On Wednesday, May 21, guests gathered at the Renaissance Hotel for the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce's second annual awards banquet. The celebration, which took place in tandem with Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, recognized the contributions of AAPI citizens in Central Texas — and beyond.
Co-chaired by Paul Kim and Ying McGuire, the event included a three-course dinner, live music and plenty of mixing and mingling. The true highlights, however, were the awards ceremony and keynote address.
In attendance were Mayor Lee Leffingwell, who received the Community Leader award; Sharif Prasla, who was named GAACC Member of the Year; and Huy Nguyen and Nguyen Stanton from the Vitenamese American Community of Austin Texas, which was named Outstanding Asian Organization.
This year's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Austin's Manoj Saxena, managing director of The Entrepreneur's Fund. Saxena previously served as general manager of IBM Watson Solutions of International Business Machines Corporation, where he was responsible for the global commercialization efforts of IBM's Watson technology.
Music industry veteran Yuki Watanabe entertained guests with a keynote address. Japanese-born Watanabe — who represented Madonna and Michael Jackson among others — was influential in bringing Japanese acts to New York in the 1980s.
Also in attendance were Angelos Angelou, GAACC Advisory Board member; Anurag Kumar, iTexico chairman and CEO; Kevin Koym, Tech Ranch Austin principal; Joy Arthur of People’s Community Clinic; Esther Chung from the Austin History Center and State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez.
Through advocacy, connections and education, the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce promotes the Asian American community as a catalyst for local and global economic growth.