“Asian Americans are now beginning to find our voice. We’re learning that we need to be fully participatory in this democracy and in this country. And the rise in violence against Asian Americans and the terrible rhetoric that surrounds the Asian American community as inflicted by others during the COVID 19 crisis, I think has brought this community to a greater realization of the need to participate more in our democracy, in our country, and to be more vocal and to be more visible.”
As the excited 8-year-old girl watched her native Taiwan recede from view aboard a cargo ship, Elaine Chao could only dream of the opportunities awaiting her in the US. After learning English and earning excellent grades, she would receive an MBA from Harvard Business School and eventually rise to become the first woman of Asian heritage to serve in a President’s cabinet, first as President George Bush’s Secretary of Labor, and most recently as President Trump’s Secretary of Transportation. Along the way, she served as Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, President and CEO of the United Way of America, and Director of the Peace Corps.
“Now, as I have gone through my wonderful career,” she tells Mike, “I don't look back upon the accomplishments so much as the richness with which I hold the gifts that I do now, which is love of family and friends, the respect of my peers and colleagues, the ability to have had an impactful life, and, hopefully, the continued ability to make a difference in the world.”