Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Author-activist Phoebe Eng is next up on’s AAPI Empowerment series
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Author-activist Phoebe Eng is next up on’s AAPI Empowerment series

Author and activist Phoebe EngErin Yoshimura and I started to interview Asian American Pacific Islander leaders and tell their stories to empower other AAPIs to follow in their footsteps. So far, it’s been an absolute blast.

The website launched with a conversation with former Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta on May 21, and this week we spoke with Yul Kwon, the hunky winner of “Survivor: Cook Islands.” Both men told powerful stories about the challenges they faced as Asian Americans, and the stereotypes that had to battle.

The next guest on’s AAPI Empowerment Series is social activist and author Phoebe Eng. The interview will be held Tuesday, June 23 at 6 pm PDT (9 pm EDT).

I met Eng when that book came out, a decade ago, and she was in Denver for a book reading and signing. She was a great speaker, and as inspiring in person as she is in the prose of her book, which is in part an autobiography of her search for identity as an Asian American and as a woman, a double-whammy of identity-politics.

Here’s Eng’s official bio:

Phoebe Eng is the author of the highly acclaimed memoir, “Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman’s Journey into Power,” her account of empowerment and leadership in a changing world. The book has been an inspiration to both AAPI women and men.

From helping build A. Magazine in the early 1990s as its first publisher and Chair of its holding company Metro East Publications, to being a founding sister of national networks such as the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute and National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum in DC, Eng has dedicated her life to uplifting the voices and perspectives of Asian American women and women in general.

For over 15 years, Eng has also worked with a range of Fortune 100 companies such as IBM, JP Morgan Chase, AOL, Dell Computers, Hewlett Packard, Procter & Gamble, the city of Miami, foundations, and federal agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission and Commerce Department, helping them to promote diverse talent and create relationships with emerging international and domestic markets.

Eng serves as the Vice Chair of the Ms. Foundation for Women, co-founded by Gloria Steinem and Marlo Thomas, where she has helped conceptualize programs to elevate the voices of women leaders in public policy. Eng has also served on the Advisory Board of Working Mother Media’s Best Companies for Multicultural Women list, the largest award showcase honoring the best practices of companies worldwide.

In 2005 she co-founded the think tank The Opportunity Agenda with colleagues from The Ford Foundation, National Institutes of Health, and Beltway leaders, and now directs Creative Counsel, its creative arm.

Internationally, Eng is proud of her work with the Ford Foundation and the UN, as a project coordinator in presenting the UN World Conference Against Racism in South Africa. She has received the New York City Mayor’s Innovator Award, the Phoenix Award (from the Asian Women’s Center), Arthur T. Vanderbilt Medal, and a Distinguished Service Award from NYU School of Law. Eng started her career as a mergers and acquisitions attorney with an international firm, practicing in New York, Paris, and Hong Kong.

Eng’s work has been covered in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Far Eastern Economic Review and in John Naisbitt’s Megatrends Asia, as well as in several books and other media. Her viewpoints have appeared on MSNBC, on newswires such as Reuters and AP, and on PBS affiliate stations.

Eng knows that her career path has been a long and winding road. “I’d love to show listeners that my life choices have been all over the map, that it has taken time to feel comfortable with that, but that going with one’s inherent nature is ultimately affirming and empowering,” she says in an email. “There may be many AAPI’s who still face family and societal expectations to adopt a tunnel vision approach to life, and I’d love to tell a different story that may help them to stay open to possibilities and choices.”

I’m especially looking forward to speaking with her about her choice to run Creative Counsel, which connects artists and performers to social causes. One of its key projects has been the story site, 1000 Voices Archive.

It’s cool to see a powerful, high-profile Asian American (and woman) take charge of her career and carve out a path that’s new and unexplored. That, in itself, goes against cultural type.

We hope you’ll tune in and check out the conversation!

Register for the June 23 conversation with Phoebe Eng. Our interviews are conducted via teleconference lines, so you can call in to listen (long distance charges may apply), or tune in via live streaming webcast (FREE). Just register for the AAPI Empowerment Series and you’ll receive the dial-in and webcast page information. If you can’t make the call or miss the call, no worries — register anyway and you can listen to the recording later!