LOS ANGELES, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa joined by members of City Council and the Asian and Pacific Islander American community, on Friday (May 13) officially launched this year’s Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month celebration. This year, the Mayor recognized three female honorees: Judge Jacqueline Nguyen, Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, and Tia Carrere. The theme for the City’s 2011 Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month is “Who We Are, How We Matter.”

“These three incredible women represent the deeply-embedded values in the Asian and Pacific Islander community of resilience, perseverance and pride,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “We are grateful for their service and countless contributions that have enriched our thriving, diverse City.”

Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, interned at the Manzanar camp during World War II, received the Spirit of Los Angeles Award. Herzig-Yoshinaga became a key figure in challenging discriminatory practices, first as an activist in social justice issues, and then as a senior researcher for the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Citizens (CWRIC) established by Congress in 1980. She has helped numerous individuals interned during the war locate official documents that enabled them to qualify for compensation granted through the Civil Liberties Act of 1988.

Judge Jacqueline Nguyen received the Dream of Los Angeles Award as a trailblazer in the Asian Pacific American legal community. A refugee from Vietnam, Judge Nguyen was nominated by President Barack Obama and later confirmed by the Senate as a federal judge in 2009. Nguyen also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California from 1995 to 2002. She joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Public Corruption and Government Fraud section, overseeing United States Department of Defense fraud prosecutions. During that time, Nguyen held the role of Deputy Chief of the General Crimes section, training new prosecutors in the Central District. She is the first Vietnamese American Article III judge in the United States.

Tia Carrere received the Hope of Los Angeles award. An actress, model, and two-time Grammy award winner, Carrere is best known for lead role in the hit movies, “Wayne’s World” and “Wayne’s World 2.” Her list of credits includes “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man,” “Showdown in Little Tokyo” and “True Lies.” Carrere won Grammy Awards for her albums, “Ikena” and “Huana Ke Aloha.” She has also championed the cause of Filipino Veterans of World War II who had been long-denied compensation for their military service.

After a presentation in Council Chambers, the celebration moved to the South Lawn of City Hall for a music-filled program including a performance by the Southern California Philharmonic.

This year, the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Committee developed a report on the status of Los Angeles Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community. The report elaborated on the involvement and progress of the APIA community in the areas of business, labor, voting characteristics, views on the environment, government, education and the arts. The full report is available at

The full list of activities taking place throughout Los Angeles can be found in the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide produced by the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and unveiled today by the Mayor. It can be found on DCA’s website:

This year’s Heritage Month was sponsored by Time Warner Cable, Wells Fargo, The Walt Disney Company, ABC 7, The Nielsen Company, KCSI LA 18, NBC Universal and the Southern California Philharmonic.