Tom Umberg

Senator Thomas J. Umberg honors API leaders across Orange and Los Angeles Counties

Senator Thomas J. Umberg (D-Santa Ana) hosted his second annual API Leadership Awards Ceremony at the Le-Jao Center at Coastline Community College in Westminster honoring 5 organizations and 20 community leaders as this year’s API Leaders for the 34th Senate District.

California is the most diverse state in the country – a fact that allows the state’s economy to flourish in every industry – from agriculture and beauty industries to entertainment and construction. API Americans account for about 16% of the state’s population and continue to be among the fastest growing racial and ethnic groups. In fact, California is home to about one-third of the nation’s API population.

“Many of us have been shaped or influenced by a person of Asian Pacific Islander-descent who has either blazed a path for others, improved their community, or who has regularly gone above and beyond in their daily life,” said Senator Umberg. “It is my distinct honor to recognize some of Long Beach and Orange County’s most impressive API leaders.”

In honor of May’s designation as Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Senator Umberg received nominations from all over his district seeking to honor organizations and individuals from the API community who have made significant contributions to their locale.

Below are the names and summarized biographies of Senator Umberg’s 2022 SD34 API Leadership Honorees. These honorees will also be highlighted individually as a part of Senator Umberg’s social media pages in the coming weeks.

Outstanding Organizations

Câu Lạc Bộ Tình Nghệ Sĩ (aka, Vietnamese Artists Friendship Development Center):
Câu Lạc Bộ Tình Nghệ Sĩ (aka, Vietnamese Artists Friendship Development Center) was founded in 2010 by Composer Anh Bằng and Dr. Cao Minh Hưng, and is a non-profit organization with members from across the United States, and some other countries. It is well-known among the Vietnamese community overseas for its activities and contributions in cultural and social events with the dual purposes of preserving Vietnamese culture and encouraging and promoting new talents in music, art, and literature. As one example, the organization offers a free Youth Talent Development Program to teach young students the Vietnamese language through music and dance, while educating them about Vietnamese culture and history.

Union of Vietnamese Students Association:
The Union of Vietnamese Students Association (UVSA) is a non-partisan, community-based and youth-oriented non-profit designed to provide a united voice for youth and professional leaders from across Southern California. UVSA was founded in 1982 as a means for the Vietnamese diaspora community to organize socially and politically.

Southern California Edison:
Southern California Edison (SCE) has made significant contributions to the AAPI communities in Orange County and beyond. It was one of the first corporate sponsors of the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance and other AAPI-serving organizations including Vietnamese American Letters Arts Association, Korean American Chamber of Commerce, UVSA, Viet Rainbow, and APIs Mobilize. During the height of the pandemic, SCE’s Ascend Employee Resource Group organized virtual events to raise awareness and stop AAPI Hate. Its activities included working with Asian Americans Advancing LA to provide Bystander Training for employees and community members. SCE leadership and team members are strong AAPI advocates had made valuable contributions as sponsors, and volunteers.

The Asian American Senior Citizens Association: For the past 31 years, the Asian American Senior Citizens Association (AASCA) has organized for the preservation of Vietnam’s traditional culture. The AASCA organizes the Annual King Hung Vuong Commemorative Day Ceremony with thousands attendees and many traditional performances.

Vietnamese League of Orange County, Inc.: The Vietnamese League of Orange County, Inc. (VLOC) was founded in 1976 by newly-arrived Vietnamese political refugee “activists.” VLOC works to provide services to Vietnamese refugees so that they may have a smooth resettlement and bridge the cultural gap among Vietnamese and other ethnic groups in Orange County.

Community Leaders

Fumi Liang:
Originally from Japan, Fumi Liang relocated to Taiwan to attend university. After graduating, she married and immigrated to California in 1977, where she raised her family. Ms. Liang is the Cultural Ministry Coordinator at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection in Huntington Beach, where she manages the daily needs of the Japanese Ministry and serves as a bridge between the English and Japanese-speaking congregations. In the past few years, she organized the church’s Youth Exchange Program with Kyushu Gakuin, in Japan, which is a peace mission tour to Hiroshima and other historic Japanese sites.

Ms. Liang is also the Co-Founder & Board President of Care Connections Network (CCN), a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping older adults age well in their own homes and communities. CCN strives to empower its members by offering educational opportunities to help them age with confidence, social and cultural events to keep them connected with the community, referrals to resources and providers, and a volunteer program providing additional support and assistance. This year CCN will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Ms. Liang was honored as Orange County’s businesswoman of the year in 2014.

Paul Hoang:
Paul Hoang is the Founder and CEO of Moving Forward Psychological Institute. He has actively worked in the fields of mental health, spirituality, community building & organizing, and resource development/enhancement for almost 20 years. Since 2008, Paul has specialized in Emergency Mental Health and Disaster Response Services as well as training professionals and non-professionals in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. In addition to his extensive field experience and clinical skills, Paul’s holistic, mindfulness-and solution-focused approach make him effective in mobilizing and increasing collaboration among stakeholders, community partners, law enforcement agencies, government agencies, and community leaders to identify and address areas for growth and enhancement.

Vattana Peong:
Vattana Peong, MPH, is the Executive Director of The Cambodian Family Community Center (TCF). Under Vattana’s leadership, TCF has doubled its budget and has increased its staff members by 500% in a span of four years. He has raised $2.8 million in grant and contract funding for the past four years to support his organization’s programs and services for the community. He currently serves on two County committees as the Co-Chairs of the Cultural Competency Committee for Behavioral Health Services and Orange County’s Healthier Together (Health Improvement Partnership) and has been selected as a member of the State of California Cultural and Linguistic Competence Committee (CLCC) of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC). He is also a board member of Khmer Parent Association (KPA) and Multi-Ethnic Collaborative of Community Agencies (MECCA). Vattana’s community and volunteer work has earned him several awards, including Asian Pacific Islanders Outstanding Graduate Student Award and Kathryn T. McCarty Scholarship for Scholastic Achievement Award from Cal State Fullerton. Vattana has recently been awarded the 2018 Emerging Leader Award by the Orange County Grantmakers for his emerging leadership and continuing service to the community. He is bilingual and bicultural in English and Khmer (Cambodian) and has a Master’s Degree in Public Health from California State University, Fullerton.

Mary Anne Foo:
Mary Anne is the executive director and founder of the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance (OCAPICA), a nonprofit organization with over 100 employees who speak 26 languages and serve more than 60,000 community members a year. Ms. Foo has been worked for over 30 years with underserved, diverse communities focused on health equity and social justice issues.

Christian Ngoc Huynh:
Christian Ngọc Huỳnh is one of the founders of the Hong Bang Cultural Center, which teaches the Vietnamese language and works to promote and preserve Vietnamese culture and traditional values in America.

Anthony Cao Minh Hung:
Dr. Anthony Cao Minh Hung founded Cau Lac Bo Tinh Nghe Si (aka. Vietnamese Artists Friendship Development Center), a non-profit organization, in 2010 with the purposes of preserving Vietnamese culture and encouraging and promoting new talents in music, art, and literature. Under his leadership, Center members have the opportunity to promote different aspects of Vietnamese heritage and participate in many cultural and social events in the community.

Jennifer S. Wang:
As Chief Operating Officer of the Asian American Senior Citizen Service Center (AASCSC), Jennifer S. Wang oversees a multigenerational and multicultural team dedicated to building a stronger and healthier community through direct services, advocacy, and capacity building. As our community faced the threat of xenophobia and anti-Chinese/Asian sentiments during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Wang led AASCSC to provide masks and host COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics focused on seniors, essential workers, and the most vulnerable populations, resulting in vaccinating nearly 32,000 individuals.

Niki Hoang:
Niki Hoang has been a teacher in the Ocean View School District for the past 18 years. She teaches Algebra, Geometry, and Math 8 at Vista View Middle School. She empowers all students to do their best while helping them balance and reduce the academic pressure that many advanced students place on themselves.

Janice Bui:
Janice Bui is a Program Director at the Vietnamese League of Orange County, Inc. In this capacity, she is in charge of providing services to people in #SD34 with developmental/intellectual disabilities. She is a community leader who is highly respected by the families she serves.

Lam Chau Nguyen:
As the CEO of the Asian American Senior Citizens Association, Lam Chau Nguyen organizes a variety of community charity events annually including the King Hung Vuong Commemorative Day Ceremony with thousands attendees and many traditional performances.

Jonathan Lee:
Jonathan Lee is the Program Manager for the Boat People SOS Center for Community Advancement, Inc. (BPSOS-CCA) in Westminster, where he currently manages all programming from education and mental health to immigration services. Since joining BPSOS-CCA in 2020 as the Program Manager, he has expanded the Center’s processes and infrastructure.

Lisa Kim:
A recognized Southern California professional in the areas of economic development, planning and building, Lisa Kim has made an indelible mark in Orange County’s business landscape since achieving a successful public service career with the Cities of Garden Grove, Orange, West Covina and Pomona. As Garden Grove’s Assistant City Manager and Community and Economic Development Director, Lisa’s profound knowledge, experience, and passion for Garden Grove has led to a number of successful commercial developments, community revitalization efforts, affordable housing initiatives, homeless outreach resources, and active transportation projects in which the collective outcomes to enhanced the community’s long-term quality of life.

Lina Lumme:
Lina Lumme immigrated to America in 2003 and has been involved with non-profit organizations serving the local community since. She is a member of the Fieldstone Leadership Network and holds a Certificate in Volunteer Management, Executive Directors Leadership, and Nonprofit Management, and has served as the Executive Director/CEO of The Youth Center in Los Alamitos since January 2010.

Phong Thu Bui:
Phong Thu Bui has been at the Hong Bang School since 1997, first as a second-grade teacher, then as principal. Bui stresses to his students the importance of student cooperation in education encouraging them to become productive citizens and later adopt leadership roles.

Khang Nguyen:
Khang “Joseph” Nguyen is a board-certified behavior analyst and is currently the CEO and founder of Hearts of ABA, which provides autism treatment for individuals and families impacted by Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). He is committed to teaching and mentoring students in behavior analysis to provide high-quality behavior health treatment for families, especially to the underserved and underprivileged communities.

Linda Nguyen:
Linda Nguyen is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, who has worked with individuals and families impacted by Autism for over 15 years. Linda founded the LOLA Foundation in 2019 with the mission to enhance the lives of individuals and families impacted by Autism.

Jhoanna Belfer:
Jhoanna Belfer is the founder and owner of Bel Canto Books, an independent bookstore in Long Beach that specializes in highlighting the work of AAPI, BIPOC, and other historically marginalized authors and artists. A Filipina-American poet and former hospitality executive, Belfer started hosting pop-up book events in 2018 as a way of connecting her business experience with her lifelong love of reading.

Amy Nkousia Lo:
Amy Lo is a first-generation, low-income, re-entry college student who left her career in retail to attend Santa Ana College. There, she became a well-known leader as the Club Apple President (future teacher’s club), steering the club to earn the College’s Club of the Year Award 2018-2019. At SAC, she became an activist advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves, energy that she channeled into her role as the Regional Vice President of the Student California Teachers Association from 2018-2021.

Emerging Leaders

Uyen Hoang:
Uyen Hoang is a second generation, Queer Vietnamese American from Garden Grove. They currently are the Executive Director of Viet Rainbow of Orange County (VROC), a grassroots organization that is grounded in equity, healing, joy, and social justice, and builds community and mobilizes intergenerationally. Uyen holds an M.A in Asian American Studies, an M.P.H. in Community Health Sciences, and a B.A. in International Development Studies from UCLA.

Brandon Nguyen:
Brandon Nguyen is a graduate student at the University of California Irvine with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He is the Event Director with the UCI Union of Vietnamese Students Association (UVSA) and active with the Vietnamese Catholic Student Association.

These honorees will also be highlighted individually as a part of Senator Umberg’s social media pages in the coming weeks. A photo from this weekend’s event is attached for use.

This article was released by the Office of Senator Tom Umberg.