Local Asian American Community Leaders Honored at The University of Texas at Austin

Four community leaders and one organization have received the 2nd annual Asian American Community Leadership Awards at The University of Texas at Austin for their contributions to the Asian community in Texas.

Longtime Austin residents Dr. George C. Chang and Ali Raza Khataw each received a community leadership circle award as did Dr. Martha Jee Wong of Houston.

Chang, a former program manager for the city of Austin, is credited with pioneering the effort to gain support from Austin leaders to recognize Asians as a minority group. No other city in Texas gives Asians this status.

"As a volunteer and engineering manager, I have been presented with many awards, but I can proudly say that this is the best award I have ever received in my life," said Chang.

Khataw, chief executive officer of Encotech Engineering Consultants Inc., has increased the city's Asian American Chamber of Commerce membership while in his role as chair and has helped local entrepreneurs start businesses leading to the promotion of economic development in the area. Wong has been a trailblazer in state politics as the first woman of Asian descent to serve two terms in the Texas House of Representatives and the first Asian American to win a seat on the Houston City Council.

Dr. Mitchel Wong, recognized as the first baby born of Chinese descent in Austin, received a legacy award. As the founder of Austin Eye, a successful ophthalmology practice operating since 1969, Wong is working to establish an ophthalmic nursing program, and is interested in partnering with the the university's School of Nursing.

The Network of Asian American Organizations (NAAO), led by President Channy Soeur, is the leading service and information network that promotes the Asian American community. It has 15 member organizations that cover a multitude of services, projects and advocacy work, including a plan to design and build an Asian American Resource Center. NAAO received the community partnership award.

"Each of these honorees has displayed great leadership, dedication and commitment to addressing the needs of the Asian American community in Texas," said Gregory J. Vincent, vice president for diversity and community engagement. "We honor them for advancing the Asian American community's issues and concerns so that they may receive adequate attention and be placed in positions of priority."

"We are very proud to honor these Asian American community leaders for their contributions to building community and forging new paths for Asians in Texas," said Dr. Madeline Hsu, director of the Center for Asian American Studies. "The Asian American community has and continues to contribute to diversity in Texas."

The event was held at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center on May 11 and was hosted by the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement in partnership with the Texas Exes Asian Alumni Network and the Center for Asian American Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.