2022 Unity Dinner

Date: Friday, May 6, 2022

Time: 6:00 PM – 9:30 PM

Location: UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren Street, Lowell, MA 01852

Tickets: Eventbrite Page

Facebook Event Page

About this event

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islanders Month, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American and Pacific Islanders Commission (AAPIC) would like to invite you to our 14th Annual Unity Dinner on Friday, May 6, 2022. The Annual Unity Dinner serves to promote deeper relationships among Asian American & Pacific Islander communities and between all ethnic backgrounds. Each year over 300 leaders and members from the Asian American and Pacific Islanders community across Massachusetts gather to celebrate and honor the community’s achievements.

This year we will highlight the extraordinary work of individuals and organizations in our Commonwealth through three award categories: Leadership for Inclusion & Diversity, Lifetime Achievement, and Community Hero. Our 2022 awardees are Dr. Carolyn Rubin for our Community Hero Award, Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (UMass Amherst) for the Leadership for Inclusion & Diversity Award, and Michael Liu for the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Click on the following slideshows for the full experience: MAIN PROGRAM SLIDESHOW | PHOTO SLIDESHOW

AAPIC would like to thank you!

What a way to bring in #AAPIHeritageMonth! A big shoutout to our attendees and sponsors!

“It was such a heartwarming moment to finally have our Annual Unity Dinner again and in-person. Being in the presence of our AAPI leaders from all corners of the Commonwealth was so powerful and a testament to just how unified we are. While celebrating AAPI Heritage Month is start, we hope to continue getting the support, respect and recognition we deserve all months of the year. Special thank you to our host city, Lowell, home to the country’s first Cambodian Mayor, Sokhary Chau, and thank to our host venue, UMass Lowell’s Inn & Conference Center for the wonderful hospitality.”

– Commissioner Philjay Solar, Unity Dinner Chair

This event was brought to you by

$2500 – Helping Hands Sponsor

  • DotHouse Health 
  • UMass Amherst

$1000 – Creating Change Sponsor

  • Enterprise Bank
  • Association of Independent Colleges & Universities in Massachusetts
  • New England College of Optometry 
  • Robert McCarron
  • Gary Chu 

$500 – Community Impact Sponsor

  • Asian Women for Health
  • Heang Rubin
  • Angkor Dance Troupe 
  • UMass Lowell Center for Asian American Center
  • Asian American Civic Association
  • Middlesex Community College
  • Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association
  • Asian Pacific Student Association – UMass Dartmouth
  • Chinese Student Scholar Association – UMass Dartmouth

$250 – Unity Sponsor

  • The Royal Thai Consulate of Boston
  • Cheng & Tsui

Tickets & Sponsorship Packages

Ticket & Table Pricing Information:

  • Individual Ticket
  • Table (10 seats)
  • **Non-profit / Student / Public Service Ticket
  • **Non-profit Table (10 seats)
  • $100
  • $1000
  • $55

  • $500

** – Please contact Jay Wong at [email protected] for the discount code.

If you cannot afford a ticket and would like to go, please contact Unity Dinner Chairperson, Philjay Solar at [email protected].

Sponsorship Packages:

  • CHANGING LIVES
  • BUILDING COMMUNITY
  • HOPE & INSPIRATION
  • CARING HEARTS
  • HELPING HANDS
  • CREATING CHANGE
  • $15,000
  • $10,000
  • $7,500
  • $5,000
  • $2,500
  • $1,000

Important Details

Food

  • If you are attending the event, please fill out the Food Form: https://forms.gle/9SFXYY2PGMcGVwAPA
  • Attendees will be served a three course meal
    • First Course: Fresh Spring Salad
    • Second Course: (SELECT ONE)
      • Samlar Kari-Curry Chicken
      • Vegetable Biryani
    • Third Course: Mango Gelato w/ Matcha Black Sesame Short Bread


Cash Bar

  • Bars will be accepting cash only
  • There will be two bars at the event; one in the dining room and one in the foley
  • An ATM will be on-site


Dress Code 

  • Semi-formal / Business casual
  • Traditional dress (highly encouraged)

Masks & Sanitation

  • Masks are highly recommended, but not mandatory
  • There will be sanitation stations throughout the event

Parking

  • Option 1: Free parking is limited and available for the conference center’s parking lot at a first-come, first-serve basis
  • Option 2: There is additional free parking on the first and second floor of the parking garage (ONLY entering through the driveway from the corner of Warren Street and George Street proceed to the drop off area under the porte-cochere).
  • Rates are as follows for paid parking in the Lower Locks Garage on Warren St.
    • Up to 1 Hour: $1.50
    • Up to 2 Hours: $3.00
    • Up to 3 Hours: $4.50
    • Up to 4 Hours: $6.00
    • Up to 5 Hours: $7.50

Speakers

Opening Remarks: Erika L. Moritsugu

Erika was appointed by President Joe Biden in April 2021 to serve as Deputy Assistant to the President and AA (Asian American) and NHPI (Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander) Senior Liaison. At the White House, Erika supports the Administration on a wide array of the President’s priorities and engages with AA and NHPI communities and leaders on important issues such as advancing safety, justice, inclusion, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities through a whole-of-government approach to racial justice.

Her past government service includes serving as the Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations at the Department of Housing and Urban Development under the leadership of Secretary Julián Castro in the Obama Administration and was the first-ever Senate Deputy Legislative Director at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

On Capitol Hill, she was a senior representative of Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois. Senator Daniel K. Akaka of Hawai’i, and at the Senate Democratic Policy Committee under Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

In the non-profit sector, Erika managed two teams the National Partnership for Women & Families for economic justice and congressional relations advancing workforce and health policies focused through a gender equity and race equity lens. Erika has also led the Government Relations, Advocacy and Community Engagement team at the Anti-Defamation League, a leading anti-hate organization.

WATCH THE RECORDING ON YOUTUBE

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sue Kim

Sue J. Kim, Ph.D., is Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies, College of Fine Arts, Humanities, & Social Science; Co-Director of the Center for Asian American Studies; and Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She is author of  On Anger: Race, Cognition, Narrative, and Critiquing Postmodernism in Contemporary Discourses of Race and co-editor of Rethinking Empathy Through Literature. She has served on the Association for Asian American Studies Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the International Society for the Study of Narrative, as well as on the Board of Directors for Angkor Dance Troupe, Lowell TeleMedia Center, and the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival.

WATCH THE RECORDING ON YOUTUBE

Award Recipients

Community Hero Award: Heang Leung Rubin, EdD, MA  梁嘉慶

Dr. Heang Leung Rubin is an independent consultant who brings her multiple identities as advocate, writer, healer, teacher, organizer, mother, farmer, and researcher to her community engagement work that supports the health, resilience, and well-being of immigrant communities.  Two of her current community engagement projects, Project RISE (Resilient Immigrants Striving for Equity) and Chinatown HOPE (Health, Opportunities, Possibilities, and Empowerment), bring together multiple stakeholders to strengthen the health of immigrant communities by supporting the role of community-based organizations as cultural brokers.  As the Community Storyteller for Residence Lab, a collaboration between Pao Arts Center and the Asian Community Development Corporation, she is working to redefine the role of evaluation in social change efforts.  She is also an adjunct lecturer in the Center for Arts in Medicine at the University of Florida working to integrate arts and public health.

She has been involved in the Asian American community for over twenty years.  Most recently, she served as the Board Chair for the Friends of the Chinatown Library, a group that is working to bring a permanent branch library back to Boston Chinatown.  Prior to becoming an independent consultant, she worked for Tufts Medical Center and Tufts University as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine and as the Director of ADAPT (Addressing disparities in Asian populations through translational research.)  At Tufts, she was instrumental in elevating the importance of community engaged research and building stronger institutional relationships between Tufts researchers and Chinatown community partners to collaborate on community-driven research.  Two community-driven projects she led were a study on the impact of Pao Arts Center on the social cohesion, cultural identity, and community connectedness of Chinatown and Asian CARES (Center for Addressing Research, Education, and Services) which looks at systemic issues impacting problem gambling across the broader Asian community.  As a teacher, she taught an innovative field class on Boston Chinatown which helped to engage students in the neighborhood and she mentored many students on community engagement and health equity research.

She holds a Doctorate in Education from Harvard University, a Masters of Arts in Urban Planning from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Bachelor of Arts in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, San Diego.  She was born and raised in San Francisco.

Leadership for Inclusion & Diversity Award:

Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center at UMass Amherst

The Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center (YKCC) originated in 1989 to support the growing population of Asian and Asian American students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.  It was first known as the United Asia Cultural Center (UACC).  In 1993 it reopened with administrative support from the United Asia Learning Resource Center (UALRC) and in succeeding years was renamed the Yuri Kochiyama Cultural Center in honor of Yuri Kochiyama for her belief in liberation and social justice.  

The mission of YKCC is to affirm the cultural expression, pride and engagement of Asian and Asian American Pacific Islander students through:

  • Programs that celebrate cultural traditions
  • Programs that deepen students’ understanding of their own and others’ multifaceted identities
  • Providing a nurturing and welcoming space for studying and meeting new people
  • Provide resource referral to support student success

Lifetime Achievement Award: Michael Liu

Michael Liu is a native of Boston Chinatown. He has been active on social justice and community issues throughout his adult life in the Boston area, especially concerning Chinatown. He was a founding member of numerous community social justice groups including the Chinese Progressive Association Boston, API Movement, and the Boston Rainbow Coalition. In the 1990’s, he was executive director of the Asian American Resource Workshop. He is currently active with the Activist Training Institute, working with young organizers.

He received his Ph.D. in Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Boston and worked as a researcher for two decades at the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMB, authoring and co-authoring many studies on local Asian American communities until his retirement. He co-authored an interpretive history of Asian American organizing, The Snake Dance of Asian American Activism, and recently authored the first book-length history of Boston Chinatown, Forever Struggle.

Performers

Indra’s Artistic Creations

Indra’s Artistic Creations (IAC) mission is to preserve Cambodian traditional arts and languages while also connecting and building opportunities for the Cambodian community to engage and reconnect with their heritage. IAC specializes in different categories of Cambodian traditional art, such as classical dance, music, singing-poetry, language, and religion, with partnering teachers in the U.S. and in Cambodia.

Led by Kennis Yin-Mor, he is the son of immigrants who thrive to achieve the American dream. However, Kennis thrives to retrieve his own dream in achieving his goals in Cambodian cultural preservation within the community of Lowell with his own dance group IAC.

Ballet Performance

Maria-Isabela Campos is a senior at Salem High School, hoping to study biology at UMASS Boston in this upcoming fall and later attend medical school to become a dermatologist. Born in the Philippines, she embraces her Filipino heritage and is proud to be part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American & Pacific Islander Commission’s first Youth Council. She studied ballet at Boston Ballet School for more than 5 years to learn about a beautiful, historic art form that utilizes body movement to convey a message. She performed in the Boston Opera House among astounding professionals in The Nutcracker, La Sylphide, and Coppelia.

Musical Entertainment

Madlove, LLC is a women-owned Khmer American event and entertainment service based in New England. Composed of a two person team, Melinda Long and Madelene Ba provide DJ, MC, photography, videography, and uplighting rental services. Their mission: Mixing Authenticity with Dreams of Love, and Open mind and Visions that Elevates.

Visit their website at: www.madlove.us or follow them @madlovellc on social media.

Masters of Ceremony

Commissioner Megha Prasad

Megha Prasad is an undergraduate student at Northeastern University studying Political Science and Business. As a first-generation Indian American, Megha grew up experiencing many of the struggles surrounding identity and adaptation that minority families often face. Through her education, she gained familiarity with critical race literature and public policy, the intersection of which prompted her to become involved in electoral politics. As Megha gained campaign experience through working for Senator Ed Markey, she also became acutely aware of the issues impacting AAPI communities in the Commonwealth and looks forward to finding ways to push for legislation in the State House. Primarily, she seeks to reduce barriers to voting and make other public services more accessible to English-language learners.

Commissioner Samuel Hyun

Sam is the former Chairperson of the AAPI Commission and currently serves as Political Director for Sonia Chang-Díaz’s gubernatorial campaign. He earned his Masters of Public Policy and Masters of Business Administration from Brandeis University’s Heller School. Sam has spent ten years working in politics, non-profits, and advocacy. He was also honored as one of the Boston Globe’s awardees for Bostonian of the Year in 2021 for his advocacy for the AAPI Community.