Community Service

Abraham To is a Vietnamese-Chinese American refugee who escaped from Vietnam to seek freedom, arriving in San Diego in May 1981.  He graduated from San Diego State University in 1984 with a degree in Business Management, two years after volunteering as vice president and senior adviser for the Indo-Chinese Association, which provides services for elderly members of the community. As Chairman Advisor for the Community Services Advisory Board with the San Diego Police Department, he helped promote intercultural human relations and understanding between community members and police officers to maximize crime prevention and neighborhood safety.  As President of the Advisory Board of the Multicultural Service office, he also helped with community service and crime prevention information.  He is president of the Vietnamese Parents Association at the Rosa Parks Elementary School, where he helped coordinate educational planning with teachers, parents, and students to assist with their educational planning, and he has served on the Board of Directors of the Vietnamese Federation of San Diego, where he helped set up special events and other cultural activities.


Dr. David S. Adler is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Health Sciences at UCSD. Dr. Adler’s research interests are in clinical research and practice with a focus on management of chronic drug therapy including bioavailability and therapeutic equivalency of drugs with a narrow therapeutic index, drug elimination in renal failure and dialysis, clinical applications of point-of-care testing and medication therapy management (MTM). He was named Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists in 1987 and received the Distinguished Service Award from the California Society of Health System Pharmacists in 1993. In the 1980s, Dr. Adler made a significant contribution to the Vietnamese community by helping to recruit and organize a special pharmacy educational program for Vietnamese refugees that helped launch and establish many careers in the field that otherwise may not have occurred after this constituency was forced to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.

Science and Technology 

Dr. Moon S. Chen, Jr. is Associate Director, Population Research and Cancer Disparities, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center and a nationally renowned expert in cancer health disparities, particularly as they affect Asian-American populations. He is UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Associate Director for Cancer Control, leading a portfolio of research that addresses determinants of cancer risk and their mitigation in human populations, including tobacco use, screening, socio-cultural factors, and the interactions of individuals with their environment and the health-care system.  Additionally, Chen oversees shared resources for cancer epidemiology, which includes leveraging the California Cancer Registry, the world’s largest registry of cancer data in a single geographical entity with the richest diversity of data on cancer in diverse racial/ethnic populations and oversees shared resources for the cancer biorepository, an increasingly important source of biospecimens for investigating cancer causes.  He serves as a liaison with the California Department of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente Division of Health, and other external agencies. 

Medicine and Health

Dr. Danh Truong is interested in the challenges of serving the uninsured and underserved population in San Diego. In his busy private practice in family medicine in East San Diego, from 2004 to present, he has helped significant numbers of uninsured and underserved patients that come with multi-faceted problems, coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds. He has dedicated significant time at the former Asian Pacific Health Center, providing medical services to the uninsured people in San Diego. He is currently Chairman of the Asian Pacific Health Foundation Board of Directors. Born in Da Nang, he did his undergraduate pre-med education at Notre Dame University in Belgium, and his graduate medical education at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, graduating Cum Laude in 1980, and completed one year of post-graduate training in Anesthesiology at St Luke University Hospital, also in Belgium. 

Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship 

Dr. Truong Nong grew up in South Vietnam and came to America as a refugee in 1980 when he escaped Vietnam with his family in search of freedom. Prior to the establishment of the Institute for Civic Education in Vietnam, he has been a high school teacher for 13 years at Michael DeBakey High School for Health Professions (ranked fifth in Texas in 2015) and knows firsthand the importance and impact of education. In parallel to being an educator, he has been an activist in the Vietnamese American community in Houston during the past 30 years and in 1990 was one of the founders of the Vietnamese American Youth Organization (VAYO). Currently, he serves as Advisor to the Executive Board of the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association (VCSA), a national Vietnamese American organization based in Houston, Texas, where he has delivered a number of leadership workshops for the organization’s annual youth leadership camps for the past 18 years. In 2005, he left his teaching position to dedicate full-time for the establishment of the Institute for Civic Education, a non-profit institute that provides civic education, leadership development and business management online education to Vietnamese students worldwide.

Public Health

Dr. Doan Dao has worked in the area of hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) from basic research to clinical science and patient care as well as outreach/advocacy programs for more than 9 years. He is personally passionate about and professionally committed to serving those at risk for or living with HBV. He serves as Chairperson (2014-2016) of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B, in which he leads the Executive Board and its Regional Directors to work collaboratively with other national organizations together focusing on the provisions of hep B and hep b-related liver cancer education to healthcare professionals. The Task Force also plays a role in initiatives advocating for positive changes for hep B across the national spectrum from the Division of Viral Hepatitis, US CDC, to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Department of Human and Health Services. In 2013 Dr. Dao invited his colleagues in the HBV arena and business world to found the Vietnam Viral Hepatitis Alliance (www.vvha.org), a 501c(3) non-profit organization allying major health care institutions in Vietnam and abroad for viral hepatitis initiatives in Vietnam, his country of origin, and where HBV is endemic. Dr. Dao currently serves as President of VVHA. 

Diversity Pioneer 

San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, after graduating from SDSU, and served as a second lieutenant in the jungles of South Vietnam. For three weeks in February 1969, Bill and the battery he commanded were under near-constant siege by the North Vietnamese Army in a remote area just south of the demilitarized zone known as the Rockpile. His personal courage and devotion to duty were evidenced by his actions on February 19, 1969, when a convoy was ambushed on Route 9. Shrapnel wounds earned him the Purple Heart, and his leadership under fire earned him the Bronze Star. For this action he was also awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. Returning from Vietnam, Bill went on to sponsor more than 50 Vietnamese families, helping to provided housing, counseling, and job and education incentives for them to become successful in their chosen professions. In 1992, displeased with the Escondido Union High School District Board, he threw his rancher’s hat into the political ring and was elected to the Board. When he found County government unresponsive to constituent needs, he ran for County Supervisor and was elected in 1995 to represent the Fifth District, an area that spans nearly 1,800 square miles from the Pacific Ocean to Imperial County. He currently serves on more than a dozen committees in San Diego County, providing leadership in housing, health, land use, water conservation and quality, public safety, disaster preparedness, economic development, education, and transportation.

Three essay contributions to the Asian Heritage Society’s book Pho For The Soul will also be honored. Winning essays will be announced later. 




Dr. Flossie Wong-Staal, a molecular biologist and virologist,is one of the world’s authorities on human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). In1983, when many researchers still did not think retroviruses played a significant role as disease agents in humans, working with colleagues in the lab of noted researcher Robert Gallo, she helped identify the retrovirus HIV as the cause of AIDS. Two years later, she became the first to clone HIV, paving the way for the first genetic map of the virus and the development of HIV blood tests. Dr. Waong-Staal  now serves as chief scientific officer and an executive for itherX Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a drug development company she co-founded in San Diego.



UCSD Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan discovered thegreenhouse effect of halocarbons in 1975. Along with R. Madden, he predicted in 1980 that global warming would be detected by 2000 and in1985 led the first international NASA assessment on the climate effects of non-CO2 greenhouse gases and concluded that they are as important as CO2 to global climate change.



California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins has served in theCalifornia State Assembly since 2010, and was elevated to the top leadership postin 2014, when her colleagues unanimously elected her 69th Speaker of the California Assembly. Assemblywoman Atkins is a coalition-builder who believes government policies can improve people’s lives and is a leading voice for affordable housing, a powerful advocate for women, and champion for veterans and the homeless.



Tina Guo has developed an international multi-faceted performance and recordingcareer as a classical cellist, heavy metal electric cellist and composer known for her distinctive sound and improvisational style in major motion picture, television, and game scores. She’s been featured in commercials and was a featured soloist in Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson “The Immortal” World Tour from 2011-2013, performing to sold out arenas around the world.



Alexander Chuang worked for twenty years in the aerospace and nuclear engineering industry before accepting his current post as the Executive Director for the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum.  As an engineer, he had actively participated in all aspects of the industry, including design and research, managing, proposal writing and lecturing.  His firm belief in the preservation of San Diego Chinese History prompted him to take an early retirement in 1993 to and devote himself entirely to the museum.  



Dr. Palmer Taylor is one of the founders of the UCSD Skaggs School of Pharmacy and internationally recognized for his research recognizing how the expression ofproteins govern neurotransmission of chemical messages between cells. Dr.Taylor uncovered much of what is known about the structure of neuroligin, a synaptic adhesion molecule homologous to AChE. His structural studies on neuroligin have uncovered alterations in processing and folding associated with mutations found in the autistic spectral disorders. Dean Taylor has an exceptional record of developing the school, reaching out to various parts in the world and is the recipient of the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.



“We were rich enough to build a bunker under our house,” recalls Dr. Charles Nguyen. “Typically, every morning we would come up and it would happen that the next house was gone because it was bombarded. Neighbors, gone. I still have nightmares about that.” So reflects the dean of the Catholic University of America School of Engineering. Dr. Nguyen eventually made his way to Germany to study electrical engineering, obtained a research fellowship in 1984 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and later capitalized on the opportunity to become part of a collaborative research team that developed an independent robotic arm and hand system to handle the many exacting tasks of construction in space.



Dr. Anand Srivastava and Deven Patel are co-founders ofCalifornia-based Global Institute of Stem Cell Therapy and Research (GIOSTAR). The company was formed  to provide stem cell-based therapy to those suffering from degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, heart disease, spinal cord injuries and blood-related disorders. The company’s Regenerative Medicine program provides promise for treatments of diseases previously regarded as incurable. Dr. Srivastava is a pioneer in stem cell research and world-renowned for his work, having authored numerous articles. Under Mr. Patel’s leadership, GIOSTAR has dedicated a state-of-the-art stem cell treatment hospital in Ahmedabad, India,and is planning additional facilities in China, Thailand, Dubai, thePhilippines, and several other countries.



With a doctorate in organizational psychology, Dr. Marissa Pei has been speaking to and coaching hundreds of organizations, including Fortune 100 companies like Johnson & Johnson, Wells Fargo, AT&T, Mattel, UPS, and Bank of America for the past 21 years. 
As a recovering over-achiever, she has parlayed her professional experience onto television as a “talking shrink head” on a number of ABC, Discovery, Learning Channel and Fox TV specials, commenting on why people do weird things at work and other interesting human dynamics. As host of her own radio show called “Take My Advice I’m Not Using It,” her rapidly growing audience has earned her the title “the Asian Oprah.”
On her radio show, she talks about hope and positive life-affirming experiences, rejecting negative viewpoints that always end with “What’s wrong with people?” Instead she encourages listeners to live their lives with more joy and less stress, especially with these turbulent times, and answers the question “What is Right with People?” A true entrepreneur, Marissa Pei  is also the best-selling author of two books “Organization Development and Consulting”, a regular graduate business text, and “Mommy what are Feelings”, a children´s book that her daughters illustrated when they were 5 and 7, a song writer and creator of a fashion line of pants and a line of gifts that promote her motto: Live, Love, Laugh, Learn.