Boston’s Most Influential AAPI Gathered To Commemorate Underappreciated Local Leaders

Boston’s first Asian American and first woman elected mayor, Michelle Wu, followed by nearly 100 individuals who are influential, legendary, or rising stars in the fields of academia, business, civic engagement, journalism, and politics came together to celebrate the local leaders’ service and integrity.

Takeda president Julie Kim and Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani, two of the honorees, shared their struggles and experiences and reflected on what it means to be Asian American.

Helen Chin Schlichte, aka “Auntie Helen,” is on the list. Despite her mother’s advice to be invisible and keep her head down, she became well-known on Beacon Hill. She rose to prominence as one of the first Asian American women in public administration.

There is also Frank Chin or  “Uncle Frank,” who has long been the unofficial mayor of Chinatown and has had the ear of governors, mayors, and lawmakers for more than six decades.

According to The Boston Globe, among the new generation of AAPI leaders include IDG CEO Mohamad Ali, University of Massachusetts-Lowell chancellor Julie Chen, Greater Malden Asian American Coalition cofounder Mai Du, Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger, Vertex CEO Reshma Kewalramani, Takeda Pharmaceutical US president Julie Kim, M&T Bank regional president Grace Lee, Social Finance cofounder Tracy Palandjian, Wayfair co-founder Niraj Shah, and Ginkgo Bioworks co-founder Reshma Shetty, and Commonwealth Seminar executive director Leverett Wing.

In politics, Cambridge’s Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui and City Manager Yi-An Huang. Back in Boston, Tiffany Chu serves as Mayor Wu’s chief of staff, while Quincy has City Councilor Nina Liang. And up in Lowell, Sokhary Chau was the country’s first Cambodian-American mayor when he took office last January.