Rep. Cisneros Announces CA-39 AAPI Trailblazer Award Recipients on Last Day of APAHM

May 31, 2020
Press Release

FULLERTON, CA - On the last day of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr. (CA-39) announced the recipients of the CA-39 AAPI Trailblazer Award. Rep. Cisneros selected 10 leaders across a range of industries, including education, business, healthcare, non-profit, and community engagement, as well as students. Rep. Cisneros will host an in-person event in the future to honor these trailblazers.

“As we close out Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, I’m proud to announce our CA-39 AAPI Trailblazers. These are leaders in our schools, hospitals, businesses, and non-profits who are changing our communities every day. They represent the very best of the 39th District,” said Rep. Cisneros. “The dedication, commitment, and hard-work of these trailblazers is inspiring. I want to congratulate this outstanding group of individuals and thank everyone who nominated leaders from our community.”

Rep. Cisneros honored the following CA-39 residents. Included is a quote from their nominator's submission:

  • Education
    • Caroline Tran Ryan, Brea: School Counselor/Therapist; “Mrs. Tran Ryan is patient, kind, and caring. She is encouraging, faithful, and vibrant. She leads by example. Mrs. Tran Ryan deserves this award more than any educator I know, AAPI or not, because she educates more than just the academic brain: she empowers the mind. She has a unique gift of making people feel okay when they are feeling down. She somehow preserves a positive attitude through any harsh news, and she miraculously spreads that positive energy to anyone she encounters.”
    • Michael Matsuda, Fullerton: Superintendent of the Anaheim Union High School District; “Michael has created equity and access in education for all. He has ensured that families who are limited English speaking, who are low income, who are working multiple jobs, who are homeless have equitable access and support in the education system. He has created multiple opportunities in leadership in education for all students and has created a very inclusive model to ensure all in his district and beyond have support and increased involvement in public school education. The models he has created and implements are national models. He has moved his district from lower performing schools to Gold Medal schools.”
  • Community Leaders
    • KC Choi, La Habra: Co-Founder and President of KAPAC (Korean American Public Action Committee); “KC has been the force behind KAPAC. He has worked hard to make a positive impact in the community by increasing civic engagement and civic participation within the Korean community. He has helped to bring awareness to issues that affect the Korean community such as advocating for peace on the Korean Peninsula and adoptee citizenship rights. He has looked to build a bridge between the Korean community and mainstream community to bring about a stronger understanding of issues that are of concern to the APA community."
  • Business/Healthcare Leaders
    • Dr. David Park, Yorba Linda: Oncologist and Hematologist; “Dr. David Park is a well-regarded and​ ​highly-respected oncologist and hematologist throughout Southern California and beyond, and it is our good fortune he has chosen to bring his passion and expertise to the St. Jude Crosson Cancer Institute. Dr. Park’s outstanding leadership and remarkable work ethic have permitted the cancer program to grow into a recognized leader—and brought several national awards and distinctions to our services.”
    • Henry Woo, Rowland Heights: Architect; “Henry Woo has been a practicing architect designing projects in the communities of the 39th Congressional District for more than 35 years. His career has been particularly notable for his role designing many public buildings and projects in the 39th Congressional District including the Diamond Bar High School Aquatic Center, the Fullerton High School New Science Building annex, the Endeavor High School for Special Education, the Hudson Learning Center at La Puente High School, the Rowland Water District Headquarters entry edition, and numerous school modernization projects for the Rowland and Walnut Valley Unified School Districts and the Fullerton Union High School District.” 
  • Non-Profit Leaders
    • Kevin Mo-Wong, Fullerton: Executive Director for Solidarity; “Kevin has led our nonprofit to serve some of the most vulnerable neighbors in the city of Fullerton. He mentors numerous youth and facilitates numerous community based programs throughout Fullerton. Specifically, during the Covid-19 crisis, he transitioned our organization overnight into a relief organization. He has established weekly food banks in two low income neighborhoods in Fullerton and raised over $40,000 to give directly to community members who are being greatly impacted by the Coronavirus. In the last two months, he has been responsible for our organization serving hundreds of families in need.”
    • Jane Wu, Hacienda Heights: Co-Founder for Foundation for the Disabled Youths; “Jane Wu is one of the co-founders of the grassroots 501c3 non-profit Foundation for the Disabled Youths based in the 39th District. Jane has always put others first and has been caring for the children with special needs for the past several decades without asking for any recognition or rewards. She is the first one for many parents to call when they are having problems in the school system, needing medical support, learning American culture, etc. Jane is a petite lady with the biggest heart, she wears the invisible cape and helps the families to the best of her abilities.”
  • Students
    • Kaitlyn Anciano, Walnut: “Through her involvement in ASB, Kaitlyn has been an important part of the Nogales community. She has represented our school as class president every single year. That is no easy feat! In addition to that, she often can be seen volunteering her lunch in the ASB office, learning from the ASB accountant, and just offering a helpful hand to anyone that needs it.”
    • Lada Lerdsuwanrut, Walnut: “Among the Southern Californian suburbs, my community has been infamously titled the Walnut Bubble. Being an LGBTQ+ student who had witnessed the consequences of perpetuating hateful rhetoric and a culture of oppressing one's identity at first hand, I wanted to be an advocate for the Asian-American students within my community that struggle with expressing their identities by promoting activism and becoming a role model on campus.”
    • Joseph Oh, Buena Park: “ In addition to his great teamwork abilities, I’ve witnessed Joseph’s accomplishments firsthand as he created catchy census messages to share with millennials on social media. He then shared with the rest of the group to utilize his template/idea to share. He also initiated and helped his high school paper (Troy High School) publish an article about the census. He created census flyers on behalf of the group and worked with me to fine tune the details. Joseph’s passion as a member of his school paper and Troy ROTC program exemplifies his gentle and bold leadership. I’m certain Joseph will only reach higher and do more good for his community if he’s encouraged with the trailblazer recognition.”