Multicultural partnership honors community visionaries

A founder of the Multicultural Alumni Partnership, a member of the Washington State Legislature, and a community leader who serves on the National Council on Humanities are among this year’s alumni and friends who will receive awards at the Multicultural Alumni Partnership’s “Bridging the Gap” Breakfast held Oct. 25 during Homecoming Weekend.

Distinguished Alumnus Awards will be presented to: Ron Chew, ’02; State Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney (D-Seattle); Kenneth D. LaFountaine; and the greater Seattle chapter of The Links, a predominantly African American international women’s organization that supports education through volunteer work and donations. Lawrence Matsuda, ’67, ’73, ’78, will receive the Dr. Samuel E. Kelly Award.

Now in its seventh year, the award program has honored many UW alumni who have made a difference to their communities, such as artist Alfredo Arreguin, ’67, ’69; philanthropist and UW Regent William H. Gates, ’49, ’50; former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice, ’72, ’74; and Northwest Asian Weekly Publisher Assunta Ng, ’74, ’79.

The Multicultural Alumni Partnership supports recruitment and mentoring of students, faculty and staff of color, while promoting diversity within both the UW and the UW Alumni Association. The group also awards student scholarships.

Among this year’s honorees, Chew was appointed to the National Council on Humanities in 2001 by former President Bill Clinton. Since 1991, he has been director of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, where he has spearheaded the creation of many exhibitions on Asian American art, history and culture.

He also created the first exhibition of pioneer Northwest Asian-American artists and several oral history projects on Seattle’s International District and Chinese and Vietnamese Americans. A longtime journalist, Chew was a founding member of both the Seattle chapter of the Asian American Journalists Association and Northwest Minority Publishers Association.

Kenney has been an ardent supporter of diversity and multiculturalism during her three years in the state House of Representatives. A daughter of migrant farm workers, Kenney introduced a bill which allowed immigrant students who obtained a high-school degree in Washington to pay in-state tuition rates at Washington’s public universities and colleges. In 2003, she sponsored bills that included mental health facilities for minors, childhood sexual abuse protection and government accountability.

Kenney has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the Seattle Community College District, member of former Gov. Lowry’s Citizen Advisory Committee and a presidential delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business, and has contributed to many other boards and committees.

LaFountaine has been active in education and the Native American community for many years. A member of the Turtle Mountain Cree tribe, LaFountaine has planned and implemented three successful Native American Symposiums put on by Shoreline Community College’s First Nations Club, where he is the adviser.

He is also an adviser to a group of Native American students who have been working with the Legislature to improve the way the state and tribes do business. He has taught extensively for many area community colleges and spoke at the U.S. Naval Base in Everett on Native Americans in the Civil War.

The Greater Seattle Chapter of The Links has donated more than $825,000 for scholarships, awards and community projects and has given more than 120,000 hours in volunteer service to the community. A predominantly African American women’s organization, the Seattle chapter was founded in 1955 with 11 members and has grown to a membership of 61 today.

The chapter sponsors a Health & Wellness/Lenny Wilkens Basketball Camp for middle school students and their parents, an arts scholarship showcase at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, and holds an annual Youth Awards Program. The chapter also adopted the African-American Academy to help students achieve academic excellence.

Matsuda was president of the UW Alumni Association in 1995-96, when he helped start the Multicultural Alumni Partnership. It was one of many achievements in a 30-year career developing diversity initiatives to expand opportunities for Washington’s communities of color. He taught the first Asian-American history class in Washington, and was one of the original committee members of the Pride and Shame Exhibit, which served as the impetus for the Japanese-American reparation legislation enacted by Congress.

He has taught graduate-level courses as a member of the faculty at Seattle University. As an assistant superintendent for the Seattle Public Schools, he created, implemented, and secured funding for programs in bilingual education.