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Thu, Sep 26


China Institute

Rock The Boat Season Three Launch: Against All Odds

Join us for the launch of our boldest season yet, Against All Odds. We're highlighting Asian Americans who have overcome immense obstacles to launch organizations, movements, and businesses around a meaningful cause.

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Rock The Boat Season Three Launch: Against All Odds
Rock The Boat Season Three Launch: Against All Odds

Time & Location

Sep 26, 2019, 7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

China Institute, 40 Rector St, New York, NY 10006, USA


About the Event

Rock The Boat is launching Season 3! Join us as we gather to celebrate stories within the Asian American community and discuss issues important to our future. 

Season 3 guests include

  • Patrick Lee, Founder of Rotten Tomatoes
  • Kimberly Yam, HuffPost Asian Voices Editor
  • Andrew Chau, Co-Founder of Boba Guys
  • Tracy Chou, Former lead engineer at Pinterest and vocal advocate for diversity in tech more incredible Asian American individuals! Be sure to tune in starting September 27. 

Event Schedule: 

7pm: Doors Open, mix & mingle w/ food & drink

7:20pm: Introduction

7:25 - 7:35pm: Keynote Michael Luo, Editor of

7:40 - 7:55pm: Community Org Intros

8:00 - 8:30pm: Panel with Season 3 Guests

8:35pm - 8:45pm: Keynote Ping Lieu - Defy Ventures

8:45 - 10pm: Networking

Keynote Speakers: 

Michael Luo is the editor of and oversees the magazine’s digital presence across all platforms. He leads a more than seventy-person editorial team that publishes a mixture of news reportage and commentary, cultural critcism, ideas and arguments, essays, and humor. He joined The New Yorker in November 2016, as an investigations editor for the magazine. In 2018, The New Yorker was awarded the Pulitzer Prize gold medal for public service, honoring stories by Ronan Farrow that helped expose the decades-long predation of the movie producer Harvey Weinstein and the elaborate system of private investigators, lawyers, and nondisclosure agreements that he used to cover it up. Much of this work was published by The New Yorker exclusively online. 

Previously, he spent thirteen years at The New York Times where, most recently, he led a team of investigative reporters and was also an editor on the newspaper’s race team. Over the course of three years, his reporters were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize four times. Just before he left the Times, he wrote an open letter to a woman who had screamed at him and his family to go back to China that ran on the front page and helped to spark a national conversation about Asian-Americans and race. Prior to becoming an editor, he was a reporter on the Times’s investigations desk. He also wrote about economics and the recession as a national correspondent; covered the 2008 and 2012 Presidential campaigns, as well as the 2010 midterm elections; and did stints in the Times’s Washington and Baghdad bureaus.

Before he joined the Times, in 2003, he was a national writer at the Associated Press. He has also worked at Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. In 2003, he was a recipient of a George Polk Award for criminal-justice reporting and a Livingston Award for Young Journalists. Luo graduated from Harvard University, where he majored in government, in 1998.

Ping Lieu was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA, although recently relocated to the east coast. He is currently the Operations Manager and right hand to the COO of a global import/export firm in New Jersey, as well as a Southern California board member of Defy Ventures, a non-profit organization which provides entrepreneurship training to those who are currently or formerly incarcerated. Ping specializes in operations and data management and has worked in a variety of industries including non-profit, fitness and entertainment.  

In the past, he has served as National Program Operations Manager at Defy Ventures and Director of Operations at ConBody gyms, NYC’s hottest new gym which hires only the formerly incarcerated as personal trainers. Ping has also worked in partnership with Snapchat to co-create and host their hit show, Prison Hacks, which gained a million subscribers in less than 10 weeks and routinely hit 2-4 million unique views per episode.

Before his recent success, Ping spent almost a third of his life behind bars. He was arrested at 19 years old and spent the next 13 years of his life serving his sentence in various California and Mississippi prisons until finally being paroled in 2017. As a way of giving back and staying in touch with the community, Ping routinely volunteers his time with Defy Ventures attending in-prison and post-release events to coach and mentor participants in the program. He dedicates much of his time to advocating for the community and sharing his story in hopes of changing perspectives around the stigma of incarceration. He has been featured by both Buzzfeed and Jubilee Media, appearing in several segments which explore the criminal justice system and open up the conversation about “who” ex-cons really are.


April Tam Smith is a devoted philanthropist, finance professional, and socially-conscious entrepreneur living in New York City. She is currently a Managing Director in a top tier investment bank’s equity derivatives team, covering hedge funds. At age 30, April founded P.S. Kitchen, a social enterprise vegan restaurant in Times Square that donates 100% of its net profits to philanthropic endeavors, while providing gainful employment to those who need a second chance in the local community, including the formerly incarcerated, victims of domestic violence, and those struggled with homelessness. April was the recipient of the 2018 Columbia Tamer Center Social Enterprise Award, the 2018 50 Outstanding Asian Americans in Business Award, and the 2015 John Mack Leadership Award. Her experiences from serving at orphanages and social businesses overseas have planted a deep seed in her to be a voice for the poor and fight for justice while leveraging her 14 year career on Wall Street. She currently serves as the chair of the board for Sharehope, a charitable organization that serves garment workers in Haiti, and also serves on the board for Justice Rising, Defy Ventures Tri-state, Movement Day and Generosity NY. She received her Bachelor's of Science in Engineering from MIT in 2005 and her MBA from Columbia Business School in 2009.

Ace Watnasuparp is the Regional Vice President of Citizens Bank Home Mortgage Division; a top-performing bank.  Ace joined Citizens Bank four years ago and has since broken down barriers by expanding into new markets and capturing unprecedented market share. His esteemed reputation in the finance and real estate industry has allowed him to attract talented top producing Loan Officers in the NY, NJ and Connecticut areas. Prior to joining Citizens Bank, Ace took on the role of President of Douglas Elliman’s lending arm with Dottie Herman and Howard Lorber, formerly known as DE Capital, where he oversaw multiple states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. A native New Yorker of Thai and Taiwanese ancestry, Watanasuparp became the first Asian-American in the University of Connecticut’s history to “walk on” to the prestigious men’s basketball team; he then went onto NYU Law School. Ace has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Brick Underground, Real Estate Weekly, NY Real Estate Journal and the Mann Report as an expert in Residential Lending. In addition to his financial career, Mr. Watanasuparp is also the Founder of Chase Restaurant Group, a full-service marketing, branding and design group for the restaurant industry. He now owns nine successful locations of his tasty eateries, Spot Dessert Bar and Obao.

Dana Wang is the founder and practicing psychiatrist at Rivia Medical in New York City. Dr. Dana Wang believes in a holistic approach to emotional wellness: listening to each patient and creating a partnership to maintain and improve lifelong health. In addition to psychotherapy and medication, Dr. Wang also incorporates biofeedback, mindfulness, and meditation into her practice. Dr. Wang was born in China and immigrated to California at the age of 12 with her family. She graduated on the Dean’s Honors List from the University of California, Berkeley, earning her B.A. degree with a double major in Molecular Cell Biology and Fine Art.  She then pursued an M.D. at Ben Gurion University, affiliated with Columbia Medical Center, where she was elected class representative and received the Dean’s List Honor-Distinguished Service Award for her contribution to the community and to her medical class. Dr. Wang completed her psychiatry residency training at Harvard Medical School, during which she also completed a fellowship in psychodynamic psychotherapy at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. She has presented her work at local, national, and international conferences, and co-authored book chapters and peer-reviewed articles. Dr. Wang is devoted to delivering the best care for her patients and advocating for emotional wellness as preventative care. She is a passionate advocate for addressing stigma and mental health service disparities in Asian Americans.

Sponsors: Light food & drink provided thanks to 

  • Boba Guys
  • Grace Street Cafe
  • Gramercy Wine & Spirits
  • Joe's Steam Rice Roll 
  • Kitsby Cafe
  • Makku
  • NOMZ 
  • OBAO
  • Sanzo
  • Spot Dessert Bar
  • The MasalaWala

Thanks to our community partners for donating their time and sharing resources at the event:

  • Apex for Youth
  • Asian Americans for Equality
  • Asian American Journalists Association
  • Defy Ventures
  • Slant’d Media
  • Taiwanese American Professionals-NY
  • Sunrise Movement

About our venue sponsor, China Institute: China Institute is the oldest bicultural, non-profit organization in America focused exclusively on China. Their mission is to advance a deeper understanding of China through programs in education, culture, art, and business. To learn more, visit their website:

Many thanks to China Institute for generously donating the venue as an event sponsor!


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