COMMUNITY HERO AWARD RECIPIENTS
“An individual or organization who/which has displayed selfless commitment to the issues and events affecting AAPIs, and who/which has contributed efforts towards the betterment of AAPIs without self-promotion or fanfare“
2022 – 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.
2019 – Bhutanese Society of Western MA
Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts is incorporated with the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts since 2010 with the mission of providing cultural, educational and charitable services.
Some of the like-minded youths and educated elders joined hand to form an organization with the nomenclature of Bhutanese Society of Western Massachusetts in June 2010, aiming to provide necessary services to the community to help strengthen the resettlement program effectively and successfully. Though we are still in a toddler’s stage due to the lack of adequate resources, we are optimistic to do better in the community. There is growing interest and enthusiasm among the educated youth members of the community to participate in the organization, which is a biggest strength and potential asset for our existence.
2018 – Richard T. Chu, UMass Amherst
Richard T. Chu, UMass Amherst (A.B.) Ateneo de Manila University; M.A. Stanford University; Ph.D. University of Southern California) is Five-College Associate Professor of History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is the author of Chinese and Chinese Mestizos of Manila: Family, Identity, and Culture 1860s–1930s (E.J. Brill, 2010; Anvil 2012) and of other various publications focusing on the history of the Chinese in the Philippines and Asian Americans. He teaches courses on the Chinese diaspora, Philippines, U.S. empire in the Pacific, and Asian/Pacific/America.
Since 2016, he has been actively seeking to create collaborative projects between UMass, the Five Colleges Consortium, the city of Springfield, and the various Asian American communities of Western Massachusetts. One such project is the Oral History Project that recounts stories of migration and settlement of individuals from the Bhutanese, Vietnamese, and Filipino communities of Springfield.
2017 – Mr. Boa Newgate
2017 – Mr. Boa Newgate is the Lead Manager for the Mental Health Cultural Case Management program at the Southeast Asian Coalition, where he has worked since 2008. He also oversees SEAC’s Youth Effect program that serves more than 100 youth annually. Mr. Newgate initiated the Vietnamese Language program at SEAC and co- founded SEAC’s Lion Dance program, which has been instrumental in helping keep kids off the street while encouraging them to embrace their cultural heritage. Mr. Newgate is a much-loved mentor and friend for many at-risk youth in Worcester. He is also well respected by older members of the Asian community in Worcester for his dedication to helping refugees, immigrants and low-income residents to successfully integrate and thrive, and to providing a safe place for youth to grow holistically.
2016 – MAP for Health
MAP for Health is a community-based, nonprofit organization that works to improve healthcare access, disease prevention, and service delivery for the API community in Massachusetts.
In the early days of HIV/AIDS, activists from Massachusetts’ Asian, South Asian, and Pacific Islander (API) gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community—along with API allies working in health—took action in response to the lack of culturally and linguistically appropriate HIV/AIDS prevention services for the API community. They founded MAP as the Massachusetts Asian AIDS Prevention Project (MAAPP) in 1993. Initially a project of the Queer Asian Pacific Alliance (QAPA), MAP has always focused on HIV prevention and outreach within the Boston API GLBT community. MAP’s focus also expanded to other APIs who fail to receive relevant HIV prevention education, including women, youth, recent immigrants, refugees, the uninsured, the underinsured, and people with low incomes.
In 2000, MAP expanded its mission to better embrace the broader health work in which it engages: this includes general health promotion, building HIV and sexuality awareness, fostering community leadership, and advocating for access to health care and services for Massachusetts API communities. In 2003, the organization changed its name to MAP (Massachusetts Asians and Pacific Islanders) for Health to better reflect the scope of its mission. Today, MAP remains the only Massachusetts organization dedicated exclusively to responding to growing health disparities in API communities.
2015 – Dr. Edward K.S. Wang
Dr. Edward K.S. Wang is the Director of Policy and Planning, Division of Global Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital and Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School. He focuses on improving the well‐being of children and families and community wellness through social justice, evidence‐based and community‐driven evidence, informatics, networks and sustainable resources. Dr. Wang is the former Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs, Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. He was the first Asian American psychologist appointed to the National Advisory Council, Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration, an invitee to the White House National Conference on Mental Health and the White House AAPI Commission on Depression and Suicide Prevention. Born in Hong Kong, Dr. Wang is currently the President of the National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association that developed the blueprint for integrated care for AAPI Communities. He and his wife Dr. Kathleen McLean live in Brookline and have two sons.
2014 – Kowith Kret
Kowith Kret, a Cambodian genocide survivor from the Khmer Rouge era (between 1975 to 1979) and community activist is the visionary behind the project “More Than a Number”. Arriving in the USA on Thanksgiving Day, 1981 with his younger brother, Kowith was the first Cambodian Bilingual teacher at South Boston High School and Khmer Language Proficiency tester for the Boston public schools. He was a case manager for the Catholic Charities of Boston in the Unaccompanied Minors program.
Kowith was the first bilingual-bicultural community manager at Solomon Mental health Center/DMH-DMR, in Lowell, in 1988. He is currently with the Department of Developmental Services, Lowell Area office as the Bilingual Human Service Coordinator.
2014 – Viet-AID
Viet-AID is the first grassroots community development corporation founded and operated by Vietnamese refugees and immigrants in the U.S. Located in the Fields Corner neighborhood of Dorchester in Boston, Viet-AID’s mission is to build a strong and contributing Vietnamese-American community and a vibrant neighborhood that will become a diverse cultural and business destination.
A major initiative of Viet-AID is the Fields Corner Transit Oriented Development Strategy. To date, Viet-AID has raised over $60 million in public and private financing to support its projects.