Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Feeding the Hungry through Farming with Solid Ground

NAAAP-Seattle volunteers returned to the land…for four hours of farming at the Giving Garden, Marra Farm in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood on March 26.

The local non-profit Solid Ground operates Marra Farm as an “urban community farm engaging people in sustainable agriculture and education while enhancing local food security.” Marra Farm Manager Sue McGann said the organic food grown on these four acres help feed the local community, comprised of mostly Latinos and a large Asian minority, through Providence Regina House Food Bank, Mien senior citizens, and Concord Elementary School.

The NAAAP-Seattle volunteers learned first-hand about the cycle of growing food. NAAAP-Seattle pruned the raspberry patches, cleared clubroot diseased patches, transported compost, and tilled beds of soil. All volunteers were newcomers to Marra Farm, and most had never tried farming before.

Volunteers included Jiunn Lee, Miles Matsumoto, John Park, Howard Yu, Tracy Zhen, CH Lee, Timothy Chang, Micah Chan, Jason Nguyen, Janet Chu, Cheng Lee, Yen La, Phillip Yu, and Richard Palawan.

Five NAAAP-Seattle board members also volunteered: Community Service Chair Jenafer Park, Technology Chair Sherwin Tsao, Vice President-Operations David Eam, President Gil Gido and PR/Marketing Chair Julie Pham.

Community Service committee member Jiunn Lee led the project. Jiunn said that some people even contacted him at 1 am the night before the event to sign-up.

"We're really thankful for all the volunteers who came because every thought and hardwork counts at the end of the day," said Jiunn Lee. "It just feels great to see people from different backgrounds giving up their precious time to volunteer."

For first-time NAAAP-Seattle volunteer Cheng Lee, he said he signed up for the event because he was “curious about farming.”

“I sit in my office and (computer) program all day,” said Cheng Lee. “It was really interesting to learn about farming, about the clubroot disease.”

Cheng Lee added, “It was a great workout, better than just going to a gym. And we did a lot of teamwork exercises because we had to share tools.”

According to McGann, Marra Farm attracts over 1000 volunteers each year. Last year’s crop yielded a record-breaking 22,000 pounds from one acre. “It was 9,000 pounds more than in any other year, despite the super cold weather,” said McGann.

People don’t just go to Marra Farm. “Sometimes people come here for birthday parties. Groups farm for four hours, eat birthday cake, and donate some money to the program,” said McGann. “In September, we’ll have our annual outdoor movie screening. People will eat roasted corn, bring blankets, and watch a movie under a starry sky.

Since the South Park bridge's closure last June, many of the local businesses have been hurt. The volunteers ended their day's worth of farming by dining at South Park Mexican eatery, Muy Macho.

Miles Matsumoto also created a photo documentary of the day's event.

Photos: (top) David Eam and Sherwin Tsao clearing clubroot patches; (middle) group photo of NAAAP-Seattle volunteers; (bottom) Gil Gido on the path to the fields.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Understanding what it means to be a child of a Tiger Mother

On March 16, psychotherapist John Tran of Capitol Hill Counseling led 22 audience members in a fun, interactive workshop entitled "Are you the child of a Tiger Mother?" at the Taiwan Center. Playing on Amy Chua's concept of a "Tiger Mother," a caricature of an overbearing Asian mother who demands nothing less than perfection from her children, Tran engaged the audience in a discussion on who we are and how we make decisions.

"I'm glad NAAAP gave me this opportunity to present it," said Tran. "I was a bit iffy on whether the topic would be well-received, but the community pulled through with some wonderful and insightful questions and comments."

The audience included old-hands and newcomers to NAAAP-Seattle.

Former NAAAP-Seattle PR/Marketing Chair and currently San Francisco-based Joneil Custodio made time for the workshop during his short stay in Seattle.

Three psychotherapy students from Argosy University came to observe. Their professor, Dr. David Walker, encouraged them to attend events organized by ethnic-based associations, including NAAAP, so that they could experience being a minority.

"We're learning to treat and assess diverse communities," said Rachel Gabriel, first-year Psych.D student. "Part of our training is to see what it's like to be the only white person in a room and to confront big issues you don't know anything about."

The students said they learned a lot from the workshop.

"It was very enlightening.," said Leonara Cabrera, a first-year Masters student. "I came from Mexico and it's really interesting to hear the Asian perspective."

"The seminar consolidated a lot of what our readings have been saying about Asian culture," said Ashely McCauley, a first-year Masters student. "It was great to get a fresh, human perspective."

"I found the Tiger Mom dialogue to be intriguing," said Tonya Knox, a State Farm Insurance Agency Field Recruiter. "To be honest, I did not understand the scope of the concept until the presentation. I see both the benefits and disadvantages of having a Tiger Mom."

Even those well-versed in the literature on the Tiger Mother attended the workshop, including Asian American Journalists Association National Secretary Athima Chansanchai, who authored her own commentary on the matter, entitled: "I still love you, Tiger mom, dad."

Professional Development Chair Michael Okimura's first time organizing event proved to be a success.

"I really enjoyed this event. We've been to three different ethnic based organizations and this group felt the most friendly and welcoming," concluded Gabriel. "I would come back to NAAAP events."

Proceeds from admission fees were donated to help Japan.

For more information on or to volunteer with NAAAP-Seattle's Professional Development program, please contact Michael Okimura at

Photos: (top, from left to right): Ashley McCauley, Leonara Cabrera, and Rachel Gabriel; (middle): crowd; (bottom, from left to right): Michael Okimura and John Tran.

Mixing it up at Via Vita

The First Friday Monthly Mixer on March 4 at Via Vita Cafe in Bellevue drew a full house, with over ninety people, including 12 new members.

Volunteers at registration included: Melissa Itti, Richard Palawan, Steven Quan, Mikki Liu, Sherwin Tsao, and Bifei Xie. Like Zhang and Steven Quan served as the volunteer photographers for the evening.

First-time First Friday Mixer goer Bifei Xie also volunteered at registration. She said she met NAAAP-Seattle Social Chair Heidi Yu at a NAAAP-Seattle Speed Mentoring event co-organized with Asian Student Commission at the University of Washington.

"Heidi Yu becomes my mentor after that event and she told me about the mixer and asked me to come and help," said Bifei. "Even though I was volunteering at registration, I still got to meet many wonderful and friendly people. They were easy-going and kept making me laugh throughout the event."

Xie added, "I liked the venue too. It was small and cozy. Whenever I turned around, I met another wonderful person to talk to."

Join us at our next First Friday Monthly Mixer at Sullivan's Steakhouse's on April 1. For more information or to volunteer, please contact NAAAP-Seattle Social Chair Heidi Yu at

Photos by Like Zhang.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Help Relief Efforts for the People of Japan

Many of you are aware of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that has greatly affected Japan and other areas in the Pacific. Many of you may also have relatives, friends, or colleagues that have been dramatically impacted by this tragedy.

NAAAP has issued a press release, which is available on the NAAAP National website (at or We are encouraging members and the public to donate to the NAAAP Fund for Japan Relief, for which all proceeds will be sent to Direct Fund International This site takes no overhead expense and gives 100% of these donations to provide aid to victims.  The way this donation works is that donors will click on a PayPal link, donors will be prompted to type their name and the amount they want to donate and the name of their chapter or venture into the optional textbox.

Seattle Organizations Helping in the Relief Efforts


Local TV Coverage from King5



For more information on the National Association of Asian American Professionals, please visit or .

For additional coverage of the Japan earthquake on King 5 TV, please visit

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Potting and Planning for Future Forests

NAAAP-Seattle ventured outside the city and into Lake Sammamish State Park to volunteer for the first time with Seattle Works and Mountain to the Sound Greenway on a chilly but sunny Saturday morning, March 5.

Seattle Works is a non-profit that connects people with volunteer opportunities. The Mountains to Sound Greenway stretches over 100 miles along Interstate 90 from the shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, over Snoqualmie Pass and into Central Washington. The Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust aims to protect these lands and preserve them for public benefit.

NAAAP volunteers included John Park, Dan Hu, Jaydee Ocon, Steve Yao, Rick Fok, as well as Community Service Chair Jenafer Park, Technology Chair Sherwin Tsao, and PR/Marketing Chair Julie Pham.

First-time NAAAP event- goer Ricky Fok learned about the event through NAAAP-Seattle member Steve Yao.

But Fok is no stranger to outdoors community service. “I like being outdoors and doing outdoor manual work,” said Fok. “Today, the weather was fine and the people were friendly, so it made the work easy. I would definitely volunteer with NAAAP again.”

Dan Hu said he’s been to NAAAP events on and off over the past few years.

“I look forward to getting back to doing more community service with NAAAP,” said Hu.

Jema Hayes, Mountain to the Sound Greenway Volunteer Program Coordinator, said the activities at the nursery are done with 95% volunteer power.

According to Hayes, 41 volunteers that morning potted approximately 1040 trees in 2.5 hours. Aside from potting Red Alders, Vine Maples, and Douglas Firs into 1- and 2-gallon pots, the volunteers clipped roots, shoveled soil, and pruned seedlings. The trees will grow in the pots at the nursery for 1-2 years before being planted in parks and forests along I-90.

NAAAP-Seattle's Tips for those considering volunteering at Mountain to Sound Greenway:
1) wear lots of layers because you will get warmer with work
2) wear old clothes because you will get very dirty
3) bring a pair of knit or leather gloves to wear under the thin gardening gloves provided for extra insulation
4) your shoes will get very muddy, so bring newspapers to protect your car floor mats.

Hayes said that they are still looking for volunteers for next Saturday, March 13 to plant more trees. The snow days set the planting back this spring. For more information, please email Hayes at

On March 26, NAAAP-Seattle will continue their outdoors volunteer adventures at Marra Farms. For more information and to sign-up, please email Jenafer Park

Monday, March 7, 2011

NAAAP San Diego hosts the 2011 NAAAP Leadership Academy

San Diego, CA - The 2011 NAAAP National Leadership Academy took place in San Diego, California on February 25 - 27th, 2011. The highly anticipated event drew an impressive crowd with over 70 representatives from NAAAP's 13 chapters and 13 ventures taking a part.

Day 1 - Welcome reception

Starting off the weekend long academy was Casey Tanaka . He was elected Mayor in November of 2008 and was sworn in as the 50th Mayor of the City of Coronado on December 2nd, 2008, after having served as City Councilman from 2002 to 2008. Much of what he talked about in terms of career aspirations and success were familiar to many and yet the message was clear, "we need leaders from the Asian American community". Being of Japanese descent, he believes that the National Association of Asian American Professionals is the place to develop leadership skills.

Day 2 - Main Session
On day 2, Dr. Vu Pham, a Senior Advisor to NAAAP based out of Los Angeles, kicked off the main session. His keynote drew on the many definitions of the word draw. In one sense, he illustrated draw as a competition, like that in a gun duel, and in another sense to draw as in to create opportunities. In another sense draw could mean to be picked from a pool or ellicit responses. In all of these definitions we gained a larger picture of what leadership meant.

Day 2 - Breakout Session Panel (l to r) Tamara Strickland (Atlanta) Gil Gido (Seattle) Jean Lo (Connecticut) Jason Wong (Phoenix) and Moderator Fabian DeRosario (Atlanta)
As far as breakout sessions goes, 14 sessions covering important topics like Chapter and Venture Development, Volunteer and membership management, Marketing and Budgeting. In parallel, the National Board of Directors met in person to discuss matters of the organization while electing in Edward Hwang as Chairman of the Board for another term.

To put a cap on an inspiring weekend, the Academy attendees were given a guided tour of the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), a destroyer commissioned on October 10, 2009.

NAAAP Board of Directors touring the US Destroyer Meyer (l to r) Hang Chen (Seattle) Petula Lee (Boston) Thomas Sims (New York) Evan Osborn (Colorado) and Rose Olea (Chicago)

Thank you to the NAAAP San Diego for hosting this year and to our key sponsors - CIA, US Navy, and US Secret Service. In addition, thanks to SAIC and Golden Eagle Insurance.
Sponsor Links:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Community Leaders Event at Ruth's Chris Steak House

(clockwise) Ruth's Chris Steak House; Community Leaders Networking; Starr MacDonald (EDI); Jose Olguin (State Farm) and Micheal Okimura (NAAAP Seattle)

Bellevue, Wa - An evening of networking among a variety of community organizations was held at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Bellevue and hosted by State Farm. This was an opportunity for community leaders to share about their organizations and to connect them as we all share common goals and interests in the community. The event was also an appreciation for organizations that have a strong presence in the Seattle area.

The list of organizations attending to name a few were the Filipino Community Center of Seattle, African American MBA of Seattle, National Society of Hispanic MBAs of Seattle, Western Washington Indian Association, Executive Development Institute, The Central Area Motivation Program, Clear Channel Outdoor, Communities In Schools, SCIPDA, and the Asian Counseling and Referral Service.

As part of the gift giveaway part of the program, Starr MacDonald of EDI, also celebrating an anniversary, took home a basketful of goodies.

Thanks for a great evening of networking and Like a good neighbor, State Farm was there.

NAAAP Seattle Board

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


The prestigious 10th Annual Asian American Engineer of the Year Award was held on Feb. 26 at the Hilton at SeaTac Airport. Around 600 people attended and NAAAP-100 winner Dr. Qi Lu of Microsoft and Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, were the keynote speakers.

Claire Ke Ding, Kevin Chang, Michael Okimura, Yugo Nawa, Sherwin Tsang, Jack Wang, Chen Wang, Ninette Cheng, Ben Zheng and Heidi Yu represented NAAAP-Seattle at the event and they got to meet engineering luminaries such as CIE-USA Chair Jiin Chen, Dr. Qi Lu, Harry Shum, Jim Albaugh, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Su of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft CHIME president Yushi Shen.

Photos by Ben Zheng. Top: NAAAP with Mr & Mrs. Su of the Greater Seattle Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Middle: NAAAP with Jim Albaugh; Bottom: NAAAP with Dr. Qi Lu.

Speed Mentoring with UW students

While many students choose to party and go clubbing last Friday, Feb. 25, a dozen undergrads gathered at Mary Gates Hall, University of Washington, to look for career guidance. They came in hopes of finding a mentor.

NAAAP-Seattle and the UW Asian Student Commission created the speed mentoring event to give students the opportunity to connect with professionals of all different fields and backgrounds. These professionals included a Seattle Times journalist, an Amazon program manager, State Farm HR representative, Microsoft senior consultant, HiSoft Technology International manager, chiropractor, MBA graduate student/entrepreneur, and two UW Medical School graduates.

Marian Liu, a master networker and NAAAP-Seattle's VP of External Affairs, gave the participants many useful tips and advice on networking. The students then networked with the professionals.

At the end of the event, NAAAP-Seattle surveyed the students and the feedback came back positive. All of them said that they would recommend this event to their friends. All the students also positively expressed (89% yes; 11% maybe) interest in attending other NAAAP event.

Photo: Marian Liu gives students networking tips.