Asian American and Pacific Islander Month 2018

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On May 8, 2018, the Council recognized Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Councilmembers presented a proclamation to community leaders in the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and showed a prepared video segment explaining the significance of the month that shared personal stories from community leaders. There was also a special recognition ceremony for individuals profiled in the video.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, which is recognized nationally throughout the month of May, acknowledges the roles that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have played in our history and celebrates their achievements and contributions. The U.S. Congress chose the month of May to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants.

Tufail Ahmad

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Tufail Ahmad’s commitment to engage his community and establish trust and understanding across lines of difference has helped us build a vibrant multicultural Montgomery County. By recruiting volunteers and raising funds through the Montgomery County Muslim Foundation (MCMF), Mr. Ahmad has served our neighbors in need regardless of faith, race or gender.

Tufail Ahmad was born and educated in India prior to migrating to Pakistan in 1958. As Pakistan’s Deputy Auditor General, he traveled extensively across the globe. Mr. Ahmad migrated to Montgomery County with his family in 1973, eventually establishing his own business and running it successfully for two decades.

He retired from his business in 2000 and dedicated himself to increasing engagement by Muslim Americans in the community at-large. After 9/11, Tufail Ahmad was the right person at the right time in exactly the right place. He urged the many Muslims feeling unsafe and uncertain to get involved in serving the broader community in the true spirit of Islam.

To institutionalize this grassroots effort, Mr. Ahmad served as a catalyst for the founding of Montgomery County Muslim Council (MCMC) and founded MCMF. From refugee assistance to transportation for seniors to gift baskets during the holidays to youth empowerment, MCMF has made a difference. Since 2002, MCMC has provided hot meals at homeless shelters during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

His honors include Neal Potter Path of Achievement Award, Maryland Governor’s Service Award, and Maryland Muslim Council Lifetime Achievement Award and the Roscoe R. Nix Distinguished Community Leadership Award.

Chung Pak

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Chung K. Pak has had a distinguished professional career as a United States Administrative Patent Judge with the U.S. Patent Trial and Appeal Board and had served as a Corporate Patent Counsel for Praxair, Inc. and Union Carbide Corporation. As one of the most respected patent judges at the Patent Trial and Appeal Board, he has adjudicated over 6,000 cases, many involving complex technical and legal issues and has received the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) Special Achievement Award, USPTO Outstanding Performance Award, and many other awards for his distinguished service in the area of patent and intellectual property law.

Judge Pak is also is a highly venerated civic activist and leader in Montgomery County and Maryland. He has served on the boards and in leadership positions on many non-profit community organizations. In particular, Judge Pak has served as Maryland Higher Education Commissioner; Co-Chairman of the Montgomery County NAACP Multicultural Partnership Committee; Commissioner of the Governor’s Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs; Board Member of Progressive Maryland, Committee for Montgomery, Maryland Attorney General's Advisory Council, Montgomery County Executive's Asian American Advisory Board, Montgomery County State's Attorney's Asian American Advisory Board, and Montgomery Upcounty Citizens Advisory Board; Chairman of League of Korean Americans of Maryland; Montgomery County Asian American Police Advisory Committee, Taskforce to reduce racial strain in John F. Kennedy High School, Comptroller Peter Franchot’s Transition Team, and County Executive Ike Leggett’s Transition Team.

Known as a consensus and bridge builder, Judge Pak has worked closely with Latino, African American, Asian Pacific American, labor, religious, and civil rights groups on issues of common concern. His extraordinary life story has been featured in the Gazette’s: One of Forty Who Cared and in other news articles. In an Asian Fortune article, U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski said, “Judge Pak has spent a lifetime fighting injustice and inequality. His story is truly an embodiment of the American dream and an example of leadership with compassion and commitment to public service.” He also played an important role in promoting a strong partnership between the Asian American community, Montgomery County law enforcement, Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office, and Maryland Attorney General's Office, defeating anti-immigrant and anti-small business legislation in the Maryland General Assembly, and passing Asian Lunar New year as a day of commemoration in

Montgomery County and Maryland in 2006. For his outstanding service to his community, he was inducted into Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame and received President’ Volunteer Award, Governor’s Volunteerism Award, Progressive Maryland’s Progressive Leader Award; MCDCC’s Kelsey Cook Volunteer of Year Award; Census Department’s Census Outstanding Volunteer Service Award; Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Certificate of Appreciation; Certificate of Special Congessional Recognition; Maryland Coalition for Recognition of Asian Lunar New Year’s STAR of Maryland Asian Pacific American Community Award; League of Korean Americans of Maryland Outstanding Service and Presidential Awards; Korean American Senior Citizens' Advocate Award; Governor’s Citation for Outstanding Community Service; USPTO Asian Pacific American Network Leadership Award; and many other awards.

Devang Shah

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Devang Shah is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County, Maryland. He is a community activist serving the AAPI and broader communities.

Mr. Shah served on Governor O’Malley’s South Asian Affairs Commission coordinating various South Asian community activities statewide and advising the Governor on policies to enhance and improve community programs. Mr. Shah was instrumental in the organizing Pan Asian Community Summits and the 2013 Asian American Business Conference which brought together AAPI leaders and advocates from non-profit, faith based, government and business sectors.

He has been actively involved in the Democratic Party serving in various volunteer capacities. Mr. Shah is currently Chair of the AAPI Leadership Council where he seeks to have more AAPIs’ engaged in the political process. Previously, he was Co-Chair for Indian Americans for Hillary Clinton working at the grassroots to mobilize Indian Americans to register and vote. Mr. Shah also co-founded and serves on the Board of the Maryland Democratic Business Council which was established to provide a voice for business oriented Democrats.

Mr. Shah has a long history of working with various nonprofit organizations. He serves on the Board of AICS which partners with County, State and Federal agencies to help address the barriers and hindered access to services and benefits and has played a leading role in enrollment in the ACA. He also serves as Vice President of the National Council of Asian Indian Associations (“NCAIA”). Later this year, Mr. Shah will join the Board of Interfaith Works.

Professionally, Mr. Shah is able to pursue his passion in helping the AAPI community by practicing immigration law as a Partner with Shah and Kishore. In 2012, he received the Excellence in International Legal Service Award from the Maryland Sister States Program for “his dedication toward the practice of immigration law in helping, advancing the lives of immigrants in our State of Maryland”.

Tho Tran

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Ms. Tho Tran is the founder and executive director of Vietnamese American Services (VAS), a non-profit social services and community development agency meeting the needs of the Vietnamese American population. The organization started in 2015 and has helped almost 1,500 individuals with a variety of services, include getting jobs, teaching English, obtaining health care, social benefits and connecting to resources.

Trained as a Pharmacist and with a Master’s degree in Public Health, Ms. Tran has 15 years working in the development field with several non-profit organizations. Her strengths are in the areas of capacity building, project/program management, monitoring and evaluation, and business development, both in Vietnam and the U.S. Ms. Tran serves as a member of the Montgomery County Commission on Aging, the Montgomery County Asian Pacific American Advisory Group, and the Montgomery County Asian American Health Initiative Committee.

Dr. Revathi Vikram

Diplomate – American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
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Revathi K. Vikram, MD grew up in India, Brazil and the United States. She graduated from high school in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, received her undergraduate degree in Biology from Washington University in St Louis, MO, and her medical degree from the University of Delhi in India. She then chose to specialize in Psychiatry. She served as a Resident and then Chief Resident in Psychiatry at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York City and was subsequently appointed to the faculty of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. She is Board-Certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

For more than two decades Dr. Vikram practiced in the field of community mental health in New York City with all its cultural diversity. She served the Jewish Board of Family & Children Services as an attending psychiatrist. She taught and supervised trainees from the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in Psychiatry, Psychology and other mental health disciplines. She also maintained a private practice in Psychiatry in Westchester County and rose through the ranks of the American Psychiatric Association to serve as President of its New York State Westchester District Branch.

In 2006 Dr. Vikram moved to Montgomery County, Maryland where she has been serving the community by organizing training sessions for volunteers who assist the victims of domestic violence, on behalf of ASHA for Women - an advocacy group for the victims of domestic violence of South Asian heritage in the Washington DC metro region. She has organized outreach activities for raising awareness about domestic violence and elder abuse among high school and George Washington University students as well as at the World Bank and the National Institutes of Health. She assisted SAALT (South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow) in a project that is assessing the needs of South Asian Seniors in Montgomery and Prince George's counties. She served on the Senior Advisory Committee to the Mayor of Gaithersburg, providing advice about mental health issues and programs celebrating diversity. She is an active member of the Gaithersburg Upcounty Senior Center, where she has delivered lectures at that Center as well as at the Gaithersburg Active Aging Expo on subjects such as Brain Health and Healthy Aging.

Dr Vikram has been a Commissioner on Aging for Montgomery County for the last 6 years. She will always address the needs and perspectives of the diverse communities in this County. For the past year and a half she has worked with South Asian Seniors at the North Potomac Community Center to help create culturally relevant programs by and for them. “Jai Ho”, as this group calls itself, has already grown to over 50 members.

Janet Yu

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Janet Yu was born and raised in Washington, D.C. Her parents were born in Taishan, China. and immigrated to the United States in 1948. In 1967, the family moved to Silver Spring, MD, where they opened a Chinese Restaurant. Growing up in a family business meant that you had to do your fair share of working. It was a daily job with long hours and working after school. She decided that there were more exciting things to do and started working in the airline industry where she worked for 21 years. She later realized that food and hospitality was what she really enjoyed. She opened Hollywood East Cafe in Wheaton, MD and has served the public now for 21 years.