2023 Unity Dinner
Date: Saturday, May 6, 2023
Time: 5:30 PM – 9:30 PM
Location: Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate 210 Morrissey Boulevard Boston, MA 02125
Tickets: SOLD OUT
About the 2023 Unity Dinner
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 15th Annual Unity Dinner on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The Unity Dinner serves to celebrate the achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders around the Commonwealth. At the Dinner, we will also honor and recognize individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions by working tirelessly to promote positive change in the communities they serve.
Program in Senate Chamber, including opening remarks, keynote speeches, the awarding of our Unsung Heroes, and closing remarks.
Transition to Dinner
Dinner begins, cash bar, performances
DJ, socializing, networking
Massachusetts State Auditor Diana DiZoglio
Auditor Diana DiZoglio is the 26th Auditor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She was sworn into her first term on January 18, 2023. She is committed to help move Massachusetts forward by working to increase transparency and accountability in state government. Auditor DiZoglio is a former State Senator (1st Essex District), State Representative (14th Essex District), and chief of staff to the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Her decade-long service on Beacon Hill has provided her with the insight and fortitude to work alongside elected officials, labor, community advocates, stakeholders and everyday working people throughout the Commonwealth’s cities and towns. Her humble beginnings, non-profit work and labor experience helped her nurture, cultivate, and develop relationships with a diverse expanse of people. Auditor DiZoglio began her public service in state government in 2013, serving as a state representative for the 14th Essex district, which includes portions of North Andover, Methuen, Lawrence and Haverhill. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and Middlesex Community College. She is a resident of Methuen, where she grew up.
Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui
Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui is currently serving her third term on the Cambridge City Council, and second as Mayor of Cambridge. Mayor Siddiqui immigrated to the United States from Karachi, Pakistan at the age of two, along with her parents and twin brother. She was raised in Cambridge affordable housing at the Rindge Towers and Roosevelt Towers and attended Cambridge Public Schools. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Brown University, Mayor Siddiqui served as an AmeriCorps fellow at New Profit, a then Cambridge-based organization dedicated to improving social mobility for families. Upon earning her J.D. from Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, she moved home to Cambridge to practice as a legal aid attorney with Northeast Legal Aid.
As Mayor, her priorities include increasing affordable housing, supporting local businesses, improving Cambridge Public Schools, and leading Cambridge through the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the COVID-19 crisis Mayor Siddiqui launched the Mayor’s Disaster Relief Fund, which has raised over $5 million dollars to help individuals, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations. She also started Cambridge RISE, one of the first guaranteed income pilots in the country.
Mayor Siddiqui, who serves as chair of the School Committee, has promoted equitable access to education for Cambridge families by increasing scholarship funding for low-income children to attend high quality preschools and by implementing a Children’s Savings Account program and an Early College Program. Mayor Siddiqui looks forward to continuing to make Cambridge a more equitable and civically engaged community.
White House Initiative on AANHPI Executive Director Krystal Ka’ai
Krystal Ka‘ai is the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI) and the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. In this role, she is responsible for advising the Biden administration on the coordination and implementation of federal programs and initiatives to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities. Prior to joining WHIAANHPI, Krystal worked on Capitol Hill for over a decade, including serving as the Executive Director of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) for eight years. She previously held positions with the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, the State of Hawai‘i, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation. Krystal was born and raised in Hawai‘i and is the first Native Hawaiian to ever lead WHIAANHPI.
Unsung Hero Awardees
We all know of people doing important work in their communities who do not receive the recognition they deserve. In this new award, the AAPI Commission aims to highlight just some of the Unsung Heroes of the Massachusetts AAPI community. Awardees will be recognized during the program section of the Unity Dinner.
Connie S. Wong, Deputy Commissioner for Labor Relations, Boston Fire Department
Shaleen Sheth, Youth Activist
Jinbyoung Nam and Sarah Nam, Business people
Shaina Lu, Artist
Rev Dr. Ko Ko Lay, a pastor of Burmese Christian Church
Maria Isabela Campos, Youth Activist
Kuchipudi is a form of Indian Classical Dance which is known for its graceful and rounded steps. This piece shows the story of how Krishna defeated the serpent, Kaliya, who has been poisoning the river Yamuna. With his magical flute, Krishna mesmerizes the snake until he was able to dance on the snake’s head.
Burmese Youth Dance Group
Entitled “Unity is Strength,” this dance is performed by young members of the Burmese community in Lowell, MA. The anti-military resistance movement widely sings the dance’s song and speaks to the need to unify across ethnic groups.
Aaliyah Gonzalez AKA Sweet Leilani is 17yrs old from Chicopee, MA. She comes from generations of professional hula dancers, and she has been hula dancing with her grandpa since she was 4yrs old in hawaiian shows. In 2021 she became a professional hula dancer, with the help of her Aunty Merita, who taught her everything she knows. She performs at the Tiki in Lake George, NY during the summer in her Uncle Jimmy’s Show. She has also performed in many side shows for weddings, birthday parties, and luau’s. Today she will be performing a tahitian dance ahuroa called Fakateretere. With aparima, and ahuroa dances of Tahiti the emphasis is still on the hips, but they are much slower than the ote’a. Also performers dance to the vocals, and string instruments instead of the drum. Remember to watch her hands for the meaning of the song. Hands above her head is for wind. She hopes you enjoy her number.
To celebrate our 15th Annual Unity Dinner, we will be hosting an interactive exhibit during the Unity Dinner, sharing some of the history, present, and future of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in Massachusetts and around the country. We will also have a photography exhibit created by our Youth Council, as well as submissions from the public.
The AAPI Commission is grateful to all of our donors, who are helping community members attend the Unity Dinner. We are still accepting sponsorships. If you or your organization is interested in sponsoring, please contact Program Director Esther Kim at [email protected]
Changing Lives Sponsor $1,500
Creating Change Sponsor $1,000
Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Hope & Inspiration Sponsors $500
New England Council
Caring Hearts Sponsor $300
Lowell Community Health Center
Helping Hands Sponsor $200
Massachusetts Society of Professors
UMass Commonwealth Honors College
UMass History Department
Civic Engagement and Service Learning Office