Celebrating Diverse Asian American Leaders Serving Our Communities

Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC will celebrate its 26th American Courage Awards this year on October 21, 2022, an annual signature event to recognize and celebrate trailblazers who have made extraordinary contributions to advancing civil and human rights.

Filipino American actor, Paolo Montalban, will join us as the master of ceremonies for our event’s festivities to honor our awardees. Best known for his roles as Prince Christopher in Disney’s multi-cultural version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella and Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat: Conquest, Paolo has also appeared on Broadway and in guest and recurring TV roles. In the midst of the escalating attacks upon the Asian American community in 2021, he partnered with Advancing Justice | AAJC and Right To Be as a guest facilitator for our joint Bystander Intervention Training that helps teach people how to respond to and de-escalate anti-Asian hate incidents.

Our honorees this year hail from diverse sectors and backgrounds, featuring U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono, Puppeteer and Producer Kathleen Kim, and Advancing Justice | AAJC Board Chair Parkin Lee. We are equally thrilled to introduce a new award this year in honor of the legacy of former Secretary of Transportation, Norman Y. Mineta, as we look forward to celebrating our next generation of young leaders committed to serving our communities.

Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to recognize Senator Mazie K. Hirono as the honoree for the 2022 American Courage Award, which goes to an individual, company, or organization that has shown extraordinary courage or commitment to the cause of civil rights.

Senator Mazie K. Hirono has served as a United States senator for Hawaii since 2013 and made history as the first Asian American woman elected to the Senate, first woman senator from Hawaii, and remains the only immigrant serving in the Senate.

Born in Fukushima, Japan, she left for Honolulu at 8 years old, where her mother hoped to build a better life for the family. During her time in the Hawaii House of Representatives or as the Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, Sen. Hirono bravely fought against attempts to undermine our civil and human rights.

Sen. Hirono’s attentiveness to amplifying AAPI voices is recognized through her tireless work both in Congress and on behalf of her communities. Her visionary leadership has led to the historic passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, a critical step to addressing the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence, and at the same time she is a fierce advocate for diversity among judicial nominees across the country as a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

We honor Sen. Hirono with the American Courage Award for her devotion to public service and advocacy, dedication to representing the people of Hawaii, and long-standing commitment to serving the broader AAPI communities.

Puppeteer and Producer Kathleen Kim will receive the Changemaker Award this year, which honors an individual, company, or organization who is a catalyst for change and whose leadership has inspired action that has led to change on a local or national level that benefits Asian American communities.

Kathleen is a New York City-based producer and the principal puppeteer for the Woori Show. Her work has inspired thousands of children across the country to be proud of and learn more about Korean culture. Last year, Kathleen debuted as the performer behind Ji-Young,

Sesame Street’s first Asian American Muppet character in over 50 years.

In addition to providing much-needed representation on screen for Asian American children, Ji-Young and Kathleen also facilitate critical conversations with families about the difficult topic of anti-Asian hate and celebrate the diversity of Asian and Pacific Islander communities. Wherever she goes, Kathleen creates a community that promotes coming together to laugh, learn, and be proud of who we are for generations to come.

This year’s President’s Award will honor Parkin Lee, the Board Chair of Advancing Justice | AAJC, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have been longtime supporters of the organization’s mission to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.

As a longtime leader and anchor for our communities, Parkin’s dedication to serving the Asian American community has spanned across decades. Over the years, Parkin has mentored many in the Asian American legal community and inspired them to give back. His commitment to the mission is shown through his unwavering support to AAPI organizations and advocacy to support civil rights in the private sector and beyond. Advancing Justice | AAJC is grateful for his service and diligent leadership that provided guidance during some of the most challenging times for our communities.

In honor of the legacy of former Secretary of Transportation, Norman Y. Mineta, and his life-long commitment to public service, Advancing Justice | AAJC is proud to announce our new Norman Y. Mineta Spirit Award.

As a titan for the nation and a fierce, compassionate leader for the Asian American community, Norm is revered for his distinguished years of service, including serving in both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush’s administrations where he blazed trails for other Asian Americans to follow. He is also recognized for moments where he stood up for our community at pivotal times in our history, such as securing an official apology for Japanese Americans who were incarcerated during World War II.

This October, the first-ever Norman Y. Mineta Spirit Award recipient will be announced live at the American Courage Awards, which recognizes a youth advocate whose community-centered leadership has exemplified dedication, compassion, and resilience benefitting Asian Americans on a local or national level.

Join us on Friday, October 21 in person at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. or virtually at americancourageawards.org for an evening of celebration to honor those who continue to carry the torch of advancing civil and human rights for all.

Asian Americans Advancing Justice — AAJC has a mission to advance the civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. Visit our website at advancingjustice-aajc.org



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Advancing Justice – AAJC

Fighting for civil rights for all and working to empower #AsianAmericans to participate in our democracy.