AALEAD’s 25th Anniversary Gala

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2023 – 6:00 PM

Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004

Black Tie or Cultural Attire

It’s been 25 years since Asian American LEAD began its mission to empower AAPI youth in underserved communities. With your continued support, we have changed the lives of thousands of youth through culturally responsive programming, mentorship, and advocacy. Please join us for an evening of celebration, reflection, dancing, dinner and our auction. Your investment in AALEAD is an investment in our youth’s future. Thank you!

Purchase Tickets/Donation

Sponsorship Information

For any questions or sponsorship inquiries, please email Siu Cheung at events@aalead.org

Thank you to our Generous Gala Sponsors

Gold Sponsor


Silver Sponsor

Ronald Reagan & International Trade Building
Sue Graham
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Bronze Sponsor

GRF CPA and Advisors
Rosie Abriam & Steve Lee
Jeff Neeley & Virginia Cheung
The MacNamara, Tran, Mason, Harting, Burnette & Krashin Group
M&T Bank
Joseph Lee

DirectViz Solutions


5:30 PM
Directions and Parking Information

5:30 PM – Registration Begins

6:00-7:00 PM – Reception & Silent Auction

7:00 – 10:00 PM – Dinner, Program, Dancing

Please email us at events@aalead.org with questions.

Attire: Black Tie or Cultural Attire


Maria Carzon

Maria Carzon is a founding AA LEAD staff member. Ms. Carzon has served in many capacities, beginning with volunteering at the YLP and continuing in various roles including ESL Teacher, Volunteer Coordinator, Office Manager and finally leaving as the Senior Administrative Officer. She has enjoyed her time there working with the dance troupe and youth immensely.

She served as Board member for WEAV – Women’s Empowerment And Voice -Helping to educate girls and women in Vietnam.

She left AALEAD in 2003 to raise her two sons, Jonah and Harry, with her husband Eric. She went on to work for the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (CAPACD) and is currently working for the Montgomery County Government, Department of Health and Human Services: Trauma Services Program, empowering and assisting crime victims. Maria is passionately committed to helping people and empowering youth.

Virginia Cheung

Virginia Cheung is a born and bred Washingtonian who spent part of her childhood playing in the streets and alleys of DC Chinatown. Her parents and extended family were active in the Chinatown civic and business communities.

As an active volunteer helping DC public high school students with the college admission process, Virginia developed a deeper understanding of the challenges experienced by underserved youth (including AALEAD students) and their parents. So, she was naturally drawn to AALEAD’s mission and embraced the opportunity to serve as an AALEAD board member several years ago. Virginia often says “if only there was an AALEAD when I was growing up”.

Virginia’s past community activities include serving as an advisory board member of The Community Foundation in Montgomery County (Maryland), and a member of the board of The Greater Washington Community Foundation. She is a past president of the Washington DC Estate Planning Council.

Virginia received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from University of Maryland. Instead of sitting for the CPA exam, she opted to attend Boston College Law School, then returned to the DMV where she practiced law for 24 years. After fulfilling her parent’s immigrant dreams of their daughter becoming a lawyer, Virginia transitioned to financial services and is currently the Head of Wealth and Estate Planning Services with Vanguard’s Advice segment. She splits her time between Washington DC, where she lives with her husband, Jeff, and the Philadelphia area when she is required to be in the office. When time allows, Virginia and Jeff travel the world, including visiting their children in San Francisco and New Zealand.

Tim Ma

Tim Ma is a critically-acclaimed chef and food & beverage entrepreneur. Growing up in a family of restauranteurs, Tim’s family pushed him towards an engineering career as he earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Science from Johns Hopkins University. After a successful 8-year engineering career, Tim decided to pursue his passion for restaurants and left it all behind – selling everything he owned and moving to New York City – to attend the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center.

Following an externship at a 2-Michelin Star Momofuku Ko, and cooking at the highly regarded Momofuku Ssam, Tim moved to St. Thomas, USVI to cook and formulate the plan for what would be his first restaurant. In 2009, Tim purchased a restaurant found on Craigslist with his last remaining credit card, remodeled it with dear friends and family, and opened Maple Ave Restaurant on August 15, 2009.

Fast forward to 2013, Tim opened his second restaurant, Water & Wall, to rave reviews and Maple Ave was ranked the #1 restaurant in Northern Virginia. Always on the lookout for a sandwich, Chase the Submarine – Tim’s dream vision for a craft sandwich shop – was brought to life in November 2015. March 2016 saw the opening of Tim’s first DC restaurant, Kyirisan, which offered creative Chinese-French cooking in a modern, home-like setting, winning awards such as Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand, and an annual recurring spot in Washington Post’s Best Restaurants Dining Guide. Tim also joined as Culinary Director of healthy school meal delivery service Box’d Eats in 2017.

In April 2017, Tim was hand selected by Katherine Lo to partner with her to bring to life Eaton Workshop’s first and flagship hotel in Washington DC. Eaton Workshop is a global purpose-driven company from founder Katherine Lo at the intersection of culture, content, hospitality, wellness, and progressive social change. Chef Ma developed and opened seven food and beverage outlets within Eaton DC, including Wild Days Rooftop Club, Kintsugi Café, Allegory Cocktail Speakeasy, and American Son, the all-day restaurant that received rave reviews and a Michelin Bib Gourmand in its first year of operation.

In November 2019, Tim joined as Culinary Director for Laoban Dumplings, attaching his Chinese heritage and unique culinary perspective to the humble dumpling shop. Today, Laoban Dumplings counts almost 1500 grocery stores, including national brands such as Whole Foods Market and Sprouts, selling its unique dumplings in addition to its brick and mortar.

In the same month in 2019, his family was honored by the Smithsonian Museum of American History by including himself, his Uncle Paul, and their family heirlooms from their history of restaurants into the new “FOOD: Transforming the American Table 1950-2000” exhibit.

In November 2020, in the middle the pandemic, Tim founded Lucky Danger, an updated take on American Chinese take-out by a Chinese American. The concept received rave reviews by critics and guests alike, leading to 5-months of complete sell-outs every night, the cover of the Washington Post, New York Times Food section, the Wall Street Journal, among many publications. Lucky Danger currently has two locations in Arlington, VA, and Washington, DC.

In May 2021, he co-founded the Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate non-profit that was able to expand into 4 cities (NYC, DC, SF, Detroit) and raise over $200,000 in the fight against Anti-Asian hate. The non-profit was featured on the Today Show and Good Morning America, as well as culminated in Tim and his cofounder Kevin Tien speaking at the Solidarity Against Asian Hate Rally on the National Mall. In May 2022, Tim and Kevin were honored with the GMA Inspiration Award for the work with Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate.

In November 2021, Tim developed and assisted in opening Bar Chinois, a French cocktail dim-sum bar, which replaced Prather’s on the Alley and the original pop-up location of Lucky Danger. Even in its short time open so far, It has seen incredible success and blown the doors wide open for Asian-themed bars.

Upcoming for 2022, Tim has expanded once again serving as COO for Ex-Pat Ventures, which will open 2 sports bars with integrated sports gambling in Western Market at 2000 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC.

Kevin Tien

Originally from Lafayette, Louisiana, Chef Kevin Tien started working in the corporate world after receiving his Master’s degree in Statistical Analysis and Business Analytics from Louisiana State University. Early on, however, his passion for food and service led him to a career change which then placed him on a culinary path in 2009. After working with various restaurants in Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, D.C., Kevin had an opportunity to open Himitsu, a Japanese-inspired restaurant combining freshness, acidity and herbs, leaning heavily on Latin American and Southeast Asian flavor profiles. After three years, Kevin made the difficult decision to close Himitsu to focus on Hot Lola’s & Moon Rabbit. Earlier this year, Tien opened Hot Lola’s, a restaurant specializing in spicy chicken, in Ballston Quarter’s food hall, Quarter Market in Arlington, Virginia.

Kevin’s resume includes working for chefs Aaron Silverman (Little Pearl, Pineapple and Pearl, Rose’s Luxury / only worked at Pineapple and Pearl), David Chang (Momofuku CCDC), Jose Andres (Oyamel), and Tyson Cole (Uchi).

Since the opening of Himitsu in 2016, the restaurant and Kevin garnered national attention and accolades from all corners of the United States. Bon Appetit named his intimate, neighborhood eatery one of the best new restaurants in the country last year, Kevin is a James Beard Finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year 2018, James Beard Semi-Finalist for Rising Star Chef of the Year 2017, Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs List 2018, was named Washingtonian Magazine’s and Washington Business Journal’s 40 under 40, a semifinalist in 2017 for Eater’s Young Guns Awards, and Himitsu was Eater DC’s editor’s choice for restaurant of the year, and featured in The Washington Post’s Spring & Fall Dining Guides – 10 Best Restaurants 2017 and 2018. Kevin also competed against other contestants in the fierce season 2 of Iron Chef Gauntlet.

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