February 2, 2022

Phoenix, Ariz

On January 29th, 2022, ACEL – Asian Corporate and Entrepreneur Leaders, a non-profit organization providing Asian American professionals opportunities to work together to enhance Asian American leadership, celebrated the recent year’s accomplishments by bestowing leadership awards to four outstanding community leaders at their annual awards gala ACELebration. Held at the Embassy Suites Hilton in Scottsdale, the premier Asian community gala was sold out with approximately 250 guests in attendance representing a diverse community along with the AAPI. Highlighting the event was keynote speaker, the charismatic and inspiring Mr. Rudy Pamintuan, Managing Director of Sherman Worldwide, an international advisory and opportunity development firm. Dynamic duo Elizabeth Greene, Director of Organizational Learning and Development for Lam Research, a semi-conductor company; and Steve Erickson, Executive Director for Teach America –  emceed the spectacular event with formidable wit and kept guests at the edge of their seats. Guests enjoyed cocktails, charcuterie and a lovely dinner with entertainment by the talented Philippina songstress Ms. Denisse Delos Santos and a most colorful and fortuitous dance performance by the Phu’s Family Lions to welcome another great year.

Jason Wong, Founder and Chairman of ACEL, began the much anticipated leadership awards back in 2014. He felt it was important to recognize successful and accomplished AAPI professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders, particularly for our young community members. For these students and young professionals, access to AAPI leaders and role models can inspire knowledge, ideas, education, and innovation that lasts a lifetime and can really influence their careers or creativity. Mentoring is a key component of ACEL. These higher level mentoring relationships close the generation gap and strengthen the community as a whole.

The Honorees this year are:

Corporate Leader of the Year: Larry Hofer, Cox Communications – As Vice President of People Services for Cox Communications’ Southwest Region, Larry Hofer provides leadership and strategic direction for human resources and development for over 4,800 employees in Arizona and Nevada. Over the years, Larry has helped transform the region, resulting in Cox receiving Best Places to Work recognition in both states.

“I am deeply honored by the award bestowed upon me by ACEL. The award reaffirms that Asian Americans are not only capable managers but can be successful executives and leaders of organizations. It also means that we need to pay it forward by developing the next generation of Asian American leaders so that they are prepared for and ready to contribute at the C-Suite level of any company.”

Entrepreneurial Leader of the Year: Cindy Louie, Hawker Street Market – Cindy Louie is a multi-disciplinary designer, community leader, entrepreneur and festival producer. She has founded several companies including, Go Studio Go (interior design firm for the hospitality industry), Hawker Street Market (a community based, multi-cultural food festival) and PHX Night Market (Arizona’s first large scale night market). In addition to being a serial entrepreneur, she has led several fundraising initiatives for the local community and helped launch many small food businesses.

“Growing up, my parents were the first role models and first Asian entrepreneurs I knew. They put everything they had and more into a little Chinese Restaurant, named Fortune Cookie in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Today, their journey has inspired me to build ventures of my own. When my parents first started their journey, they didn’t really have anyone to look to or many resources to use, let alone fellow Asian families beyond their own. I am incredibly fortunate and thankful to have access to a large community of AAPI friends. This award, to me, is proof of how essential representation is for growing AAPI entrepreneurs, it is also a reminder that we’ve only just begun. I’m deeply honored to be awarded the Entrepreneurial Leadership Award from ACEL and look forward to passing this torch by supporting others in our community, just as this community has supported me.”

Education Leader of the Year: Dr. Clyne Namuo, Phoenix College – Dr. Clyne Namuo currently serves as the Interim President of Phoenix College. He worked collaboratively with internal and external stakeholders to develop a comprehensive academic plan that spawned a number of initiatives including an equity initiative, the creation of mediated classrooms, expansion of mobile technology across instruction, the creation of the construction trades institute, and more.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by ACEL, an organization that has done so much to highlight the efforts of our AAPI leaders.  I’m so proud to represent this community.  During my acceptance speech, I shared part of my story and how my parents struggled to give me and my brother a better life.  They reached levels of success they should never have reached…yet they did.  They sacrificed so much to give us a better life and everything I do is to honor them.  I observe my own children and am so thankful that they understand the value of hard work, humility, and civic engagement.  To me, this award is meaningful because I share it with previous generations who struggled for us and I share it with future generations who will continue the fight to make this world a better place.”

Community Leader of the Year: Ethel Luzario, The 3000 Club – Ethel Luzario is the co-founder of The 3000 Club, a 501(c)3, food rescue, medical reclamation, and humanitarian outreach. The 3000 Club is U.S. Based and has presence in the Philippines.  Her continuing community involvement  has been to bridge her Arizona and Asian connections locally and globally.

“I am honored and deeply humbled to have received the ACEL’s 2021 Community Leader of the Year Award.  The journey started in 2007 with the back to back eye cataract surgical missions in Mexico and the Philippines for the Phoenix Phil-Am Lions Club.  The trip in the Philippines was an eye opener as after leaving in 1981, I didn’t have the chance to return until that mission.  The poverty I’ve seen in that town led to my co-founding The 3000 Club where the organization not only rescued the over 30 million pounds of produce that gets wasted yearly but also the surplus of medical supplies and equipment which we were able to send to developing countries including the Philippines.  Throughout these years,  a special group of hard working volunteers also became my extended family.  The award is for us all.”

ACEL hosts leadership chapters in six states as well as three collegiate chapters. ACEL offers AAPI youth a mentorship program and an annual leadership conference in August open to the community. Visit ACEL for more information.

For Media inquiries, please contact Khamsone Sirimanivong, Board of Directors, Public Relations at ACEL at   or 602.486.3461.