From home to a new
A fabled family’s
faith, fortitude, foresight and philanthropy
The Chao Family
celebration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of China
Institute, the Renwen Society of China Institute will present a special program on
Saturday, September 17, honoring Dr. James Si-Cheng Chao with Renwen’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for Philanthropy. Joining
him at the event will be his daughters: The Honorable Elaine Chao,
24th U. S. Secretary of Labor (2001-2009) and May Chao. They will
share with the audience their family’s immigrant experiences
in overcoming challenges to advance in this country through
education, faith, diligence, optimism, and contribution to society.
James S. C. Chao
is a recognized leader in international shipping, finance and
philanthropy. Born in a small village outside of Shanghai, Dr. Chao
advanced rapidly to become one of the youngest sea captains of his
time at the age of 29. He subsequently achieved another milestone
by scoring the highest grade on the National Master Mariner
Examination, a record that stands to this day. His exceptional
performance on this examination was a key factor in providing him
the opportunity to study in the United States.
After earning a Masters in Business Administration degree from St.
John’s University in New York City, Dr. Chao established Foremost
Maritime Corporation. The company later evolved into Foremost
Group, where he still serves as Chairman. Under Dr. Chao’s
leadership and management, Foremost Group has become a global leader
in promoting sustainability through the adoption of environmentally
friendly ship designs and technology. For his contributions to the
domestic and international maritime industry, Dr. Chao was inducted
into the International Maritime Hall of Fame at the United Nations
in May of 2004.
and Mrs. James S.C. Chao dedicated their lives to promoting the
values of education, volunteerism and philanthropy. More than 5,000
American and Chinese students have been given the opportunity to
widen their horizons through the generous scholarships provided by
the Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation, and other Chao family
philanthropies. Dr. Chao is also an active supporter of many other
academic institutions with which he has been associated. Despite a
busy career, Dr. Chao has always found time to serve on numerous
boards, including as well as adjunct professor, advisor, and Trustee of the
St. John’s University Board of Governors. Throughout his career, Dr.
Chao has received innumerable academic, professional and civic
June 6, 2016, Harvard University President Drew Faust presided over the
dedication of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, the
first building named after a woman and the first building named
after an Asian American in Harvard’s 380 year history. The Center
was made possible through a generous gift announced during the 50th
Anniversary of the admission of women in Harvard’s full-time MBA
Program by a Dr. James Si-Cheng Chao and family foundation. The
Center is a tribute to the life and legacy of the beloved late
matriarch of this extraordinary and exemplary family, the only one
in the Harvard Business School’s history to have had four daughters
attend. The Center will anchor the Executive Education programs at
the School. The gift also established the Ruth Mulan Chu and
James Si-Cheng Chao Family Fellowship Fund, which has a
particular emphasis on helping students of Chinese background or
ancestry. Quoting the Dean of the School, Nitin Nohria, “The Chao
Family is the embodiment of the American dream, and we are humbled
by their generosity.”
With dignitaries and university officials, the Chao family at the
ribbon-cutting dedication of the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center, Harvard
University were, L-R: May Chao; Sen. Elizabeth Warren; Harvard
Business School Dean Nitin Nohria; Dr. James S. C. Chao; Harvard
University President Drew Faust; Secretary Elaine L. Chao; U.S.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Massachusetts Governor
Charlie Baker; Christine Chao; Angela Chao; Grace Chao; Sen. Ed
The Honorable Elaine L. Chao,
the 24th U. S. Secretary of Labor (2001-2009), is the first Asian
American woman to serve in the President’s Cabinet in American
Secretary Chao’s leadership, the Department of Labor made the
advancement and inclusion of the Asian American community a top
priority. In 2003, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a part of the U.
S. Department of Labor, began reporting employment data on Asians in
America in its own separate category, a historic first.
Secretary Chao's distinguished career spanned the public, private
and non-profit sectors. She was President and CEO of United Way of
America, Director of the Peace Corps, Deputy Secretary of the U. S.
Department of Transportation, Chair of the Federal Maritime
Commission. She has also worked in the private sector as Vice
President of Syndications at Bank of America and with Citicorp.
The Ruth Mulan Chu Chao
Center, Harvard University
graduated with high honors as a Wellesley Scholar in three years
with a degree in economics from Wellesley College and an MBA from
Harvard Business School with a concentration in general management
and finance. In 2002, she was appointed by New York Governor George Pataki
to serve as Chair and Executive Director of the New York State
Consumer Protection Board. She also serves on the Harvard Business
School Alumni Board. Previously, she had worked as Vice President
in corporate treasury, cash management, and investment functions at
Most recently, after the passing of her beloved mother, Ruth Mulan
Chu Chao, she co-authored a book on recovering from grieving
entitled: Good From Grief. An active
volunteer and philanthropist, May Chao and her husband Jeffrey Hwang, are
the proud parents of twin daughters, Miranda Mei Chao Hwang, and
Jessica Ruth Chao Hwang.
Confucius Institute at
the State University of New York
College of Optometry is the cosponsor of this event.
Date and time: Saturday, September 17, 2016, 3:30-5:30 pm
of the State University of New York College of Optometry,
33 West 42nd Street (between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue,
across from Bryan Park), State University of New York, College of
Free for members of the Renwen Society, China Institute,
affiliates of SUNY, full-time university students and $5 for non-members.
912-8861 or LearnedSociety@gmail.com