Sunday, April 18, 2010

Where are they now? Li Tan, NAAAP Seattle President 2005 - 2006

Hello, my name is Li Tan. I served on the NAAAP Seattle Board of Directors for four years: two as treasurer and two as President. During my term as President, we hosted the NAAAP National Convention. The time and effort that we put into planning and fundraising for the convention was equivalent to a full time job, but it was worth it in the end. Our co-chairs, Joneil Custodio, Janet Ung and Charles Wu did a great job of taking charge and ensuring that the convention was a huge success. By now, most of us have currently moved on to other boards. This year, I became the President of the Asian Counseling and Referral Services board (ACRS) and am serving my second term on it, and Charles (full disclosure: he is my husband) is currently the President of the International Community Health Services (ICHS) Foundation. Without the experience and relationships that I had developed while being involved with NAAAP, I don’t think that I would have the opportunities that I have today.

One of the great challenges of being involved in NAAAP is working with people from many cultural backgrounds. When I refer to culture, I am not limiting myself to ethnicity but am including work experiences, types of jobs people hold, and where we grow up. I think that all of these things contribute to who we are and how we behave. In my profession, I work with many like-minded individuals, so it was nice to be in an environment with many different types of thinkers which is what NAAAP provided. This type of environment allowed me to further develop my leadership skills and appreciate how hard work and collaboration can significantly pay off. The best example that I can use for this is the convention. We had 3 co-chairs, while Asian on the outside, came with differing perspectives. I brought these three individuals together and discussed with them their interests and strengths and used this discussion to determine what types of responsibilities and subcommittees they would lead. With this structure, we were able to meet our fundraising goals and offer two days of relevant programming to our participants and sponsors. The feedback that I received from one of the co-chairs was that she appreciated that I did not micromanage and allowed her to take the lead for her subcommittee.

As a result of my experience with NAAAP, how did I end up on the ACRS Board? One of our convention volunteers was a former Development Director for ACRS who nominated me to serve on their Board. Without the opportunities to use and further develop my leadership skills outside of my profession and the relationships that I developed, I wouldn’t have had the exposure to the Asian and Asian American community and the honor of serving on another board. I highly encourage Asians and Asian Americans to become fully engaged with NAAAP. Don’t expect that you will magically be presented with opportunities when you join. As my story shows, these opportunities were presented to me through hard work and dedication.

Li Tan
NAAAP Seattle
President 2005 -2006

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