In various in-person and online voting events, members from different ethnic and immigrant groups were eager to nominate and vote for community leaders that they believed should be honored in art. Community members were able to feel empowered by the input and decisions that they made. This dynamic voting process also provided the opportunity for many well-deserving community leaders to get recognition and appreciation for their hard work.
Meet the Community Leaders
who were voted to be feathered in My New Land
Yanping Yu 俞雁平
Dr. Yanping Yu is the first generation Chinese immigrant who takes care of patients who have kidney diseases and was the medical director. She founded the nonprofit youth organization- Long Island Youth Development .Inc in 2021 during pandemic, which has expanded to encompass more than 18 youth clubs from sports to music, from STEM to community service . Like the "mom" of the community, she encourages students to take charge and ownership , fund club of their interest and manage and teaching the young children at regular bases. She built a platform for 2nd generation community members to hone their skills and share them with younger kids.
Xin (Michael) Jin 金鑫
He is passionate about the lives of Chinese seniors on Long Island. He cares about the growth and development of Chinese youth in Long Island. He has provided legal course explanations and consultations to many Chinese and Chinese schools and is the legal consultant of the club LIYD. He has provided free legal consulting services to the Chinese community in Long Island for many years. He is enthusiastic and experienced in helping Long Island Chinese immigrants provide free immigration consultation and question-answering. He also serves as a legal consultant for the Stony Brook University Asian Student Association, helping freshmen improve their legal awareness and providing free security and legal consulting services to Chinese students.
Lucie Kwon is a Korean American Assistant District Attorney in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. She serves as the first Asian American Bureau Chief in the history of Suffolk County being appointed by the Honorable Raymond Tierney, District Attorney of Suffolk County. Lucie's path to public service started at a young age as a candy striper at a local hospital. She continued her advocacy during her college years having been an active member of the student body and working in the Chancellors Office for Multicultural Affairs. Lucie continues her public service as a member of the District Attorney's Office as well as through many different organizations. Lucie continues to be an advocate for the Asian American community, as well as advocate for the underserved and underrepresented, and continues to advocate for women's rights and equity in the work force.
Clara Cortes arrived in Queens, New York, from Puebla, Mexico, over 20 years ago. Now a Long Island resident, she has been a member of our Suffolk County immigration committee since 2013, where she joined in the fight for immigration reform for undocumented immigrants across the country. She has been advocating for the passage of Coverage for All. She understands firsthand how hard it is to get access to medicine and medical visits, which is why she is passionate about this campaign.
MRNY member Frank Sprouse-Guzmán praises his advocate for expansion of the Human Rights Law at Suffolk County. He stated, “”My job as a real estate agent is to connect a tenant who is ready, willing and able to rent with a homeowner who needs a tenant. By having a strong law that protects more individuals against discrimination, I will be able to serve more tenants and homeowners in my community which will be good for business and in turn good for our Economy.”
Meet the Nominees
All of the nominated community leaders from local Chinese, Latino, and Asian communities.
Alexandra joined Make the Road New York in May 2011 as a member of the organization, and has been at the organization ever since. She is the current Health Access Supervisor at Make the Road NY. She is an immigrant from Colombia and understands the struggles that immigrant community members face. Her career in the health field with the organization started in February 2012 as a Health Advocate in the Long Island office, assisting clients navigate the complex health system. During the past 11 years, she has supported the expansion of health services to Make the Road NY's Long Island and Westchester offices, and now coordinates their insurance enrollment and navigation work across all the Make the Road NY offices as the Health Access Supervisor. She oversees the developing and implementing of the health care access programs and initiatives, managing staff and identifying resources to support the healthcare needs of immigrant and low-income communities. Alexandra also supports Make the Road NY's health policy and organizing campaigns advocating to enhance and improve access to care for all individuals and to find solutions to complex healthcare challenges. She has been a strong community activist fighting for the immigrant rights in Long Island.
Erol Akyurek funded one of the most recognizable plumbing companies on Long Island, Erol's Plumbing. After becoming very successful in many of his business ventures, Erol gives back to his community. He founded the non-profit organization named NY Turkish American Center, was very active during the COVID-19 pandemic and now he focuses on earthquake relief efforts for Turkey. He also helped to build the Seleymaniye Turkish Mosque in Dix Hills. Erol was also appointed as a Community Ambassador in the Suffolk County Police Department.
Deepak Bansal is a passionate Real Estate Associate. He is always willing to assist newly legally migrated immigrants of the South Asian Community pursue their dreams. He is also the President of All India Human Rights Association for the USA chapter in the UN. Deepak has been recognized numerous times by elected officials and organizations for his community work. He helped bridge the gap between the South Asian Community and the Nassau County Police Department and helped create support programs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marie Michele Destil
Marie Michele Destil is an incredible leader in the Huntington Station Haitian community. She raised funds for hurricane relief efforts in Haiti. She also raised funds for immigrants who moved here because of the hurricane. Marie also supports several immigrant organizations here in the community and hosts their meetings at her restaurant Gingerbites. She is a role model and mentor to many people.
Dr. Harold Fernandez
Harold Fernandez has been named one of the top cardiothoracic surgeons in all of NY State and has been given the double asterisk designation for having one of the lowest fatalities. He has saved countless lives and has been the Chief of the Cardiothoracic Surgery department at Northwell's Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, NY. He is known for treating end-stage heart failure. His grateful patients give him rave reviews. Currently, he teaches at Hofstra University, and is affiliated with numerous top-ranked hospitals on Long Island, as well as lectures in schools, libraries, and at screenings of the feature-length documentary about his life, passing on his knowledge and hope to others and stressing the importance of education. He is a strong supporter of immigrants, having come from the most dangerous cities in the world himself with his parents and brother. He continues to help others and is remarkable for his humility and compassion. www.undocumenteddoc.com
Lynn Guan 管琳
As the co-president of Long Island Youth Development, Lynn has devoted her professional talent and financial support to promoting mental, physical, academic, and social development. She is extremely passionate about engaging kids with community crevices.
José Hernández moved to Huntington over 30 yrs ago from El Salvador and has helped found a church in Bentwood and helped hundreds of immigrant families settle in Suffolk County. José and his wife give endlessly to their community, both serving as pastors and volunteers at their church and leaders in their community. Jose has served as a security guard at the Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington for 30 years!
Guobin Hu 胡国斌
Co-Principal of Chinese School, serving as school committee and principal for 5 years, doing a lot for the community.
Edwin Hugh is a Suffolk County Detective with 25 years of law enforcement experience. He started as a Corrections Officer, later became a Police Officer, and next became a Detective. As a Police Officer in New York City, Edwin worked selflessly for the community when his unit responded to the attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Today, he also fosters relationships between the Asian American and Suffolk County communities and Law Enforcement. Ed was also named President of the Police Association of Suffolk County, Inc. He is the first Asian American president of this fraternal organization.
Xin Jin 金鑫
He is passionate about the lives of Chinese seniors on Long Island. He cares about the growth and development of Chinese youth in Long Island. He has provided legal course explanations and consultations to many Chinese and Chinese schools, and is the legal consultant of the club LIYD. He has provided free legal consulting services to the Chinese community in Long Island for many years. He is enthusiastic and experienced in helping Long Island Chinese immigrants provide free immigration consultation and question answering. He also serves as a legal consultant for the Stony Brook University Asian Student Association, helping freshmen improve their legal awareness and providing free security and legal consulting services to Chinese students.
Lucie Kwon is a Korean American and a lawyer. She services the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office as a Bureau Chief in the Financial Crimes Unit. She is the first Asian American supervisor in the history of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office. Lucie is active in the Asian American community, charity, women's empowerment, eradicating hate crimes against Asian Americans, and other worthwhile causes. Since childhood, she has always spoken up about issues that mattered to her community and now she continues to speak up for those underserved and underrepresented in our government.
Shaorui Li 李少锐
She is the current board member and the only Asian member on the three village central school district board. Dr. Li was the first president of the AAAGSB, had organized multiple events and activities among the Asian community and the local community, promoting understanding of Asian culture. She is also the president of AANHPI, promoting Asian culture.
Belinda Pagdanganan has over 26 years of experience in inter-governmental relations, emergency response, and disaster preparedness. She currently manages the Town of Islip Councilman John Cochrane's office. Throughout her career, she has been committed to public service, work ethics, and managing change. Belinda is also a team player when it comes to aiding diverse communities. In many of her positions, she helped strengthen communication and relationships between local officials and organizations and Long Island residents.
Frank Pao-Hu Shih
Frank Pao-Hu Shih, deceased. Frank was a teacher, student activist, and war correspondent in China during the turbulent years of the Sino-Japanese war in the '30s, and then during WWII. His dream of emigrating to the US had been foiled by the racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, but this act was repealed in 1943 by the Magnuson Act. Unfortunately, the law allowed only 105 Chinese worldwide to come into the US per year. He was fortunate as he had a job waiting for him in the US, so he was able to emigrate in 1945; his visa number was 25. His American dream journey started working for the Office of War Information in California. Then he transferred to New York and ultimately Washington DC, working for the highly respected Voice of America as a writer, editor, and broadcaster, and finally was promoted to Chief of the China Bureau. His goal and duty was to report news from the US as objectively and truthfully as possible. He also co-founded The Young Journalists Society. Frank’s passion was world history, fairness, and justice, and he passed on these values to his children. He passed away near San Francisco at the age of 101.
Dr. Hafiz Rehman
Dr. Hafiz Rehman is a member of the Interfaith Council and a well-known pediatrician in our community. In the past, he has been an ambassador of the Peace Program while also working with the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. Additionally, he has also been part of the Anti-Bias Task Force. He has been the president of the Bayshore Islamic Center. Dr. Rehman is a former president of IMANA relief as well as being involved in fundraising for Worldwide Relief Efforts including Pakistan flood and earthquake relief. He has helped run and organize many fundraisers for building orphanages and schools in Kenya.
David Wang studied in the United States from Taiwan in the late 1960s and received a Ph.D. in physics. Served in the U.S. Navy for nearly thirty years until retirement. Actively participated in community activities after retirement, donate to various community activities, and is the founder of Theresa Foundation, providing funding to culture exchange.
Hua Wang 王华
Hua was a PTA and member of the Budget Advisor Committee of Three Village School District, and worked with other committee members to provide feedback to BOE during the budget development process. She is a member in Ward Melville HS 2023 prom committee. Hua is one of the leaders who has advocated for the School Start Late initiative since 2018. Hua is an executive board member of LIYD, a nonprofit organization which provides opportunities for youth to learn responsibility, teamwork and leadership
Jie Yang 杨洁
She has been promoting STEM and SCIO for many years and serves as a board member in Three Village STEM Foundation. Also a board member of Long Island Youth, promoting mental, physical, academic and social development of children. She is particularly active in helping children getting engaged in community services
Yufang Yang 杨玉芳
Yufang has been the co-principal of the Center for Chinese Learning at Stony Brook, a school offering Mandrin and bilingual class for ~300 students, for the past two years. Her deep understanding of Chinese language and culture has been instrumental in fostering cultural appreciation. As the co-founder of the Silver Years Senior Club, she has actively contributed to enhancing the lives of senior citizens, particularly those of Asian descent. Yufang is a passionate advocate for volunteerism, consistently organizing volunteer opportunities for children and promoting the spirit of giving back.
Yanping Yu 俞雁平
The "mom" of the community, the founder of LI Youth Development Inc, building a platform of 2nd generation to hone their skills and share it to younger kids, besides of being a professional Nephrology. She's also a volunteer in WMHS prom committee
Heng Jade Zhang 张珩
She is the current president for AAAGSB, advocating and organizing many events among the community; highlighting the Asian culture, representing the Asian community, and meeting the administrators at town and beyond on multiple topics including lunar new year celebration, STEM courses, etc. She has been actively involved in the school district activities and joined multiple committees, such as strategic planning committee for the three village school district and start school late committee, and voice out for Asian/Chinese community, including those who have no voting rights. She started school late initiative. She has been working with other local civic organizations on this initiative since 2018 and has consistently advocated for this important initiative for the health benefits for middle and high school students, and for making a more healthy schedule for the overall school district.
Selected community leaders were interviewed and had their faces 3D scanned. These resources were used to create unique digital portraits that represented the community leaders' unique identities as immigrants.
Upcoming (photo grid of images of interviews and 3D scanning sessions)