On Saturday, August 6, 2011, it was party central in the Grand Hyatt Hotel Ballroom in New York, where actress and activist Tamlyn Tomita and playwright David Henry Hwang co-emceed the 2011 National OCA Convention Awards Gala. OCA, a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), held their 2011 National Convention, Advocacy Through Compassion – A New York State of Mind, from August 4-7, 2011 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
President of Ursinus College, Dr. Bobby Fong and actor, BD Wong received OCA Pioneer Awards; Tammy Duckworth received the OCA Outstanding Citizen Achievement Award. Astria Wong, OCA-Greater Phoenix, Kwong Eng, OCA-New York, Nancy Woo, OCA-Greater Sacramento, Peggy Chen, OCA-Westchester & Hudson Valley, Rita Chu, OCA-St. Louis, Sam Luk, OCA-Greater Los Angeles were among this year’s OCA Unsung Heroes Awards honorees.
2011 Pioneer Awards Honorees
Dr. Bobby Fong is the President of Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. He attended Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He later earned a doctorate in English Literature from the University of California-Los Angeles in 1978. His academic career began at Berea College in Kentucky, where he taught from 1978 to1989. In 2001 he became President of Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana, one of only 20 Asian-American college presidents in the United States. Active in many higher education associations, Dr. Fong is Vice Chair of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and serves on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the American Council for Education’s National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation, and on the board of the Lingnan University Foundation.
BD Wong is a multi-award winning actor whose work includes theater, television, and film. He is the only actor ever to have received all five major New York Theater awards for his Broadway debut in “M. Butterfly.” He played Dr. George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist and expert on the criminal mind, on the top-rated series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for eleven seasons. Wong also gained notice as a cast regular on HBO’s critically acclaimed series Oz, playing the resilient prison priest Father Ray for five seasons. Wong’s film credits include Jurassic Park, Father of the Bride (1 & 2), and Seven Years in Tibet. He can also be heard as the voice of Shang in the Disney animated films Mulan and Mulan II. Wong’s community work has also been recognized by Asian AIDS Project, GLAAD, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
2011 OCA Outstanding Citizen Achievement Award Honoree
Tammy Duckworth, a Major in the Illinois Army National Guard, served in Iraq as an Assistant Operations Officer and also flew combat missions as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot. During a mission north of Baghdad in 2004, her aircraft was ambushed and a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter she was co-piloting. She continued to attempt to pilot the aircraft until passing out from blood loss. As a result of the attack, Duckworth lost both of her legs and partial use of one arm. For her actions, she received several awards, including the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, and the Combat Action Badge. Since her recovery at Walter Reed, Duckworth has dedicated her life to public service, advocating on behalf of disability rights and Veterans. In 2008, she was selected by Candidate Obama to deliver the presidential campaign’s key address on Veterans’ rights at the Democratic National Convention. In 2009, she was named as an American Veterans (AMVETS) Silver Helmet award recipient as well as The George Washington University’s Colin Powell Public Service Award Recipient.
The 2012 OCA National Convention will be held in Las Vegas next year, and the Las Vegas Chapter rolled out the welcome mat and unveiled a hilarious short video to entice members to attend.
The last OCA convention I attended was in Atlanta in 2000, when I received the OCA 2000 Chinese American Journalist Award, for an article I wrote about my mother, Bev Umehara, a union labor activist. It was great to be reunited with so many friends and colleagues, including two of my favorite men David and BD, who are featured in my “In Rehearsal” Display of photos, drawn from the Lia Chang Theater Portfolio in the Asian Reading Room at the Library of Congress, from July 20-August 2, 2011. Special thanks to Samantha Chang and Jennifer Oh.
Click here for More OCA Awards Gala Dinner Photos