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History of the Asian-American Advisory Board

In the early nineties, threatened by a set-aside program, some Asian community leaders recognized that they required a voice in the hall of government to protect the economic future of their community. This initiated the efforts, which resulted in Commissioner Pedro Reboredo sponsoring the following resolution:

  • Whereas, the status of Asian Americans has long been ignored;and
  • Whereas, Asian Americans have been underrepresented in our hall of government and other public and private institutions; and
  • Whereas, the Board of County Commissioners desires to recognize the contributions of Americans to the cultural, political, social and economic life of Dade County.

Thus, on July 22, 1997, a 26 member Miami-Dade County Asian-American Advisory Board was created by Ordinance No. 97-128 to serve in an advisory capacity to the Board of County Commissioners, the County Administration, the community, and all agencies and persons in Miami-Dade County, Florida, with respect to matters pertaining to the Asian community of Miami-Dade County.

After initial appointments, in January 1998, the Board met for the first time, the following were privileged to become the founding members of the Board as Commissioners sought more Asian-Americans in their districts to fill remaining vacancies:

Mr. Woo H Jacob Lee; Mr. M. Siddiq Khan; Ms. Winnie Tang; Mr. Tasnim Uddin; Billy K. Yeh, M.D., Ph.D.; Mr.Edward Deng; Dr. John J. Tsai; Bob de la Fuent Esq.; Ms. Mimi Lam Friedman; Mr. Nasir Alam; Mr. Dennis Murasaki; Vincent Chen, Esq.; Mr.. Felix Lima were appointed by their respective commissioners. Laura Morilla Esq., shared the responsibility of staffing this Board, in addition to her own, the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women.

On December 28, 2000, the Board had its first full time Director - Mohammad S. Shakir was the first Asian-American to staff the Board.

Commissioner Reboredo was honored in September 1998, for his leadership in forming the Board, next year marked the beginning of APA Heritage Month celebration, Professor Paul George presented this history of Asian-Americans in Miami-Dade County. In May 2000, first Annual Award Reception was held, which were to become the signature event for the Board.

September 11, 2001 was a defining moment as much for the Asian-American Advisory Board, as it was for our nation. The Board was engaged in the cultural activities, since its inception, and now had to undertake the responsibility of educating the Asian-American community about the new directives and instructions coming from the federal, state and local agencies, as well as sensitize the society that in our society, we do not hold a group responsible for the crimes of a few individuals. We aggressively embarked on sensitivity training as well as vouch for the rights of the Asian-American community.

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