On April 30, 2012, JABA past President Patty Kinaga received the University of California, Berkeley’s Peter E. Haas Public Service Award, an honor given annually to an alumnus who has made a significant voluntary public contribution within the United States. The university-wide award is bestowed to one alumnus per year, and comes with a generous grant to a charity of the honoree’s choice. Patty has requested that the grant to be given to Asian Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California, which she chairs and co-founded.
“It is with deep appreciation that I accept this most wonderful honor. The grant will be enable APIDC to continue raising the visibility and contributions of APIs with different abilities,” Patty stated in receiving the award, introduced by Berkeley Chancellor Birgeneau at the awards ceremony attended by hundreds of students, professors, and the mayor of Berkeley.
The University cited Kinaga’s efforts in community organizing for social change for more than 25 years tackling complex, sometimes controversial issues, while mobilizing scores of volunteers with her compassion and commitment.
As a young prosecutor years before the current awareness of domestic violence, Kinaga observed injury cases involving Asian Americans in which strong cultural barriers discouraged women from testifying against their abusive husbands. Determined to empower these women, she helped to pioneer major educational efforts and recruited more than 100 volunteers and experts in the field to produce an Emmy-nominated documentary, “About Love,” one of the first U.S. films about domestic violence. She later cofounded the Asian Pacific Women’s Center transitional shelter for women and children and continues to provide support to APWC today.
In recognition of the access barriers to the legal system faced by many non English speaking Asian Pacific Americans, Patty co-founded the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution, the country’s first community based mediation center for individual and inter-community conflicts. One of APADRC’s highlights is a training program for youth.
Kinaga also directed “Mothers, Daughters, Sisters,” the first documentary to confront cultural issues that lead to the late diagnoses of breast cancer – and uncounted losses – among Asian women, and has helped to organize educational screenings featuring health advocates, oncologists and survivors.
For over ten years Patty has helped to raise awareness of specific challenges facing APIs with disabilities who face cultural and language barriers due to stigma faced within the Asian communities, combined with difficulties of mainstream agencies in accessing this community. Patty helped to co-found and has chaired APIDC, which has connected hundreds of consumers and their families, API organizations and mainstream social service providers for information sharing, networking and advocacy for policy changes.
Last year, Kinaga spearheaded the star studded Thousand Hearts concert at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium attended by 1700 guests, with JABA as a major co-sponsor, raising tens of thousands of dollars for tsunami victims in Japan.
JABA President Audra Mori said, “Patty has contributed to the community in countless ways over the years, including serving as President and board member of JABA. Patty not only serves the community and her clients, but also brings to all of her work uncommon creativity and quality – she clearly deserves this award.”