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6/8/2010 Houston, TX – OCA Greater Houston Chapter has announced the reprisal of its 1991 role as Host City to the OCA National Convention being held at the Westin Galleria June 17-19. This year’s theme, “Diverse Communities – United in Commitment,” is pivotal in terms of the anticipated 2010 Census data reflecting the growth and diversity of the Asian Pacific American community nationwide. Founded in 1973, OCA is a national organization dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of APAs in the U.S. The Houston chapter, founded in 1979, works to develop leadership and community involvement with the more than 80 chapters and college affiliates nationwide. There is no cost to the workshops, film screenings, exhibit hall, book author features or the Starry Nite Market Festival. Other events such as Ice Skating Night at the Galleria, luncheons, gala awards dinner, and NASA Tour require payments and registration. All activities will be at the Westin Galleria, except for the Nite Market Festival, which will take place at the Chinese Community Center. Online registration is requested at www.ocanational.org

The Convention offers free workshops for high school youth and college students who are the emerging leaders of their schools. Free workshops for small business development and professionals are ideal for people who are interested in learning about government contracts, supplier diversity, marketing one's products and services, or succeeding in today’s corporate world. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett speaks at the Thursday evening Welcome Reception, and Mayor Annise Parker kicks off Friday morning’s opening plenary session which features a panel on green energy and economy.

Saturday morning’s plenary session will explore the “State of APAs: Changing Demographics” with panelists Dr. Stephen Klineberg, director of the annual Houston Area Survey and professor of Sociology at Rice University and Dr. Larry Shinagawa, Director of Asian American Studies and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland. Shinagawa’s research areas are in the social demography of racial groups in the U.S., intermarriage, multiracial identity, and Asian American culture and community. His public policy studies and research for national civil rights and Asian American advocacy organizations have led to improvements in health care, redistricting, census counts, and reforms in police practices.

“As one of the preeminent annual events for the APA community, the OCA National Convention provides opportunities for corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations to showcase their products and services,” said Ken Lee, OCA National President. Lee began as a part-time employee of UPS (United Parcel Service) 35 years ago. Today, he is a recent retiree of Vice President of Security, US Operations. UPS is the title sponsor of the Starry Nite Market Festival, and will present OCA/UPS Gold Mountain Scholarships to APAs who are the first persons in their immediate families to attend institutions of higher education.

The ticketed gala awards dinner on Saturday will award the Outstanding Citizen Achievement Award to Dr. Thang Dinh Nguyen, executive director of BPSOS, a national community-based organization dedicated to assisting Southeast Asian American refugees. The Pioneer Awards will be presented to Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut and the first APA commander of the International Space Station and to Wataru Misaka, a Japanese-American born and raised in Utah, who became the first APA to play professional basketball when he was drafted by the New York Knicks in 1947 and became the first non-Caucasian player in the Basketball Association of American, which was the precursor to the National Basketball Association.

The film screening includes “Transcending: The Wat Misaka Story,” a documentary film by award-winning filmmakers Bruce Alan Johnson and Christine Toy Johnson; “A Village Called Versailles,” by S. Leo Chiang, “9500 Liberty” by Annabel Park and Eric Byler, and “Wo Ai Ni Mommy” (or “I Love You Mommy” in Chinese) that should appeal to the families of more than 70,000 children adopted from China into the U.S. since 1992.

Conventioneers will be taken on a bus tour of Chinatown/Asiatown through the Greater Sharpstown and International Management Districts; the tour is preceded by a panel discussion exploring the transformation of the nation’s ethnic enclaves into thriving, diverse, and evolving business and retail centers.

Some of the events have limited seating and are available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so register soon at www.ocanational.org or www.ocahouston.org