(Translated from Chinese)
By Capa JRC Reporter Emily Jia
The founding president of the International Leadership Foundation (ILF), Chiling Tong is one of the main organizers of the 2023 ILF conference. She is an Asian American activist and public official, having previously held offices under George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump. Her prominent activism sets her as a notable leader.
Q: Compared to awards given in previous years, what are some characteristics of the awards this year?
This year, we had four awards: Public Service, Business, Community Service, and Art and Culture. We believe that these fields are very important and deserve to be recognized.
Q: Are there any awardees that stood out this year?
Yes, definitely. An example would be the winner of the Art and Culture Award, Aka Chen. He designs jewels and is able to incorporate them into a large image. Being able to take jewels off a giant image is a form of international art. Another example of a winner that stands out is Judge Joe Jefferson. His mother worked in a Chinese restaurant for a living and he was raised in that busy setting. Helping out and working hard at the restaurant was a key component of his future success. Various winners of the Business Award also stood out, such as Linglong He and Jenny Lu, who are all very accomplished in their own fields.
Q: What are the implications of this conference for members of the AAPI
Community? Specifically, how does it benefit younger Asian Americans, including junior reporters like us?
There are definitely very positive impacts generated by this event. We rarely have opportunities, similar to this one, to meet and interact with such successful and notable Asian Americans. Today, we brought and invited those successful people into our community.
Q: What was the main inspiration behind organizing this event? How did you come up with the idea?
22 years ago, before you all were even born, I had attended an event by a different foundation where various Americans were united. However, there were very few Asian Americans there, so I hoped to create an event focused solely on uniting Asian Americans so that we could combine our strength.What also inspired me was my belief that we needed more AAPI role models. We hoped to create opportunities for more interactions between role models and young people to help young AAPI individuals enter America’s mainstream society. In the future, you all will be the influential people in power and you will have to lead the rest of us. Because of this, we hope that while we still have the chance, we can help guide and train the younger generation.
Q: The participants and attendees come from all across the country, from various states. What are the implications of the ILF Conference for the country as a whole?
It is very beneficial for the Asian American community. Every state has its own accomplished individuals focused on leadership and creating change. Being able to bring leaders from all over the country together is powerful and helps to empower the Asian American community.
This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 25 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.