The Surging Waves Symposium Features Distinguished Panelists

By Xinming Li,

Cambridge, May 6, 2016, — The Surging Waves Symposium: 200 Years of Chinese American Identity was held at Tsai Auditorium in Harvard University on April 30. This event was hosted by Chinese American Citizens Alliance(CACA) Boston lodge, and sponsored by East Boston Savings Bank. About 150 attendees joined the discussions of history of Chinese immigration at the symposium.
(First row L to R) Greer Hsing Tan Swiston, Wing-kai To, Tunney F Lee, Van Amanda Le, Martin Gold, Beatrice Lee and with other panelists and organizers(photo by Ron Young).

The distinguished panelists discussed the five waves of Chinese immigrants over the past two centuries and the lasting impact of it. Attorney Martin Gold, author of Forbidden Citizens, signed his books for the audience. “It’s my wife’s idea for the book title,” said Mr. Gold with a smile. He played an important role in the passage of Senate Resolution 201 on October 2011 and House Resolution 683 in June 2012, expressing regret for the Chinese exclusion laws.

Corky Lee, a famous Chinese American photographer attended this event with a large camera on his hand. “I posted a picture of my pop up exhibit(see below) at the symposium on Facebook, and got over 50 likes in a few minutes,” said Mr. Lee.
Esther Zee Lee and Wilson Lee, organizers of the symposium, thanked the panelists and many volunteers for putting together this event. If you are interested in joining CACA Boston lodge, please send email to [email protected].

Introduction of Panelists

Leland Cheung

Leland Cheung is a candidate for State Senate in the 2nd Middlesex District. He has been honored to serve as a City Councillor for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts since 2009. Leland was first elected to the Council while pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Masters in Business Administration at the MIT Sloan School of Management. In addition to being the youngest member of the Cambridge City Council, He was the first currently-enrolled student to be elected to the Council as well as the first Asian American.

Prior to returning to graduate school, Cheung earned a BS in Physics, BA in Economics and MS in Aerospace Engineering from Stanford University. Following graduation, Cheung worked as a Senior Associate at Masthead Partners, a Cambridge-based venture capital firm focusing on digital media, mobile, and internet infrastructure. He is also a board member of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, appointed by Governor Deval Patrick.

Leland Cheung is currently serving his second term on the Cambridge City Council, where he has been a strong leader in economic development, community building, and regional cooperation. Currently, Cheung is the chair of the Cable TV, Telecommunications & Public Utilities Committee and the Neighborhood and Long Term Planning Committee. The son of Chinese immigrants, Cheung developed a deep appreciation for American values and the importance community participation. Guided by these principles, he ran for office on the platform of strengthening the community and creating opportunities for the next generation. Cheung carries out these beliefs as he advocates for job growth, government transparency and affordable housing across Cambridge each and every day.

In 2009, Cheung worked as a Summer Fellow at the Department of Energy’s newest agency, ARPA-E. Chartered by President Obama as the ‘Venture Capital arm’ of the DOE, ARPA-E was charged with making high-risk, high-reward investments with the potential to radically transform how America generates, delivers, and consumes energy. Cheung is also a Truman Partner and 2012 Eisenhower Fellow. Additionally, Cheung was a member of Governor Deval Patrick’s Asian American Commission, Massachusetts State Chair for the Democratic Municipal Organization, Massachusetts Democratic State Committee member, member of the Policy Committee on Personnel and Labor Relations for the Massachusetts Municipal Organization, Steering Committee member on Community and Economic Development for the National League of Cities, connector for the Boston World Partnerships, member of the Leadership Committee on Expanding Democracy for the Young Elected Officials Network, and Massachusetts Technology Collaborative board member, a quasi-public agency that supports economic development in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Cheung can be seen commuting around Cambridge on a handmade electric scooter.

Outside of work, Cheung has served as the Executive Vice President of The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAP), a non-profit that cultivates, empowers, and promotes Asian American leaders, and as a mentor at Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. Leland currently lives in Cambridge with his wife, Yin, and their daughter Lela Marie.

Linda Y. Chin

Linda Chin emigrated with her parents from Hong Kong to the United States in 1956. She is a graduate of Antioch School of Law, and has been practicing business immigration and international trade law since 1978. She has served on the Teaching Faculty of the American Immigration Lawyers Association as well as its Asian Task Force, and was Boston Chapter Liaison to the U.S. Department of Labor. She is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York, and before the United States Supreme Court and United States Court of International Trade. Ms. Chin has also served as a board member of PAIR, The Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project, a provider of pro bono immigration services to asylum-seekers and immigrants in Massachusetts.
Ms. Chin’s mother, Leeann Chin, was a philanthropist, author, and founder of the eponymous restaurant chain,, featured in 150 years of Chinese Food in America, curated by the Smithsonian Institute. Mrs. Chin also had a 13-part series on PBS teaching Chinese cuisine and a program on the Food Network. She was a board member of the Committee of 100, and part of its delegation for the British handover of Hong Kong.

Ms. Chin’s grand uncle, General Ying Wen, was the first envoy from China to the United Nations, Military Secretary to Sun Yat Sen, President of National Tsing Hua University, and the first Chinese graduate of West Point, where the Wen family has endowed the Excellence in East Asian Studies and China Travel Awards. In Taiwan, Ms. Chin’s cousin is the spouse of Tung Chee-chen (董建成), Chairman of Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL), whose brother, Tung Chee-hwa (董建華), was the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong, SAR, PRC.
Ms. Chin and her husband, who is also an attorney, have four children. The eldest, Siu Ping, graduated from Davidson College and Tulane Medical School, completed her residency and fellowship at Harvard Medical School, and is a physician and Assistant Professor at UMass Medical Center. Dai Wai graduated from Georgetown University and NYU Law School, and is an associate at Dorsey & Whitney. Wai Lee graduated from the University Chicago and is a software developer at Daily KOS. Rutledge graduated from Brown University and is a software engineer at Google.

Maggie Jiang

Maggie Jiang is currently a Senior Director at Credit Suisse and has worked in the financial industry for more than fifteen years. Ms. Jiang currently focuses on the primary debt capital market, where she helps to facilitate public, private, or syndicated transactions for various types of institutions. Ms. Jiang is the President-Elect of The Chinese Finance Association, a non-profit organization with over 6,000 member for Chinese financial professionals and students. Ms. Jiang has made valuable contributions to TCFA and the financial community as a Board of Director and Chair of the New York Chapter. She has worked tirelessly to organize many key events that differentiate TCFA from other organizations, and more importantly, helped promote financial and economic exchanges between US and China.

Beatrice C. Lee

Beatrice Chao Lee (Chao Chung-Ying) was born in Nanjing, China. As a child, she lived with her military family in many cities in Mainland China until 1949, when her family moved to Taiwan where Beatrice finished high school. At the age of 19, Beatrice flew to America to attend the College of Mount St. Vincent in Riverdale, New York on a four year scholarship. On June 1, 1954 Beatrice received her B.A. in Social Studies with a minor in Fine Arts and two weeks later she married Raymond Lee, a chemical engineer from Shanghai whom she had dated for 3 years.

After 2 short years in Michigan, the newlyweds moved to the Greater Boston area where they became naturalized US citizens and have remained ever since. While raising their five young children, Beatrice returned to school and earned her M.Ed from Northeastern University in 1972 and taught mathematics in the Winchester, Lexington and Arlington public school systems. She later became a licensed social worker, earning her LCSW and working as a Geriatric Case Manager in the MA Department of Public Welfare until her retirement in 1992. For the past 25 years, Beatrice has written for various periodicals as a bilingual arts and entertainment feature writer and reporter.

In the local Chinese community, Beatrice and Raymond have always been active. Over 50 years ago, they were pioneers in the small groups that founded the Greater Boston Chinese Cultural Association, the Chinese Family Summer Camp and the Newton Mandarin Chinese language school.

Until his death in 2010, Beatrice’s husband of 56 years, Raymond, was a chemical engineer, entrepreneur, writer and philanthropist who operated his own chemical company and founded a charitable foundation to carry out his philanthropic goals.

Beatrice’s father graduated from the Whampoa Military Academy and served as a Lieutenant General in the Chinese Nationalist Army. Her mother was an elementary school principal with a degree from Jinling Women’s College in Nanjing that made her one of the few women college graduates of her generation in China.

Beatrice and Raymond have five married children and thirteen grandchildren. The eldest, Patrick is a board certified critical care surgeon, Paul is a computer engineer, Phyllis is a business executive and attorney, Peter is a publications editor and Priscilla is a teacher and community activist currently studying as a Democracy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Tunney Lee

Tunney Lee is former Head, Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT, and the former Head of the Department of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong . He served as Chief of Planning and Design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and was also Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Planning and Operations. His research and teaching at MIT has focused on the process of community-based design and he has led many studios involving Boston area neighborhoods including East Boston, Fenway, and Alewife. Most recently, his research has focused on urban development of the Pearl River Delta in China, and an Atlas of Urban Residential Densities.

Professor Lee’s great-grandfather (from Lai Ben Village of Taishan County) was recruited to work on the Northern Pacific Railroad in 1882. Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act, he went back to China to marry. His grandfather (Lee Fet) was born in China and came to the US and Boston in 1903. In 1909, he also went back to China to marry and his father (K.L. Lee) was born there and came to Boston in 1922. He then went back to China to marry and Tunney was born in Taishan and came to the US in 1938. Professor Lee is a fourth generation Bostonian.

K.L. Lee moved to Washington in 1939 to work for the Dept. of Justice and later directed the East Asia section of the O.S.S. (later the CIA). He stayed on after the war, worked on immigration issues and was active in the Lee Family Association, especially the Credit Union.
Professor Lee’s daughter Thea Lee is an economist and spokesperson for the AFL-CIO. Professor Lee’s granddaughter (Ruby Lee Simon) won the 2011 Chinese American Citizens Alliance National Essay in Washington DC.

Karen Li

Karen LI is a sophomore from Houston, Texas. At Harvard, she is concentrating in math with a secondary in computer science. In her free time, she enjoys playing squash, running, and being outdoors.

Greer Tan Swiston

Greer Tan Swiston, 談繼欣, American born daughter of Chinese immigrants who came from Taiwan in the 1960’s. She graduated from MIT with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and has worked for corporations like JPL-NASA and Fidelity as well as a few start-ups like DESoFT which got bought by Merrill Lynch and Kurzweil Computers which got bought by Xerox. She has served a variety of Governor appointed commissions including the Governor’s Asian American Commission, the Judicial Nominating Committee, Massachusetts State Advisory to the US Commission on Civil Rights and was Chairwoman of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She was also elected to serve on the Newton City Council (formerly called the Board of Aldermen) for three consecutive terms. Active in the Chinese American Community she has served on the Executive Committee for the Great Boston Chinese Cultural Assocaiton and has volunteered at the cultural center for over 20 years. Having retired from Hi Tech, she teaches Mandarin Chinese to children, volunteers with the Newton Girl Scouts and the Veteran’s Office as well as her daughter’s high school robotics team and invests in real estate as a licensed agent with CENTURY 21 Commonwealth. She and her husband, Rob, also volunteer in the public school system as math tutors.

Wing-Kai To

Wing-kai To is Professor of History and Academic Director of the Minnock Center for International Engagement at Bridgewater State University. Growing up in Hong Kong, he moved to California to pursue his graduate studies in 1988 and has lived in Boston over the last decades. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Philosophy in History from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and a Ph.D. in History from the University of California at Davis. After moving to Massachusetts, he joined the Chinese Historical Society of New England and currently serves as Vice-President of the organization. He is the author of Chinese in Boston, 1870-1965, as well as many other articles in the fields of Chinese American history, modern Chinese history, and Asian studies. He has received national grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Association for International Educators, Japan Foundation, and he received a Fulbright Scholarship in Hong Kong in 2010. He established the Asian Studies Program at Bridgewater in 1999 and has been a campus leader for developing international programs since then. His research interests focus on Chinese Americans in Boston, comparative Chinatown studies, Asian American immigrants and students in New England, and contemporary issues of migration and globalization.

Diana Hwang

Diana Hwang began her career as the sole staff member to the late State Representative Debbie Blumer where she drafted and guided key legislative proposals on immigrants’ rights and affordable health care. After Rep. Blumer’s untimely death, Diana served as Executive Director for the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators, where she promoted legislation on critical issues to women and families such as healthcare, domestic violence and public education.

In 2008, seeing the lack of opportunities for Asian-American women in politics, Diana created the Asian-American Women’s Political Initiative (AAWPI). It was the country’s first leadership initiative specifically focused on getting Asian-American women into politics. Over the last 6 years, nearly 50 young women completed a State House fellowship and mentoring program. Most have gone on to work on political campaigns, in legislative offices, or in other politically active roles.

The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Diana Hwang has also previously served as chief-of-staff to an At-Large Boston City Councilor John Connolly. Outside of work, Diana has been a leading advocate for women in Massachusetts, serving as Board member of the Center for Women in Politics (UMass); as co-chair of the Boston Women’s Fund; and as a founding commissioner for Mayor Marty Walsh’s Women’s Commission. A former member of the Massachusetts Asian-American Commission, Diana is a graduate of Dartmouth College. Diana currently lives in East Boston’s Orient Heights neighborhood and previously lived in Revere.

Lisa Wong

Lisa Wong is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in 1970. She grew up in North Andover. Her parents owned Chinese restaurants, where Wong helped out as a child. Her parents encouraged her to receive an education so that she could take control of her own life. She was also active in sports; playing baseball (she was the only girl in her league), swimming and playing tennis.

Lisa Wong began working in Fitchburg at the Fitchburg Redevelopment Authority in 2001 and was the executive director by 2004. Wong was first elected as mayor at the age of 28 in 2007. When she took the position of mayor, the city “was on the edge of financial ruin.” She was considered a “fresh young voice in an old mill city.” During her first term in office, she had to make tough choices to help boost the cities financial situation. These included turning off half of the streetlamps across the city, cutting library hours and pushing to use the city’s river as a “recreation magnet” and partnering with the university. She also reduced her salary when she took office and refused raises. By 2013, she had built up the city’s reserves from $10,000 to $3 million.

Wong is married to Anthony Soto, who is a city councilor in Holyoke. The ceremony took place in November 2014. She met Soto at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. As Soto seeks to become the first Hispanic mayor of Holyoke, she did not seeking a fifth term as mayor, and is instead moved to Holoyoke.