August 31, 2019

Valuable Experience from NAAAP’s National Convention

By Taoqu Chen
President of NAAAP Detroit

2019 NAAAP National Convention was held at The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center from August 22 to August 24. The theme was “The Unconventional Leader. Lead Boldly.”

Around 1000 people attended the Employee Resources Group (ERG) Summit, Diversity Career Fair, Convention, and Gala. There were four keynote speakers and 50 other panel speakers at the convention who covered a wide range of topics, ranging from “Learning from a Career in Advertising” to “How to Be a Social Media Rockstar!” I resonated most with Simon Tam, the founder and bassist of the first All Asian American Dance Rock Band. His speech was titled “Slanted – How an Asian American Troublemaker Took on the Supreme Court.” I was blown away by Simon Tam’s presentation based on his own true story. Simon is a courageous leader and disruptor. Some of his experiences were not unique to him, but where others might have given up he persisted and succeeded. 

There were over 20 breakout sessions and workshops at the convention.  “The 5 Voices” by Abraham Gin of GiANT Worldwide was relevant.  In order to lead others effectively, we need a true understanding of ourselves, our natural tendencies, and our patterns of behavior. In learning your leadership voice type (Nurturer, Creative, Guardian, Connector, Pioneer), you will better understand what you sound like to others, as well as learn how to hear and value others’ voices. 

The Diversity Career Fair featured over 40 outstanding employers who were searching for talent to join their firms. 

The Gala Celebration was held at the splendid Midland Theatre. Award Director Ezra Baeli-Wang did an excellent job of picking the recipients. The NAAAP 100 award was given to four deserving Asian Americans, whose stories I heard for the first time. The NAAAP Inspire Award was given to Emmy award winning journalist Nadia Han, whose story I happened to know. A woman had shouted at her that “This is America.” She took to social media and demystified that phrase’s meaning and more. Her professional consciousness and courage propelled her to become the creator of the award-winning documentary series, “This Is America,” a provocative, fresh look at who we are as Americans. Broadway and television star Telly Leung’s performance filled the theatre, and he demonstrated the points he made during the day in a workshop he conducted titled “Filling the Room: How to Impact an Audience.”

The NAAAP Kansas volunteers were super hosts. They are: Board Director Michael Gonzales, President Junann Lopez, Program Director David Moore, Marketing Director John Ong, Registration Manager Ashok Meka. When I told President Lopez that NAAAP Detroit has an event coming up in September, she wanted to support us. She told us to take the remaining Hallmark Cards, about 80 stacks with 4 cards in each stack, totaling about 300 cards. They filled up my suitcase and my heart.  

I got to spend some time with National Board Chair Ron Chang, National President Elizabeth Yang, Executive Director Cyndy Yu-Robinson, Treasurer Ashley Mack, and the other Chapter Presidents. I shared a room with our own Sharon Dow. NAAAP has become an extended family. I mingled with hundreds of people within the short three days, from students to Hollywood stars.  I wonder whether I have done something right as I feel like I have landed among the stars. 

Next year’s convention will be in Washington DC.  I hope you will have an opportunity to attend the event and be connected and inspired.

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