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Date: Apr 28, 2017

Award Honors Asian Americans in Baltimore County in Celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced that he will recognize the 2017 recipients of the Baltimore County Asian American Excellence Award —a recognition event to be held in May, which is designated Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

This award is presented to individuals whose life work has successfully contributed to the vitality of the greater Baltimore County region, and whose efforts inspire others to strive for success and to celebrate the diversity and achievement that is our strength.

The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 9 at the Owings Mills branch of the Baltimore County Public Library, located at 10302 Grand Central Avenue in Owings Mills.

The 2017 Awardees are:

Harry (H.B.) Bhandari emigrated from his native Nepal. He is an educator for Baltimore City Public Schools and an adjunct faculty member of Baltimore City Community College. He served as National Secretary of Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus, President of Linover Community Association, and Board Member in District Six Democratic and Civic Association Club. He is a member of the Baltimore County Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee. Currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Language, Literary and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Dr. Agha Khan is a highly respected neurosurgeon, practicing for the last 25 years in Maryland. Born in Pakistan, Dr. Khan completed his medical degree from Punjab University in Pakistan. He holds multiple positions at local hospitals and other neuro-spine related organizations, presently serving as Chief of the Neurosciences at the University of Maryland Midtown Campus. Dr. Khan has organized and led teams of clinicians to Ghana to provide patient care and education to local physicians. He has also visited Pakistan and Haiti to aid earthquake victims; and on multiple occasions he has joined Humanity First and visited Guatemala and Marshall Island to provide aid. Dr. Khan has been listed by U.S. News and World Report as one of the leading neurosurgeons in the United States.

Albert Kim migrated from South Korea in 1975. He has been a member of the Woodlawn-Westview Rotary Club for 20 years, serving as its President in 1999 and 2014.  Woodlawn-Westview Rotary Club serves the community by donating dictionaries to area elementary schools and hosting the annual “Service Above Self Awards.” He was the President of the Korean American Society of Greater Washington, Vice President of the Sejong Scholarship Foundation of Maryland, Treasurer of the Security Woodlawn Business Association, and was a Board Member of the Korean Society of Maryland. In 1988, he founded the accounting firm Albert T Kim, CPA, P.A., now known as AK & Associates, P.A.  The firm supports both local and regional clients as CPA advisors.

Bella Santos Owens, President of the Baltimore County Commission for Women since 2012. The Commission identifies and advocates programs, legislation and services to meet the needs of the women of Baltimore County. She has worked extensively on issues such as gender equality, empowerment, human trafficking awareness and domestic violence prevention. Under her leadership, the Commission expanded its focus on serious public service campaigns, and the Commission has won three consecutive National Association on Commissions for Women’s Achievement Awards (2013, 2014 and 2015). She has given numerous talks on the importance of women’s empowerment, mentoring, diversity and inclusion of the immigrant population. She migrated to the US from the Philippines in 1987.

Rajesh K. Patel, a Catonsville business owner and father of three was born in India and owns three successful businesses in the Baltimore area. One of the businesses, Soda Pop Shop, is currently the state’s number one lottery retailer. He is deeply rooted in the spirit of giving back to the community. Every Thanksgiving he donates dozens of turkeys to people in need, and he was instrumental in helping acquire property in 2012 for the construction of the Swaminarayan Hindu Temple.

About Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

May is designated nationally as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, celebrating the achievements and contributions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are among the many organizations paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.

In June 1977, Representatives Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian Pacific Heritage week. The following month, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga from Hawaii introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed and on October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration. In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed a bill passed by Congress to extend the week-long celebration to a full month. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law. The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869. The majority of the workers who laid the tracks were Chinese immigrants. 

Revised October 16, 2020               
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