Asian American Commission Unity Dinner celebrates health care leaders

By Joanne Wong


The Asian American Commission hosted its seventh annual Unity Dinner at the George Sherman Union at Boston University on May 14. This year’s dinner highlighted health care organizations and leaders that have made significant contributions in the Asian American communities in the greater Boston area.

“It is an evening to embrace our community’s diversity and to celebrate our achievements,” said AAC chairwoman Grace Lee. “That so many of us have traveled from different geographic areas of Massachusetts to unite tonight with the single goal of advancing and supporting the Asian American community is a testament to our community’s strength.”

The event attracted more than 350 guests, including state Representatives Tackey Chan and Donald Wong, and Treasurer Steve Grossman. Chan was instrumental in helping the AAC obtain $35,000 in funding from the State Ways and Means budget this year.

Five organizations were honored for their health care work that incorporates advocacy and cultural competency care: The Asian American Diabetes Initiative of Joslin Diabetes Center, the Asian Mental Health Program of Cambridge Health Alliance, Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence, the Metta Health Center of Lowell Community Center and the South Cove Community Health Center.

The Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Massachusetts exhibits extreme health disparities in access and outcomes. Awareness, outreach efforts, and preventative care and screenings are several ways health service professionals encourage dialogue and action.

The 2013 Outstanding Achievement Award was granted to Thomas Lee, the network president and chief executive officer of Partners Community Healthcare. A former colleague described him as a person whose values are utmost and one who cares deeply about making a difference in how medicine is practiced. Lee offered five key ways to increase success:

  1. Empathy: the ability to relate and understand what others are feeling;
  2. Attitudes toward conflict: knowing how to handle oneself and resolve a conflict situation;
  3. Humility: the relentless desire to improve oneself;
  4. Openness: knowing that there is something to learn from everyone;
  5. Audacity: making bold, innovative decisions and using appreciative inquiry.

“Asian Americans have an unfair advantage. To all the non-Asians in the audience, do not despair,” Lee joked.

Thomas Lee delivers the keynote speech at the Asian American Commission Unity Dinner May 14. (Image courtesy of Xie Zhen and the Asian American Commission.)

Thomas Lee delivers the keynote speech at the Asian American Commission Unity Dinner May 14. (Image courtesy of Xie Zhen and the Asian American Commission.)

The AAC was founded in 2006 to recognize and highlight contributions of Asian Americans to the social, cultural, economic and political life of the state. The annual Unity Dinner celebrates the achievements of the community and to raise funds to carry out AAC’s advocacy work.

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