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2010 Asian Pacific American Heritage Heroes

Vane Feuy Chao

Vane Feuy Chao
Asian Americans for Community Involvement

Vane Feuy has served as a mental health counselor for the last 24 years at Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI), the largest community-based organization focused on the health and well-being of Asians in Santa Clara County. For many years, he was the only mental health counselor in the Santa Clara County Department of Mental Health's outpatient system to provide services in Laotian, Mien, Thai, Mandarin, and English. His clients include some of the most chronically mentally ill clients in the county who suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

As a leader of the Mien people in Laos, Vane Feuy became a political refugee and lived in a refugee camp in Thailand from 1975-1979. He arrived in the U.S. in 1979 and relocated to San Jose in 1981. He has dedicated his career in San Jose to community service and he has helped thousands of community members since then. Vane Feuy has also been a leader in the Lao Mien community in Santa Clara County, providing support to residents and solving community problems. He is passionate about working with people who are in need. He served as President of the Lao-Mien Association of Santa Clara County from 1987-1994 and has continued as an active member/advisor since then. Vane Feuy is also active in the Iu-Mien American National Coalition, which addresses the needs of the Mien community throughout the U.S. In addition, Vane Feuy serves as a shaman for the Mien community, presiding over cultural festivities and rituals, worshipping ceremonies, and family events. He is considered an elder statesman in the community, helping resolve conflicts, mediate family disputes, and advise others.


Kennith Lee

Kennith Lee
Francisco Middle School

Kennith started his career in education as a counseling intern with the Oakland Unified School District and as a teacher with the Teacher Corps Program in Atlanta, Georgia during the mid-70s. In the 1980s, he worked in the private sector at Southern Pacific Transportation Company and Itel Rail Corporation. He re-entered the education field in the 1990's as a classroom teacher at Commodore Stockton Elementary School (now Gordon J. Lau), counselor at Marina Middle School, and counselor and dean at Presidio Middle School prior to his current position as the Assistant Principal at Francisco Middle School. He is a third generation San Franciscan and a product of the San Francisco Unified School District having attended Francisco when it was a junior high.

Kennith has coordinated the Chinese New Year Basketball Jamboree at the Chinese Recreation Center for the past 20 years, assisted in the annual Chinese New Year Parade, and is an advisor to the Yau Kung Moon Kung Fu Sport Association. He finds great fulfillment in his work with San Francisco's youth and finds his experiences with them rewarding and most satisfying. His ultimate goal is to make a positive impact on each and every child that he comes across.


Sue Lee

Sue Lee
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum

Sue Lee, a third generation San Franciscan, was born at Chinese Hospital and grew up in the Richmond District. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B. A. in history and sociology, before returning to SF to work as a community organizer for the Chinatown Neighborhood Improvement Resource Center. In 1981, Sue began her public service at San Francisco City Hall as a legislative aide to Supervisor Nancy Walker, then as a specialist on small business issues under Mayors Feinstein and Agnos. Under Mayor Willie Brown, she was the Director of Economic Development during the booming tech years and most recently was a Planning Commissioner for 6 years, where she also served as President. In her spare time, Sue helped create the Richmond District Neighborhood Center that is today a thriving, multi-purpose, multi-ethnic community center serving youth and their families.

Sue became Executive Director of the Chinese Historical Society of America Museum (CHSA) ­in 2004 and is responsible for its stewardship of the Chinese American community narrative through its on-site and traveling exhibits, public programs, publications, and treasured collections. Since 1963, as the first Chinese American historical society in America, CHSA has --through excellent scholarship, bold advocacy, and the tireless dedication of its Board, staff, members and supporters--built tremendous equity in bringing to light the untold stories of the Chinese American community. Under her tenure, CHSA has thrived by expanding its audiences and collections with groundbreaking exhibits and innovative programs while pursuing major collaborations with organizations such as the de Young Museum, The Oakland Museum of California, The Bancroft Library at University of California at Berkeley, The California Historical Society, The San Francisco Museum & Historical Society, The Historical Society of the Northern California District Court, and many others. Sue's work in the community today is driven by an abiding desire for Chinese American stories to be told in a Chinese American voice. She feels that this can only be done with the confidence provided by rigorous scholarship and the passion that comes from an intimate connection to the sacrifices and triumphs of those who have gone before.


Jeff Mori

Jeff Mori
Asian American Recovery Services

Jeff Mori is currently Executive Director of Asian American Recovery Services, Inc., (AARS). AARS, a non-profit community based organization, provides specialized substance abuse services to Asian and Pacific Islander communities in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. Before joining AARS, Jeff served as Director of the Mayor's Office of Children, Youth and Their Families for the City and County of San Francisco under Mayor Willie L. Brown. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director of the Japanese Community Youth Council (JCYC), an organization that he helped co-found.

Also on KQED.org this week ...

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