Recent news

August 22, 2013

Congrats to Miss Chinatown Houston 2013, Karen Li!

Karen Li is the new Miss Chinatown Houston! She did a fine job, as our new titleholder is quite accomplished and lovely to boot! Karen will be a wonderful representative for our city in next year’s national competition. The pageant also recognized a dazzling visitor - the reigning Miss Chinatown USA, Leah Li! Her presence at our event added quite a bit of glamour and glitz. Read more.



April 11, 2013

AAA Member Updates

Happy Year of the Snake!

This is the Year of the Snake. To some, snakes are not so desirable. Try looking at it this way. Every year the snake sheds its old skin and goes off with its newly revealed body. May we all shed our old, unwanted habits and start the new year with a fresh, bright outlook!

Below is what some of our members have been doing in the community and goals they hope to achieve this year.

Shirley Kwan has served on the Texas Diversity Council for the past three years. This March, she chaired the Women in Leadership Symposium. In addition, Ms. Kwan is an active board member of the Asian Chamber of Commerce.

Francine Di is passionate about music. She continues to perform locally with a group specializing in traditional Chinese music with instruments that date back thousands of years. On the other end of the spectrum, Francine recently joined a new Asian fusion band! In March, she placed third in "Voice of the Southern," a singing competition sponsored by Southern Daily news, and sang in a benefit at the Chinese Civic Center for the Sichuan earthquake victims. In April, she was named among 24 recipients of the Houston Arts Alliance individual artist grant. She also finds time to sit on the Rice University Community of Asian Alumni board. Not to forget the past, one of Francine’s new year’s resolutions is to redirect some energy to old friends who mean a great deal!

Cami Lenett, RN, MS, CNS, is in the process of building a nonprofit organization in San Francisco. The proposed Kokua Lodge,, is all about survival and recovery. The lodge hopes to become home away from home for patients and their caregivers during and after treatment for blood cancers (leukemias, lymphomas and myelomas) at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF Medical Center). Coping with a challenging, intensive recuperation period in unfamiliar surroundings can hinder the process. As patients must stay nearby for 3–6 months after treatment, an affordable, calm oasis of support and renewal would be welcome help on the road to recovery.

During Christmas, Suzanne Gee directed a small nativity skit for the children of a local apartment complex. She also enjoyed singing songs and playing bingo with the elderly at a local nursing home. When not working, Ms. Gee keeps busy with teaching high school Sunday School and directing youth activities at Asian American Baptist Church.

Sherri Liu’s piano students will be sharing what they are learning and performing at several senior residential centers this year.

Soo Leong Liu joined Mental Health America, Fort Bend County chapter,, to help shine a light on the many levels of local resources one can go to with mental health issues. The group prints a yearly booklet to be given to area schools, hospitals and to other professionals to share with those needing such services. The events in the news involving people with extreme mental issues were unusual situations. It does not mean that people with mental health problems can’t get help and live relatively normal lives. MHA advocates for improved care and accessibility for mental health services, gathers information on available resources and hopes to eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health issues with education. Soo was recognized as Volunteer of the Year for 2012.

Many people don’t realize the work that is required to produce a school curriculum that will challenge, yet nurture and develop a child’s mind. Director of Curriculum and Instructional Support Alisa Eng continues to direct the curriculum at Annunciation Orthodox School to help produce well-rounded, upstanding citizens of society. Core areas of study, along with Greek language, culture and heritage and faith-based classes, are just some of what a student can learn.

When she’s not taking care of her sweet young grandchildren, Alyssa and Kennedy, Cynthia Lee Chang and her husband, Charles, have been very busy! Besides running two Spotlight Karaoke locations (plus a karaoke supply store!), they started a philanthropy to help others. Each Christmas, they host 20 children from a local shelter. Last year, they hosted a fundraiser for an employee who passed away and made sure the former marine was given a full military honor service. Giving someone a new lease on life can be such a blessing. An older woman was in danger of losing her house. The Changs gave her a job and loaned her a car. And now that she is battling breast cancer, they continue to give her support and encouragement.  

Each Saturday, for the past two years, Janet Goh-Wiener has volunteered at the Texas Children’s Hospital. Among several other volunteer duties, Janet, as a member of the Circle of Sound, plays the singing crystal bowl once a month at Menil Park.

Last April, Charles Foster was instrumental in initiating the building and dedication of the $48.5 million new home of the Asia Society Texas Center, Designed by internationally acclaimed architect, Yoshio Taniguchi, the center highlights Asian art, culture and business and policy programs. It has excellent family programs that are free and open to the public. Foster is the incoming Chair of Interfaith Ministries,, and has been working on a $10 million new home for Interfaith Ministries. Charles became involved with Interfaith Ministries because of their refugee resettlement program and through Meals on Wheels, which provides thousands of Houston seniors a hot meal each day that they would otherwise not receive. Further, they help provide a forum for interfaith dialogues to lessen tensions between the people of different religious faiths in our community.

Francine Cheng has been quite busy with residency duties at the University of Texas Medical Branch.  She is involved with several children's organizations and continues to do community work through the UTMB Pediatrics Department.

Virginia Chang Kiraly was inspired to create Ring The Bell Fund last year after discovering that schools in her community, including her children’s school, had fire alarms that were not monitored and connected to any kind of first responder, such as a fire department or fire district. When she was elected to the Menlo Park Fire Protection Board in 2011, one of her priorities was to help connect school fire alarms to a first responder and bring awareness to this issue, since most parents assume that school fire alarms are actually connected. Formed in 2012, Ring The Bell Fund’s mission is to advocate, educate, and raise funds for school fire alarms to be connected to first responders and for automatic sprinklers to be installed in schools. Official launch of Ring The Bell Fund will be Thursday, May 2, 2013, at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

These are just some of the projects of our members. Please consider finding your passion in a community project or program. If everyone takes a little time from their busy days to brighten someone else’s day, it will encourage others to pass it on!