Event Recap: Asia Game Changer West Awards Gala 2023
Honoring Innovative Leaders Impacting Asia and the World
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, April 19, 2023 — Asia Society Northern California hosts its fifth annual Asia Game Changer West Awards Gala at San Francisco City Hall, celebrating the organization's 25th anniversary. Asia Game Changer West Awards are bestowed to individuals, organizations, and movements that have inspired, enlightened, and shown true leadership in areas that reflect Asia Society’s core pillars of policy and business, technology and innovation, arts and culture, and education.
2023 Asia Game Changer West Honorees:
- Chong-Moon Lee, Founder & Chair, Ambex Ventures; Asia Society Trustee; Chair Emeritus, Asia Society Northern California
- AAPI Youth Rising
- Tammy Ma, Plasma Physicist, National Ignition Facility on behalf of the Lawrence Livermore National Lab team
This year's Asia Game Changer West Awards Gala was emceed by Margaret Conley, Executive Director of Asia Society Northern California. Speakers included London Breed, Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco; Russell Jeung, Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate; Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University; 2022 Asia Game Changer West Honoree; Peter Schwartz, Chief Future Officer, Salesforce; John S. Wadsworth, Jr., Advisory Director, Morgan Stanley; Asia Society Trustee Emeritus; Asia Society Northern California Honorary Chair; Evan Low, State Assemblymember, California District 26; Gary Rieschel, Asia Society Northern California Board Chair; Founding Managing Partner, Qiming, Asia Society Trustee; Kayla Valencia, West Coast Outreach Lead, Southwest Airlines; and Christian Daly, External Affairs Officer for Northern California, California State Treasurer Fiona Ma.
Ashlyn So, a 15-year-old fashion designer and accidental activist, who most recently had shows in Paris and New York Fashion Week showcased some of her newest pieces in a fashion show during the dinner ceremony, as well as the rotunda steps. Charya Burt an acclaimed master dancer, choreographer, vocalist and teacher of Classical Cambodian Dance performed a traditional dance performance using the grand rotunda staircase as her stage.
Entertainment during the VIP Reception and other portions was provided by violin duet Aidan Perreault and Kathleen Yuan, and Japanese Taiko drum group Taiko SOBA.
Some additional photographs can be viewed via this gallery.
Asia Game Changer West Awards Gala Videos
Watch highlights from Asia Society Game Changer West Awards Gala 2023
Game Changer West Awards and Acceptance Speeches
Mayor of San Francisco London Breed kicked off the ceremony by discussing APEC and opportunities for San Francisco as host city this November. Mayor Breed then presented Asia Game Changer West Award to Chong-Moon Lee, Founder & Chair, Ambex Ventures; Asia Society Trustee; Chair Emeritus, Asia Society Northern California. In presenting this award, Mayor Breed remarked that Mr. Lee was an extrordinary business leader and philanthropist ahead of his time, paving the way for future generations. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Lee stressed his remarkable contributions in connecting Silicon Valley to Asia over the years, and the importance of maintaining business relations between old and new players as the world changes and competition rises. Mr. Lee was then followed by Jack Wadsworth, Advisory Director, Morgan Stanley; Asia Society Trustee Emeritus; Asia Society Northern California Honorary Chair. Mr. Wadsworth discussed the strong common interest between the two of them to promote entrepreneurship as well as philanthropy, and the upcoming era of scaling Asia Society Northern California as a leader in connecting the West Coast and Asia.
The second award was presented by Russel Jeung, Co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate; Professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University; and 2022 Asia Game Changer West Honoree. As a leader in the AAPI community, Russell Jeung awarded AAPI Youth Rising for being a hopeful organization, paving the way for concrete, non-violent ways of making social changes, and for leading over 50 chapters across the U.S. Mina Fedor, Executive Director of AAPI Youth Rising accepted the award with the youth board. Mina talked about AAPI Youth Rising's core message - that small actions are key in driving instrumental change. She also shared the movement's ongoing effort to promote and include AAPI history in curricula across the United States. In her concluding remarks, Mina asks the audience to continue supporting and dreaming alongside youth, and working together one step at a time to aim for a future that is brighter for all.
The third award was presented by Peter Schwartz, Chief Future Officer at Salesforce. As an aerospace engineer himself, Peter Schwartz shared how remarkable Tammy Ma and her team's achievement was. For decades, many believed fusion was and always would be 50 years away until the Lawrence Livermore National Lab team’s recent work, under the leadership of Tammy Ma. Tammy Ma accepted the award on behalf of her team, sharing information on the great laser at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the laser started as a small beam of light, but is now the world's largest and most energetic laser, with each fire being greater than 1,000 times of the U.S. electrical grid, creating mini stars. Tammy discussed that her achievement was made possible by standing on the shoulders of giants who paved the way. She shared that for many Asian Americans, this includes parents and relatives taking great risks as immigrants to come to the United States. To close her speech, Tammy shared that immense innovation and change is possible and will continue to be possible thanks to the giants who paved the way for clean, plentiful energy, and a future of innovation.
25th Anniversary Celebration
At the Gala we celebrated Asia Society Northern California's 25th anniversary. Asia Society Northern California's efforts in bridging Asia to the West Coast in innovation, technology, cultural and politics were highlighted. Gary Rieschel, Asia Society Northern California Board Chair; Founding Managing Partner, Qiming, Asia Society Trustee, shared exciting future plans, including the launch of the Seattle Center. To end his speech, Gary talked about the importance of the Asia Society mission today, especially as geopolitical tensions rise and new issues emerge.
Asia Society Northern California has had long standing relations with the California local government. As a leader in AAPI advocacy in the California State Legislature, Assemblymember Evan Low talked about the collective responsibility of holding elective representatives accountable in creating an equitable society. Christian Daly from California State Treasurer's officer wrapped up the night with a speech honoring the game changers, introducing them as pioneers, trailblazers, and champions.