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DFW Asian American Citizen Council 15th Annual Banquet
On Saturday, September 12, the DFW Asian American Citizens Council (DFW AACC) celebrates its 15th year of promoting and assisting Asian Americans involvement in local, social, political and civic responsibilities. Over five-hundred, dressed-up guests from North Texas were invited to attend this yearly event. This year keynote speaker included, Mr. Osamu “Simon” Nagata , Executive Vice President of Toyota Motor North America Inc., and the banquet special guest speaker Jerry Vattamala, Director for Democracy Program and the Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (AALDEF).
Keynote speaker, Osamu “Simon” Nagata, is also a senior managing officer for Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC). He joined TMC in April 1980 after earning his Bachelor Degree in Economics from the University of Tokyo. Mr. Nagata delivered a brief history of Toyota presence in North America and shared Toyota, the worldwide automaker, new expansion of its almost 100-acre office site headquarters in Plano, Texas, to better serve customers and position Toyota for sustainable, long-term growth. Toyota is talking to developers about building an approximate 1 million-square-feet facility. In the next three years, Toyota’s three separate North America headquarters for manufacturing, sales and marketing, and corporate operations will relocate to a single, state-of-the-art campus in Plano. Toyota is moving up to 4,000 workers from California, Kentucky and New York. Small groups of workers will start coming to Plano this summer. However, the majority of the employees will not move until construction of Toyota’s new headquarters is completed in late 2016 or early 2017. Mr. Osamu also mention the many benefits of expanding in Texas, like positive business climate, central location, highly educated/talented work force, diversity, direct air access to Japan, good schools and a great place for work and live.
DFW AACC 2015 Banquet’s guest speaker, Jerry Vattamala, received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Engineering from Binghamton University and is a graduate of Hofstra University School of Law. He worked as a commercial ligitator at Proskauer Rose LLP before joining the AALDEF in 2011. Mr. Vattamala has been a leader in organizing the Asian American communities for redistricting, serving as Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (AALDEF) lead attorney on New York’s Favor v. Cuomo federal redistricting litigation, resulting in more Asian majority and influence districts at all legislative levels. “This interim decision in our lawsuit is an important step forward for Asian Americans and other communities of color, who have been advocating for equal political access,” said Jerry Vattamala. “Appointing an independent ‘Special Master’ is the appropriate recourse to protect New York’s voters and ensure that the growing Asian American population and other communities of color have fair representation under a new redistricting plan.” Jerry Vattamala partake on behalf of the Asian American communities at redistricting hearing throughout the Northeast and meets with Board of Elections across the country to ensure full compliance with federal and local language assistance provisions. In Mr. Vattamala’s speech at the banquet, he stressed the importance of Asian American communities to have interpreter or translated materials for those who are limited in the English-language. Overall, majority of Asian Americans are fluent and understand English well but they still face barriers when voting are concerns. For example, Asian Americans perceived as foreigners and required to present ID or prove of citizenship at higher rates than other voters. Jerry Vattamala’s dedication to educate and inform Asian Americans of voting laws and rights would significantly impact the voting participation of Asian American communities in the near future. (See Jerry Vattamala’s exclusive Asia World Media interview in this issue)
Sylvia Komatsu, Executive Vice President and Chief Content Officer of KERA/KXT of North Texas, gave the welcoming remark and was the master of ceremony throughout the evening. DFW AACC Banquet chair, Anand Krishnaswamy, coordinated this year event and Margaret Tsai, current chair of DFW Asian American Citizens Council, provided the greeting to appreciate all the volunteers, members, sponsors and guests who help made the DFW AACC 2015 Banquet possible. The color guards from the Boy Scout Troop 306 in Allen Texas signal the beginning of the banquet, and follow by the national anthem, sang by Dr. Brenda Yu. A veena, an Indian musical instrument and play by Vasundhara Kikkeri, entertain the guests while dinner was being served.
The DFW AACC 15th Annual Banquet, signature sponsor by Toyota Motor North America, Inc., closed with the swearing in of officers and board members, including incoming chair, Marian Gallemore, by Tina Yoo Clinton, presiding Judge of Dallas County Criminal Court.