Asia Society Texas Honors Ambassador Gary Locke With 2023 Huffington Award
Award Highlights Locke's Contributions to International Trade, Diplomacy, Environmental Stewardship
HOUSTON, November 15, 2023 — Asia Society Texas presented its annual Roy M. Huffington Award to Ambassador Gary Locke at the River Oaks Country Club of Houston on November 1. Anne and Albert Chao, David and Jessica Firestein, Y. Ping Sun and David Leebron, Selma and Mustafa Tameez, and Ling and George Yang served as honorary co-chairs for the event.
Ambassador Locke was honored for his longstanding commitment to public service. He broke barriers by becoming the first Chinese American governor and the first Asian American to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. As governor, Gary Locke became known for his "common-sense" approach to governance, passing historic bipartisan welfare reform. As the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, he increased exports and found new markets for American-made goods and services. He then doubled American exports to China while serving as ambassador. He also was celebrated for his career-spanning dedication to increasing government efficiency and improving the environment.
Following lunch, Ambassador Locke spoke in conversation with Mustafa Tameez, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Outreach Strategists, a leading full-service public relations and marketing firm. The discussion focused on the value of family and community, the threat posed by climate change, the role of U.S. global leadership, and U.S.-China relations.
Ambassador Locke shared with an audience of 300 guests his thoughts on U.S. politics and international affairs, including his enduring faith in democracy, the "American dream," and the importance of finding common ground and working together despite political and social divisions. He also expressed concern over increasing anti-Asian sentiments and called for a greater understanding of the importance of diversity.
Known for his environmental stewardship, Ambassador Locke underlined the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a collaborative fight against climate change. As ambassador to China, he initiated the U.S. embassy’s air quality monitoring program, which increased awareness of the severity of air pollution. In Ambassador Locke’s view, the U.S. and China both have leadership roles to play in protecting the environment, increasing world trade, promoting peace, and improving public health around the globe. He maintained hope that the two countries would be able to compartmentalize their differences and focus on areas of mutual understanding.
Ambassador Locke shared stories and anecdotes from his career and credited his personal background for playing a significant role in his political journey, including how his family helped immigrants from their Chinese village when they arrived in the U.S. Ambassador Locke also shared how the values he learned from his parents fueled his career as a public servant, along with his hopes that the respect and appreciation he gained through his work would serve as inspiration for others, particularly in the areas of education, employment, trade, health care, human rights, and the environment.
A student from the University of St. Thomas reflected, "Hearing Ambassador Gary Locke push through in every trial and test proves to be a greater motivation in my life. As an Asian American, I think it can be hard to see ourselves represented in politics or other facets. Ambassador Locke reminded each person of their significance and the multitude of possibilities that my generation has access to. The road may not be easy, but it is not an impossible task to achieve."
In presenting the Huffington Award to Ambassador Locke, event chairs Ling and George Yang recognized his inspiring trajectory. Students from University of Houston, University of Houston – Clear Lake, University of Houston Downtown, Rice University, University of St. Thomas, and Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory School of Houston were in attendance. Luminaries in the audience included Sushila* and Durga Agrawal, Eddie Allen*, Anne and Albert Chao*, Jay Cuclis*, China and Roberto Contreras*, Paula and Reggie DesRoches, David Firestein, Charles Foster*, Kathy and Glen Gondo, Kathy and Marty Goossen*, David Harvey*, Farhina and Mohsin Imtiaz*, Renu and Suresh Khator, Kevin Lewis*, Sultana and Moez Mangalji*, Gordon Quan*, Sue and Randy Sim*, Y. Ping Sun* and David Leebron, Selma and Mustafa Tameez*, Ling and George Yang*, as well as representatives from the consular corps.
* Designates an Asia Society Texas board member
View more photos on Flickr »
About the Huffington Award
The Roy M. Huffington Award for Contributions to International Understanding is named after its first recipient, Roy M. Huffington, Texas oilman, philanthropist, and co-founder of Asia Society Texas. Celebrating outstanding contributions to international diplomacy and cultural, social, or economic understanding, the award is the highest honor given by Asia Society Texas. Past award recipients include President George H. W. Bush, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, and Princess Zahra Aga Khan.
About Asia Society Texas Center
Asia Society Texas is an educational and arts institution that believes in the strength and beauty of diverse perspectives and people. As a member of the global network of 14The Asia Society locations, we are passionate about advancing cultural exchange, inspiring empathy, and fostering a better understanding of our interconnected world. Spanning the fields of arts, business, culture, education, and policy, our programming is rooted in the educational and cultural development of our community—trusting in the power of art, dialogue, and ideas to combat bias and build a more inclusive society.