of the sky.” 

Meet Our 2017 ATG Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners!


The ATG is proud to announce the 2017 Heritage and Culture Camp Scholarship Contest Winners.

Check out the winners.


Kaitlyn Fisher, 11, Parker, Colorado 

Against The Grain means to me, people asking questions regarding me being adopted, about my birth mom, and being Micronesian.  My life is not the same as my friends and I often times have to explain how it’s normal having an adoptive mom and a birth mom, and explain how despite I am Micronesian by ethic background, I was born in the United States. So many people think I am “from” somewhere else.

I am explain and teach people about my ethnic background and how I am really American because I was born in the United States, and how it’s okay to have both an adoptive mom and a birth mom.  I can love them both.  Attending Heritage Camp has taught me that I am not the only person adopted and have white parents.  I really am not different because there are many others just like me.


Madison Fisher, 11, Parker, Colorado 

Going Against The Grain means to me, doing things that other don’t expect me to do.

As a Micronesian American, I do a lot of sports and things that I don’t see other kids of my background participating in.  I have been swimming on a swim team since I was six years old and surprise people how well and how fast I swim.  Also, this year at school I tried out for Wendy in Peter Pan.  Despite I didn’t get the role, I didn’t let it stop me from trying.


Christian Nguyen Ebel, 11, Sulphur Bluff, Texas 

“Against The Grain” means to me, pushing it to the limit and going to the top of the mountain where there is a pot of gold, or falling to the bottom, where there is lava. It means trying your best and not giving up. It is also how you try. You have to put in a lot of effort, otherwise, it doesn’t work. If you fall in the lava, you FAIL, but in failing you learn succeeding. You learn to rethink it, to try again and to do it right. It’s like when you are progressing in life, you are becoming rich, not only in money, but rich in love and connecting with people. When you are not progressing, you are feeling depressed and sad. But you have to try, to keep going, keep moving forward. It’s like try, fail, try, fail, SUCCEED! Don’t be like everyone else, being you is right.

I went “Against The Grain” by taking an educational trip to India last year. I wanted to help the kids in the slums by raising money for them. It took a lot of trying – 3 whole months to make the campaign video. I fixed my mind on it and raised $6,000 for the trip and donated money to Manav Sadhna at the Gandhi Ashram. They serve underprivileged kids in Ahmedabad. I changed India by a small portion. I just wrote a book about my experience in India and will donate proceeds from my book to my friends’ film to stop human trafficking.


Maeve Doubleday-Bush, 11, Glenwood Springs, Colorado 

Going Against The Grain means to me, that you don’t always have to fit in. You can be different from the others and you don’t have to listen to the mean things that other people are saying about you or your friends. This is not easy, but you need to trust and follow your instincts even if it is tough. You can work it out. Find a way to have fun even if others don’t want to hang out with you. You know you are doing the right thing. It really is their issue not yours.

Do the right thing and follow my instincts even when it is truly difficult. I don’t break the rules. I like to follow the rules. If the rules make no sense or seem overly strict, then rather than break the rules I will figure out a way to get them changed or make them work. Sometimes my friends and the other kids will break the rules, it doesn’t mean that I will, even if my friends are upset with me. I won’t bend to peer pressure. I don’t let my friends talk me into doing something I know is not right. Sometimes it means I have to be alone or go play with different people but I know I am doing the right thing.


Ian Gahagan, 10, Wales, Wisconsin

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To me, against the grain means people should not care what heritage other people are from. It’s what’s inside that counts. If you see someone being racist, ignore them. They don’t know who you really are like the famous saying you can’t judge a book by its cover. That means you don’t know someone ’til you know them as a person, in person.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? How I go against the grain, is if I see someone being racist, I would say “How would you feel if someone did that to you and are you really making the right choice?” If it gets physical, use the self-defense we learned at Culture Camp. In all, go against the grain, don’t go with the crowd, but stand up for what is right.


Aran Balzer, 11, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? It means being different than other people.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can live my life according to what I think and know is right instead of worrying about what others think of me.


Maekhala Balzer, 9, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To make a difference in the world.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can be myself.


Tassanee Balzer, 9, Aurora, Colorado

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? To be different in a good way

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? I can make a difference in the world by helping people.


Keira Gahagan, 7, Wales, Wisconsin 

What does ‘Against The Grain’ mean to me? If people are doing something that’s not right, don’t do it and tell them they are making the wrong choice and why. If they don’t listen, I would get the adult that’s in charge and tell them that those kids are making the wrong choice.

If kids are doing something unsafe, I would tell them they should stop doing that because they could hurt themselves or trip and fall. If they don’t stop after I ask them twice, I would report it to a teacher because it was the wrong choice and it was unsafe.

How do I go ‘Against The Grain’? If someone is making fun of someone I would say “Hey, I think you’re hurting that person’s feelings. I think you should stop.” One day at school, my friend L. was having trouble pronouncing the words thirty-five. Six people were making fun of her pronouncing those words. I said “I think you are hurting her feelings. I think you should stop. I don’t think she likes it”. They didn’t stop. They kept making fun of how she was pronouncing it. My friend acted like she didn’t care and kept working. I told the teacher a few minutes later that I told them to stop, but they did not. Whenever I was around my friend L., and other kids were around her, I never heard or saw kids make fun of her for the rest of the year.


Meet Our 2016 ATG Scholarship Finalists

Through our Scholarship Program, ATG proudly awards Artistic, Groundbreaker Leadership, #LiveLikeLyly scholarships to a select group of amazing Asian American high school seniors, college undergraduate and graduate school students who are shining examples of what it means to go Against The Grain. Since 2011, we have awarded 30 scholarships. In 2015, we awarded ten to deserving students across the country – and look forward to doing the same in 2016!

Meet Our 2016 Scholarship Finalists:

ATG Artistic Scholarship

  • Angeline Young
  • Jamie Nguyen
  • Jihyun (Michelle) Kim
  • Kiana Ziegler
  • Maya de Leon
  • Mei Lu Barnum
  • Michelle Dominado
  • Sarah Yap
  • Tan Vu
  • Xian Boles

Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

  • Nicci Kelly
  • Angeline Young
  • Ben Chu
  • Ishan Sharma
  • Kristina Nguyen

#LiveLikeLyly Memorial Scholarship

  • Hao Trieu
  • Hsin-Roe Pan

Read more

Against The Grain Announces 5th Annual Groundbreakers Speak Panel


July 13, 2016 (DALLAS) – Dallas-based nonprofit Against The Grain Productions will host their 5th Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in the Emperors Ballrooms I & II in partnership with the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) at the NAAAP National Convention on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. This signature community event will bring together a diverse panel of remarkable Asian American industry leaders who will share their inspiring personal stories and paths to success.

To kick off the panel discussion, NAAAP National President Fabian De Rozario will provide introductory remarks. President/Co-Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee will moderate the panel saying, “We are thrilled to partner with NAAAP again to bring this inspirational event to a national platform of leaders. This year’s convention theme of “Going All In: Lead with Courage!” speaks to the spirit of many trailblazers and appropriately to all the superb panelists that we have selected to share their stories.”

General seating tickets are $25 and student tickets with valid ID are $15 and will be on sale now through Aug. 12 at

Introducing the 2016 Groundbreakers Speak panelists:

joey guilaJoey Guila – If laughter is medicine, comedian Joey Guila has your prescription. This San Francisco native brings happiness to any event just as long as you don’t pay him in rolls of nickels. A complete entertainer who takes you through a journey of Old School and New School, his multi-cultural style of comedy hits home for all audiences.

Before comedy, he was a licensed cosmetologist working at the Jose Eber Salon in Beverly Hills and voted “Most Macho Eyebrows.” He still laughs at the fact that he was the only straight Filipino hairdresser on Rodeo Drive. In 2003, Joey won the regional “Kings of Comedy” competition run by Latham Entertainment, the founder of “The Original Kings of Comedy,” which includes Bernie Mac, Cedric The Entertainer, D.L. Hughley and Steve Harvey. Joey was invited to perform with Latham Entertainment at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and the Universal Amphitheater in Hollywood.

Joey has done voice overs for the “Nutshack Cartoon” and has been featured on VH1, G4 Tech TV, Showtime (Pacific Rim Comedy with Edwin San Juan) and on HBO with P. Diddy’s comedy special. He was recently coast-to-coast on the Verizon APAHM Tour and the Headliner on The Filipino Kingz Tour. He has hosted two television shows on Myx TV called “That’s My Jam” and “Myx Rated,” which recently won a Telly Award. His past guests have been Justin Bieber, PitBull, Boyz II Men, Naughty By Nature, Jason Derulo and Amerie. Joey has also opened for Al B. Sure, Black Eyed Peas,The Jabbawockeez and Bruno Mars.

When he is not on tour, he enjoys eating rice four times a day and watching “The Brady Bunch” in Tagalog. Joey says he is living his dream and now wants to be the first Islander on “Cribs” to have a chandelier in his mobile home.

What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“I’m just excited to be a part of the artistic community, as far as ‘groundbreaking,’ that would just be my breakdancing name because I was chubby in the 80s.”

What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?
“I just hope to bring some joy, show off my new slippers and inspire anyone interested in living their dreams.”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”
“’Going Against The Grain’ to me means listening to the music of your soul and pumping up the volume.”

TiffanyTiffany Pham – Tiffany Pham is the Founder & CEO of Mogul, an award-winning worldwide platform connecting women to trending content, including stories, products and jobs that are personalized to their interests.

Tiffany was named one of “Forbes” “30 Under 30” in Media, “Business Insider” “30 Most Important Women Under 30” in Technology, “ELLE Magazine” “30 Women Under 30 Who Are Changing the World” and also the Recipient of the Cadillac “IVY Innovator” Award. She has spoken at the United Nations, Microsoft, Bloomberg, AOL, Harvard Business School, Wharton, Prudential, UCSD, Northeastern, Columbia and
in Dubai.

Among her many career accomplishments, Tiffany served as a Director of Business Development at CBS, for which she received the 2013 CBS Digital Media “All-Star” Award; worked with HBO, Credit Suisse, and Goldman Sachs; co-produced the hit feature film “Girlfriend”, “Child 31”, and “Hermit”, among others; oversaw the theatrical release of the film “Arcadia”; and served as Head of Marketing for the Beijing International Screenwriting Competition, launched with the Beijing government.

Tiffany served on the Board of Directors for No Limits Media, Board of Trustees for Provincetown Film Society, the Interactive & Technology Committee for WNET New York Public Media and the Business Committee for the New York City Ballet for the past six years. Tiffany is also an Advisor to YCombinator startup BuzzStarter.

Tiffany is the co-author of the book “From Business Strategy to Information Technology Roadmap: A Practical Guide for Executives and Board Members” (published by CRC Press). She is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School.

What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“At Mogul, being a Groundbreaker means carrying out our mission of enabling women to connect, share information and access knowledge from one another. Reaching 18 million women per week, across 196 countries and 30,470 cities, we are innovating to continue advancing gender equality and quality education.”

What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?
“I hope to share the story of Mogul and how others too can make a global impact on women through technology, talent and community.”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”
“‘Go Against The Grain’ means to believe in yourself and to hold on to your values, even as popular opinion around you differs.”

KhaiKhai Vu – Born in Vietnam in 1980, Chef Khai Vu came to the States at the young age of 11. His first love and passion has always been food. With his Grandmother’s cooking as his inspiration and his father growing him to be a successful businessman, his family’s shared love of food has paved the way for him to produce some of the most modern and high quality cuisine at his own kitchen District One Kitchen & Bar in Las Vegas today.

When Chef Vu is not enjoying a day of fishing or boating, chances are you can find him dining. Tasting foods from East to West around the world has given him the ability to grow his exquisite flavor palate, with which he shares his craft and love of food with everyone at District One.

Pho So 1, District One and Viet Noodle Le Pho are just a few of his ventures in his 18-year career as a chef and employ about 90 people. Excellence in food and customer service are the hallmarks of his business. Chef Vu’s view on life and food is to pursue what you love with a passion, and your hard work will definitely be worth it.

What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“I think a Groundbreaker is someone very passionate and assertive. Someone who is ready to take risks, to break ‘rules’ and to engage in competition. It’s like creating a new trail, even when you are afraid of heights.”

What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?
“By participating in this panel, I hope to encourage our generation to break our own eggshells and go out there chasing your dreams. This would be a great time to share my valuable lessons that I have learned in the restaurant industry. It would also be a wonderful opportunity to meet and greet with other Groundbreakers.”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”
“Allow us to come out of tradition and also see the value of our roots. Without our roots – from family to culture – we would not have a beginning, which is the grain that we grow from.”

MikiGreystone2016Miki Yamashita – Actress, comedian and lyric soprano Miki Yamashita is a singer and teaching artist with the Los Angeles Opera. She made her main stage debut in the role of Marcellina in “Figaro 90210”. With the LA Opera’s community engagement division, Miki has fused her New England Conservatory-trained voice with her unique comedy chops to perform roles as diverse as a hungry coyote, a grandmother bird spirit, and Turandot.

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Miki studied acting at Yale University and holds a B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College. Miki has performed the role of Connie Wong in the national tour of “A Chorus Line”, and the roles of Maria in “West Side Story” and Tuptim in “The King and I” in various respected regional theaters across the country.

At the Walt Disney World Resort, Miki performed full-time as an improvisational and sketch comedy performer and created the role of the Indian Maiden in the live production of “The Jungle Book” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Her one-woman show “The Geisha Next Door” has been presented at Upright Citizens’ Brigade in Los Angeles, and she continues to perform on many of LA’s comedy stages, such as Largo at the Coronet, IO West and ACME Comedy Theatre.

As a television actress, Miki has appeared in principal roles on “Law & Order”, “The Tonight Show”, “Jimmy Kimmel Live”, “One Life To Live” and “As The World Turns”. She is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors Equity Association and AGMA.

What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“To me, being a Groundbreaker means that I’m not afraid to do the things that people don’t expect me to do. As a performer, people mostly expect me to follow the standard procedure that most actors follow, which is to wait for others to provide me with opportunities to work and to practice my craft. But because I happen to be a performer who is Asian American, those opportunities are far too few. Therefore, I’ve had to learn how to be groundbreaking because I had no other choice than to take bold, consistent, unconventional action in order to create my own opportunities and shape a career.”

What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?
“I hope I will get some free snacks. I also hope that I can get the message out to other Asian Americans that as much as you or your parents might want to plan out every step of your journey, I can almost guarantee that there are going to be many twists and turns that are completely unexpected and that you should welcome those unpredictable aspects of your career and life path. It’s what will make you unusual and distinct. And in a world where a lot of people still think all Asians look alike, being unusual will be a huge plus.”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”
“If this question is not about eating carbs, I am not on board. I think it takes a lot of courage to speak up consistently whenever you see yourself needlessly excluded or you are made to feel invisible. In the entertainment industry, unlike other professional worlds, there are all kinds of loopholes that enable the exclusion of women and minorities. ‘Going Against The Grain’ means calling out the most powerful people in my industry whenever I see this happening. It also it means maintaining a level of excellence in so many different skills that when the rare opportunity arises that requires someone of my ethnicity, chances are I will be able to execute with confidence whatever skill they need me to perform.”

QuentinLeeGHDheadshotQuentin Lee – A member of the Producers Guild of America, Quentin has a long list of accomplishments under his belt, including director of six feature films: “Shopping for Fangs” (1997), “Drift” (2000), “Ethan Mao” (2004), “The People I’ve Slept With” (2009), “White Frog” (2012) and, most recently, “The Unbidden” (2016) featuring prominent Asian American actors such as John Cho, Randall Park, Tamlyn Tomita, James Shigeta, Booboo Stewart, Harry Shum Jr., Archie Kao and Michelle Krusiec.

Quentin’s films are noticeable for containing male lead characters who are Asian and gay, two minority groups generally not seen as lead characters in mainstream Hollywood films. Following this theme, he has produced “#1 Serial Killer” (2013) and “Big Gay Love” (2013). He is currently shooting an Internet reality documentary series called “Gay Hollywood Dad”, developing two Chinese features as a director and producing an independent American feature titled “Bullies.”

Also an accomplished writer, Quentin has published a novel “Dress Like a Boy” in 2000, which has received positive reviews in publications such as AsianWeek and XY Magazine. In October 2009, his graphic novel “Campus Ghost Story”, created in collaboration with artist John Hahn, was published by “Fresh Fear”, an imprint of Margin Films.

Born in Hong Kong, Quentin immigrated to Montreal, Canada, when he was 16. He attended UC Berkeley, Yale University and UCLA for his B.A. in English, M.A. in English and M.F.A. in Film Directing, respectively.

What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“Being an artist is a groundbreaker, and especially being a minority artist who constantly has to break grounds that no one has broken before.”

What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?
“I hope to bond with other Asian American artists and like minds and find strength and resources to continue doing what we do.”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”
“Going against traditional wisdom and markets and finding your own way… it’s necessary to be an artist.

diana tran-yuLT Diana Tran-Yu was a CEO of Comprehensive Cardiac Diagnostics & Wellness. She was a former director over five departments: Pharmacy, Private Branch Exchange Operators, Concierge/ Lobby, Pastoral Care, and Administrator of Investigational Research Board at HCA- West Houston Medical Center. She is an adjunct faculty, preceptor and board advisor to multiple schools and universities: ITT Technical Institute – Houston, HCC Coleman College for Health Sciences, San Jacinto College, University of Houston – School of Pharmacy, Texas Southern University – School of Pharmacy, The University of Texas – School of Pharmacy and multiple pharmacy schools all over the states. She has given multiple leadership presentations and motivational speaking engagements at graduate business schools: Jones Graduate School- Rice University, Texas A&M Health Science Center and at the Center of Vietnamese Culture “Trung Tam Van Hoa Viet Nam – Vinh Quy Bai To“, dedicated to honoring graduates.

She is an active member involved in many leadership committees of the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE-Southeast Texas Chapter) and  a former board member, Secretary & Treasurer of the Asian Healthcare Leaders Association (AHCLA). Over the years, she has mentored hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students. She is a proponent of the Drug Enforcement Agency in furthering their mission. She graduated from the DEA Citizens Academy, served as the DEA Houston Ambassador educating the public on OTC/prescription medications’ adverse outcomes and illegal drugs. She was a former TV medical segment show host for Vietnamese American Network (VAN-TV), former Radio Talk Show Host for Vietnamese American Broadcasting (VAB). She has received numerous awards and accolades for her work as an humanitarian activist and for her thousands of volunteer hours dedicated to serving the communities.

Dr. Tran- Yu also gives service to our country. She was commissioned as a Navy Reserve Lieutenant Medical Service Corps attached to the Expeditionary Medical Facility- Dallas One. She was then recalled to serve active duty in the Medical Officer Programs recruitment for the Navy Recruiting District Houston. She will now be transitioning to Navy Recruiting Command- Navy City Outreach Officer for the Southwest Region responsible for supporting mission of Navy awareness, diversity, and STEM SeaPerch programs of five Navy Recruiting Districts of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Phoenix which encompass serving a total of nine states.

She and her family fled Viet Nam at the age of six  years old. They had lived as refugees in Thailand and West Germany. She had immigrated to the States at the age of ten years old. Her Alma Mater are the University of Pacific- School of Pharmacy, Houston Baptist University for her Doctor of Pharmacy, Master of Science Healthcare Administration, MBA( Cert), and Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She speaks four languages.
What does it mean to you to be a Groundbreaker?
“In my humble opinion, being a Groundbreaker is one who embrace diversity talents via breaking through the walls of the status quo glass ceilings.”What do you hope to achieve by participating in this panel?

“What I hope accomplish by being on this Panel is to encourage others to reflect President John F. Kennedy’s quote, ‘My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what YOU can do for YOUR COUNTRY!’ It is my hope that attendees of this Convention go back to their daily professional life, to remember to give back. Whether they are making a difference to one or of a mass in millions; what ever they choose to do, remember to GIVE Back to the community, society as a whole, and their Beloved Country – The United States of America!”

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

“‘Going Against The Grain’, I believe, is the hallmark of a successful leader in taking the road less traveled. I value the impact that I am not just following the crowd, but forging the way to taking maverick high risks, create a vision that others may see as not the norm, and enroll others along the way to this unconventional journey of Courageous Leadership!”

About ATG Against The Grain Productions, Inc.

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 and underprivileged children. In addition to hosting outreach events, it also awards annual scholarships to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG produced the feature documentary, Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, which has screened at more than 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 or #ATGProds #GroundbreakersSpeak2016 #beCAUSE

New Community Partners AREAA DFW and The Source of Hope!


ATG Board at the 2016 AREAA DFW Board Initiation and Charity Gala 01/29

We are thrilled at Against The Grain to partner with two North Texas organizations – AREAA DFW (Asian Real Estate Association of America of DFW) and The Source of Hope! Our community partners are nonprofits and governmental institutions who support Against The Grain Productions’ mission through collaboration, cross-promotion and program co-hosting. Read more