Tag: Khanh Nguyen

Asian American Groundbreakers Inspire Leadership in ATG Panel Discussion

Rebekah Kim (right) receives 2012 Sunna Lee Leadership Scholarship from Sunna Lee (left)

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.

2012 Groundbreakers Panel (left to right): Patrick Wang, Sunna Lee, Dr. Sam Lam, Khanh Nguyen, Ramey Ko, Nur Ali, Rebekah Kim, Tammy Nguyen Lee

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.”

Event photos are provided courtesy of Saru Photography and can be viewed at the ATG Flickr site. To read about ATG’s upcoming events, please visit https://againstthegrainproductions.com/events.

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.

ATG Brings Together Asian American Leaders for Inaugural Groundbreakers Speak Panel Discussion


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:

Nur Ali

“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.

Rebekah Kim

“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.

Ramey Ko

“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.

Dr. Sam Lam

“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.

Sunna Lee

“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.

Khanh Nguyen

“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.

Patrick Wang

“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).

Tammy Nguyen Lee

“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.



Asian American Designers Showcase Collections at Fashion for a Passion

Proceeds from charity fashion show to benefit international orphanages

DALLAS, TX – Dallas nonprofit ATG Against The Grain Productions presents the 2nd Annual Fashion For A Passion from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 25 at LandCo/7 Senses located at 1202 N. Riverfront (formerly Industrial) in Dallas, Texas. The event will showcase collections from emerging Asian American designers Khanh Nguyen for Nhã Khanh, Nikki Duong Koenig for Cykochik, Lyly Thanh Koenig for Lyly Thanh, Prashi Shah for Prashe and Judy Yang. This year’s event will also feature the collection of Chloe Dao, Season 2 winner of Project Runway, with the designer in attendance. In addition to the fashion showcase, there will be musical acts, as well as an exhibition of work by local Asian American artists.  The event also features a live auction of pieces from each fashion designer’s collection, with the proceeds to benefit orphanages in Vietnam and ATG’s community outreach initiatives.

FFAP Presenting Designer Chloe Dao

In 2009, ATG showcased the designs of budding designers Kim Phuong Pham, Lizzi London, Aiden Vo and Khanh Nguyen, all of who have now gone on to start successful careers in the industry.  ATG also raised more than $5,000 to aid needy orphanages in Vietnam.

Returning designer Khanh Nguyen, a graduate from UNT, said, “Participating in Fashion for a Passion in 2009 was definitely a turning point in my career.  The event was also where and when I learned the meaning of receiving and giving back.” After Fashion for a Passion, she became a Woman That Soar Honoree, recipient of the Brilliant You Award and her work was featured in La Mode and D Magazine. Added Nguyen, “Against The Grain Productions not only allowed me to connect with my native country, but it also helped me to realize the importance of charity work. I loved the experience, the effort and the energy that everyone put in to make the show happen. I am very honored and thrilled to be back to showcase my new collection this year!”

FFAP Presenting Designer Khanh Nguyen

ATG President/Founder Tammy Nguyen Lee, a graduate of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts, said, “I’m so proud to hear and see lives changed like this as a result of our organization’s efforts.  We founded Against The Grain with the mission to provide that essential support to Asian American artists and promote and share our community’s young talents, and we hope that our hard work continues to result in success stories like Khanh Nguyen’s. Compounded with the nationwide praise for our first documentary Operation Babylift: The Lost Children of Vietnam, it has been a tremendous year.”

FFAP event tickets range from $40-$50, and sales for the event start in mid August online at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com. VIP/Sponsorships are still available. 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. 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.

Fashion for a Passion Designers: The Concept/Inspiration

Fashion For A Passion is just around the corner and the designers are getting ready. In the coming months leading up to the event, we’ve asked each designer to give us a sneak peak into their collection, and to highlight the behind-the-scenes creation of one of the signature looks that will be auctioned off that night. Here are some concepts and inspirations from a few of our designers:

Lyly Koenig of Lyly Thanh

“I am inspired by my recent trip to Vietnam — Vietnam as a whole, especially the children, and the colors found in Vietnam. I’ve included some random images that I took while in Vietnam. These photos are the most inspiring to me. They reflect the happiness that the people of Vietnam have about their lives. Vietnam is prospering, growing at a rapid rate. I hope to capture the prosperity, happiness and colorfulness of Vietnam in this collection.”

Judy Yang for JudYang

“The painting title is called “Hot Pursuit.” The bright color really speaks to me – feminine, yet very strong and defined lines. I think the direction I am going with this collection will be playful, with swirls and circles.

Khanh Nguyen for Nha Khanh

Nikki Duong Koenig for Cykochik (Congrats on your recent nuptials, Nikki!)

For the “special edition bag,” my inspiration is from my wedding colors and flowers.

For more information on this event and how you can sponsor or volunter, please visit www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com.

Fashion For A Passion–SUCCESS!

Thank you so much to our sponsors, volunteers, models, designers, Board and guests for supporting us and making Fashion For A Passion an enormous success!

Emceed by the lovely Tina Craig (of BagSnob.com) and David Ninh (Fashion reporter for Dallas Morning News F! D Luxe) we had a great turnout of over 270 people and exceeded our fundraising goal! The night featured beautiful designs by Freedom Parc, Aiden Vo, Kim Phuong Pham, Khanh Nguyen and Lizzi London. Thank you to the designers for donating your time in efforts. Without you, the show could not have been possible, and congratulations to Aiden for his recent acceptance into the elite Parsons School of Design in New York City!

Thank you to everyone again! No amount of words could express how grateful we are for your endless help and support. Please visit our Flickr page to see photos from the event. Special thanks to our photographers David Loi, Jacob Fakheri, Daniel Song, and Hubert Duong for capturing our event with your wonderful photography talents and to Ryan Youngblood and Alex Hughes of Trench Films for your videography and compelling PSA.

Design by Kim Phuong Pham. Photo courtesy of Hubert Duong.
Design by Kim Phuong Pham. Photo courtesy of Hubert Duong.
Design by Khanh Nguyen. Photo courtesy of David Loi.
Design by Khanh Nguyen. Photo courtesy of David Loi.
Design by Aiden Vo. Photo courtesy of Hubert Duong.
Design by Aiden Vo. Photo courtesy of Hubert Duong.
Design by Lizzi London, Photo courtesy of Daniel Song
Design by Lizzi London. Photo courtesy of Daniel Song.

Fashion For A Passion

ATG is currently gearing up for our spring charity event — Fashion For A Passion!


Fashion for a Passion


The event will showcase collections by local emerging and established Asian American designers Aidan Vo, Kim Phuong Pham, Khanh Nguyen, Lizzi London and will include the latest trends from women’s retailer Freedom Parc. Proceeds will go to benefit needy orphanages in cities across Vietnam.

The night brings together leaders in the Asian American community, including co-emcees Tina Craig (fashion blogger of Bagsnob.com) and David Ninh (fashion reporter for Dallas Morning News F!D Luxe),with appearances by Miss Asian American Texas Allyn Hoang and Miss Vietnam Dallas/Ft. Worth Alex Tran.  Says Craig, “Fashion for a Passion is a cause that really touches my heart because my role as a mother surpasses all of my fashion endeavors. This is the perfect opportunity for me to give back and touch the lives of Vietnamese children through fashion.” Ninh adds, “Asian designers are making their mark in American fashion and I am particularly proud to be a part of this event. It’s wonderful to see emerging local talent grow and blossom during such an exciting time.”


ATG President Tammy Nguyen Lee believes Fashion for a Passion will be an innovative showcase to educate and entertain the community about Asian American culture. “Fashion is an extension of our individuality and style, no matter our age, gender, status or ethnicity. Each of our designers has a unique background and perspective to share, and this venue will provide an exciting means to highlight local design talents, while raising money for a worthy cause.” 




The event features models from Kim Dawson, Campbell Wagner and Page Parkes agencies strutting the runway in a mix of signature women’s casualwear, party-wear and couture gowns. In addition to the fashion show, guests will be treated to food,drinks, music and also have the opportunity to bid on select designs for charity.

The event lasts from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at LandCo/7 Senses in the trendy Dallas Design District.  Tickets are $40 by March 14th  and $45 by the week of or at the door. Get your tickets today!