May 26, 2015

Anny Hsiao on API Women in Leadership

by Chiao-Yun (Anny) Hsiao
Chiao­-Yun Hsiao (Anny) is the President of the Taiwanese Association of Greater Portland, Vice President of the Formosan Association of Public Affairs OR & SW WA Chapter, Project Coordinator for Vietnamese Women’s Health Project III, Program Coordinator for Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Institute, doula and advocate.

My name is Chiao­-Yun Hsiao; I prefer to be called Anny. I was born in Ilha Formosa, the beautiful Island of Taiwan but I have spent two thirds of my life in the States now. I identify as a Taiwanese American woman. I never have really considered myself as an “API Woman in Leadership,” so when Luann asked me to write this post, it took a while for me to think of what to even say. Am I an API Woman in Leadership? Can I write about this topic “API Women in Leadership?” My mind drew a blank until I stopped myself from obsessing over this phrase and just started to think about my own experience. And that’s what I have to share, a little bit of my experience.

What popped into my mind as I thought about my journey to where I am today was the invalidation I have experienced and the uncertainty of whether or not I belonged. I’ve felt disempowered by people who preached empowerment in the community. I have felt out of place often sitting at meetings with other people in positions of power who do not look like me. They were often not Taiwanese; they were often not Asian; they were often not young; and they were often not women. They were, at times, condescending. They were, at times, doubtful. They would put me down and they would question if I were capable. They were surprised that I was there. They were glad that I was there. They were impressed that I spoke English well. They were impressed that I spoke.

Again and again in the same uncomfortable situations I ask myself: Why do I put myself through this each time? But feeling uncomfortable does not stop me. I tell myself to sit up a little straighter, keep my chin up and hold my head high. I won’t let your doubts and your invalidation defeat me.

I kept going.

What also kept me going was the support ​from those who believed in me and those who understood what I was going through. They listen. They encourage me. They help guide me. They tell me “You got this!” in a moment of self ­doubt. They bring the positivity back into my life. They remind me to self-­care. We talk, we eat, we share, we laugh. They are my friends, my colleagues, my mentors. They remind me to own the work that I do. They help me overcome the words of invalidation and they help me keep going.

They are Jenya Chiu, Connie Nguyen-­Truong, Pei­-ru Wang, Carmen Madrid, Mu­jou Hsiao and so many more.

They are API Women in Leadership.

I am Anny Hsiao and I am an API Woman in Leadership.

Read more stories from AAPI Heritage Month.