2020 Leadership in Philanthropy Award
The Asian Pacific Fund Leadership in Philanthropy Award recognizes individuals who have achieved significant success in their field while also making a difference by giving back. This year we are thrilled to honor two recipients, Jeremy Lin and Maulik Pancholy.
A Palo Alto native, Jeremy Lin is a guard for the Beijing Ducks and was the NBA’s first American-born player of Chinese or Taiwanese descent. In 2019 he became the first Asian American to win an NBA Championship with the Toronto Raptors. Prior to his NBA career, Lin played four seasons at Harvard and was an All-Ivy First Team selection two times (2009, 2010).
In February 2012, two years after going undrafted in the NBA Draft, Lin’s rise to prominence spread like wildfire. His performance for the New York Knicks, commonly known as “Linsanity,” made him an overnight sensation. Lin scored a historic 136 points in his first five career starts. His magical run included scoring 38 points against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, 28 points on the defending champion Mavericks, and 27 points and a game winning three-pointer against the Raptors.
Lin has played with the Warriors, Knicks, Rockets, Lakers, Hornets, Nets, Raptors and most recently signed with the Beijing Ducks in 2019.
Lin’s incredible story is a testament to the power of opportunity. After going undrafted and being cut by multiple teams, his triumph is proof that the last man off the bench might be a star waiting to shine. Whether this is on a basketball court or in communities throughout the world, Jeremy believes that other people and organizations are likewise ready and able to “make a difference” if given a chance. As such, Lin launched The Jeremy Lin Foundation at NBA All-Star 2013 with its first initiative, “The Making a Difference Project.” Lin’s recent initiative, “Be The Light,” donated a total of $1.2 million to COVID relief efforts and helped raise greater awareness of increasing anti-Asian racism during the pandemic. As one of very few Asian American professional basketball players, Lin has been passionate about speaking out about being Asian American and the importance of representation and empowerment in the Asian American community.
Maulik is an award-winning actor, author and activist whose work has spanned hit television shows, the Broadway stage and films. He is best known for playing Jonathan on NBC’s award-winning comedy 30 Rock, Sanjay on the Showtime hit series Weeds, and Neal on the NBC comedy Whitney. He is also the voice of Baljeet on Disney’s Phineas and Ferb, and the title voice of Sanjay on Nickelodeon’s Sanjay and Craig – the first lead Indian-American character on a network cartoon.
Maulik’s debut novel, The Best at It, was named a 2020 Stonewall Honor Book, a 2019 Junior Library Guild Selection and received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, The American Library Association’s Booklist and Kirkus Reviews. Drawn from his own experience, the book is about a twelve-year-old, gay, Indian American boy coming into his own. It has been called at once, “exuberant and heart-wrenching.”
In 2014, Maulik was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs). During his three-year tenure as a Commissioner, he co-founded the anti-bullying campaign, Act to Change, which he continues to Chair today. As an activist, Maulik has long been an advocate for the AAPI and LGBTQIA+ communities. He is the recipient of the Asian American Arts Alliance Award, the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award, and was named to Out Magazine’s Top 100 list.