History of NAAAP Boston


 

History

NAAAP Boston Founded in 1986

The National Association of Young Asian Professionals (NAYAP) was started in New York City.  The New England chapter was launched in 1986 at the China Trade Center building, corner of Boylston and Washington St.  Local leaders from community organizations were amongst the 200 people that attended the inaugural announcement of NAYAP New England.   Over 100 new members signed up during the festivities.   As NAYAP begun to evolve nationally the name was changed to National Association of Asian American Professionals “NAAAP,” creating NAAAP NY, Boston (instead of New England), and Chicago.  In 1992 NAAAP Boston was officially chartered in Massachusetts as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

The original founding members of NAYAP New England were:  Richard Ning, Doris Ho (now Doris Lee), Pung Ho, Cynthia Sung, Brenda Lee-Kang (formerly Lee), Angela Oey (formerly Hee), and Swan Oey.  They saw a huge need for Chinese-Americans (later expanded to all Asian-Americans) to learn how to succeed and get ahead in their jobs and professions.  There were (and still are) stereotypes of Asian behaviors to be exposed and overcome.   They wanted to create a place for Asian professionals to get together, share their experiences, network, create personal as well as professional relationships and otherwise…just have fun. 

Early Years from 1986

NAAAP Boston – The Early Years from 1986

Information about how NAAAP Boston came about from some of the founders and presidents.  The first six presidents were:  Richard Ning, Doris Lee, Bob Yee, James Yung, Steve Ng and Barry Wu.

 

When did NAAAP Boston get started? 

The National Association of Young Asian Professionals (NAYAP) was started in New York City.  The New England chapter was launched in 1986 at the China Trade Center building, corner of Boylston and Washington St.  Local leaders from community organizations were amongst the 200 people that attended the inaugural announcement of NAYAP New England.   Over 100 new members signed up during the festivities. 

 

Why the change from NAYAP to NAAAP?

As NAYAP begun to evolve nationally the name was changed to National Association of Asian American Professionals “NAAAP,” creating NAAAP NY, Boston (instead of New England), and Chicago.  A member of the Boston chapter who was a registered professional architect had presented to the NAYAP leadership with a very well thought out and professionally published treatise/proposal to change the name of the organization and its logo.   The words “Young Asian” was too restrictive and went counter to the basic tenets of the organization and to whom it is serving.  His alternative proposal was Asian American.  The original symbol for NAYAP was the Chinese Kanji for Man ( ). The new symbol was to retain the left brush stroke but replace the other brush stroke with a straight up-and-down western type symbolizing East meets West. The proposal was adopted by all the existing chapters.  In 1992 NAAAP Boston was officially chartered in Massachusetts as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

 

Who were some of the people involved in the start up?

Richard Ning was the prime inspiration in the earliest days.  Richard was a friend of George Chin, one of the founders of the New York NAYAP.   Richard and George were very good friends at Harvard, and both were very active in the Chinese student associations in the Boston area.  They became convinced a NAYAP New England chapter would benefit the Boston community.   The original founding members of NAYAP New England were: Richard Ning, Doris Ho (now Doris Lee), Pung Ho, Cynthia Sung, Brenda Lee-Kang (formerly Lee), Angela Oey (formerly Hee), and Swan Oey.  

 

What motivated the early leaders to start the group?

We saw a huge need for Chinese-Americans (later expanded to all Asian-Americans) to learn how to succeed and get ahead in their jobs and professions.  There were – and still are -stereotypes of Asian behaviors that we wanted to expose and overcome.   We wanted to create a place for Asian professionals to meet one another and network. We encouraged community service, such as supporting the local Chinese social/immigrant service groups.  We fostered professional development skills and behaviors needed for career advancement.  We also wanted the membership to get together, share their experiences, network, create personal as well as professional relationships and otherwise…just have fun.  When you put good people together in a nurturing, open environment with a shared purpose and goal, good things just happen.

 

What was the membership like?

Our outreach was only word-of-mouth, but it proved to be very effective.  We asked people to join and pay a modest membership fee.  In the early years we had 100 – 150 members, in a wide variety of professions.   We attracted Asian-Americans from the city and the suburbs.  Most were first or second generation, Chinese professionals.

 

What kinds of events did the Chapter offer? 

We supported community service agencies such as the local Chinese nursing home, the August Moon Festival, and the Chinese-American Civic Association’s social service activities and Big Sisters of Greater Boston.  We did summer family picnics at Hopkinton State Park and held annual Gala events in Boston to celebrate NAAAP accomplishments and recognize our volunteers.  We organized professional development workshops and speaker panels.  We urged membership to take a primary or secondary stewardship for a particular function, project or development area that they might be interested in.  They could take on as much responsibility as they felt comfortable with the full knowledge that the rest of the organization was there for support should it be needed or requested.

 

What was the organization’s culture like?   

It was vibrant and unique.  There was nothing else like NAAAP at the time.  It was exciting to meet and do things with other Asian-Americans, men and women, from a variety of professions, such as medicine, engineering, education, law, and business.  People enjoyed being together, and social interactions happened easily.  We had little funding other than membership collections and proceeds from events, so it was essential for us to be resourceful.  We held meetings in leaders’ homes, or at restaurants or corporate spaces.  Prime Computer provided the first corporate support for the organization.  We adopted some structure and operating practices so that we were not always reinventing the wheel.  We always sought multiple volunteers to run a given event to set up training for next time.  Members were encouraged to attend our monthly planning meetings. It provided an opportunity for them to develop skills outside of their work environment through volunteerism and organizing events.  For NAAAP it was a way to bring in fresh ideas and to develop future leaders.   We were able to balance the serious work of organizing events and getting tasks done while having fun.  NAAAP members were committed to giving back to the communities, highlighting Asian American Professionals in the workplace and creating a national Asian-American professionals’ organization.

 

Any favorite memories or anecdotes from those early days? 

  • Proud of – Established a scholarship “Significant Achievement and Future Leadership Award.”  With the help of MetLife, who provided funding, we were able to set up an annual award competition to recognize Asian American high school seniors in the greater Boston area who demonstrated both academic and leadership potential.  What was important about this program was that in addition to the awards themselves, it helped portray NAAAP as an organization of professionals to the greater Asian American community, as the awards were annually presented at the Asian American Unity Dinner, a “who’s who” gathering of Greater Boston’s Asian organizations.
  • Activism/Advocacy – In 1990, NAAAP’s “voice” squashed a $10 million dollar national campaign ad by Smart Food, owned by the parent company Frito-Lay Corp.  The Smart Food radio advertisement was offensive in nature towards Japanese Americans.  NAAAP made targeted calls to the radio station, advertising agency, and Smart Food to stop the ad campaign.  To Frito-Lay’s credit, the ad campaign was pulled after a call was made to the EEO/AA department within Human Resources expressing NAAAP’s concerns and its impact on the Asian community. 
  • Achievements – Furthering the NAAAP brand locally and nationally with the establishment of first the Boston and then Chicago chapters.

 

  • Challenges overcome – Creating a NAAAP identity that was distinct from other locally established Asian groups and organizations. Increasing membership enrollment and providing member services to attract and retain members.  Seeking out sustainable funding sources.  In the beginning, we did our due diligence in both organizations in trying to ascertain what this New York entity was all about.  What were their true intentions and goals?  There will always be a lingering apprehension when embarking on a new venture.  Chicago felt the same way when it became their turn to sign on or not.  There was much discussion, but we made it through.  Richard and Bob had longtime friendships with leadership in both organizations.  There was a bond of trust that got us inside to meet the leadership of both New York and Chicago…and the rest is history.

 

  • Memorable Moments – The friendly rivalry between NAAAP New York and NAAAP Boston at the annual retreats.

 

  • Funniest incident – Imagine a group of inexperienced Asian rowers trying to navigate a dragon boat in a busy inner Boston Harbor.

The internet was a baby when NAAAP began.  We did not have Facebook, Linked-in or any social networking tools.  Our monthly newsletters and events flyers went out by Snail Mail – print, fold, stuff, label, stamp, and mail.  There were times when family members young and old were enlisted to help.  

We did not have Webex or conferencing services to facilitate monthly National Committee meetings. We had to rely on a daisy chain of work phones capable of connecting a few members at a time. 

 

Professional Biographies:

Richard Ning was born and raised in Cambridge, MA.  He graduated from Harvard University with a BA in 1978 and later obtained a Certificate of Special Studies in Management and Administration from the Harvard Extension School.  He recently retired after a 37-year career with the US Census Bureau.  During most of those years, Richard managed nationwide field operations for large demographic surveys, such as the Current Population Survey and the National Crime Victimization Survey.  He returned to the Boston area this year, where he actively serves as Chief Grandpa to his 9-year old granddaughter.

Doris Lee, originally from NY, graduated from Tufts University with a BA degree in Sociology.  Upon graduation, Doris remained in the Boston area for 30 years.  Her career has been spent in a variety of positions within the Human Resources arena.  Her industry of concentration has been in high tech companies.  It was Doris who got NAYAP in-kind services from our first corporate sponsor, Prime Computer. In 2006, Doris and her three children moved to Las Vegas NV.

Bob Yee was born, raised and educated in Boston.  He has a BSEE in Power Systems from Northeastern University and an MBA from Babson College.  He spent his entire career in the Nuclear Power industry. He met his wife through NAAAP, and they married and raised two boys.  They currently live in Boston’s Western suburbs.

James Yung was born in Hong Kong, graduated from Bentley University with degrees in Management and Computer Information Systems and a MS in Innovation and Technology from Boston University.  James is a Certified Information Systems Auditor.   In his current position, Associate Director of IS Auditing at Harvard University Risk Management and Audit Services, he leads The Information Systems Audit Group in assessing Harvard’s  IT organizations and Information Technology.  Before Harvard, James held IT and consultant positions leading IT planning, technology assessment, solution design, and ERP implementations.  James and his wife Diane and two daughters reside in Boston’s Western suburbs.

Steve Ng was born and raised in Cambridge, MA. He graduated from Tufts University with an engineering degree and later received an MBA from Dartmouth College. When he was involved with NAAAP he worked at New England Telephone.  Following a career which includes stints at United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase, Steve is now an independent executive and business coach and teaches at the University of Delaware College of Business. Steve lives with his wife and two daughters in Delaware. 

Barry Wu is originally from Western Massachusetts, graduated with BS and MS degrees in Computer Engineering from Boston University and early on had decided that Boston was the place to be.  He began his professional career in software engineering, developing expertise in internet security, including co-authorship of a patent in the field of digital certificates.  As a grown up, Barry is in technical product management at Monster Worldwide and resides in the greater Boston area with his wife Judy and their daughter.

Founding Chapters

NAAAP National’s 1991 retreat held in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was made more structured and accessible to the general membership. 1991 also saw the creation of the NAAAP National Board and election NAAAP’s first National President, Robert Tanzil. NAAAP National held its first “real” convention during the 1992 Labor Day weekend in Chicago with multiple tracks and programming, corporate sponsors and evening gala events. The Labor Day weekend timing of the convention was a tradition for several years. At the request of sponsors and career fair recruiters, the NAAAP National Convention finally changed to occur over a non-holiday weekend in 2000. The NAAAP National Convention site now rotates amongst the NAAAP chapters throughout North America.

The Houston chapter was founded in 1994. The Asian Management Business Association in Seattle joined NAAAP in 1992, and Club Asean in San Francisco joined in 1996. These chapters officially changed their names to NAAAP-Seattle and NAAAP San Francisco in 1999.

To make NAAAP available to a wider audience, beginning in 1997, NAAAP National encouraged the development of chapter start-ups (known as Ventures) throughout North America. A few recent successful ventures who have achieved chapter status include Atlanta (in 2002), North Carolina (in 2006) and Philadelphia (in 2006). Currently, there are more than seventeen ventures and ten chapters across North America, with two in Canada.

Particularly noteworthy is NAAAP-Toronto, founded in 1999, which became NAAAP’s first Canadian chapter in 2001, and was the site of the NAAAP National Convention in 2003. Both Americans and Canadians of Asian Pacific Islander heritage share similar professional needs and challenges, and the growth of NAAAP into Canada reflects this.

As NAAAP grew nationally, it needed to grow internally as well. The NAAAP National Administration team has grown from three positions in 1991 to 12 today with a National Board of more than 20 directors, who represent NAAAP chapters across North America. Realizing that greater collaboration and communication was needed, the National Board meets not only at the NAAAP National Convention, but also during the winter NAAAP National Leadership Academy (first held in Dallas in 2001), and keeps in touch via monthly conference calls. During its 30 years of operation, NAAAP has remained an all volunteer organization, paying only for program-specific services and technology improvements.

Reaching a Broader Mission

The organization has always had a broad reaching mission:

To provide a broad range of professional and educational services that meets the needs of individuals, corporations and government through the efforts, experiences, talents and dedication of our North American Asian volunteers.

NAAAP’s first winter retreat in Dallas in 2001 gathered our organization’s top leaders for personal and organizational development and strategic development. NAAAP created a vision statement in 2001 to bring focus to the mission: “NAAAP is the proving ground for North American Asian professionals forging leaders of tomorrow through professional development, cultural awareness, and community service today.” The smaller intimate winter retreat was renamed the Leadership Retreat and later renamed the Leadership Academy in 2010.

2001 marked the first year that the NAAAP National Convention attracted over $100,000 in corporate sponsorship. Today’s Annual NAAAP Convention and Diversity Career Fair, schedule typically in August of each year, is the largest gathering of Asian professionals, partners, and sponsors in North America. The Leadership Institute on the day prior to the beginning of the Convention presents leadership and professional development sessions to hundreds of NAAAP members and Employee Resource Groups of several Fortune 500 companies.

The NAAAP National technology platform (”Backoffice”) was launched in 2002 to provide a unified web presence and infrastructure for the chapters and ventures.

NAAAP partnered with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2002 to lead a first-of-its-kind study into APA Mentoring and its Effects on Salary Attainment on Career Advancement.

In 2003, NAAAP created its National Advisory Board, and was invited to participate on a federal-level committee, under the auspices of the U.S. General Accounting Office, to contribute to a project on Key National Performance Indicators.

NAAAP has channeled relief aid from the APA community to victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, NAAAP launched its first major national fundraiser to raise money for the victims of tsunami-devastated Indonesia, where our ambitious goal of raising $25,000 was surpassed by the generosity of our members who gave an astounding $30,000. In 2011, NAAAP National and its chapters collected nearly $65,000 in donations for Earthquake-ravaged Japan.

NAAAP has also been vocal in raising awareness of issues such as the HOT97 radio incident and the Adam Carolla show.

2007 is noteworthy for the launch of the NAAAP National Career Center, an online nexus for job opportunities and resumes that targets the Asian Pacific American professionals.

NAAAP has had the foremost APA leaders pass through its halls over the years, including:

  • Jerry Yang, the current CEO of Yahoo
  • Indra Nooyi, current CEO of PepsiCo
  • Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and evangelist for Apple
  • U.S. Secretary of Labor, the Honorable Elaine L. Chao
  • U.S. Congressman, the Honorable Michael Honda
  • Jane Hyun, author of “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling”
  • Qui Duc Nguyen, host and producer of KQED Public Radio
  • Former Washington State Governor, Gary Locke
  • Maya Lin, architect of the U.S. Vietnam War Memorial

30 Years and Growing

30-Years-of-NAAAPx200

In 2012, NAAAP turned 30 years old. We celebrated our 30th anniversary with the NAAAP National Convention and Diversity Career Fair presented by Macy’s in the city of both organizations’ birthplace, New York City. Aptly titled Leadership Never Sleeps, sponsors, speakers, and participants shared the round-the-clock, pioneering spirit of leadership. Agendas, photos, and other details of the Convention and Career Fair may be seen at www.naaapconvention.org

The 2013 NAAAP National Convention will have a decidedly international flair, hosted by the Toronto chapter, one of NAAAP’s largest chapters.

With 27 chapters in all. NAAAP’s ongoing commitment to professional and leadership development will help NAAAP and its partners continue to succeed in years to come. However, the successes do not happen without the enthusiasm, innovation and hard work of NAAAP’s members and sponsors. Be a part of NAAAP’s future as an active member, sponsor or officer, and help write the next chapter of NAAAP’s history!

30 Years of NAAAP Boston Montages