Asian American Coalition of Chicago Hosting Its 36th Annual Lunar New Year Gala

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    Logo of AACCAACC

Updated 1/9/2019 7:06 AM

The black-tie event is the largest celebration for the Asian American community in the Midwest

Megha Hamal


The Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC) will host its 2019 lunar new year gala on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at 5:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 W. Bryn Mawr, Rosemont, IL. The black-tie event is the largest Asian-American event in the Midwest and will mark the beginning of the Year of the Pig with the theme "One World. One Vision." The gala is an opportunity for Asian Americans to come together, take a stance of unity and promoting and celebrating diversity.

Every year a different Asian community takes turn hosting the Lunar New Year Gala. This year, the gala is hosted by the Filipino American community. Aurora Abella-Austriaco, partner at Valentine, Austriaco & Bueschel, P.C.; past president of the Chicago Bar Association, Past President of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyers' Association and Commissioner for Illinois Courts Commission, will serve as chair of the AACC Lunar Gala.

"In keeping with the traditions of the Lunar New Year, the Filipino Asian American community is excited to host the event this year. The AACC gala aims to bring all Asian-American communities under one roof to collaborate and engage on issues and opportunities impacting Asian-Americans in the U.S.," said Austriaco. "Additionally, the gala is a great platform to promote diversity among Asian Americans while showcasing their traditions, cultures & heritage."

The annual celebration Gala includes reception, exhibit booths, dinner banquet, keynote address, awards, and entertainment.

Television personality and restauranteur Billy Dec, Marc Rita and other celebrity emcees from major TV networks have also been invited to serve as emcees for the evening.

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Awards Ceremony

AACC recognizes two outstanding awardees, one of Asian descent and one of non-Asian descent, who have made exceptional contribution to the Asian American community. This year, AACC's most prestigious Pan Asian American Ping Tom Memorial Award will be presented to Tina Tchen, partner at Buckley Sandler and former Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama.

The equally prestigious recognition, the Grand Asian American Sandra Otaka Memorial Award will be presented to ABC7 Chicago. This is the first time in the history of AACC that an entity or organization is receiving the Sandra Otaka Memorial Award. ABC7 Chicago, over the years has been a strong supporter and advocate for the Asian American community. It is the only major network in the Chicago area that has consistently hired numerous Asian talent such as Linda Yu(retired), Judy Hsu, Stacey Baca, Eric Horng, Ravi Baichwal and Cate Cauguiran. Additionally, in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month every year, ABC 7 Chicago hosts a luncheon for the Asian community leaders where it presents ASIAN INFLUENCES, an Emmy Award-winning program that shines the spotlight on Chicago's Pan-Asian American community.

The Coalition also announces the awardees of the 2019 Exemplary Community Service Awards and the Youth Who Excels Awards. The 2019 awardees are:

Exemplary Community Service Awardees:

Soo Lon Moy-- Chinese American Community

Dr. Nida Blankas-Hernaez, M.D.- Filipino American Community

Balwinder Singh Girn-- Indian American Community


Felicia Kristanto -- Indonesian American

Tatsu Aoki-- Japanese American Community

Keun Moo Lee- Korean American Community

Belinda Ng-- Malaysian American Community

Sadaf Javaid-- Pakistani American Community

Sudcharit Benjakul-- Thai American Community

Duc Dang-- Vietnamese American Community

Youth Who Excels Awardees:

Darek Lau-- Chinese American Community

Jade Mosquera, Filipino American Community

Julian Lalvani -- Indian American Community

Yoga Mahartayasa-- Indonesian American Community

Kelsoe Matsunaga -- Japanese American Community awardee

Monica Yoo -- Korean American Community

Matthew Lee - Malaysian American Community

Vanisa Oupokin-- Thai American Community

Baotam Alan Tran - Vietnamese American Community

Past celebrations have brought together more than 1,200 guests including Asian American community leaders, dignitaries, elected officials, corporate sponsors and the City's movers and shakers.

Tickets are available individually for $95 or $950 for a table of ten. For information on ticket purchase, please email Chris Hernandez at


4:30 p.m.: Political Forum

5:00 p.m.: Reception

6:00 p.m.: Dinner and Program

For more information about the event, please visit

Mr. Ping Tom was a civic and visionary leader in Chinese community and for the broader Asian Americans. His legendary style and beaming smile endeared him to people of all backgrounds. He was one of the 13 original founders of AACC. Outside of family and the family businesses, Mr. Tom's greatest achievement was his work on Chicago's Chinatown Square, a $100 million plus residential and commercial expansion of 32 acres. As president of the Chinese American Development Corporation, he unfortunately did not have the chance to see the bustling development that it has become. It was his desire to expand Chinatown so that there would be more room for his fellow Chinese to live and work.

The Honorable Sandra R. Otaka gave her time and energy selflessly to the Asian American community. She was an extraordinary leader, a trailblazer, a friend and mentor to many, and was taken from all of us much too soon. She also taught the importance of Asian American political empowerment and to be politically savvy. Her candidacy for Cook County judge in the 9th sub circuit is a textbook example for future Asian American candidates running for office.

Asian American Coalition of Chicago (AACC) founded in 1983, is represented by over 16 cultures including the Bangladeshi, Burmese, Cambodian, Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Malaysian, Nepalese, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Thai, and Vietnamese American communities. The Asian Lunar New Year Celebration helps celebrate these rich heritages and diverse histories. The AACC's mission is to organize and promote equal opportunities in government, education, economic development, and international affairs in order to empower all Asian Americans. Nine of the communities (Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Thai and Vietnamese American) take turns hosting the Asian Lunar New Year Celebration on a rotating basis.

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