Pioneers who paved the way for all Asian Americans.

ow do you cull hundreds of uniquely inspired and inspiring achievements and compile a list like this?
     Painstakingly -- and with the humbling recognition that lists like this mean nothing to those they include and little more to those they omit. Every omission is mostly a function of limited time and energy. Every ranking is the product of judgments reflective more of our own limited knowledge than of the actual achievements we were considering.
     So much for the caveats. Now our method. We considered several hundred Asian American achievers in every field for which information is publicly available. We then valued and ranked candidates based on our appraisal of their positive impact, firstly, in inspiring other Asian Americans, and secondly, in inspiring Americans at large.

     An example: Filipino American quarterback Roman Gabriel is ranked behind French-Open winner Michael Chang because Gabriel's ethnicity wasn't publicized until two decades after he retired. That limited his cumulative impact on young Asian Americans and on the perception others have of Asians. Some will question why we left out people more famous than many we included. Fame doesn't equal positive impact. Serial killers are famous but have less positive impacts than shoeshine boys.
     We also weighed the social climate in which these men and women made their mark. Consider a one-armed World War II veteran who rose to prominence as a Senator in an age when some barbers refused to cut his hair. Consider an actor who made himself the world's top star in an age when Hollywood relegated Asians to playing servants.
     This is a living list, to be adjusted as time reveals more inspiring Asian Americans or amplifies the impact of those listed.

130. Mike Honda
U.S. Congressman

129. Bill Nguyen
Tech Entrepreneur

128. Michelle Rhee
Education Reformer

127. Vicki Sato
Biotech Pioneer

126. Harold Hongju Koh
State Dept. Legal Advisor

125. Jean Quan
Oakland Mayor

124. Vinod Khosla
Venture Capitalist

123. John Chiang
Calif. State Controller

122. Patrick Soon-Shiong
Biotech Tycoon/Philanthropist

121. Tani Cantil-Sakauye
Calif. Supreme Court Chief Justice

120. Tony Hsieh
Online Entrepreneur

119. Don Chang
Fashion Entrepreneur

118. Feng-hsiung Hsu
Computer Scientist

117. Velma Veloria
Activist/ Legislator

116. Laurence Yep

115. Sehat Sutardja
Tech Entrepreneur

114. Anh Joseph Cao

113. Jim Yong Kim

112. Jumpa Lahiri
Fiction Writer

111. Thomas Tang

110. Daniel Dae Kim

109. Allen Say

108. Margaret Abe-Koga

107. Jim Lee
Comic Creator/Illustrator

106. Iris Chang
Historical Author

105. Kal Penn

104. Wataru Misaka
NBA Pioneer

103. Feng-Shan Ho

102. Sarah Chang

101. Roger Tsien

100. Carrie Ann Inaba
Choreographer/ TV Personality

99. Pehong Chen
Internet Pioneer

98. Jeanette Lee
Pool Champion

97. Tae-Yun Kim
Tech Entrepreneur and Martial Artist

96. B. D. Wong

95. Steve Y. Kim
Tech Entrepreneur

94. Scott Oki
Microsoft Pioneer and Philanthropist

93. Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Governor

92. Johnny Chan
Professional Poker Champion

91. Jeong H. Kim
Technologist and Entrepreneur

90. Lata Krishnan
Tech Entrepreneur

89. Hiro Narita
Hollywood Cinematographer

88. Peter S. Kim
Merck R&D Chief

87. William Mow
Tech Pioneer & Entrepreneur

86. David Wu
U.S. Congressman from Oregon

85. Vera Wang
Fashion Designer

84. James Chu
Founder/CEO Viewsonic Corp

83. Josie Natori
Fashion Entrepreneur

82. C. W. Kim
Top San Diego Architect

81. Hiram Fong
U.S. Senator from Hawaii

80. Andrea Wong
President of Lifetime Television

79. Hubert Vo
Texas Congressman

78. Koichi Nishimura
CEO of Solectron

77. John Liu
Crusading New York City Councilman

76. Leehom Wang
Pacific Rim Pop Star

75. Cung Le
Champion Martial Artist

74. Maya Lin
Acclaimed Architect

73. John Okada
Pioneering Japanese American Novelist

72. Indra Nooyi
Pepsico CEO

71. Morgan Chu
Top Patent Trial Lawyer

70. Justin Lin
Film Director

69. Albert Y. C. Yu
Pioneering Tech Executive and Engineer

68. Robert Kiyosaki
Best-Selling Self-Help Author

67. Frank Jao
Real Estate Developer

66. Norm Chow
Acclaimed USC Football Coach

65. Henry Cho
Pioneering Comedian

64. Ray G. Young
GM President and Managing Director for Brazil

63. Chi Huang
Doctor and Social Worker

62. Christine Poon
Chairman of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals

61. Margaret Cho
Actor and Comedian

60. Helie Lee
Daring Activist Journalist

59. Vic & Janie Tsao
Co-Founders of Linksys

58. Angela Oh
Lawyer and Community Leader

57. Andrew & Peggy Cherng
Co-Founders of Panda Express Chain

56. Edward Tsang Lu
NASA Astronaut and Physicist

55. Richard Park
NHL Hockey Player

54. Teddy Zee
Hollywood Producer

53. Connie Chung
Pioneering News Anchor and Journalist

52. Robert M. Takasugi
Pioneering Federal Judge

51. Lucy Liu
Popular Actor

50. Kristi Yamaguchi
1992 Olympic Figure Skating Gold Medalist

49. Ming-Na (Wen)
Popular TV Actor

48. C. N. Yang/T. D. Lee
Nobel Prize-Winning Physicists

47. Michael Chow
Trend-Setting Restaurateur and Cultural Icon

46. Ming W. Chin
California Supreme Court Justice

45. Joan Chen
Actor, Director and Producer

44. Nancy Kwan
Pioneering Actor

43. Lisa Ling
Adventurous TV Journalist

42. Robert Matsui
Influential California Congressman

41. Chien-Shiung Wu
Pioneering and Nobel Prize-Winning Woman Physicist

40. John Tu & David Sun
Co-founders of Kingston Technology

39. Chang-Lin Tien
UC Berkeley Chancellor

38. Gus Lee
Best-selling Novelist and Attorney

36. Paul Kariya
NHL's Leading Scorer

37. Tiger Woods
Record-Setting PGA Great

35. Elaine Chao
Secretary of Labor

34. Michelle Kwan
World Champion Figure Skater

33. Amar Bose
Inventor and Entrepreneur

32. Steven Chu
Energy Sec, Nobel Prize-Winning Physicist

31. Roman Gabriel
Trailblazing NFL Quarterback

30. Dat Nguyen
Cowboys Linebacker and Texas A&M Recordholder

29. Shoji Tabuchi
Branson's Top Country Act

28. Chang-Rae Lee
Acclaimed Novelist and Professor

27. Maxine Hong Kingston
Trail-Blazing Novelist

26. Andrea Jung
Chairman/CEO of Avon Products, Inc.

25. Ming Tsai
Chef and Emmy Award-winning TV Host

24. Ang Lee
Academy Award-winning Film Director

23. Russell Wong

22. Jerry Yang
Co-Founder and Chief Yahoo of Yahoo!,Inc.

21. George Takei
Actor, Author and Community Leader

20. Yo-Yo Ma
Celebrated Cellist and Cultural Eminence

19. Dr. Sammy Lee
Gold-Medal Olympian and Coach

18. Charles Wang
Founder/CEO Computer Associates, Owner of Islanders

17. Sessue Hayakawa
Pioneering Hollywood Actor and Producer

16. Patsy Mink
First Non-White Congresswoman

15. James Wong Howe
Renowned Cinematographer

14. James Shigeta
Hollywood Leading Man

13. Michael Chang
Youngest-Ever French Open Champ (1989)

12. Gordon P. Chung-Hoon
Admiral and War Hero

11. Eric K. Shinseki
War Hero and Army Chief of Staff

10. Michiko Kakutani
America's Top Literary Critic

9. David Ho
Breakthrough AIDS researcher

8. Colonel Young Oak Kim
War Hero and Community Leader

7. Jason Scott Lee

6. I M Pei
World-Renown Architect

5. Norman Mineta
Mayor and First AA Cabinet Secretary

4. An Wang
Inventor and Pioneering Tech Entrepreneur

3. Gary Locke
Commerce Secretary, Former Washington Gov.

2. Bruce Lee
Martial Artist and Action Superstar

1. Daniel K. Inouye
Influential Senator and Medal of Honor Recipient


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