A Star Is Born: NAAAP Detroit

By on December 7th, 2018

There is much chatter about the remake of the 1976 film, A Star Is Born, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Today’s latest version stars Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper—whom also directed the film. This is the fourth version of the film in almost a century.

There is another “Star Is Born” in a fledgling organization: The National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP), Detroit Chapter.  Yet, unlike the movie, the success of NAAAP is not about any one person, it is about a community coming together to add value and make a difference.  

Organizations like NAAAP flourish because of the persistence and talent of the volunteer citizens that devote their time and energy to give back to their community and society. Michigan is blessed with rich and diverse ethnic and racial communities that add great value, talent and culture to our great state. Being a diverse and inclusive community makes Michigan a wonderful place to live, work, play and raise a family.

The Asian community is an example of the bounty of talent that Michigan attracts.

Yet for many, NAAAP is just now coming into its own and I guarantee it will continue to make its presence known going forward.

NAAAP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, leading organization in North America that cultivates and empowers Asian American leaders through professional development, community service, and networking. NAAAP has a long tradition in the US and Canada, and the NAAAP Detroit Chapter, founded in 2016, is led and supported by dynamic and committed volunteers with diverse professional backgrounds. NAAAP Detroit Chapter encourages members and friends to join to provide and experience leadership and professional development programs and service experiences to grow personally and to contribute to the growth of others in NAAAP and where they work and live.

The founding President of NAAAP Detroit, Coco Ke Zhang-Miske is made of cotton and steel: demure and soft spoken on the outside, with a ramrod spine and stiff determination. Coco was manager at GM and has moved on to the West Coast with Amazon.

The woman who stepped up to follow her as President of NAAAP Detroit is Taoqu Chen, recently retired from FCA after a successful career, is an equally dynamic leader. She has taken the organization to new heights in short order. Taoqu is the first to tell you the strength of NAAAP Detroit is the talented volunteer Operational Leadership Team, dedicated Board Directors, and caring Advisors that make the organization successful.

Taoqu Chen, President of NAAAP

When I talk of her leadership and commitment she is quick to praise her board members and other volunteers who contribute countless hours to help the organization thrive.

The short term goal for NAAAP Detroit is to:

  • Conduct more Member Mixer events, and have more volunteers to join the leadership team,
  • Find more relevant topics to continue the well-received quarterly Learn & Grow Series,
  • Select a new trending topic for next year’s “Community Conversations”

In the long term, Taoqu would like the organization “to help grow leaders who can make a meaningful difference in government, education, business, and the community, to become the glue that bring people together for mutual success, and contribute to the world peace.”

Inaugural “Community Conversations: Emerging Careers” Event

NAAAP Detroit takes seriously its mission to cultivate and empower Asian American leaders through professional development, community service, and networking. They recently held their Inaugural “Community Conversations: Emerging Careers,” and it was a resounding success that packed the house.  The event addressed the disruptive changes of our times and presented an interactive panel discussion with highly accomplished and dynamic keynote speakers Linglong He, Chief Information Officer of Quicken Loans, and leading Organizational Development innovator Chris Groscurth, PhD, author of recently published book “Future-Proof Leadership: The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” along with inventor/entrepreneur Sanjay Dhall, founder of Detroit Flying Cars, and moderated by leading Midwest VC, Chris Olsen, Co-founder of Drive Capital.

Cyndy Yu-Robinson, Executive Director, NAAAP National also shared the rich programing and network resources available to the Asian community in SE Michigan through the 30 chapter-strong NAAAP National organization.

The event drew a very diverse audience from the Greater Detroit area ranging from seasoned professionals with leading companies, community leaders from the various Asian American communities, educators, entrepreneurs, and many young professionals and students from area universities. NAAAP is tapping into the intellect and energy that makes up the vibrant Asian community.

Key TakeAways 

The key takeaway from the conference is that today’s professional must be “adaptive”, retool their mindset in addition to retooling their skills and, above all, invest time and effort in understanding the true value of each of us boldly stepping out of our comfort zones and moving forward with courage, pursuing our passions and building up on our dreams. 

These are timeless human qualities.

Each speaker reinforced the fact that we are living through disruptive, global changes, driven by technology and AI and the reality that ideas and jobs can and do move around the globe effortlessly.

In this fast paced, dynamically changing environment, the intriguing speakers pointed the audience to a shared understanding perhaps different than what many may have expected. Yes, it is increasingly a data-driven world, and data science professionals (many Asians flock to these fields) are in high demand. But there was caution not to be reactive and chase in-demand jobs of the moment, only to find that AI and Machine Learning equipped robots can do math and engineering better than humans.

The Asian community is a valued part of the Michigan mosaic and their value and contribution is recognized by the generous support from major leading sponsor companies: Quicken Loans Inc., General Motors, Chrysan Industries Inc., ACRO Services Corp., Slalom, Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission (MAPAAC), Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and BDO USA, LLP.

Partner organizations included: Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce (APACC), Association of Chinese Americans, Inc. (ACA), Council of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA), Chinese Association of Greater Detroit (CAGD), Young Professional Network (YPN), and Asian Pacific Islander American News Network – Parent of Dragon Eagle TV.  And, the selfless, hard-working, all-volunteer team at NAAAP Detroit.

For more information on how to get involved with this emerging and dynamic organization go to: www.naaapdetroit.org and www.naaap.org for more information.

You will be hearing more about NAAAP!

Tom Watkins

Tom Watkins has an eclectic career in both the public and private sectors. He served the citizens of Michigan as state superintendent of schools and director of the department of mental health. He has held leadership positions in higher education, business and behavioral health. Watkins has a interest and passion in all things China and has written hundreds of article on the value of this most important bilateral relationship in the world today.

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Dan Hoppe

A group with the correct direction. The remake A Star in Born was the worst show I have seen.

NAAAP is a great move for all Asia that want to build a better life. Thank you Tom.

Taoqu Chen
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Tom: Thank you for taking the time writing this article to support NAAAP Detroit. Your passion of wanting to build bridges among people of different cultures and geographies is a shining example for us all.
NAAAP Detroit is an all volunteer young organization. We like to invite more professionals of all disciplines to join us to learn and grow together, become authentic leaders, and make a difference in our community and society.

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