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Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation Executive Director Maki Hsieh Honored as 2019 Woman of the Year by Senator Susan Rubio

Maki Hsieh turned operations around at the Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation. – Courtesy photo

Since 1987, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus has honored women in each State and Assembly district. Honorees are recognized at the California State Senate Chamber at the state capitol.

“Maki’s commitment to eliminating barriers to the arts, cultivating a stellar cultural arts program, and advancing community engagement are a few of the many reasons why she was selected,” said Senator Rubio. “Her leadership in spearheading Arcadia’s first official Chinese New Year Festival is the latest example of her commitment. I commend Maki for all that she has accomplished and thank her for everything that she continues to do for our communities.”

Hsieh was born mostly deaf and her sister suffered from autoimmune disease. Their parents encouraged overcoming odds. Hsieh’s immigrant mother had worked her way through Sacramento City College, California State Sacramento, USC, and became Taiwan University’s first female tenured professor. She organized concerts where Hsieh performed violin. Hsieh’s orphan-to-financier father was a founder of Taiwan’s Rotary Club where Hsieh played piano.

While pre-med at Johns Hopkins studying sociology and music, Hsieh taught violin in inner-city classrooms, coached ESL kids to perform Shakespeare, and orchestrated soup kitchen choirs. Her Hopkins Provost Prize thesis on inner-city academic achievement secured a fellowship with Vice President Al Gore.

Hsieh followed her father’s footsteps and began her finance career in 1997 while raising a family. In 2007, Disney recruited her to oversee communications. Hsieh then released her dubstep violin and opera video. It went viral. Hsieh was on America’s Got Talent and became the first Asian-American to sing the national anthem at Major League Baseball playoffs.

In 2017, the Arcadia Performing Arts Foundation board appointed Hsieh to turn around operations. Diversity programming was under-represented. The foundation was in the red. It could not fulfill its debt obligation. Even co-founder Mickey Segal walked out of the board.

Under Hsieh’s leadership, four festivals and three galas integrated youth talent with world-class artists. Revenue increased 114 percent. Respected leaders Mickey Segal, Alan Whitman, and Lily Liu endowed the lobby at $250,000 each. The debt is paid. For the first time, the foundation is in the black.

Hsieh was recently in a documentary about Asians in entertainment. She serves on Congresswoman Judy Chu’s Congressional Artistic Discovery Committee. Hsieh is also a doctoral candidate at USC.

“On behalf of my family, the women in my life, and the men who encourage us, I thank Senator Susan Rubio for this honor of being her first Woman of the Year,” said Hsieh. “But I owe a public debt. The foundation provides the platform. The community empowers my advocacy. Even my talent is not mine. It is a gift that belongs to the people. This is not my award. This is ours. And I am so grateful.”

March 5, 2019

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