The Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) recognized its honorees on October 25th at the inaugural Catalyst for Change Benefit and Awards Gala, hosted in espace (635 West 42nd Street). Bringing together over 300 community advocates and professionals across industries, Catalyst for Change was a celebration not only of CACF’s dedication to empowering Asian Pacific American children and families, but also of those whose work and leadership have transformed lives and communities. Proceeds from the gala benefit CACF’s leadership training programs and policy and advocacy campaigns.
CACF Co-Executive Director Vanessa Leung states, “CACF is building a movement, and we cannot do this on our own. We create strong coalitions of organizations to establish a unified pan-Asian voice for change. We build social justice leaders by training on the skills to identify community issues, develop solutions, and influence change.”
CACF Co-Executive Director Anita Gundanna adds, “We envision an Asian Pacific American (APA) community with strong leaders who understand our community’s strengths and challenges, and who are willing to push for change and address inequities. This evening, we are celebrating honorees that reflect CACF’s guiding principles of fostering collaboration, promoting community leadership, and building collective voice.”
Lisa Ling is currently the executive producer and host of “THIS IS LIFE”on CNN. Previously, she was the executive producer and host of OWN’s “Our America,” a field correspondent for “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” and the first female host of National Geographic’s “Explorer.”
Suyin So is the founder and executive director of Central Queens Academy Charter School, whose student outcomes have distinguished it as the highest performing charter school in Queens. “To be recognized by CACF, our community’s staunchest advocate for health and family policy equity, is a deep honor,” she thanks. “I congratulate my fellow distinguished honorees on their accomplishments on behalf of our community and CACF on its groundbreaking work.”
The founder of Practice for Architecture and Urbanism and author of “A Country of Cities: A Manifesto for an Urban America,” Vishaan Chakrabarti teaches architectural design studios and urbanism seminars at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. “I am humbled to receive this wonderful award, among extraordinary fellow honorees, from this great organization so dedicated to the well-being of our youth in this great, but challenged, metropolis,” Vishaan shares. “These are trying times for all of us, particularly those of us who feel some sense of otherness; CACF reminds us that we are all in this together.”
Founded by Sayu Bhojwani in 2010 in direct response to anti-immigrant state policies, The New American Leaders Project trains first- and second-generation Americans to run for office and govern effectively once elected, fostering national discourse around inclusive democracy.
Sayu says, “I am excited to be honored by the CACF, who shares our mission to create systems for long-lasting impact on Asian Pacific American and immigrant communities.”
Emcees for the evening were Ernabel Demillo, Reporter/Host of “Asian American Life” and Contributing Reporter for “Arts in the City” and “Science and U” on CUNY-TV; and CeFaan Kim, Reporter on WABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News. A live auction and a pledge auction led by auctioneer Charles Antin took place after the awards ceremony.
The Catalyst for Change 2017 Benefit and Awards Gala was sponsored in large part by the Ong Family Foundation, Abigail E. Disney & Pierre Hauser, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Edward Pauly & Barbara Turvett. Please visit www.cacf.org for more information.
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.
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