HomeCommunity NewsPortantino Honors AAPI Community Leaders, Activists

Portantino Honors AAPI Community Leaders, Activists

In honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, state Sen. Anthony Portantino recognized AAPI women, businesses and nonprofit organizations Friday, May 31, in Pasadena.

The event highlighted the rich cultural heritage of the AAPI community and the achievements and contributions of 20 community leaders in the 25th Senate District, including San Marino recipients Chun-Yen Chen, Shelley Ryan and the Chinese Club of San Marino. Ryan was unable to attend the event.

Since 1990, the U.S. government has designated the month of May as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

May was chosen as the annual AAPI Heritage Month by Congress because of two significant historical events for the AAPI community in the United States. On May 7, 1843, the first Japanese immigrant traveled to the United States. On May 10, 1869, the transcontinental railroad was completed and the majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

“Taking time to raise awareness and appreciation of our broad communities in our state helps us remember that we all play a part in working towards creating inclusivity and understanding in our society,” Portantino said. “During AAPI Heritage Month, I am proud to recognize our community champions throughout the 25th District who are dedicated to serving our cities and neighborhoods with distinction. It is important to recognize our diverse and rich cultural heritage, as well as the ongoing challenges they face, not only during the month of May, but year-round.”

Chen is the executive director of the Asian Pacific Community Fund. She provides executive leadership and directs operations and grant making for the organization. Chen has more than 20 years of professional experience in nonprofit executive management and fund development, state government budgetary analysis and academic faculty fields. Under Chen’s leadership, APCF has grown from its initial 12 Asian American nonprofits in 1990 to more than 80 Asian American Pacific Islander nonprofits within its network in 2024. She was also instrumental in supporting Brandon Tsay, who heroically subdued the gunman while working at his family’s Lai Lai Dance Studio in Monterey Park, to create the Brandon Tsay Hero Fund, which focuses on mental health resources and their relationship to the community.

Photo courtesy the office of state Sen. Anthony Portantino / State Sen. Anthony Portantino recognizes the Chinese Club of San Marino. Representing the club are Mei Mei Liu, Sherry Wuu, Mindy Ying and Rita Chio.

Ryan is the president of the Board of Education for the San Marino Unified School District. The district is dedicated to excellence and takes pride in its numerous achievements, including National Blue Ribbon and California Distinguished Schools awards, along with Golden Bell awards for specific programs. Ryan remains committed to innovation and enhancing student-learning experiences. She has spearheaded efforts to provide tailored mental health support and advanced ethnic studies within the district’s inclusive curriculum. By incorporating the histories, experiences and contributions of diverse communities, she works to foster outreach, engagement and inclusion for all within the school district.

The Chinese Club of San Marino was founded in 1979 as a nonprofit organization, with a mission to promote cultural exchange, educational development and community service. It is committed to the core values of diversity, equity and inclusion. Each year, the club organizes myriad events, educational programs and community-based projects. The Chinese School of San Marino was established by the club for people of all ages who are interested in learning Chinese language and culture. The annual Mid-Autumn Fundraising Gala held by the Chinese Club of San Marino brings together local groups and residents to raise funds for the community. The club donates a share of the proceeds to charitable causes in the local community and schools, with the rest going toward supporting the club’s various public welfare activities. The monthly workshops that collaborate with Crowell Library are very popular, as they share Chinese culture with the residents.

First published in the June 13 issue of the San Marino Tribune

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