Press Release

Press Release: August 10, 2019

National Association of Asian American Professionals to Honor Outstanding Leaders

First-Ever NAAAP Pride Award Will Be Presented Among Organization’s Highest Honors at Red Carpet Gala Sponsored by United Airlines in Kansas City

[KANSAS CITY, MO. August 10, 2019] – A diverse, outstanding cohort of leaders who have furthered the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community’s vision and mission will be honored at a red carpet gala closing the annual NAAAP Leadership Convention in Kansas City, Missouri on August 24th.

The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), a leadership development organization serving the AAPI community with a broad range of professional and educational services for more than 30 years, will pay tribute to these leaders for their extraordinary leadership and contributions through the NAAAP100 Recognition Program, a prestigious annual leadership award.

Sponsored by United Airlines, the NAAAP100, Inspire, and – for the first time – the NAAAP Pride Award, are NAAAP’s highest honors granted to those, who through their life’s work or a recent endeavor, have elevated the AAPI cause and amplified voices of the community in their respective fields.

“This year’s recipients are as diverse as they are exceptional; NAAAP is grateful to United Airlines for sponsoring this year’s awards and is thrilled to invite you to get to know our NAAAP100, Inspire, and NAAAP Pride honorees, at the Multifaceted Gala,” said Cyndy Yu-Robinson, NAAAP Executive Director.

The Multifaceted Gala will cap a three-day Leadership Convention featuring dozens of speakers from all walks of life, encouraging participants to broaden their view of business and community leadership and lead boldly wherever life takes them.

The Gala, located at the Arvest Bank Theater at the Midland, will feature red carpet arrivals, a cocktail reception, live entertainment, a silent auction, a three-course gourmet dinner program, and an after-party till midnight.

NAAAP Pride Award Winner Telly Leung will be featured along with other entertainers, including Three Trails Taiko, The Butcher’s Son Ensemble/Vi Tran Band, The Burnt Ends from The Heartland Men’s Chorus, and Anu Bhatt. A special VIP meet and greet experience with Telly Leung is available.

NAAAP100 Honorees 
In 2008, NAAAP began a program to recognize the most exemplary leaders in the AAPI community. The NAAAP100 award is granted annually to luminaries in their respective field who, in addition to their considerable professional achievements, have made powerful contributions to elevating the AAPI cause. Previous award winners include the late Senator Daniel Inouye, Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi, Superbowl MVP Hines Ward, and playwright David Henry Hwang.

Lhakpa Tenzing Sherpa is the founder of the Apa Sherpa Foundation, dedicated to the improvement of education and economic development in Nepal.

Hitesh Ramchandani, though born with cerebral palsy, became a Paralympic medal winner with the Singapore Cerebral Palsy Football Team. In April 2015, Hitesh authored his autobiography, “Better Than Normal,” which has sold more than 15,000 copies worldwide.

Mia Frances Yamamoto. Born Michael Francis Yamamoto in Poston Relocation Camp in Yuma County, Arizona, in 1943, Yamamoto is the co-founder of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Southern California; co-founder and current co-chair of the Multi-Cultural Bar Alliance (a coalition of 17 minority, women’s and LGBT bar associations); and founding board member of International Bridges to Justice, a human rights group providing due process education and advocating against investigative torture in the judicial systems in China, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.

Rachelle Arizmendi is the first person and woman of color to be elected to the City of Sierra Madre City Council in California. She was selected by her colleagues to serve as Mayor in 2017 and was recently re-elected to her second term. In 2018, she was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World by FWN.

NAAAP Inspire Award Honoree 
In 2016, NAAAP created a program to recognize our most promising up-and-coming leaders in the Asian community. Over time, this award has grown to recognize leaders who have made a notable departure from their usual work to utilize their platform in affecting positive change in an unexpected way. Like NAAAP100 honorees, these NAAAP Inspire honorees have had a significant impact in business, government, or nonprofits.

Nydia Han is an Emmy award-winning journalist specializing in consumer investigations. She is also a news anchor, TEDx speaker, Speaker Who Dares, and creator of the documentary series, #ThisIsAmerica, a fresh, provocative look at who we are as Americans.

NAAAP Pride Award Honoree 
In 2018 NAAAP Pride was officially launched as a national program to empower, educate, engage, and celebrate the Asian American LGBTQ+ professional community and its allies by providing education, promoting visibility, and developing current and future LGBTQ+ leaders. To celebrate the first anniversary of NAAAP Pride, the NAAAP Pride Award was established to honor an influential leader in the Asian American LGBTQ+ community who has made significant contributions in advancing LGBTQ+ leadership, equality, and visibility.

Telly Leung is a singer, songwriter, actor, producer and influential leader in the Asian American LGBTQ+ community. He most recently starred in the title role of Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theater. Other Broadway and national touring credits include Flower Drum Song, Pacific Overtures, Wicked, the final company of Rent, Godspell, Allegiance, and In Transit. Telly has performed live all over the world and has appeared on television in “Glee” (Fox), “Instinct” (CBS), “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” (NBC), among other shows. He was also heavily featured in the PBS documentary Broadway Or Bust as a teacher and performance coach for the Jimmy Awards.

Detailed biographies and photos are available at

For Gala ticket packages and information, visit A portion of the evening’s proceeds will go to support NAAAP Pride and the Kansas City Center for Inclusion.

The Leadership Convention will feature a free Diversity Career Fair on Aug. 23 from 11 a.m. To 4 p.m. Visit for registration and details. For Leadership Convention registration and detailed information about speakers, program, and entertainment, visit

About NAAAP 
The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is the premier leadership organization for Asian professionals in North America, with 30 chapters, several thousand active members, and a reach of more than 20,000 professionals. Since 1982, NAAAP has operated as a nonprofit to inspire, develop, and connect leaders in all major industries and countless communities through professional development and community service. For more information, please visit

Press Release: June 7, 2019

Professionals Are Challenged to Embrace the Unconventional and “Lead Boldly”

The Leadership Convention, presented Aug. 22-24 in Kansas City by NAAAP,
explores pushing the boundaries of what it means to lead.

[KANSAS CITY, Mo. June 7, 2019] – Leadership, once the sole province of the C-Suite, now takes many forms, titles and disciplines in today’s world of business. Kansas City will be the epicenter for a national discussion about ways to promote creative, diverse and effective leadership at the Leadership Convention, presented by the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP).

“The Leadership Convention welcomes those who aspire to push the boundaries of what it means to lead,” said Junann Lopez, NAAAP Kansas City president. “People from all professional and cultural backgrounds are welcome to connect with and be inspired by our event, which features unconventional leaders, creative visionaries, and bold disruptors from across the nation.”

“We view this convention as an opportunity for aspiring leaders to learn from people who lead in many ways and disciplines–from entertainers to CEOs to designers. People can be effective leaders from many paths, and we want to help people become the leader that others want to follow,” said John Ong, NAAAP KC Board Member. “Attendees will see we have so many things for them to experience here at the event in Kansas City. We are working to make them feel inspired, empowered and fired up.”

The NAAAP Kansas City chapter will co-host the 2019 Convention, ERG Summit, and Diversity Career Fair at the   located in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri.

The three-day event begins with an Employee Resource Groups (ERG) Summit on Thursday, Aug. 22, continuing with a Diversity Career Fair on Aug. 23rd and a stunning line-up of inspiring speakers and thought-provoking workshops Aug. 23rd and 24th. The Convention concludes with a spectacular Gala featuring the NAAAP 100 and Inspire Awards, presented by United Airlines, recognizing the most exemplary leaders in the Asian community on the evening of the   The event will also feature the inaugural presentation of the NAAAP Pride award.

The Diversity Career Fair is on Aug. 23rd from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public regardless of NAAAP membership or cultural background. The Diversity Career Fair convenes more than 25 recruiters for diversity-minded Fortune 500 companies, federal and state agencies, and local organizations in one place to meet diverse talent with grand ambitions.

The Leadership Convention boasts an eclectic lineup of unconventional leaders, disruptors, and creative thinkers across a variety of industries, sharing their experiences and philosophy of leadership.

Fans of the hit Fox comedy-drama series Glee will thrill to a musical performance by actor, singer and songwriter Telly Leung. Leung is known for his work in musical theatre on Broadway and for his role as Wes, a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers on Glee. In 2015, Leung returned to Broadway in the musical Allegiance alongside co-stars George Takei and Lea Salonga. He recently played the titular character in the Broadway production of Aladdin.

There will also be an opportunity for a special meet and greet with Leung at the event.

The Convention keynote speaker is Simon Tam. Tam is the founder and bassist of The Slants, the world’s first and only all Asian-American dance rock band. Tam has been a keynote speaker, performer, and presenter at more than 1,200 events across four continents, including TEDx, SXSW, and Comic-Con. His work has been highlighted in more than 3,000 media features across 150 countries including The Daily Show with Trevor NoahNPRBBC, New York Times, and Rolling Stone. He was named a champion of diverse issues by the White House, and has received many accolades for his notable work. Simon is also the author of the upcoming memoir, “Slanted: How an Asian American Troublemaker Took On The Supreme Court.”

Other speakers include:

  • Jon Cook, Global CEO of VML&YR
  • Sabrina Wiewel, Senior VP & Chief Customer Officer of Hallmark Greetings
  • Katerina Jing, co-founder and CEO of Slant’d
  • Stella Guan, Award-winning visual designer and founder of Path Unbound
  • Suba Nadarajah, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Designer, World Traveler, and Photographer at VMLY&R
  • Candi Castleberry Singleton, VP of Diversity Partnership Strategy & Engagement at Twitter and Founder of the award-winning Dignity & Respect Campaign
  • Ginny Cheng, Recruiting Director, Zillow Group & Career Coach, Career Contessa

Numerous other speakers will present throughout the three-day event. For a complete listing, please visit

Organizers invite Kansas City area professionals of all cultural backgrounds to register now to attend, network and contribute.

“The Leadership Convention is a fantastic opportunity for Kansas City. We’re excited to welcome hundreds of individuals from across the country and quite possibly outside the United States who will come together for three days with their attention focused on the Convention, its sponsors, and of course, our dynamic Kansas City,” said Michael Gonzales of the NAAAP Board of Directors. “This group of conventioneers will represent large and small corporations from a wide array of occupations and industries at all levels of the professional spectrum.”

The Leadership Convention appreciates the generous support of numerous sponsors. Diamond Sponsor is Hallmark. UPS is the Platinum Sponsor. Gold Sponsors are Bank of America, United Airlines, VMLY&R, Boeing, and Walmart. Silver Sponsors are ADP, CBRE, the Central Intelligence Agency, The Coca Cola Company, BNSF, Lilly, Mutual of Omaha, Nielsen, and Spectrum.

Diversity Career Fair Sponsors are Blue Cross Blue Shield Kansas City, Garmin, JE Dunn, Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences and UMB.   LinkedIn and Social Media Outreach Sponsor is Gin Consulting Group.

For more information, including schedule and registration, visit

Employers interested in showcasing their diversity and inclusion recruitment efforts should contact the DCF Director for registration form and sponsorship opportunities (Email: CareerFair (at)



About NAAAP 
The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) is the premier leadership organization for Asian professionals in North America, with 30 chapters, several thousand active members, and a reach of more than 20,000 professionals.  Since 1982, NAAAP has operated as a nonprofit to inspire, develop, and connect leaders in all major industries and countless communities through professional development and community service.  For more information, please visit


Have A Question?

Viewing previous year convention. Return to the current Leadership Convention site