Gala and Awards Ceremony
↓ Jump to gala program
The honorees chosen for our prestigious NAAAP 100, Inspire, and Pride awards will be recognized at the gala during our leadership convention in Washington DC this August. The programs were created to recognize exemplary leaders in the AAPI community to celebrate, inspire, and confirm possibilities for many more future leaders.
Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice
Office of Environmental Justice
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Charles Lee is widely recognized as a true pioneer in the arena of environmental justice and helped to give birth to the environmental justice movement in the United States some forty years ago. He was the principal author of the landmark 1987 report, Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States, organized the historic 1991 First National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit, and helped to spearhead the emergence of federal environmental justice policy, including Executive Order 12898, EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice, National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), and the Federal Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice.
Learn More About Charles Lee
Mr. Lee is currently the Senior Policy Advisor for Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He has served in multiple capacities, ranging from creating the United Church of Christ’s environmental justice program to directing EPA’s environmental justice office. He was a charter member of the NEJAC, where he chaired its Waste and Facility Siting committee, and served on the National Academy of Science/Institute of Medicine Committee on Environmental Justice as well as numerous other panels. In these capacities, he led efforts to incorporate environmental justice into EPA’s rulemaking process, develop models for collaborative problem-solving, transform brownfields redevelopment into a community revitalization paradigm, advance approaches to address cumulative risks and impacts, lay a strong science foundation for integrating environmental justice into decision-making, and advancing environmental justice at the state level.
Mr. Lee has authored numerous papers, reports, journals, and articles on environmental justice over the past four decades, most recently on “Confronting Disproportionate Impacts and Systemic Racism in Environmental Policy” (Environmental Law Reporter, vol. 51, no. 3, March 2021). He has taught or presented at numerous schools and conferences, including the seminal academic conference on “Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards” at the University of Michigan. He is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the American Public Health Association’s first Damu Smith Environmental Achievement Award. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy presented to him the EJ Pioneer Award on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the signing of Executive Order 12898. In February 2017, the 122nd Session of the South Carolina House of Representatives passed Resolution H*3732 to honor his lifetime of accomplishments in environmental justice and contributions to bettering the lives of communities in that state.
Startup executive, entrepreneur, board advisor, and business and technology transformation leader
Piyush has always been passionate about education and giving back over the years. From serving on school site councils for various California public schools to being appointed Technology Advisor to Fremont School District and University of California, Irvine to being a champion for STEM via math and science olympiad coaching to being recognized as NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awardee in 2022 as educator/mentor for encouraging and mentoring women in computing, he is always ready to help build the next generation. Professionally, he has been previously recognized by appointment to IBM’s prestigious Academy of Technology and conferred Global Data Quality Leadership and Service Award by IAIDQ (International Association for Information and Data Quality) in 2015.
Learn More About Piyush Malik
Piyush Malik is a startup executive, entrepreneur, board advisor, and business and technology transformation leader in the domain of emerging technologies. Through his engineering, product management and customer success experiences he has built worldwide teams and scaled his firms’ businesses many folds.
He has been serving as the founding President of American Society of Engineers of Indian Origin (ASEI) Silicon Valley chapter since 2015 and also serves as National Chairman of this 4 decade old organization of scientists and engineers focused on mentorship, youth and community building.He champions servant leadership and for over 2 decades has been active in community giveback initiatives spanning sustainability, engineering entrepreneurship, diversity, equity, inclusion and youth empowerment via several nonprofits such as OVBI, TiE, IAHV, IAIDQ, ASEI and more to develop the next generation.
Professionally, Piyush has served Fortune 500 clients in over 40 countries spanning diverse industries over the past 3 decades as a management and technology consultant and executive. Currently he serves as the Chief Digital and Transformation Officer at a private-equity backed cloud and digital innovation services startup Veridic Solutions. Previously as SVP at Google partner startup SpringML and before that as the leader of Worldwide Big Data & Analytics Center of Excellence within IBM’s consulting business, he focused on data science, applied AI/ML, IoT and all things related to cloud, analytics and data. He started his career with the Tata group in India and after migrating to the US, also built the Global Information Integrity practice for PwC.
He earned an engineering degree in electronics and communications from Delhi University and a masters in management of technology from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi prior to immigrating to the Silicon Valley.
Community Activist and Lawyer
Onchantho’s commitment to the Asian American Pacific Islanders community is steadfast. She has worked with local and state officials for the betterment of the AAPI community. Onchantho is President of the Orange County Bar Association Foundation, the Secretary of the National Association of Asian American Professionals -Orlando Chapter, and a past President of the Greater Orlando Asian American Bar Association. She co-founded the Asian American Pacific Islanders Coming Together (“ACT”), an independent, non-partisan grassroots group making a difference in the underrepresented community through voter engagement. Onchantho is a graduate of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Leadership Advancement Program and the Florida Bar Leadership Academy. She has received the Orange County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Pro Bono Award of Excellence, was selected by the Central Florida Women Lawyers for its Women of Distinction Trendsetter Award, and was selected as one of the Orlando Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards.
Learn More About Onchantho Am
Onchantho Am is a child of Cambodian refugees. Her parents raised the family in a housing project until the scars from the war resulted in Onchantho and her siblings being placed into foster care. Onchantho’s zeal for advocacy started at a very young age and during challenging circumstances. As a teen, she advocated on behalf of her siblings to have them reunited under one roof. Onchantho embraced her experiences to fuel a passion for public service and child advocacy. She “aged out” of the foster system and went on to become the first in her family to attend university at the University of Florida, where she also provided guidance to the Governor and Legislature on the Florida systems and services for older and former foster youth. This role helped shape legislation for child welfare, and her footprint on legislation in Florida is seen daily. Following this passion, she graduated from Stetson University College of Law and pulled from her personal experience to motivate youths while continuing her community outreach work. To increase her scope, she served on the Board of Directors for IMPOWER, Inc., a not-for-profit serving children, adolescents, adults, and families with Mental Health Services, Substance Misuse Treatment Programs. Onchantho eventually became IMPOWER’s first Vice President of Quality and Chief Legal Office while co-chairing the Florida Coalition for Children Legal Issues Committee. She continues initiatives that help children and families and has recently joined the University of Central Florida – College of Medicine as an Associate General Counsel. In her role, she leverages her legal knowledge, business acumen, and leadership skills to impact a growing academic health sciences center in a university setting.
Michelle MiJung Kim
Award Winning Author, Speaker, Activist
Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer Korean American immigrant woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the award winning author of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change. She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and leaders from Fortune 500 companies, tech giants, nonprofits, universities and beyond on their equity education journey.
Learn More About Michelle MiJung Kim
Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. She currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named LinkedIn’s Top Voice in Racial Equity, Fast Company’s Queer 50, and Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.
Internationally acclaimed educator, author, advocate, and NCAA Transgender Athlete
As a teenager, Schuyler was one of the nation’s top breaststrokers and set a national age-group record at 17. He was recruited by Harvard Women’s Swimming but after transitioning during a gap year, he was also offered (and accepted) a slot on the Harvard Men’s swim team – making him the first trans athlete to compete on any D1 men’s team. At Harvard, he swam on the most successful Harvard swim team in 50 years. Schuyler chose to be public about his transition to ensure that other kids saw at least one example of a transgender athlete doing what they love, and his choice and his transition was historic and timely. His story has appeared everywhere from 60 Minutes to The EllenShow.
Learn More About Schuyler Bailar
His public advocacy work is uniquely educational and engaging. With nearly half-a-million social media followers and over 400 talks to some 75,000 in-person attendees, Schuyler is considered one of the leading DEI educators on transgender inclusion and gender literacy.
After speaking at hundreds of events around the globe, it was clear that when Schuyler shared his humanity with audiences, the experience was transformative. For those who were resistant to trans people, they learned & opened up, allowing themselves to see Schuyler in their own humanity. This shared humanity breaks down prejudice, phobias, and biases and has the power to create lasting change. To enable more widespread access to this experience, Schuyler created LANECHANGER™, the first comprehensive DEI-focused Gender Literacy Learning Series offering extensive and affordable resources to every individual, company, school, or organization. In LANECHANGER™, Schuyler discusses everything from pronouns to locker rooms to dating and his intersectional heritage and exposes his humanity in a way that begs the viewer to explore theirs. The series is on-line and self-paced and being used now at startups and multi-national companies – at healthcare providers and sports groups.
Schuyler is also an advisor to several companies and continues his academic pursuits through work he is directing at two Harvard-affiliated psychology labs. And, with the release of his groundbreaking middle-grade novel Obie Is Man Enough Schuyler is also an author.
Schuyler has become known as one of the leading advocates fighting for the inclusion of trans athletes in sports – at all levels. This includes opposing rules that ban trans athletes at elite levels, and legislation which bans trans kids from playing sports at K-12 levels and/or prohibits basic life-saving healthcare for them.
Schuyler is one of the most sought-after transgender spokespersons in the press with nearly 1 billion media impressions. His tireless advocacy has earned him numerous notable honors including being a Grand Marshall at New York City’s 2022 Pride March, Instagram’s LGBTQ Educator of the Year, the A100, Out100, Queerties, and dozens of others.
Come celebrate our NAAAP100 Awardees with some good drinks, great food, and heart-thumping entertainment at our culminating event, hosted by S.N.R.G. Entertainment which features an opening by The President’s Own, the United States Marine Band. Other featured entertainers are Ms. Ketsana Vilaylack of NAAAP Nashville, a martial arts demonstration by Shaolin Temple USA, and the Mark H. Taiko Connection (MHTX) by instructor/performer Mark H. Rooney and his ensemble.
Dress Code: Black tie, suits at a minimum, or gala/cocktail dresses. No jeans or t-shirts. Dress shoes highly encouraged.
Agenda: Cocktail Hour starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Congressional Ballroom. Ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 9:30 in the Presidential Ballroom.
Learn more about our performers below!
The President’s Own, United States Marine Band
Founded in 1798, the Marine Band is America’s oldest continuously active professional musical organization. In supporting our gala, they will open our program with the Patriotic opening, the playing of our National Anthem, and ending with the Marines Hymn.
We encourage all past and present Marines to sing along, we know you know the words. Find your seats and don’t be late, it’s a performance you won’t want to miss.
Ketsana, a musical composer and producer, released 9 albums between 1991 and 2008. During this time, she has traveled the world, mainly to Laos, Canada, and France, to perform. “Without music, the world is gloomy and…boring.” Born in Laos and raised in Chicago, Ketsana has performed at various cultural events as well as the Laos Embassy here in Washington D.C.
Most recent notable performance was when she went back to Vientiane to perform for the President to increase diplomatic relations between the United States of America and the Lao Embassy.
S.N.R.G. (Some Never Really Get)
Emceeing and performing at our gala, NAAAP is excited to showcase the alternative hip-hop duo, S.N.R.G. (Some Never Really Get) at this year’s 40th anniversary. The brothers have been bringing their unique style of rap to audiences around the world from their native Philippines to their home in Virginia.
“SNRG” is a message of understanding… the understanding that we may never truly understand one another; but that should never deter us from attempting to connect with others that seem different.”
Shaolin Temple USA
Hold on to your butts and definitely your dinner plates as we present to you a demonstration of 1,500 years of Shaolin Kung Fu’s discipline, physical and spiritual balance, and wellness.
With a culture center located in Herndon, Virginia, it is an institution for the learning of Shaolin Kung Fu Chan (Zen) culture. Shaolin Kung Fu will 100% “kick” this gala into high gear!
The Mark H. Taiko Connection (MHTX):
MHTX was formed in 2019 and features performers from various taiko (and other) backgrounds brought together by Mark H Rooney, the director. Mark has been studying, performing and teaching taiko for the last 25 years in the U.S., Japan and parts of Europe.
As a performing ensemble, we honor the traditions of Japanese festival music while also combining it with modern sensibilities and influences. Very much a “contemporary taiko ensemble”, MHTX aims to create performances that both engage and inspire audiences with a unique perspective on the taiko art form.