Against The Grain Updates

Going Against The Grain: Thear Sy Suzuki

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Thear Suzuki is Managing Partner of Ernst & Young’s Advisory Services business for the Southwest Region.  She provides advisory services to Fortune 500 companies across a wide range of industries, including Energy, Healthcare, Retail/Consumer Products and Telecommunications/Media/High Tech. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Thear led Accenture’s US Advanced Systems Delivery Practice, an organization of over 500 technologists focused on technology delivery. Within EY, Thear serves on the Americas Advisory Women’s Leadership Steering Committee, a task force focused on the retention and advancement of women to the Executive Director and Partner level.  She also serves on the Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council, a collective think tank and action tank that drives action and progress within the business. Thear is an Executive Sponsor for the Dallas Pan-Asian Professional Network.

In the community, Thear serves on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that believes that when you invest in a woman, there is a ripple effect that benefits her family, her community and her world.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Dallas Chapter of Back On My Feet, a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. Thear is a Senior Advisor for the Dallas Chapter of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders.

A Biomedical Engineering graduate of SMU, Thear gives back to her alma mater through the SMU James E. Caswell Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program Steering Committee. Thear has been recognized in Forbeswomen.com, Working Mother’s Magazine, The Little PINK Book, Diversity Inc. and featured in a book by Anne Doyle called Powering Up! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders.  Thear is a NAAAP 100 award recipient, a prestigious award that recognizes leaders who exemplify NAAAP’s vision and mission. She is also a winner of Consulting Magazine’s “Women Leaders in Consulting Future Leader” award. Thear lives in Plano, Texas with her husband Eric and their four sons Zachary, Ryden, Mason and Alex.

Full Name:

Thear Sy Suzuki

Hometown:

Plano, Texas

Current City:

Plano, Texas

Ethnicity:

Chinese/Vietnamese born in Cambodia

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Going against the grain means…living a life with gratitude, being the first to say I’m sorry, the first to forgive, and the first to lend a hand.

What made you decide to pursue your career path?

My planned career path was to become a doctor. To get work experience and to save money for medical school,I applied for a job in consulting without understanding what consulting was. A couple of years into the job, I realized that consulting was the perfect fit. I love solving problems, working in teams and the leadership opportunities. Traveling and working with different personalities from around the country and around the world has helped me to mature as a professional and as a person. I decided to “stay” in consulting because I enjoy meeting and working with people who inspire me to become a better leader.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

Asian Americans are seen as the model minority and high achievers. We are reliable and can be depended upon to work hard and get the job done. We are comfortable working for others, we follow instructions well, and we make great managers. This is where we get stuck, at the lower levels and in middle management. Success in consulting means becoming a leader. A leader who can influence others to drive towards a vision. A leader who wants to make a positive difference in other people’s lives. I have learned that to have a greater impact, I had to be willing to be different, to go against the grain, to be seen and to take calculated risks. I had to get out of my comfort zone and step into leadership. Having a higher purpose and knowing why I do what I do helps me to be “comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

My biggest accomplishment was being asked to serve on the Board of the Dallas Women’s Foundation. It combines my profession and my passion…unlocking business resources to help improve lives and communities.

What’s up next?

I look forward to helping with ATG’s expansion into Cambodia. I’m excited about connecting with others who also have a heart for the children there.

Quote to live by: “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” – Mother Teresa

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Aquarius

Passionate about: Leading with purpose

Favorite food: Anaconda roll at Edoko

Can’t live without: My family

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Female Game Changers Gather at 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak

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DALLAS, TX – Seven game-changing female Asian American leaders gathered to share personal stories about their paths to success at Against The Grain Productions’ 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak event on Saturday March 2, 2014, hosted at The Crow Collection of Asian Art. Despite the blustery weather conditions, guests packed into the museum’s main gallery to enjoy hors d’oeuvres, wine, coffee and art before settling in to listen to each speaker’s TED-inspired personal presentation around this year’s theme: “Game Changers: Playing to Win.” After sharing their diverse perspectives, speakers joined together as a panel to answer questions and cover hard-hitting issues about identity, cultural barriers, motivation and solutions to nurture leadership in the community. Imparting their insight, there were moments both humorous and poignant. The event concluded with a unique half hour where guests got to interact with speakers one-on-one.

The goal of the afternoon was to give people of all ages a chance to hear and meet influential leaders. It was also about providing mentorship and inspiration, empowering individuals to realize their potential. President/Founder and event moderator Tammy Nguyen Lee said, “Groundbreakers Speak was created to fulfill a need and is unlike most any other event that ATG does. It’s meant to be more intimate and engage with people on a personal level, to create meaningful conversation, provoke deep thought and spark serious leadership. We’re trying to give people a glimpse into who they can be and what we are capable of becoming as a community.”

It was a rewarding and memorable day for our speakers as well. Here’s what they are saying, as they continue to motivate and inspire others to go “Against The Grain”:

Manager of eSports at Blizzard, Kim Phan: “DO what makes you passionate instead of thinking about what makes you passionate. The rest will follow. And remember the words of George Eliot, ‘It is never too late to be what we might have been.’”

Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives for NBC, Grace Borrero Moss: “I am so honored to be included in such an incredible group of strong and successful women.  Listening to everyone’s stories and engaging with other young Asian Americans who are, themselves, making waves in their respective fields is really empowering.  I now feel even more motivated and energized to make an even stronger impact in my field.  Events like these and organizations like ATG are at the forefront of making breakthroughs within the Asian American community.”

Senior Reporter at KERA, Doualy Xaykaothao: “We must remember to continue building bridges across diverse communities, whether via social media or right in your own neighborhoods. A morsel of new information can have great impact in our lives, in our universe. And don’t forget, service to the public is possibly one of the greatest gifts you can give.”

Managing Partner of Ernst & Young, Thear Sy Suzuki: “I left the event inspired and energized!  The connections made were priceless.  Thank you panelists, guests, ATG and The Crow Collection of Asian Art for your authenticity and willingness to share your stories.”

Award-winning Children’s Book Author/Illustrator, LeUyen Pham: “If this amazing panel of women were anything to judge by, I think I came away with one conclusion that I feel certain of:  To succeed as each of these women have, it takes not just brains and passion, but immense courage.  I was honored to be among them, and hope that my story of how I achieved my own dreams will affect someone else, no matter to what small degree.  All change starts with something small.”

Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation, Cynthia Yung: “It was great to hear from strong Asian women who are changing the stereotypes of model minorities.  Being quiet and obedient may make you invisible but not immune to unfair treatment.”

Lawyer, Advocate, Executive Director and General Counsel of The Asian Resource Group, Inc., Lesley Varghese: “No shortage of inspiration at Against the Grain Productions and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Grateful to Tammy Nguyen for a unique opportunity to meet a few of the most dynamic Asian American women in the country, surrounded by mind-blowing art like “China Porsche!”

Video clips of each speaker will be available on ATG’s YouTube Page.

Read the Asia World Media Coverage.

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 hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG 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.

 

Words of Praise

“A surprise Dallas snowfall on the afternoon of Sunday, March 2nd, set the tone for an equally unpredictable and fascinating afternoon at the Crow Collection of Asian Art. I found myself hanging on every word from each expert speaker, and their surprising stories echoed through my mind long after I returned home. The obstacles they had overcome! The talents they possessed! The goals they had marked, achieved, and surpassed! Not only were the panelists’ experiences in life and careers remarkable from a groundbreaking Asian American perspective, but they sparked a drive within me to maximize my potential as a modern working woman. Kudos to ATG Productions, and I look forward to the next Groundbreakers event.” – Lisa Petty, Editor, DFW Style Daily

“My first experience at Groundbreakers Speak last year helped to forge a new relationship between ATG, NAAAP and Dallas Women’s Foundation. This year the experience confirmed exactly why it is imperative for all women to embrace their individual stories for the collective good of women everywhere. The dynamic women who shared their stories not only inspired me to embrace my personal journey but they reminded me why female ‘gamechangers’ are valuable and relevant. Women and girls should strive to take on careers and opportunities that challenge the status quo. ATG Against the Grain Productions’ Groundbreakers Speak definitely embodies that message.” – Akilah Wallace, Dallas Women’s Foundation

“ATG’s Groundbreakers Speak this year was so wonderful with strong inspiring women paving the way to success through leadership. We are so grateful to be a part of this annual event!” – Dii Kim, Founder/Owner, Pho is for Lovers

“Thanks to Tammy and the entire ATG team!  It was a tremendous honor and thrill to get to know each of you.” – Sylvia Komatsu, EVP | Chief Content Officer, KERA/KXT

“So BLESSED to be in this audience and experience this panel!  Each offered such insights and knowledge of what it takes to be a FEMALE game changer.” – LeeAnne Locken, TV Host/Actress/Author

“So honored that I had the opportunity of attending an Against the Grain event hosted by the remarkable Tammy Nguyen. The wealth of talent in the room was unmeasurable. Every single guest can contest to walking away from the flawless event being inspired, motivated, and driven to DREAM BIG.” – Yasmeen Tadia, CEO & Founder, Fluffpop

“So inspired to be surrounded by brilliant, powerful Asian American women leaders who are passionate about their careers and fostering the dreams of women around them.” – Karen Liu Pang, Director of Business Administration and Process Effectiveness, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas

“Congratulat[ions on] a successful event. The panelists were impressive, informative and a lot of fun. I am glad that we could be a partner and host.” – Jill VanGordon, Director of Education, Crow Collection of Asian Art

 

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Going Against The Grain: June Marieezy

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Despite finding herself on the other side of the globe, June continues to grow her music in the Philippines. There is much excitement that surrounds Contagious’s EP release under Deeper Manila. After all, her five-year stay was musically and spiritually nurturing. Being lost all the time in the city and riding her bike to its crannies instilled a new sense of adventure. The feeling, she says, sets her “soul on fire.” Here or there, June sounds good anywhere. It’ll be a while before she returns to Southeast Asia, because right now she’s still coasting and consumed by “experiencing life as an artist and learning more about how the world works.”

Full Name:

June Marieezy

Hometown:

Dallas, Texas; Manila, Philippines

Current City:

Los Angeles, California

Ethnicity:

Filipina

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Question popular thought and trusting personal moral compass to take the road less taken, no matter how difficult the obstacles are along the way.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the music industry?

Realization of my purpose, that my perspective along with my musical expression is a powerful tool that can be used for moving inspiration around the world.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

Before I came back to America, I realized that being female and part of a minority race meant that I must work harder than anyone else to be taken seriously.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

I feel my biggest accomplishment overall is being able to stay true to myself in this world that tries to make us what we’re not or don’t want to be. Because I followed my heart, I find myself with experiences and opportunities that not very many people get to come across and I’m grateful every day for that.

What’s up next?

For this month, I’m currently transitioning a move from Dallas to Los Angeles and working on new releases with Deeper Manila.

Quote to live by: “Would you leave this world satisfied?” I use this question as a quote with three different meanings that keep me in check enough to fuel my evolution and progression for myself then for others.

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Sheep/Virgo

Passionate about: Music, travel, people, perspective, the Philippines

Favorite food: Sushi

Can’t live without: My notebook and pen

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Female Groundbreakers Unite at Crow Collection to Share Stories of Inspiration and Motivation

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DALLAS, TX – Building on the overwhelming response from the last two years,  non-profit Against The Grain Productions once again partners with The Crow Collection of Asian Art to host the 3rd Annual Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation with Movers and Shakers - a diverse panel of remarkable Asian American industry leaders brought together to share their inspiring personal stories and paths to success. This year features an all-female panel for the first time speaking under the theme, “Female Groundbreakers: Playing to Win.” The family-friendly event takes place from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm on Sunday, March 2nd at The Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas. At 1:00 pm, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a guided tour of Asian art, a reception of wine, coffee and dessert preceding the event, then listen as the speakers share their insightful stories, engage in a panel of heavy hitting issues affecting the Asian American community and chat with the panelists in one-on-one round table conversation. Tickets range from $15-$25 and are now on sale at www.AgainstTheGrainProductions.com/Events.

Introducing the 2014 Groundbreakers Speak Panelists:

kim-phan-sqKim Phan - Kim is a passionate gamer, producer and community figure in the video game industry. She is currently Senior Manager of eSports at Blizzard Entertainment and is known for her love, passion and dedication in the competitive and professional gaming scene. She was born and raised in Texas, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining Blizzard, she worked as a software engineer for six years at companies such as Alcatel USA and Garrett Electronics. What started out as a hobby later turned into a professional career for Kim when she accepted a job at Blizzard Entertainment in 2006.

All of the community work for video games opened a new door for Kim, when Blizzard Entertainment invited her to shoutcast their Warcraft III tournament at BlizzCon in 2005. The following year, she was offered a production job at Blizzard to work on their Online Technologies team, and she continued to moonlight as a Warcraft III shoutcaster at BlizzCon and Blizzard Worldwide Invitational events. She has also taken on roles as a host, interviewer and reporter for DIRECTV at BlizzCon events. Kim’s positions at Blizzard included production leader and manager of a security development team, and today, she leads the Blizzard eSports team. She followed her passion, devoted her time doing what she loved and landed the job of her dreams.

“I am very grateful and honored to be a guest panelist at the Groundbreakers Speak and even more geeked out that I get to represent the gaming community! I hope to inspire others with my story and have the audience walk away learning and knowing more about eSports.”


grace-moss-sqGrace Borrero Moss - Grace currently serves as the Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives for NBC. In this role, she helps oversee multiple programs that focus on discovering, cultivating and showcasing talented writers, directors and actors of diverse backgrounds, with the objective of getting them staffed on NBC’s scripted programs. Before coming to NBC, Grace was the Manager of Development & New Series at the Style Network, where she oversaw new series in production, from initial pitch to delivery. She was instrumental in developing hit shows such as Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, Ruby, Giuliana & Bill and Jerseylicious.  Grace was also part of the internal Diversity Council and worked with other cable nets to promote initiatives and track diverse talent in front of and behind the camera.  Prior to her stint at the Style Network, Grace worked as a Producer and Director on a plethora of unscripted shows on a variety of networks, including MTV, VH1, TLC and NBC.

Grace has been actively involved with numerous organizations, including Asian Pacific Americans@NBCUniversal, where she served as a Chapter Leader and Professional Development Co-Chair, and Filipinos in Hollywood, where she acts as the Co-Chair. She participated in the Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) 2012 Rising Leaders Program and the National Association of Multiethnicities in Communications (NAMIC) 2011 Leadership Seminar. She also won Comcast’s Ingenuity Award in 2008 for her contributions to the Style Network.  Grace is also a member of the Coalition for Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) and Visual Communications, where she has contributed as a panelist in their annual C3 Conference.

Grace graduated from UCLA with a BA in English and Minor in Asian American Studies. She also was the founder of the Pilipino Organization of English majors (POEM) and recipient of the Royal Morales Prize in Pilipino Studies.  Grace currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband.

“By being invited to participate, it means that I’m making an impact and blazing a trail for other Asian American women in the entertainment industry.  I hope my story inspires people to pursue their dreams, even if the cards have historically been stacked against them.  TV is a very competitive business, so it’s vital that we support each other and push for programs that grant us equal access and fair opportunities.


doualy-xaykaothao-sqDoualy Xaykaothao - Doualy is Senior Reporter at NPR affiliate KERA in Dallas. She covers breaking news in North Texas and produces cultural features for the station. Before she joined KERA, she was a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio in Asia, based in Seoul, South Korea. There, she covered news out of both Pyongyang and Seoul, including the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, and the suicide of former South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun. She started out at NPR in Washington, D.C. back in 1999, working as producer, editor, director and reporter for NPR’s award-winning programs. Xaykaothao is Hmong American, born in communist Laos, but raised in France and the U.S. Her name, Doualy, means “Shadow of the Moon.”

“I think people need to remember that there are Groundbreakers all around us, people who are living and doing things different from what was imagined by our parents, grandparents or those in our community. I’m behind a mic because I like the challenge of writing a story, fast and producing a sound-rich piece with only two and half minutes. If that sounds crazy, wanting to live with that kind of pressure, and deadlines every day, then maybe that’s what makes me a ground-breaker!  Figure out what you want at this moment in your life. I’m not talking about life goals. I’m talking about the present, the now, what’s around the corner? If you stay focused on that, by the end of the year, you’ll have accomplished more this way, than trying to figure out what you want in five years. And make sure you’ve got cheerleaders, a circle of men and women who will stand by you, during your worst and best moments.”


thear-suzuki-sqThear Sy Suzuki - Thear is Managing Partner of Ernst & Young’s Advisory Services business for the Southwest Region.  She provides advisory services to Fortune 500 companies across a wide range of industries, including Energy, Health, Retail/Consumer Products and Telecommunications/Media/Technology. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Thear led Accenture’s US Advanced Systems Delivery Practice, an organization of over 500 technologists focused on delivery of technology solutions.

Within EY, Thear serves on the Americas Advisory Women’s Leadership Steering Committee, a task force focused on the retention and advancement of women to the Executive Director and Partner/Principal level.  She also serves on the Americas Inclusiveness Advisory Council, a collective think tank and action tank that drives action and progress within the business.  Thear is an Executive Sponsor for the Dallas Pan-Asian Professional Network. In the community, Thear serves on the Board of Directors of the Dallas Women’s Foundation, a non-profit organization that believes that when you invest in a woman, there is a ripple effect that benefits her family, her community and her world.  She also serves on the Advisory Board of the Back On My Feet Dallas Chapter, a national for-purpose 501(c)3 organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living. Thear is a Senior Advisor for the Dallas Chapter of the National Association of Asian-American Professionals, a non-profit organization dedicated to developing the next generation of leaders.  A Biomedical Engineering graduate of SMU, Thear gives back to her alma mater through the SMU James E. Caswell Undergraduate Leadership Fellows Program Steering Committee.

Thear has been recognized in Forbeswomen.com, Working Mother’s Magazine, The Little PINK Book, Diversity Inc., and featured in a book by Anne Doyle called Powering Up! How America’s Women Achievers Become Leaders.  Thear is a NAAAP 100 award recipient, a prestigious award that recognizes leaders who exemplify NAAAP’s vision and mission. She is also a winner of Consulting Magazine’s 2013 “Women Leaders in Consulting Future Leader” award.

Thear’s humble beginnings as one of five siblings of war refugee parents moving between refugee camps during the Cambodian genocide, until she and her family were sponsored by the Catholic church in Dallas and brought them to the US when she was eight.  These were formative experiences directly responsible for the self-reliance, resilience and persistence that have made her a successful business advisor today. Thear lives in Plano, Texas with her husband Eric and their four sons Zachary (11), Ryden (10), Mason (7), and Alex (3).

“I’m very excited to be in the company of other Asian American leaders and I hope that collectively we can ignite passion in the audience and spur them into action. ”


leuyen-pham-sqLeUyen Pham - LeUyen is an award-winning author/illustrator of nearly sixty children’s books.  Her books include “God’s Dream,” written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the New York TimesBestselling series “Freckleface Strawberry,” written by Julianne Moore, “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio, the Alvin Ho Series by Lenore Look and “The Boy Who Loved Math” by Deborah Heiligman, to name a few.  She also co-illustrated (with her husband Alex Puvilland) the New York Times Bestseller “Templar,” a 450-page graphic novel written by “Prince of Persia” creator Jordan Mechner.  Her books have garnered numerous awards, including the Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal, the Junior Library Guild recipient, Parent’s Magazine, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award, among others.  Prior to illustrating books, LeUyen began her career at Dreamworks Feature Animation as a layout artist.  LeUyen lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two adorable young boys, Leo and Adrien.

“It is an amazing time right now to be an Asian American woman, particularly in the artistic and literary landscape.  I think there’s a real hunger to hear all our stories, of our successes as well as our hardships.  I hope the audience will take away the sense that our stories have real value, and need to be shared with the world”


cynthia-yung-sqCynthia Yung -  Cynthia currently serves as Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation, a resource for social change. In this role, she is responsible for identifying and recommending grants for nonprofit organizations that focus on supporting programs which advance equity for women and girls, improve quality of life for children and promote environmental stewardship.

Cynthia also serves on advisory boards for The Real Estate Council Community Fund and Texas Women Ventures and steering committees for the Zero to Five Funders Collaborative and Commit! Early Childhood Council. More than a decade of volunteer work on international mission trips and serving on nonprofit boards have paved the way for Ms. Yung’s transition from the corporate world to the nonprofit world.

A Telecom industry veteran, her previous corporate career includes roles in sales, strategic marketing, manufacturing operations and finance for Nortel Networks. Ms. Yung earned a Chartered Professional Accountant designation at Ernst & Young and a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Canada.

“I am excited to be with female Asian leaders who continue to forge into new territory and own what it means to lead with heart and mind.  Each of our journeys are unpredictable, no matter how much we may want to plan, and that can be a source of delight.” 


lesley-varghese-sqLesley Varghese - Lesley is Executive Director and General Counsel of the Asian American Resource Center, Inc. (AARC Inc.), a community-­based 501(c)3 organization formed in 2006 to support the construction and operation of the Asian American Resource Center facility. She is also a Lecturer at the University of Texas in Asian American Studies and law.

Lesley is a proud UT Longhorn and a law graduate of American University, where she was a Dean’s Fellow in Law & Government, a member of the Moot Court Honor Board and president of the South Asian Law Student Association. She began her legal career at McGinnis, Lochridge & Kilgore in Austin, Texas. During that time she participated on the Citizen’s Review Panel for the Office of the Police Monitor, provided pro bono representation to area non-­profits through Texas C-­BAR, and served as Chair Elect of the State Bar of Texas Asian Pacific Interest Section. Lesley subsequently practiced at the international law firm of Nixon Peabody, LLP, where she co-­‐founded the Firm’s South Asia practice and co-­chaired the Law & Policy Committee for the Boston Bar Association Bankruptcy Section. During her tenure as co-chair, the Law & Policy committee, in partnership with others, successfully lobbied the Massachusetts legislature to amend the state’s historic homestead and personal property exemptions, to better stabilize low-­income families in bankruptcy.

Lesley is the immediate past President of the North American South Asian Bar Association (NASABA) Foundation, which funds and develops nationwide legal initiatives in the areas of domestic violence, civil rights/hate crime, immigrants’ rights and community access to justice. She has been recognized for her community legal work by the Pro Bono College of Texas and with a Peabody Award for outstanding pro bono legal service. Lesley currently serves as Chair of the UT Center for Asian American Studies Advisory Committee, on the Board of Directors of the Boston Higashi School, and the Board of Trustees for the Long Center for Performing Arts. In 2013, she was a YWCA Women of the Year Nominee, a recipient of the Capital Area Progressive Democrats “Kick Ass Award”, an AARC Asian Image Awardee, and the recipient of a teaching award from the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement. She is a recent recipient of the IACT Trailblazer Award and the Capitol Area Asian American Democrats Advocate of the Year Award.

“Women make up more than half the talent and human capital available to any society. We need to be at the decision-making table, whether we’re talking about equal pay and opportunity, public education, technology or healthcare. Asian American women – in particular-  are an untapped legal, economic and political force. I am thrilled to join a terrific group of women to discuss our possibilities and to share my experiences advocating for the AAPI community nationally and in Texas. Many thanks to ATG Productions for making this year’s unique panel a reality.”


kim-phan-sqSylvia Komatsu (Welcome Remarks)- Sylvia is Executive Vice president and Chief Content Officer for North Texas Public Broadcasting, a not-for-profit public media organization that serves the people of North Texas through programming on KERA TV, KERA WORLD, KERA FM, KXT 91.7, Art&Seek and online and mobile resources.  She began her career as a reporter for a nightly news analysis program.  Over the next several years, she produced and executive produced documentaries and specials on a wide range of social, political and cultural issues.  She now oversees a content division that includes radio, television, digital media and educational services.

“I hope the audience leaves inspired and energized after hearing the stories of these remarkable women.”


tammy-nguyen-leeTammy Nguyen Lee – 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, Tammy’s focus is on her family, growing ATG and continuing to work as an actor, film/television producer and development consultant. She is married and has two beautiful daughters, Gabriella and Austen.

“Being a groundbreaker requires passion, courage, commitment, innovation, faith and knowledge. You have to take the time to learn and understand the rules of the game, and then break them…or make up an entirely new game. The ability to be a groundbreaker is in all of us, and I hope this event inspires more Asian Americans to believe in themselves and educates them with the tools they need to take action.”  


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 hosting outreach events, it also awards an annual scholarship to exemplary Asian American student artists and leaders. ATG 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.

WHAT: ATG Against The Grain Productions hosts 3rd Annual “2014 Groundbreakers Speak: A Conversation of Movers and Shakers” panel
WHO: Kim Phan – Senior Manager of eSports at Blizzard,  Grace Borrero Moss – Manager of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives at NBC, Doualy Xaykaothao – Senior Reporter for KERA, Thear Sy Suzuki – Managing Partner at Ernst  & Young, LeUyen Pham – Award-winning Children’s Book Author/Illustrator, Cynthia Yung – Executive Director of The Boone Family Foundation, Lesley Varghese – Attorney/Activist, Executive Director  and General Counsel at Asian American Resource Center, Inc., Welcome remarks by Sylvia Komatsu – Executive VP/Chief Content Officer at KERA, Moderated by Tammy Nguyen Lee – ATG President/Founder, Film/TV Producer, Actor and Philanthropist
WHERE: Crow Collection of Asian Art, 2010 Flora St. Dallas, TX 75201
WHEN: Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 from 2:o0 PM – 4:30 PM
2014 Groundbreakers Speak Flyer
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Going Against The Grain: Kim Phan

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Kim Phan is a passionate gamer, producer, and community figure in the video game industry. She is currently Senior Manager of eSports at Blizzard Entertainment and is known for her love, passion, and dedication in the competitive and professional gaming scene. What started out as a hobby, later turned into a professional career for Kim when she accepted a job at Blizzard Entertainment in 2006.

She was born and raised in Texas where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Texas at Dallas. Before joining Blizzard, she worked as a software engineer for six years at companies such as Alcatel USA and Garrett Electronics.

Kim began playing console games at the age of five and was first introduced to PC games in college. The first PC game to really grab her attention was StarCraft: Brood War. She later immersed herself in Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, which is where her interest in professional gaming emerged. In 2003, she started commentating Warcraft III games, a practice known then as “shoutcasting.” Her insightful and light-hearted commentary captured the attention of many fans in the eSports community, who came to know Kim by the gamer tag “bunny.” She branched out further into the scene when she took ownership and ran one of the biggest and most popular Warcraft III community fan sites, WCReplays.com. She also joined United 5, a professional North American organization, to manage their Warcraft III team for competitive leagues. Kim managed all of this eSports activity during her free time while maintaining a full-time career as a software developer.

kim_shoutcastingAll that community work for video games opened a new door for Kim when Blizzard Entertainment invited her to shoutcast their Warcraft III tournament at BlizzCon in 2005. The following year, she was offered a production job at Blizzard to work on their Online Technologies team, and she continued to moonlight as a Warcraft III shoutcaster at BlizzCon and Blizzard Worldwide Invitational events. She has also taken on roles as a host, interviewer, and reporter for DIRECTV at BlizzCon events. Kim’s positions at Blizzard included production leader and manager of a security development team, and today, she leads the Blizzard eSports team. She followed her passion, devoted her time doing what she loved, and landed the job of her dreams.

During her spare time, Kim enjoys rock climbing, cycling, snowboarding, camping, and playing video games. She currently resides in Orange County with her dog Gizmo and can be followed on Twitter @kimaphan.

Full Name:
Kim A. Phan

Hometown:
Dallas, Texas

Current City:
Tustin, CA

Ethnicity:
Vietnamese

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Besides it being the proper way to cut your meat, you should always “Go Against The Grain” to make your life as tenderly awesome as possible, keeping it just the way YOU like it! Take it in bite-sized chunks if you have to, but don’t do what everyone else expects you to do. No one wants a chewy, boring life because that’s tough to swallow. Ultimately, do what you want or think is best for you. To me, it means to challenge myself, to keep an open mind and to never let anyone or anything limit me.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the video game industry?

When I realized how talented, passionate and awesome the people are in the video game industry. We all share the same interests and geek out about the same things. There was never a moment when I made a decision to get into this industry. Instead, I focused on the things that made me successful in my life – determination, knowledge, organization, communication and optimism. Once you level up in these areas, you can apply it to any career.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

The only challenges I faced in my career as an Asian American was trying to meet the expectations of my family. I don’t think they would have been supportive of me pursuing a profession in video games from the start, which is why I chose a job in software engineering. The experience and success I gained from having a “normal” and “acceptable” occupation, made it easier for me to prove to my family that I can do just about anything.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

This might sound silly, but my biggest accomplishment is believing in myself, which has allowed me to do everything I’m most passionate about in life. I’m my biggest cheerleader.

What’s up next?

To help take eSports to the next level and have it one day be a mainstream sport, like football, basketball or tennis. I also want to continue traveling the world and exploring the many different cultures to help me become a better human being.

Quote to live by: ”It is never too late to be what we might have been.” – George Eliot

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Snake/Virgo

Passionate about: Family, eSports, video games, food and rock climbing

Favorite food: I really can’t pick a favorite. I love food!

Can’t live without: My dog Gizmo and natural source of Vitamin D! I’m solar-powered.

What does it mean to you to be asked to participate at Groundbreakers Speak? What do you hope to accomplish or for the audience to take away?

I am very grateful and honored to be a guest panelist at the Groundbreakers Speak and even more geeked out that I get to represent the gaming community! I hope to inspire others with my story and have the audience walk away learning and knowing more about eSports.

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Banh Chung Banh Day – A New Year Story for Tet by ATG

BanhChungBanhDay1Long, long ago in Vietnam, there lived an ancient King named King Hung Vuong. He was a wise and thoughtful king who always tried to please his people and consider new ideas, and because of this, he was loved by his people. King Vuong grew old and he knew that soon it would be time to pass his kingdom on to his successor. The only trouble was that the King Vuong had three healthy sons, and he did not know who would be the best choice. King Vuong, being a wise and caring King, thought very hard about this problem, and in due course, came upon a solution.

He called his three sons together. Rising up to his feet, he declared,”Sons you are all wise and strong, but only one of you can rule our precious Vietnam. So, I have devised a plan to determine which of you shall rule after my passing.” All of the members of the court and his three sons listened attentively, because King Vuong was known to be the wisest ruler in the whole of Asia.

King Vuong continued, “I would like each of you to provide for me a dish of food. You must search for the ingredients, make the dish and serve it to me on the last day of this Lunar Month. On the basis of this dish, I will decide who is to be the ruler of our Kingdom.”

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Immediately after the words had left this King’s mouth, the attendants at the court began to talk in hushed whispers. They knew that this was a very wise pronouncement of their King, because Vietnam, with its large population and small land area, must always give attention to food production to make sure that each person is well fed and healthy.

The three brothers stared in disbelief, “How could our father suggest such a method of deciding? Why does he not test our strength?” said the first brother. “Why does he not he test our computational skills?” said the second brother, surprised. The third and youngest brother just looked at the court and his father and made no comment.

Within days, the two elder brothers had organized their servants and horses and carriages and were racing all over Vietnam and even to other parts of South East Asia to find the most delectable and delicious ingredients for the dish. One brother took a boat out into the South China Sea to fish for the finest tasting fish. The other brother went into the Khmer Mountains to find the most tender boar meat. Yet, the youngest Prince Tiet Lieu, stayed at home and sat on his front step, pondering his father’s request.

By the end of the Lunar Month, each of the brothers had prepared their dishes and came before the whole of the Vietnamese royal court and their wise father King Vuong to present it. The first brother came to the father and presented a fine porcelain dish of flying fish dressed in a sweet chili sauce accompanied by expensive lotus seeds. A hush came over the court as the father viewed the dish and placed it on the table. The second brother came forward, and he opened a large copper cauldron and presented a dish of boar dressed with wild mushrooms and a rare wild fern sauce. Again, all the court watched the father place the cauldron on the table. Then Prince Tiet Lieu came forward and opened his basket and displayed a large flat rice cake. The court and his brothers gasped! Noone would dare offer such simple fare to the royal King Vuong.

BanhChungBanhDay3King Vuong said, “Prince Tiet Lieu, tell me why you have chosen to present me with such a simple rice cake.”

Prince Tiet Lieu said, “Rice is the most precious and valuable of all food found in this kingdom, yet it is also the most abundant. I have prepared a dish that represents my love for you and our beautiful Vietnam. I have cooked it thoroughly then molded it into a round rice cake, and called it Banh Day, as it symbolizes the sky we live under. I have cooked a square rice cake, stuffed it with cooked bean paste and ground meat in the middle and called it Banh Chung. This will symbolize the earth we live on.”

As Prince Tiet Lieu spoke, his two elder brothers tried to mask the grandness of their dishes, as they now understood the wisdom of their younger brother in using ingredients that all the people of Vietnam could have access to. Immediately they fell to their knees in front of their father and younger brother and bowed at the same time the whole court bowed to the father and son, as everyone knew that Prince Tiet Lieu would make the finest King to rule after his wise father King Vuong. After that, King Hung Vuong ordered that this recipe be passed out to all people in his kingdom.

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As the result, the Vietnamese custom is that every year during the New Year celebration, the Vietnamese people cook Banh Chung and Banh Day and use them as special offerings to their ancestors as well as special gifts to relatives and friends during the Tet celebrations. The Banh Chung is very nutritious, has a unique, tasty flavor and may be kept for a long time. All of its ingredients and materials, from the green wrapping leaves to sticky rice and pork, green beans and pepper inside, are all medicine (according to Oriental Medicine) that act to keep harmony between the positive and the negative, thus helping the blood circulate well and preventing diseases.

Together with Banh Chung Banh Day, the Vietnamese people normally eat Banh Cuon (Fun rolls) and Cha (special meat roll made with pork, or beef, or chicken) during the Lunar New Year—because those are so goods and simply because Cha can be preserved for a while in the cold climate, when the markets are not open during the Lunar New Year period (normally 1-2 weeks after the New Year). In Vietnam, there are almost no commercial activities during New Year and a week after so that everyone who works from far away can come back and celebrate the New Year with their family.
BanhChungBanhDay5In Vietnam, family members normally gather for the Banh Chung Cookout. After wrapping the Banh Chung, people put them in a huge pot and cook them for 10-12 hours, depending how large the Banh Chung are. During this cooking period, family members normally gather around the pot and sing traditional songs or tell stories.

Today, ATG volunteers brought the Tet spirit to the children of SPC Danang- House 3&4 by feeding them with Banh Cuon and Cha. (We fed the children this dish last Lunar New Year celebration and they asked if they could have that dish again for this occasion). Though Banh Cuon and Cha are inexpensive in the US, they are pretty pricey and are considered out-of-reach for the little budget of the orphanages such as SPC DN-house 3&4. As the volunteers set up the food, the children gathered around the volunteers to sing and chat happily. We also helped the children celebrate the Banh Chung Cookout. A huge pot filled with pre-wrapped Banh Chung was set up outside in the play yard. After the meal, the children gathered around the Banh Chung pot and continue to sing and listened to the story of Banh Chung Banh Day. On a cold day like this, we felt warm with happy thoughts, as we were able to bring the Tet tradition together with hope and happiness to the children. We hope they feel the same!

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VIETNAMESE TRANSLATION


Sự tích Bánh Chưng Bánh Dày

Ngày xưa, ở Việt Nam có một vị vua già tên là Hùng Vương. Ngài là một vì vua thông minh và biết quan tâm người khác, Ngài luôn cố làm hài lòng hết thảy dân chúng trong vương quốc và luôn quan tâm xem xét các ý tưởng mới lạ và chính vì lẽ đó mà vua Hùng được mọi người hết mực yêu mến. Vua Hùng ngày một già và đã đến lúc trao ngôi báu lại cho người nối ngôi, vua chỉ băn khoăn một điều là Ngài có ba hoàng tử khỏe mạnh và không biết phải chọn ai trong số họ. Vua rất khôn ngoan và suy nghĩ cặn kẽ về việc này và tình cờ Ngài đã nảy ra một cách giải quyết rất đúng lúc.

Ngài gọi ba hoàng tử của mình đến và đứng dậy phán rằng; “Hỡi các con, các con ai nấy cũng đều thông minh và khỏe mạnh nhưng chỉ một trong các con sẽ là người lên trị vì nước Việt Nam yêu dấu của chúng ta. Thế nên ta đã nghĩ ra kế hoạch chọn người sẽ nối ngôi khi ta băng hà.” Hết thảy quần thần trong triều và ba hoàng tử đều lắng nghe hết sức chăm chú vì ai cũng biết rằng vua Hùng là vị vua trị vì thông minh nhất Châu Á.

Vua Hùng tiếp; “Ta muốn mỗi anh em con phải dâng cho ta một món ăn, các con phải tìm lấy cách làm và thành phần để chế biến và sẽ dâng lên ta vào ngày cuối tháng âm lịch này, và ta sẽ biết để chọn xem ai sẽ là người nối ngôi ta.”

Ngay khi vua vừa dứt lời thì cả triều đình bắt đầu bàn tán thì thầm. Họ hiểu rằng đây là lời phán rất thông minh của Ngài bởi lẽ đất nước Việt Nam nhỏ hẹp với một lượng dân số to lớn như vậy thì chắc hẳn ai cũng phải để ý tới việc sản xuất lương thực để đảm bảo rằng ai cũng được no đầy và khỏe mạnh.

Cả ba hoàng tử nhìn nhau ngờ vực; “Làm thế nào vua cha lại có thể đề nghị cách quyết định này được chứ? Tại sao cha không thử sức mạnh của chúng ta nhỉ?”, hoàng tử thứ nhất hỏi. Hoàng tử thứ hai cũng ngạc nhiên “tại sao vua cha không thử tài tính toán của chúng ta?” Vị hoàng tử út thứ ba chỉ nhìn các quần thần và vua cha mà không nói năng gì.

Trong nhiều ngày liền hai vị hoàng tử đầu đã mang theo xe ngựa và người hầu đi khắp Việt Nam, thậm chí ở cả những khu vực thuộc vùng Đông Nam Á để tìm cho được các thành phần ngon nhất về nấu món ngon cho cha. Một người đã đi thuyền qua tận Hải Nam (Biển Đông) để câu được cá ngon nhất, người khác lên tận vùng núi Khmer để tìm món thịt lợn hấp dẫn nhất. Còn Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu ở nhà ngồi ở bậc thềm trước nhà, suy nghĩ về lời yêu cầu của vua cha.

Vào cuối tháng âm lịch mỗi hoàng tử đều đã chuẩn bị món ăn của mình và dâng lên cho vua cha trước mặt tất cả các quần thần trong triều. Vị hoàng tử đầu tiên dâng cho cha món cá chuồn nấu bằng tương ớt thơm lừng và hạt sen đắt tiền trong tô sứ rất ngon mắt. Cả triều đình im phăng phắc khi vua cha xem qua món ăn và đặt nó trở lại trên bàn. Vị hoàng tử thứ hai lên phiá trước và mở cái vạc đồng dâng lên cho cha miếng đùi lợn nấu với nấm rừng và nước xốt dương xỉ rừng quý hiếm. Lại một lần nữa cả triều đình chìm trong im lặng nhìn vua cha đặt cái vạc trên bàn. Đến lượt Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu bước về phiá trước, mở cái giỏ của mình và bày ra một chiếc bánh làm bằng gạo rất to bằng phẳng. Cả triều đình và hai anh của Tiết Liêu đều há hốc miệng kinh ngạc, chẳng ai dám dâng cho vua cha một món ăn quá đơn giản như thế.

Vua Hùng bảo, “Tiết Liêu, nói cho cha nghe tại sao con lại chọn món bánh gạo đơn giản như thế để dâng lên cho cha?”

Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu tâu, “Gạo là thứ ăn quý giá nhất trong vương quốc này, và gạo cũng là thực phẩm dồi dào nhất. Con đã chuẩn bị một món ăn để có thể bày tỏ tình yêu của con đối với cha và cả đất nước Việt Nam xinh đẹp của chúng ta nữa. Con đã nấu chín gạo và đúc vào trong khuôn bánh tròn, và gọi là Bánh Dày để tượng trưng cho bầu trời mà chúng ta đang sống đây. Con cũng nấu một chiếc bánh gạo vuông vức, ở giữa có nhân đậu chín và thịt băm nhỏ được gọi là Bánh Chưng. Đây tượng trưng cho trái đất mà chúng ta đang sống.

Khi Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu nói xong thì hai người anh của chàng cũng cố che đi vẻ to lớn của các món ăn của mình vì giờ đây họ đã hiểu ra sự khôn ngoan của em mình khi dùng những thành phần chế biến thức ăn mà tất cả người Việt Nam đều có được. Ngay lập tức họ quỳ xuống dưới chân đức vua cha và hoàng tử út đồng thời toàn thể triều thần cũng cúi đầu trước vua cha và Hoàng tử Tiết Liêu vì tất cả đã biết rằng Tiết Liêu sẽ là một vì vua tốt nhất sau vua cha. Sau đó, vua Hùng truyền lệnh cho công thức làm bánh này phổ biến cho hết thảy mọi người trong vương quốc của Ngài.

Vì thế, Việt Nam có phong tục là hằng năm cứ đến Tết là người Việt nấu bánh Chưng và Bánh Dày và dùng như món đồ cúng đặc biệt dành để cúng tổ tiên và là món quà đặc biệt dành tặng người thân và bạn bè trong dịp Tết. Bánh Chưng rất bổ dưỡng, có hương vị thơm ngon độc đáo và có thể giữ được trong một thời gian dài. Tất cả các thành phần và nguyên liệu dùng để làm bánh, từ lá gói xanh tới gạo nếp và thịt heo, đậu xanh và tiêu bên trong nhân, tất cả đều là các vị thuốc (theo đông y) có thể giữ cân bằng âm dương giúp máu lưu thông tốt và ngăn ngừa bệnh tật nữa.

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Orphanage Update: A Substitute Mother

By Aileen Nguyen

I have a friend who lives in Da Nang, my hometown.  We met three years ago through an acquaintance of mine while I visited Da Nang for distributions to the orphanages there.  Hong-Phan is very tall for a Vietnamese woman.  She often gets mistaken for a movie star or a model when she walks on the streets of Da Nang because she is very tall, very pretty and well-dressed.  However, that is not the reason that I want to write about her in this article. I want to talk about her dedication to the cause that ATG has been relentlessly pursuing in support of the orphans, whether they come from the streets, live in orphanages, live by themselves, or live with relatives in remote locations.  Like ATG, Hong-Phan wants to give these children the hope that there are people who care for them, who would come often to comfort and look after them.  Then, these children will be encouraged to try harder to study, so that they can escape the vicious cycle that has life has bestowed upon them.

Even with having a family of her own and also a job that requires a lot of her time and effort, Hong Phan has been instrumental to ATG’s aid activities in Vietnam during the last three years.  With her presence on the ground, ATG has been able to extend its support from the orphanages in the cities to those in remote locations.  We also were able to extend our support to orphans who lost both parents or one parent, but still live with extended families and have exemplary school achievement and good behaviors.

Hong-Phan normally comes to visit the orphanages with a SUV loaded with food and supplies purchased with the funds from ATG.  However, since Phan doesn’t own a car, she normally has to borrow the vehicle from friends or relatives so that ATG doesn’t have to incur transportation costs.

1The children from the orphanages have been seeing Hong-Phan often enough that they always break out in a loud cheers when they see her.  They call out “Co Phan den, Co Phan den!” (Auntie Phan is here. Auntie Phan is here!) and rush to the car to help unload the goodies.2

Here you see the children from the House 3 and 4 of  SPC Danang (this center takes street children and raise and trains them until they turn 18) unloading the food and supplies during Hong Phan ‘s visit this past week.

3Hong-Phan doesn’t come to visit the children with just food and supplies.  She often thinks of the children’s needs and talks to me about their mental and psychological needs.  She often talks to these children to comfort them and encourages them to do well in school, to care for each other and to continue to keep up their good behavior.  When she visits the orphanages, she goes directly into their kitchen to observe what they eat and would buy things that they didn’t often have, like meat or milk and fill up their refrigerator with those items.

She has also organized to feed the children their favorite hot meals, such as Mi Quang (a specialty noodle dish in the Danag area) and make sure that everyone has received a satisfying portion of these delicious meals.  On her recent visit this month, each of the children had at least two bowls of Mi Quang, to the point that they forgot to leave a bowl for their Guardian Director (they normally remember to do that as a courtesy).

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Beside Uu Dam, SPC Danang,  Thanh Tam Center for Disable Children, Redcross Danag, Hoa Khanh Center, Quan Chau orphanage. Hong-Phan also helps us to work with the local school districts and local PTAs in the areas with extreme poverty to identify orphans/children in need and provide them with support from ATG.  Together, we have donated 100 bicycles to those children in Da Nang who are without one or both living parents and in extreme poverty, but have achieved good grades and has demonstrated good behavior.  We also provided scholarships to the orphan students of NTH Highschool.  We are in the process of distributing 20 more bicycles and 100 of warm jackets to the orphans/children in the Huong Thuy District (in the outskirt of the city of Hue.)  Hong Phan works with the local RedCross, local PTA and School Board of the districts to select qualified children to receive the aids.   I, as a member of ATG, also review the list to ensure fairness and appropriation of the selection process.  Together, we want to bring the children the care, love, hope and support that normally would come from their own mothers, now made possible by  ATG via Hong –Phan.  She really cares for these children.

For that, I often called Hong Phan a substitute mother….

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December 2013

 

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Going Against The Grain: LeUyen Pham

leuyen

LeUyen Pham is an award-winning author/illustrator of nearly sixty children’s books.  Her books include “God’s Dream,” written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the New York Times Bestselling series “Freckleface Strawberry,” written by Julianne Moore, “Grace for President” by Kelly DiPucchio, the Alvin Ho Series by Lenore Look and “The Boy Who Loved Math” by Deborah Heiligman, to name a few.  She also co-illustrated (with her husband Alex Puvilland) the New York Times Bestseller “Templar,” a 450-page graphic novel written by “Prince of Persia” creator Jordan Mechner.  Her books have garnered numerous awards, including the Society of Illustrators Bronze Medal, the Junior Library Guild recipient, Parent’s Magazine, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio award, among others.  Prior to illustrating books, LeUyen began her career at Dreamworks Feature Animation as a layout artist.  LeUyen lives in San Francisco with her husband and her two adorable young boys, Leo and Adrien.

Full Name:

LeUyen Pham

Hometown:

born Vũng Tàu, Vietnam

Current City:

San Francisco

Ethnicity:

Vietnamese/French

 What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”

I have the perfect drawing that answers that question better than I could with words.

 

brave fish

What made you decide to pursue a career in the book industry?

I don’t know that I decided to pursue it as much as it pursued me. I’ve loved children’s books and illustrating all my life, but I have to admit as a kid I’d never been encouraged by my parents to be an artist. They were more inclined towards a more traditional field for me. In my family, I have an older sister, two older brothers and a younger brother. We were expected to become (in that order): a doctor, a businessman, a dentist, a lawyer and an engineer. I was told that to become artist would mean confining myself to a life of poverty. Of course, this is understandable that my parents, having come from a war torn country, would want their children to pursue the safest of careers. (Also, let’s admit it, with an arsenal of children like that; my parents would never have to pay for professional services ever again! All I’d have to do would be to marry a mechanic, and they’d be covered for life!) Most of my siblings did pursue those jobs, but somehow, when it came to me, I just didn’t go that way. I went as far as attending UCLA for two years as a political science major, before jumping ship and entering art school. Even there, I was told that one could never make a living as a children’s book illustrator, that it was a side job at best. Somehow, for whatever reason, I didn’t listen. I think I’ve got some sort of internal compass in me that always points me in the way my heart needs me to go. Cornball, I know, to say that, but it’s absolutely true. So here I am, having not listened to anybody, and doing exactly what I thought i could never do. Wait a second, holy cow! I think I just accidentally answered the “going against the grain” question.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

Seriously? The BIGGEST challenge is that NOBODY CAN PRONOUNCE MY NAME. I’m not even joking about that! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard my name slaughtered before a presentation. Even some of my closest friends, even editors I’ve known for years, hesitate slightly before introducing me. I think it’s funny, though. And I usually start out any talk to elementary schools or at signings with a proper pronunciation of my name. I even renamed my website to “howdoyoupronounceuyen.com.” I figure, the day any kid can walk into a book store or library and ask for a book by me, and be able to pronounce my name correctly, is the day that I can count myself a success in this field.

Also, publishers who don’t know me who call me are always surprised to hear my voice on the phone. I think they think I’m a man. Which I like to take as close to a compliment, suggesting that my art doesn’t seem more feminine than masculine. But still, if I see another letter addressed to “Mr. LeUyen Pham”, I don’t know what I’ll do…

Other than that, though, I’d have to say that as an Asian American, the publishing field is an extremely welcoming field. I think stories that are not main stream, with culturally diverse characters, are really sought after. So I can’t say I’ve have any complaints!

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

I don’t think I’ve had any really big accomplishments. I think I’ve had a large number of little accomplishments that have led me to where I am. I can’t say with any certainty that any single event changed my life so much that it propelled me to where i am now. I just kept doing what I was doing, kept moving slowly towards my goals, and lo and behold, I look up and find myself having published over 50 books, happily living the life of an artist and feeling very fulfilled.

Wait a second! Holy cow, I forgot my kids. Do my kids count? They’re pretty big accomplishments! Well, actually, they’re still pretty young, maybe I should wait until they’ve moved out of the house before I can say that.

What’s up next?

Oh, brother. What’s NOT up next? I’m one extremely busy illustrator. This year alone I’ve illustrated already 6 books, and I’m not even done yet. Let’s see… I’ve just finished illustrating a book called “Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover,” written by Anne Marie Pace. The book is about a Vampire girl who has a sleepover, but is embarrassed to show her friends her home, as she’s, well, a vampire, and her house is appropriately ghoulish. But the little Vampire girl is really me, a little Vietnamese girl, who was also embarrassed to bring over her best friend. When I was ten, my friend came over to my house and wondered at all the “Vietnamese” stuff around — the shrine to my grandparents, the fact we had to take off our shoes — she even saw chicken feet frying in my mom’s pan! I remember being so embarrassed, but now I look back and wish I’d embraced my culture more. So “Vampirina Ballerina” is a way for me to revisit that part of my life, and in the book, this little vampire girl starts out feeling embarrassed, but with the support of her family, and in realizing herself that it’s pretty cool to be different, she gets her friends to embrace her life too. Other projects? Let’s see, I have a couple board books coming out called “Pat-a-Cake” and “All Fall Down” with Candlewick Books, a huge picture book on “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” where all the different characters (maids a milkin’, lords a leapin’, etc) are represented by different ethnicities around the world (and yes, I have a Vietnamese maid a milkin’, in an ao dai, a Thai drummer, a Japanese lady dancing and all manner of all other races — see the accompanying illustration) coming out next year, a book called “The Princess in Black” written by Shannon Hale, about a very pink girly princess by day, monster-fighting super hero girl by night, and then another young reader book written by Lenore Look called “Alvin Ho”, about a young chinese boy living in Massachusetts who is absolutely afraid of everything, but in a very funny way… I also did a New York TImes Bestselling 450 graphic novel with my husband Alex Puvilland (illustrator extraordinaire and the one critic I trust the most) called “Templar,” written by Jordon Mechner. And then on top of all that, I’ve got a bunch of my own stories coming out. “No Such Thing As Little” (the illustration previously shown is one for this book), “Friends” (a story based on my youngest son), another as yet untitled project… the list kind of goes on, I’m exhausted just thinking of it! Here are some sample pieces of some of my projects.

Alvin Ho

“Alvin Ho”

2

“The Twelve Days of Christmas”

3

“Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover”

From "Sketchtravel", soon to be "Friends"

From “Sketchtravel”, soon to be “Friends”

"Templar"

“Templar”

Quote to live by:

I have MANY quotes, hard to choose one.  So I’ll offer up two:

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.” — Mark Twain

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” — Milton Berle

Funny that my biggest heroes are funny old white guys (that’s not a quote, that’s just me commenting on my quote choices).

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac):

Year of the Ox (go Ox Girl!) and Leo (roar lion!)

Passionate about:

Everything.  Seriously.  I have boundless energy for all things that I’m even a little interested in.  When I grow old, I won’t die, I’ll just burn out at last.

Favorite food:

My mom makes the most awesome cơm gà (chicken rice) in the world.  Like, I dream about it sometimes.  She never makes it for me any more, just for my kids.  Oh, and then sushi.

Can’t live without:

My husband and kids of course!  Then my ten minutes of alone time in the morning with my coffee and the internet.  And, well, so sad to admit this, but : my iPad, NPR, Netflix, Kindle.  Before you judge, remember that I draw and paint in a studio pretty much by myself most of the time and require some sort of intelligent life form emanating from some source, be it virtual or otherwise.

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Wanted: 2014 ATG Board Members

ATG Team at Fashion for a Passion. Courtesy of  Chi Tran Photography.

ATG Team at Fashion for a Passion. Courtesy of Chi Tran Photography.

Professional. Committed. Passionate. Great Time Management. Excellent follow through. Mature. Resourceful. Creative. ATG Attitude.

The ingredients of an ATG Leader.

Are you looking to make a difference? Want to get more involved with the community? Want to make amazing friends and have life changing experiences?

ATG is currently recruiting skilled, enthusiastic, dedicated and experienced leaders who have the necessary time to join our 2014 Board of Directors and Committee Chairs!

Here are the current open positions: 

Vice President

1. Is a member of the Board

 2. Performs President responsibilities when the President cannot be available. 

 3. Reports to the Board’s President

 4. Works closely with the President and other Board members 

5. Participates closely with the President to develop and implement officer transition plans.

 6. Performs other responsibilities as assigned by the Board. Skills needed: Non-profit leadership, project management, strong communication/organization skills, experience in social media and fundraising, relationship builder, strategic thinker.

                                                                                                               

Secretary

1. Is a member of the Board 

2. Maintains records of the board and ensures effective management of organization’s records 

3. Manages minutes of board meetings

 4. Ensures minutes are distributed to members shortly after each meeting 

5. Is sufficiently familiar with legal documents (articles, by-laws, IRS letters, etc.) to note applicability during meetings. 6. Participates in fundraising for the organizationSkills needed: Human resources/organizational behavior, strong communication/organization skills, MS Word/Excel.

Treasurer

1. Is a member of the Board

 2. Manages finances of the organization and creates monthly income/expense reports.

 3. Administrates fiscal matters of the organization, including audit and tax filing. 

4. Provides annual budget to the board for members’ approval.

 5. Ensures development and board review of financial policies and procedures. 6. Participates in fundraising for the organizationSkills needed: CPA/Finance background, budgeting & forecasting, strong communication/organization skills, MS Excel. detail oriented, thorough & accurate.

 

Director of Community Outreach

1. Is a member of the Board. 2. Plans programs and presentations that will translate the organization’s mission to the community. 3. Provide organization linkage and partnerships to other organizations and individuals (including volunteers), working with Directors of Marketing/PR in raising awareness of the organization to the community. 4. Oversee scholarship application and review process. 5. Is an active participant in the committee’s annual evaluation and planning efforts. 

6. Participates in fundraising for the organizationSkills needed: Non-profit leadership, project management, strong communication/organization skills, relationship builder.

 

Director of Marketing/Public Relations

1. Is a member of the Board. 2. Spearhead campaigns to increase community awareness of organization by means of traditional methods (create branding, printed marketing and promotional materials including postcards, pamphlets, brochures, brag book, display board) and Social Media outlets (update and maintain blogs/website,  e-campaign, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube).  3.  Write news stories and press releases, acting as key liaison to print and news/media organizations and individuals.  5. Is an active participant in the committee’s annual evaluation and planning efforts.

 6. Participates in fundraising for the organizationSkills needed:  English/PR/Advertising background, strong press/newsletter writing skills, strong communication/organization skills, time management, ability to work accurately and efficiently under tight turn-around/deadlines, experience in social media and graphic design a plus.

Director of Fundraising

1. Is a member of the Board. 2. Strategize and lead year-round fundraising campaigns to search for funds, donations and sponsorships through grants, public solicitation, business partnerships and annual events (including Fashion for a Passion).  3. Is an active participant in the committee’s annual evaluation and planning efforts.

 4. Participates in fundraising for the organizationSkills needed: Fundraising/project management, strong communication/organization skills, outgoing, relationship builder, strategic thinker, detail-oriented, thorough & accurate, results-oriented, focused.

Director of Programming/Events

1. Work with President and Director of Fundraising and Director of Community Outreach to spearhead organization of  Fashion for a Passion, Groundbreakers Speak, Cocktails for a Cause and any other programming/charity events throughout the year. 2. Research and recruit for designers, artists, musicians, speakers (event participants) 3. Research and secure venue, vendors and volunteer team. 4. In charge of day of logistics. Skills needed: Proven event planning experience, project management skills, detail oriented, ability to work and perform well under high-stress while multi-tasking.

Social Media Chair (non Board)

1. Work with Marketing/Public Relations and Community Outreach Directors to  maintain active and regular presence via Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube/Vimeo, website/blog, etc) to increase public awareness and promotion of organization. 2. Increase search engine optimization. 3. Comprehension of all forms of social media a must. 4. Reports to Director or Marketing/Public Relations. Skills needed:  English/PR/Advertising background, strong  writing skills, strong communication/organization skills, time management, ability to work accurately and efficiently under tight turn-around/deadlines, experience in social media and graphic design a plus.

Graphic Designer (non Board)

1. Design printed and online marketing collateral, including brochures, display signage, press packets, email campaigns. 2. Knowledge of Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator a must. 3. Reports to Director(s) of Marketing/Public Relations.

 

Historian (non Board)

1. Photographer/videographer to document ATG’s on-going activities. 2. Create scrapbook and year-end photo/video montage. 3. Attendance at all events is mandatory. 4. Reports to Director(s) of Marketing/Public Relations

Street Team (non Board)

1. Assist with Marketing/PR team to help with promotion of organization and fundraising efforts through social media, community outreach and annual charity events. 2. Attend and assist at annual community festivals.

 Advisor (appointed by President)

1. Advise President with areas including a) Orphanage Aid 2) Logistics 3) Non-profit leadership management 4) Organizational strategic planning

 

Please fill out and return the ATG Board Application along with your cover letter and resume to Tammy@thebabylift.com by Friday, December 6th. Board elections will be held end of December and announced before the New Year.

Mark your calendar also for the 2014 ATG Board Retreat, a mandatory half day introduction/training that will take place either Saturday, January 4th or Sunday, January 5th.

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Going Against The Grain: Jody Pham

JodyPham_portrait_ATG

Jody Pham is an artist and illustrator based in Dallas. Her love and appreciation for the visual arts began at a very young age, and only grew with time. Her work is distinctively monochromatic, and filled with intricate details that invite the viewer to take a closer look.

She has worked on a wide array of creative projects, from providing illustrations for Stripmall Architecture’s last album, creating bag designs for a collaboration with Cykochik custom handbags, to illustrating the winning canvas-wrapped cooler for Red Bull’s Canvas Cooler competition this Summer. She has showcased her work at the Fort Worth Community Art Center, as well as created live at art shows throughout the Metroplex, including Art Love Magic’s Underground and GirlShow; Local Flavor, Kettle Art’s Holiday Presence, and Art-Hunger’s One Year Anniversary Show. She has also donated original works for various fundraisers and charity events, including Artists Healing Japan in Dallas, and Anatomy for Life in the UK. She’s thrilled to exhibit her work at SCOPE Miami during Art Basel for the first time this December.

In addition to her artistic goals, she aspires for a career in social services, with a focus on the needs of children and families. She recently earned her BA in Sociology from UNT, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Social Work at UTA. She hopes to continue integrating her passions for human services and the arts in her community as she works to further cultivate both.

Full Name:

Jody Lynh Pham

Hometown:

Grand Prairie, Texas

Current City:

Dallas, Texas

Ethnicity:

½ Vietnamese and European (German, Scottish, and Irish)

What does it mean to you to “Go Against The Grain?”:

Accomplishing great things through unconventional methods. Defying conformity and shunning mediocrity. Taking chances. Being resilient, open-minded, and receptive to new ideas and ways of doing things.

What made you decide to pursue a career in the arts industry?

Art is such a powerful tool, for both the creator and observer. It creates a wide array of emotions that captivate and move people. I truly think that art has the power to change lives. It’s been a constant in my life that has always made me feel a deeper connection with the world around me.

What have been some of the challenges you faced/lessons you learned as an Asian American in this field?

In my younger years, it was a challenge to pursue the creative arts, which conflicted with my family’s expectations to I would seek a degree in the Science or Technology spectrum. While they did give me positive feedback about my work, they didn’t consider it a “serious” path that could actually lead to anything.

What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment, and why?

Being the first person in my family to earn my BA, and pursue my Masters. I’m also proud of how far I’ve come after putting my art out into the local art scene in the last couple years. Up until 2011, I had primarily shown my work through online avenues, and was honestly very apprehensive about taking the plunge. I didn’t realize the impact that being face to face with art patrons would have on me. Putting my work out into the community has given me the gift of meeting so many dynamic and passionate people, as well as providing me with opportunities to grow as a visual artist in countless ways.

What’s up next?

I’m preparing to show at SCOPE Miami this December, and also have my first solo show in the works. I also want to be more active in my community in regards to promoting the arts, and volunteering my time.

Quote to live by: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” -Ernest Hemingway

Sign (Eastern Animal Sign & Western Zodiac): Monkey/Aquarius

Passionate about: drawing, multicultural studies, volunteering, learning, cooking Vietnamese food, genealogy, human rights.

Favorite food: Sushi, takoyaki, pho, banh xeo, anything Greek.

Can’t live without: My iPhone.

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