Asian Heritage Society, San Diego-Founders - Asian Heritage Society

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Rosalynn Carmen

Rosalynn Carmen is a distinguished leader in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI), cloud technology, and media. As the founder and president of the Asian Heritage Society since 2005, she has also been a driving force behind initiatives that celebrate and uplift the Asian and Pacific Islander communities in San Diego and beyond.

Born in Thailand, she immigrated to the United States in 1984, earned her citizenship and began a career in media, working in newspapers and radio, where she honed her skills as an observer and storyteller. In 2002, she co-founded ASIA, The Journal of Culture & Commerce, a groundbreaking English-language newspaper that became the first of its kind in Southern California, serving the entire Asian American community. Under her leadership, ASIA achieved numerous accolades, distinguishing itself as the premier source for news and stories within the Asian American community.

Ms. Carmen's commitment to fostering unity and recognizing achievements within the Asian American community led her to co-found the Asian Heritage Awards in 2004. This prestigious event has garnered recognition from the White House, U.S. Congress, the California Legislature, San Diego County, and the San Diego City Council, establishing itself as a vital platform for celebrating the diverse accomplishments of the Asian and Asian American communities in San Diego.

In addition to her contributions to media and community recognition, she has demonstrated a keen interest in advancing STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. In 2011, she initiated the BOOST-STEM mentorship program, aiming to inspire middle school girls to pursue careers in science and technology while imparting entrepreneurial skills to prepare them for an evolving global landscape.

A forward-thinking visionary, she also founded Make It In America, a platform that brought together innovators and entrepreneurs from San Diego and overseas. This initiative reflects her belief that America is the optimal place for creating, innovating, and conducting business. With a focus on combining the diligence and tenacity of Asia with the freedom and creativity of America, she envisioned a paradigm shift that will drive future collaboration and job creation in response to technological changes. As testament to her foresight and ingenuity, President Biden in 2121 created the “American Jobs Plan,” designed to serve as an “invest in America” by creating jobs here and not abroad. It should be pointed out that despite the Obama Administration’s public policy, the Asian Heritage Society was one of the few organizations, and the only non-profit one, calling for the U.S. to “bring jobs back to America.”

Recently, Ms, Carmen has added to her impressive repertoire by achieving certification as an expert in cloud technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning from Amazon Web Services. These certifications further solidify her standing as a leader at the intersection of technology, media, and community building. In addition, as a certified trainer in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), she also recognizes the importance of Natural Language Processing (NLP), in advancing the role of artificial intelligence.

Her multifaceted contributions underscore her dedication to advancing the Asian American community's interests and creating a positive impact on society at large.


Leonard Novarro

Leonard Novarro’s writing as a journalist has stirred hope, promise, and change. As an editor, his leadership produced two thought-proving, visually exciting feature sections in San Diego, California, and Memphis, Tennessee. San Diego Tribune editor Neil Morgan has said, “As a ‘Lifestyle’ section writer, he was one of our best. As an editor, he brought prizewinning performance from his staff.” That included three acclaimed series on change in the Golden State: California Dreams, Paradise Lost, and Faces of San Diego, a fourteen-part series on ethnic diversity. Faces was honored twice by the National Conference of Christians and Jews and was instrumental in earning the Tribune the National Institute of Human Relations Award by the American Jewish Committee in 1990.

Mr. Novarro joined the Tribune as a writer in 1984 and, according to Tribune Managing Editor George Dissinger, “quickly established himself as the most readable, exciting writer in the ‘Scene’ section.” He was promoted to editor two years later. While reporting for the Memphis Press-Scimitar in 1979 and 1980, he produced more than seventy stories on the environment, including abuses by the chemical industry and efforts by local and state health officials to cover up the problem. As a result, then Congressman Al Gore launched congressional hearings that led to Environmental Protection Agency-funded health studies. For his efforts, Mr. Novarro received the distinguished John J. Finney Award for Public Service as well as the UPITAN (United Press International Tennessee Association of Newspapers) award for investigative reporting.

This last series of events is covered in “WORDSLINGER: The Life and Times of a Newspaper Junkie,” written by  Mr. Novarro, which Kirkus Review called “an often gripping account of the power of reporting.” (For more on the book, go to wordslingerbook.com)

Mr. Novarro began his newspaper career with the Staten Island Advance as a police reporter and joined the Orlando Sentinel in 1973 as a bureau chief supervising twelve reporters in daily news gathering. He also wrote features and investigative pieces and served as assistant national-foreign news editor. As an assistant news editor for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph in 1978, he oversaw production of the morning edition. As features editor for the Memphis Press-Scimitar, he produced a daily feature section, weekly food sections, and seasonal fashion sections.

From 1984 to 1986, Mr. Novarro’s writing for the San Diego Tribune captured numerous facets of the San Diego lifestyle and ranged from detailed profiles to in-depth reporting on issues and trends that affected San Diegans. As “Scene” editor for the next six years, he supervised seventeen editors and reporters in producing a daily feature section, a weekly food section, and periodic fashion sections. Upon leaving the San Diego Tribune in 1992, Mr. Novarro embarked on a freelance career, writing for dozens of publications as diverse as Westways and Alaska Airlines magazines, Asia Inc., and the Asia Times. He also served as Reuters correspondent covering San Diego and northern Mexico.

In 2002, recognizing the emergence and rapidly growing strength of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, Mr. Novarro, with partner Rosalynn Carmen, designed and produced the first newspaper of its kind serving the Asian American community of Southern California in English. Mr. Novarro and Ms. Carmen began publishing ASIA as a community newspaper every two weeks in June 2002. In less than two years, the newspaper grew from 2,000 to 20,000 in circulation and by 2007 was producing a second edition of 40,000 copies twice a month exclusively for Los Angeles. Writing about the achievements of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans led Mr. Novarro and Ms. Carmen to create the annual Asian Heritage Awards and the Asian Heritage Society BOOSTEM educational program for high school students. Both have been honored for their public service by the San Diego Press Club and the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission.
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