Mr. John T.C. Yeh, a native of Mainland China, has three brothers and two sisters. Mr. Yeh and his youngest sister were born deaf. In 1945, Mr. Yeh’s family fled to Taiwan where he was born and spent most of his childhood. In search of the best education possible for their two deaf children, Mr. Yeh’s parents decided to move the family to Brazil in 1960, and then to America in 1962. He graduated from the Kendall School for the Deaf and went on to Gallaudet University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics in order to achieve his goal of becoming a math teacher. However, Mr. Yeh encountered a number of obstacles in reaching his goal--employers simply would not hire him. Mr. Yeh enrolled in a master’s degree in computer science at University of Maryland. After obtaining his degree and applying to hundreds of companies, he found that employers were still unwilling to hire him. In the late 1970’s, Mr. Yeh decided that the only way a deaf person could succeed in business was to start his own. Based on an idea he had for several years and with the help of his brothers, he set out to start a computer software company. Unable to obtain financing, Mr. Yeh applied for the Handicapped Assistance Loan program, which was available through the Small Business Administration. Through hard work and perseverance, Mr. Yeh built the highly successful Integrated Microcomputer Systems (IMS). Mr. Yeh and IMS have received numerous government and community awards for business and technical excellence. In 1991, Mr. Yeh received the Norman Vincent Peale Foundation America’s Award. In 1990, Mr. Yeh accepted for IMS the Employer of the Year Award from the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. In 1989 and 1990 IMS won industry awards for high technology excellence from KPGM Peat Marwick and Arthur Young Inc. In June 1988, Mr. Yeh was awarded state, regional, and national recognition by the Small Business Administration’s national competition for honors as Small Business Person of the Year. Sixteen years after his company’s inception, Mr. Yeh sold IMS to CACI International. He is now the Chairman of WebbyNation, Inc., and the President of new company, Viable Technologies, Inc., in providing the communication access real-time translation for the deaf and hard of hearing community. Mr. Yeh and his wife, Mary have three children: a daughter, Mei Kennedy, instructional designer at the Center for Applied Special Technology, Boston, Massachusetts; another daughter, Ming, linen processor at the National Naval Medical Center, Washington, D.C. ; and a son, Jason, a student at the Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C.
Erik Wang Erik Wang’s professional career uniquely combines the skills of marketing, philanthropy, community relations, public policy, and entrepreneurship. Currently, Mr. Wang serves as the Liaison for the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. In this capacity, he provides counsel to the Commission regarding recommendations to the President on ways to improve the quality of life for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and increase Asian American and Pacific Islander participation in the Federal Government and the private sector.
His previous positions include Business Development Manager with Mission Fish, an internet company that turns in-kind product donations into revenue for non-profit organizations through web-based auctions of the donated items; Director for Private Sector Initiatives and Corporate Relations at the Corporation for National Service where he developed creative public/private partnerships and cause-related marketing campaigns with the business community; and Special Assistant for Dr. Gail Wilensky at Project HOPE, where he researched and advised on health care issues and served as her principal liaison to Congress and Fortune 500 companies.
Prior to that, Mr. Wang worked at the Republican National Finance Committee in the Bush Administration developing and implementing various fundraising programs and minority outreach programs. In addition, he founded Primus International, an international trade consulting company focusing on import/export and joint venture projects in Asia with offices in Washington, D.C. and China. Mr. Wang is an active member of the community and serves as a board member for several non-profit organizations in the Washington, DC area.
Ms. Hsu graduated from the University of Maryland at the Smith School of Business with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1994. Ms. Hsu’s previous professional experiences began with Montgomery College where she worked as a personnel assistant. From 1992 to 1994, Ms. Hsu worked as a copy coordinator for the University of Maryland. Her most recent job was with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she worked as a data transcriber.
Multicultural Affairs Advocate for Protection and Advocacy, Inc. (PAI), a non-profit organization that provides free legal services to people with disabilities in California. As the Multicultural Affairs Advocate for PAI’s Oakland office, Jean works with underserved multi-ethnic communities in disability rights issues, particularly regarding equal access to services for minorities with disabilities. A Chinese-American who grew up in Berkeley, CA, just one block away from the well-respected Center for Independent Living (CIL), Jean believes she is the product of the independent living movement and has been an active member with the renowned Berkeley CIL for more than 10 years.
As a Chinese-American with a disability (cerebral palsy), Jean has first-hand experience in confronting the many barriers that people with disabilities often face in maneuvering throughout the disability services system. Through this personal experience, Jean firmly believes it is vitally important for service providers to maintain consistency in their service delivery to multi-cultural communities to foster trust. These underserved communities are often mistrustful of governmental agencies and tend to “fall through cracks,” unaware of their disability rights and available services. Jean believes that service providers need to promote diversity awareness along with increased knowledge of disability issues in all cultures.
In 2001, Jean was an integral player in a team of organizers who sponsored the Second Conference on Asian Pacific Islanders with Disabilities in Oakland, California. The two-day conference themed, “Facing Forward: Creating Disability Pride in our API Communities,” provided information and resources for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with disabilities and their families and created regarding disability issues and cultural respect. The Conference focused on building a coalition of Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders service providers and consumers to advocate together for the removal of barriers specific to their own cultural communities.