Come Celebrate AWLN's Fifth Anniversary!

A message to our members by Meow Yee, AWLN President

Dear AWLN Member,

July 21st marks five years to the day since the launch of Asian Women Leadership Network at the annual Working Mother Media's Best Companies for Multicultural Women National Conference in 2004.

In addition, that is the day this year that AWLN members, friends and WMM conference attendees can join Jane Hyun for a free interactive group session and open forum, "Managing Your Career in Turbulent Times: What Multicultural Women Need to Know," beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers (811 Seventh Avenue (at 53rd Street), New York, New York 10019-6002). Please remember that you may join us for AWLN's break-out session even though you are not attending the Working Mother Media conference. To follow will be a WMM networking opportunity at a complimentary cocktail reception.

Speaking of working women, I'd like to bring to your attention "Gender Discrimination Begins Much Earlier Than Exec Levels, Report Shows," a recent Workforce Week article by Jessica Marquez (http://www.workforce.com/section/00/article/26/42/17.php). The findings by Development Dimensions International underscore the importance of and need for accountability tied to companies' high-potential programs, for which there often is no standard procedure to identify candidates and for which many employers don't track female participation.

In light of AWLN's anniversary, I thought it fitting to highlight an interview of one of our founding sisters, Phoebe Eng, author of Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman's Journey Into Power, on visualizAsian.com, a Web site that showcases the accomplishments of Asian-American pioneers and leaders and to inspire and empower Asian Americans. Phoebe touches on her work in the early 1990s as A. Magazine's first publisher and her present role as director of Creative Counsel, which connects the arts and entertainment world to social-justice causes. You can listen to the entire (60 minutes and 44 seconds) event at http://visualizasian.com/media/20090623-phoebe-eng-replay.mp3.

Meow Yee
President, AWLN

Have you registered?  Don’t miss the 2009 Annual Working Mother Media Women of Color Conference & AWLN Break out session

July 21 & 22, 2009, in New York City

Logo for the 2009 Working Mother Media Conference

In the past six years we have highlighted the some of the most important issues in the workplace for multicultural women: the changing face of business, strategic alliances and unity, trust, authenticity. This year we are bringing together high-achieving, high potential Asian, African- American, Latina, Caucasian, and Native American women from across Corporate America.

While thought-provoking Keynotes, Interactive Workshops, Executive Panels and Roundtables reveal and discuss ways women take risks, and what strategic moves it takes to win big, the most powerful draw of this event is in the conversations between participants. Attendees get many opportunities to meet and discuss key issues around managing their careers with people like themselves. The focus is on how women and their companies can increase opportunities for growth.

Be there to explore the critical issues around taking risks and taking charge in the workplace and develop strategies to
> Compete and collaborate at senior levels in the organization
> Get noticed to get ahead
> Take calculated, intelligent risks
> Develop mentor and sponsor relationships
> Win critical assignments
> Be an influencer with or without authority
> Manage difficult people - up and down the organization
> Face conflict and gain courage

For more information about this event, visit the following link at Working Mother Media

Sheraton New York Hotel
811 Seventh Ave.
New York, New York

Empowerment and Leadership Lessons from Phoebe Eng

By Lily H. Li

Phoebe Eng, a founding sister and director of Asian Women Leadership Network, sat down on June 23rd for an interview on visualizAsian.com, a Web site founded by Erin Yoshimura and Gil Asakawa to showcase the accomplishments of Asian-American pioneers and leaders and to inspire and empower Asian-Americans. The hour-long conversation touched on Eng's work in the early 1990s as A. Magazine's first publisher and her present role as director of Creative Counsel, which connects the arts and entertainment world to social-justice causes.

Among the topics Eng addresses is how she came to conceptualize her acclaimed memoir, Warrior Lessons: An Asian American Woman's Journey Into Power. "I realized that ... I can write my stories in a way that plugs into themes that I'm hearing from a lot of other Asian-Americans that it could actually be helpful so it's not really a practice of self-introspection as much as it is just putting yourself out there as a kind of sounding board for other people."

She explains the structure of Warrior Lessons, originally published in hardcover by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc., in 1999. "Each of the stories heads a chapter that describes a particular theme that I feel is a step to empowerment and it starts with the inner work of casting off expectations, and learning how to speak your mind, and learning how to have relationships that don't fall into or don't take advantage of stereotypes, of becoming a fighter, of finding your mentor and of taking risks and finally how one can possibly start to move your world, move one's world. And so it's very much about the very personal coming out in its fullness and its full experience and its full authenticity and just being in the world in the most genuine way possible."

A Different Kind of Leader

The third guest and first author to appear on visualizAsian.com, Eng fields some questions posed by the listening audience. Annie, from Littleton, Colorado, asks, "What advice do you have for young Asian-American women who work in an environment of predominantly older male colleagues?"

Eng answers: "I would think that's a lot of people, particularly as they get up into middle management, and then perhaps even senior management. Well, I think there's a lot of advice and a lot of good advice that says ... you just have to play by the rules of the boardroom, you have to speak and make your voice heard, sometimes even because as an Asian-American woman stereotypes might work against you. You might even have to overcompensate, and speak louder or speak more than you feel is necessary. And while I think that that is sometimes good advice, I often think that it's also the centeredness that you bring into the room, with the confidence of your opinions, with the preparation of the plans that you want to propose ... Sometimes you can be soft spoken and still be very powerful just by the projection of your confidence.

"I'm finding more and more ... that I often discount loudmouths now. I often feel ... there's a lot of bluster, a lot of drama with people who speak loudly and speak often. And yes, they often do get heard a lot more than the others around the table, but I also find that there is room for the very focused, very thoughtful speaker at the table, especially when that speaker shows that she's been listening and that she can synthesize what she hears in the room and come up with an idea that is originally her own. And that just shows that she is listening and being able to even repeat back verbatim as opposed to interpret what people say around the room because I think that that's happened to a lot of us where our words get interpreted or appropriated and they cease to be our own. So ... a different kind of leader, particularly as an Asian-American woman at a boardroom of ... much older men, can show that a different kind of leadership is possible.

"And that's why I think that if we do engage in leadership courses that the fundamental idea is not ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do,' but instead what can you bring that is uniquely something that is both of your culture and that is authentically who you are because in the long run you probably won't be able to keep up a persona that's not yours anyway and so it's better to proceed in the most genuine and honest way to yourself."

U.S. Supreme Court

Janice in Fremont, California, queries, "How can we as Asian-Americans get President [Barack] Obama's attention to see that an Asian-American jurist on the Supreme Court is an important issue now, not later? This world is not black and white, so how do you feel about this issue?"

Eng responds warmly, "Yes, I think that is a wonderful idea. I love that President Obama has some Asian-Americans in his Cabinet and on his team. I think it's wonderful that Harold Koh [the dean of Yale Law School who is Obama's nominee for legal adviser at the U.S. Department of State] is in there, and a lot of Asian-American advocates who have spent their lives in the beltway and in state legislatures are also finding invitations from his staff to come in and speak and give their input.

"I think that we should probably put together a slate. I know this has been done in other administrations where concerned Asian-American advocates want to put certain people up and hold them up for consideration for high-level and managerial positions within the administration.

"I do know also and I did receive a couple of circulations and e-mails where the administration did in its time of appointing people, they did put out a very wide net to see whether the Asian-American community had nominations or people that they felt would be fit for high-level positions. So I think there are a couple of national organizations ... the Japanese American Citizens League. There is the Organization of Chinese Americans. There are now a number of South Asian organizations as well and there's a couple of key conferences where that kind of discussion could be a really important discussion, and we do have open ears up at the White House so I think this is a wonderful moment to seize that idea.

"In terms of an Asian-American Supreme Court justice, a couple of names would come to mind, and the fact that Justice [Sonia Maria] Sotomayor [a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York] is being considered I think that it'd be wonderful in his administration, that the first Asian-American justice could be named."

You can listen to the entire (60 minutes and 44 seconds) event at http://visualizasian.com/media/20090623-phoebe-eng-replay.mp3.