History and Timeline



What we now know as NAAAP, the National Association of Asian American Professionals, was founded in 1982 in New York City. At first, the organization was called the National Association of Young Asian Professionals, the name was soon changed to embrace a broader range of Asian Pacific American (APA) professionals and to better reflect the rapidly changing demographic.


The brutal murder of Vincent Chin in 1982 had acutely raised awareness of the importance of activism, not only in the Chinese American community, but amongst all Asian Pacific Americans. Just as Asian Pacific Americans needed civil rights activism, so too did Asian Pacific Americans need to take their own professional destinies in their hands to overcome discrimination in the workplace and break the glass ceiling.

The organization at first was rather informal, providing networking and activity opportunities for the postcollegiate APA professionals and their families. Its commitment to being an organization for all Asian ethnicities, and for all professions, made it different from other groups in the city.

The organization’s concept was too good to stay bottled up for long, and new chapters sprung up in Boston in 1986 and Chicago in 1987. These three chapters formed the beginnings of NAAAP National. At first, NAAAP National merely consisted of informal networking and idea sharing amongst the local officers of the three chapters at an annual summer retreat, but the benefits of having a structured national entity became apparent.

NAAAP National’s 1991 retreat held in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, was made more structured and accessible to the general membership. 1991 also saw the creation of the NAAAP National Board and election NAAAP’s first National President, Robert Tanzil. NAAAP National held its first “real” convention during the 1992 Labor Day weekend in Chicago with multiple tracks and programming, corporate sponsors and evening gala events. The Labor Day weekend timing of the convention was a tradition for several years. At the request of sponsors and career fair recruiters, the NAAAP National Convention finally changed to occur over a non-holiday weekend in 2000. The NAAAP National Convention site now rotates amongst the NAAAP chapters throughout North America.

The Houston chapter was founded in 1994. The Asian Management Business Association in Seattle joined NAAAP in 1992, and Club Asean in San Francisco joined in 1996. These chapters officially changed their names to NAAAP-Seattle and NAAAP San Francisco in 1999.

To make NAAAP available to a wider audience, beginning in 1997, NAAAP National encouraged the development of chapter start-ups (known as Ventures) throughout North America. A few recent successful ventures who have achieved chapter status include Atlanta (in 2002), North Carolina (in 2006) and Philadelphia (in 2006). Currently, there are more than seventeen ventures and ten chapters across North America, with two in Canada.

Particularly noteworthy is NAAAP-Toronto, founded in 1999, which became NAAAP’s first Canadian chapter in 2001, and was the site of the NAAAP National Convention in 2003. Both Americans and Canadians of Asian Pacific Islander heritage share similar professional needs and challenges, and the growth of NAAAP into Canada reflects this.

As NAAAP grew nationally, it needed to grow internally as well. The NAAAP National Administration team has grown from three positions in 1991 to 12 today with a National Board of more than 20 directors, who represent NAAAP chapters across North America. Realizing that greater collaboration and communication was needed, the National Board meets not only at the NAAAP National Convention, but also during the winter NAAAP National Leadership Retreat (first held in Dallas in 2001), and keeps in touch via monthly conference calls.

The organization has always had a broad reaching mission:

To provide a broad range of professional and educational services that meets the needs of individuals, corporations and government through the efforts, experiences, talents and dedication of our North American Asian volunteers.

At NAAAP’s first winter retreat in Dallas in 2001, NAAAP created a vision statement to bring focus to the mission:

“NAAAP is the proving ground for North American Asian professionals forging leaders of tomorrow through professional development, cultural awareness, and community service today.”

2001 marked the first year that the NAAAP National Convention attracted over $100,000 in corporate sponsorship. The NAAAP National technology platform (”Backoffice”) was launched in 2002 to provide a unified web presence and infrastructure for the chapters and ventures.

NAAAP partnered with Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business in 2002 to lead a first-of-its-kind study into APA Mentoring and its Effects on Salary Attainment on Career Advancement.

In 2003, NAAAP created its National Advisory Board, and was invited to participate on a federal-level committee, under the auspices of the U.S. General Accounting Office, to contribute to a project on Key National Performance Indicators.

NAAAP has channeled relief aid from the APA community to victims of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, NAAAP launched its first major national fundraiser to raise money for the victims of tsunami-devastated Indonesia, where our ambitious goal of raising $25,000 was surpassed by the generosity of our members who gave an astounding $30,000.

NAAAP has also been vocal in raising awareness of issues such as the HOT97 radio incident and the Adam Carolla show.

2007 is noteworthy for the launch of the NAAAP National Career Center, an online nexus for job opportunities and resumes that targets the Asian Pacific American professionals. Additionally, NAAAP unveiled its new logo and launched its nation-wide monthly national newsletter.


NAAAP has had the foremost APA leaders pass through its halls over the years, including:

  • Jerry Yang, the current CEO of Yahoo
  • Indra Nooyi, current CEO of PepsiCo
  • Guy Kawasaki, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures and evangelist for Apple
  • U.S. Secretary of Labor, the Honorable Elaine L. Chao
  • U.S. Congressman, the Honorable Michael Honda
  • Jane Hyun, author of “Breaking the Bamboo Ceiling”
  • Qui Duc Nguyen, host and producer of KQED Public Radio
  • Former Washington State Governor, Gary Locke


NAAAP today is 25 years old and 22 chapters and ventures strong. Its ongoing commitment to professional and leadership development will help NAAAP continue to succeed for future years to come. However, the successes do not happen without the enthusiasm, innovation and hard work of NAAAP’s members and sponsors. Be a part of NAAAP’s future as an active member, sponsor or officer, and help write the next chapter of NAAAP’s history!






  • Founded in New York City as “The National Association of Young Asian Professionals” – subsequently renamed as NAAAP, “National Association of Asian American Professionals”


  • NAAAP Boston founded


  • NAAAP-Chicago founded
  • NAAAP National created to facilitate cooperation amongst the chapters
  • First National Convention – primarily for chapter officers


  • National Convention in Cape Cod, MA
  • First convention open to both officers and members
  • First NAAAP National Chair (now called President) and Officers elected


  • National Convention in Chicago, IL
  • Asian Management Business Association (founded 1979) joins as NAAAP-Seattle
  • First large scale convention with speakers and gala events


  • National Convention in New York, NY


  • National Convention in Seattle, WA


  • National Convention in Los Angeles, CA
  • NAAAP-Houston becomes the fifth NAAAP chapter


  • National Convention in Boston, MA
  • Club Asean (founded 1984) and M Society West join as the San Francisco affiliates of NAAAP


  • National Convention in Houston, TX
  • NAAAP startup groups designated as “Ventures”


  • National Convention in Seattle, WA
  • Ventures formed in Washington, DC and Vancouver, BC


  • National Convention in Chicago, IL
  • Club Asean becomes the official San Francisco chapter of NAAAP
  • Current NAAAP Logo created in a national logo contest


  • National Convention in Los Angeles, CA
  • First NAAAP Chapter and Venture Awards given


  • National Convention in New York, NY
  • First NAAAP Leadership Retreat in Dallas, TX
  • NAAAP-Toronto (founded 2000) becomes our first Canadian chapter
  • Corporate sponsorship exceeds the $100,000 mark
  • Vision statement created


  • National Convention in Boston, MA
  • National Leadership Retreat in Houston, TX
  • NAAAP-Atlanta (founded 1997) becomes a chapter
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN venture formed
  • NAAAP National Technology Platform (Backoffice) launched


  • National Convention in Toronto, Ontario Canada
  • National Leadership Retreat in Los Angeles, CA
  • NAAAP National Advisory Board created


  • National Convention in San Francisco, CA
  • National Leadership Retreat in Atlanta, GA
  • Venture formed in Cleveland, OH


  • National Convention in Chicago, IL
  • National Leadership Retreat in Raleigh/Durham, NC
  • Connecticut venture formed


  • National Convention in Seattle, WA
  • National Leadership Retreat in Atlanta, GA
  • NAAAP-North Carolina (founded 1998) and NAAAP-Philadelphia (founded 2004) become chapters
  • Ventures formed in Colorado, Columbus, OH, Phoenix, AZ and Tucson, AZ; Pittsburgh Asian American Young Professional Association (founded 1999) joins as NAAAP Pittsburgh venture


  • National Convention in Atlanta, GA – 25 Years of NAAAP!
  • National Leadership Retreat in Philadelphia, PA
  • NAAAP National Career Center launched at http://www.naaap.org/careers
  • Venture formed in Cincinnati, OH


  • National Convention to be held in Los Angeles, CA
  • National Leadership Retreat to be held in Toronto, Ontario
  • New National Technology Platform launched

  • NAAAP DFW becomes a member of the NAAAP Family