Promoting Leadership With AAPI Stories and Voices

L-R: Matt Pablo, singer/musician/actor; Jhoanna Belfer, Bel Canto Books Owner and Manager; Thanh Nam Vo Duy, Moët Hennessy USA Vice President of Strategic Capabilities; Caroline Choi, Edison International Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs.

SCE celebrates community and business partners during Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

By Shulie Tornel

Patty Rhee’s parents stopped checking her grades when she started high school, which is unheard of in most Asian American households. Instead of focusing on academics, Rhee’s Korean immigrant parents wanted to nurture their children’s heart and spirit, so they would become good people and give back to the community. That’s the same reason Rhee walked away from a career she loved as head of government relations at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory – to focus her attention on fighting climate change and carbon methane emissions.

Now chief partnerships officer for Global Methane Hub, Rhee intends to create a better future for her own children and increase Asian American representation in corporate and public policy leadership. “I don’t think there’s enough of us with a seat at the leadership table. I hope we can all strive to create an easier path for a more diverse community to join C-suites and lead board rooms,” she said.

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community month, celebrated at a Southern California Edison annual heritage event with the theme, “Leading Our Communities with Our Stories and Voices.”

“To me, it means bringing together the rich diversity that we each have with our heritage, our experiences, our differences, our stories. Inside all of that, finding the things that we have in common as human beings,” said Pedro J. Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International, parent company of SCE and Edison Energy.

The celebration highlights local businesses and community partnerships. Erik Takayesu, SCE senior vice president of Asset Strategy and Planning, honored the City of Lakewood California for being a leadership partner since 2016 and for its achievements in clean energy.

“When I think about the work we do at SCE and with our partners, leading the community is about lifting each other up. It’s important to work together as a team, to recognize all that needs to be done to build a more safe and clean energy future where we can build toward a more efficient and resilient system for our customers and our communities,” Takayesu said.

SCE’s foundational commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is integral to a successful clean energy transformation. Edison International recently released its annual DEI report, which illustrates 10 commitments that guide the company in creating a collaborative, innovative environment where all people and ideas are welcome.

Ross Chun, now serving his second term as mayor of Aliso Viejo, has also authored an educational program for children. He says that introducing students to his Hawaiian heritage, the unique sounds of his ukulele, and reading them cultural folk tales helps to promote the study of family history and encourages young adults to embrace diversity.

“I believe that whether it’s Asian American Pacific Heritage Month or one of the many other months that we celebrate, we have a chance to share and learn from each other. No one person or one culture represents this entire county, in fact I think diversity is really the face of Orange County and it’s something we can all be very proud of.”

Also recognized: Digital Security Consulting with the Gwen Moore Diversity award and APIs Mobilize with the Community Partnership award.

The virtual celebration included musical performances by EunDuet and the Yu-Ki Project, as well as cooking demos from Chef Celia De Castro. Jhoanna Belfer, owner and founder of Bel Canto Books in Long Beach, gave attendees a look into her carefully curated collection of the incredible work of AAPI authors and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC).

Click here to view the recorded event.

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