All 2016 Honorees - Asian Heritage Awards

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Community Service


Abraham To is a Vietnamese-Chinese American refugee who escaped from Vietnam to seek freedom, arriving in San Diego in May 1981.  He graduated from San Diego State University in 1984 with a degree in Business Management, two years after volunteering as vice president and senior adviser for the Indo-Chinese Association, which provides services for elderly members of the community. As Chairman Advisor for the Community Services Advisory Board with the San Diego Police Department, he helped promote intercultural human relations and understanding between community members and police officers to maximize crime prevention and neighborhood safety.  As President of the Advisory Board of the Multicultural Service office, he also helped with community service and crime prevention information.  He is president of the Vietnamese Parents Association at the Rosa Parks Elementary School, where he helped coordinate educational planning with teachers, parents, and students to assist with their educational planning, and he has served on the Board of Directors of the Vietnamese Federation of San Diego, where he helped set up special events and other cultural activities.




Dr. David S. Adler is Professor of Clinical Pharmacy and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Health Sciences at UCSD. Dr. Adler’s research interests are in clinical research and practice with a focus on management of chronic drug therapy including bioavailability and therapeutic equivalency of drugs with a narrow therapeutic index, drug elimination in renal failure and dialysis, clinical applications of point-of-care testing and medication therapy management (MTM). He was named Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists in 1987 and received the Distinguished Service Award from the California Society of Health System Pharmacists in 1993. In the 1980s, Dr. Adler made a significant contribution to the Vietnamese community by helping to recruit and organize a special pharmacy educational program for Vietnamese refugees that helped launch and establish many careers in the field that otherwise may not have occurred after this constituency was forced to flee Vietnam after the fall of Saigon.


Science and Technology


Dr. Xuong Nguyen-Huu Dr. Xuong Nguyen-Huu, a founding member of the UCSD faculty since 1962, is a pioneer of protein crystallography technology whose research focuses on the development of novel methods such as Protein Crystallography and Cryo-Electron Microscopy to determine protein structures and biological macromolecules.  Professor emeritus of physics, biology, chemistry and biochemistry at UCSD, he is recognized worldwide as a pioneer of protein crystallography technology and the field of “Direct Detection Device (DDD)” used in electron microscopy. His ”Xuong’s X-Ray Machine,” created in 1975, uses multi-wire proportional chambers and then silicon detectors to help researchers map the three-dimensional structure of receptors, allowing for high-speed data collection, a process used to develop drugs to kill deadly viruses such as HIV and polio. His awards include Guggenheim Fellowship (1965–1966), NATO Senior Fellowship (1977), Fogerty Fellowship, Union of Pacific Asian Communities Award (1985), UCSD Chancellor Associate Award and Charles E. Supper Instrumentation Award from the American Crystallographic Association in 2004, He is founder of Area Detector Systems Corporation and served as president of the Vietnamese Alliance Association from 1976 to 1992 and co-founder and chairman of the Boat People SOS Committee, which has helped Vietnamese refugees successfully resettle in the U.S. and other countries.




Quyen Di Chuc Bui not only teaches Vietnamese language, literature and culture. He teaches other teachers how to do the same. As head of UCLA’s Vietnamese language program and lecturer in the university’s Department of Asian Languages and Cultures, he teaches a nine-week course on Vietnamese language on campus while off campus he is much sought after as a trainer of other Vietnamese Americans in the art of teaching Vietnamese. Mr. Chuc Bui has written textbooks for Vietnamese American students and every summer co-teaches a weekend workshop with other scholars for the Association of the Vietnamese Language and Culture Schools, which prepares immigrant volunteers to teach Vietnamese in their local communities. In addition to learning pedagogical skills, the participants also receive help developing their own curricula and teaching materials. “I love my mother language. What I most enjoy about teaching is seeing Vietnamese American students gain the ability to read and write Vietnamese fluently,” said Mr. Chuc Bui, who also teaches a summer abroad extension course for California State University in Long Beach, California. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Chuc Bui’s family fled by boat and eventually were able to emigrate to America and eventually California.


Arts and Letters


Nha Ca, which means "gentle, elegant song" or "canticle" in Vietnamese, is the pen name of Tran Thi Thu Van, one of South Vietnam's most prominent authors. Born in Hue in 1939, she left her native city to marry a poet, Trần Dạ Từ, and establish her literary career in Saigon. Mourning Headband for Hue: An Account of the Battle for Hue, Vietnam 1968 (originally published in 1969 and released in a new edition from Indiana University Press) recounts the horrific sufferings of Hue civilians during the 1968 Tet Offensive, when the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong attacked and held much of the city. To this day, her harrowing account of war casualties, searches and arrests, ideological purges, generates intense debates about accountability during war time. After the fall of Saigon, Nha Ca and her husband were jailed by the Communist government for being "cultural saboteurs" and Mourning Headband for Hue was prominently displayed in the Museum of American War Crimes as evidence of her “misconduct”. In 1989, the couple and their children were granted political asylum by the Swedish government and later immigrated to the U.S., where they now live in Southern California.


Medicine and Health


Dr. Danh Truong is interested in the challenges of serving the uninsured and underserved population in San Diego. In his busy private practice in family medicine in East San Diego, from 2004 to present, he has helped significant numbers of uninsured and underserved patients that come with multi-faceted problems, coming from diverse ethnic backgrounds. He has dedicated significant time at the former Asian Pacific Health Center, providing medical services to the uninsured people in San Diego. He is currently Chairman of the Asian Pacific Health Foundation Board of Directors. Born in Da Nang, he did his undergraduate pre-med education at Notre Dame University in Belgium, and his graduate medical education at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium, graduating Cum Laude in 1980, and completed one year of post-graduate training in Anesthesiology at St Luke University Hospital, also in Belgium.


Global Outreach


Dr. Truong Nong grew up in South Vietnam and came to America as a refugee in 1980 when he escaped Vietnam with his family in search of freedom. Prior to the establishment of the Institute for Civic Education in Vietnam, he has been a high school teacher for 13 years at Michael DeBakey High School for Health Professions (ranked fifth in Texas in 2015) and knows firsthand the importance and impact of education. In parallel to being an educator, he has been an activist in the Vietnamese American community in Houston during the past 30 years and in 1990 was one of the founders of the Vietnamese American Youth Organization (VAYO). Currently, he serves as Advisor to the Executive Board of the Vietnamese Culture and Science Association (VCSA), a national Vietnamese American organization based in Houston, Texas, where he has delivered a number of leadership workshops for the organization’s annual youth leadership camps for the past 18 years. In 2005, he left his teaching position to dedicate full-time for the establishment of the Institute for Civic Education, a non-profit institute that provides civic education, leadership development and business management online education to Vietnamese students worldwide.


Public Health


Dr. Doan Dao has worked in the area of hepatitis B virus infection (HBV) from basic research to clinical science and patient care as well as outreach/advocacy programs for more than 9 years. He is personally passionate about and professionally committed to serving those at risk for or living with HBV. He serves as Chairperson (2014-2016) of the National Task Force on Hepatitis B, in which he leads the Executive Board and its Regional Directors to work collaboratively with other national organizations together focusing on the provisions of hep B and hep b-related liver cancer education to healthcare professionals. The Task Force also plays a role in initiatives advocating for positive changes for hep B across the national spectrum from the Division of Viral Hepatitis, US CDC, to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the Department of Human and Health Services. In 2013 Dr. Dao invited his colleagues in the HBV arena and business world to found the Vietnam Viral Hepatitis Alliance (, a 501c(3) non-profit organization allying major health care institutions in Vietnam and abroad for viral hepatitis initiatives in Vietnam, his country of origin, and where HBV is endemic. Dr. Dao currently serves as President of VVHA.


Diversity Pioneer


San Diego County Supervisor Bill Horn enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1966, after graduating from SDSU, and served as a second lieutenant in the jungles of South Vietnam. For three weeks in February 1969, Bill and the battery he commanded were under near-constant siege by the North Vietnamese Army in a remote area just south of the demilitarized zone known as the Rockpile. His personal courage and devotion to duty were evidenced by his actions on February 19, 1969, when a convoy was ambushed on Route 9. Shrapnel wounds earned him the Purple Heart, and his leadership under fire earned him the Bronze Star. For this action he was also awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Silver Star. Returning from Vietnam, Bill went on to sponsor more than 50 Vietnamese families, helping to provided housing, counseling, and job and education incentives for them to become successful in their chosen professions. In 1992, displeased with the Escondido Union High School District Board, he threw his rancher’s hat into the political ring and was elected to the Board. When he found County government unresponsive to constituent needs, he ran for County Supervisor and was elected in 1995 to represent the Fifth District, an area that spans nearly 1,800 square miles from the Pacific Ocean to Imperial County. He currently serves on more than a dozen committees in San Diego County, providing leadership in housing, health, land use, water conservation and quality, public safety, disaster preparedness, economic development, education, and transportation.


Business Enterprise and Entrepreneurship


Dr. Christina Cao is a leader in the pharmacy and healthcare industry with more than 15 years experience in her chosen field. In her current role as Corporate Director for Pharmacy Services for Prime Healthcare Management in Upland, California, she coordinates and supervises 42 hospital pharmacy accounts nationwide. Through a collaborative approach and ability to strategize and interface with decision makers at all levels, she has built a reputation of generating efficiency across all phases of pharmacy operations. With a focus on financial directives, her guidance has effectively ensured compliance in approaches toward patient care and operations consistent with stated policies and procedures of the health care system and regulatory agencies. By continually positioning managed locations for growth, her deep knowledge and experience, coupled with perseverance and tenacity in uncovering new acquisition opportunities, has been integral toward advancing the brand on a national level over the past three years. Dr. Cao’s family were among the close to 2 million Vietnamese escaping the country after the fall of Saigon and more than ten years after her father was imprisoned by the communist government when it took over the country. In 1991, after being sponsored through the Humanitarian Organization Program, they were able to arrive in the U.S. At the age of 17, unable to speak a word of English, she set a goal for herself by, in her own words, “dreaming big.” Today, she is the youngest person in her specialty working  for the company.


Three essay contributions to the Asian Heritage Society’s book Pho For The Soul will also be honored. Winning essays will be announced later.

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