EWC/EWCA Alumni Award Recipients


Congratulations to our outstanding alumni and EWCA chapters for embracing the mission of the East-West Center (EWC) and East-West Center Association (EWCA) to promote better relations and understanding among the people and nations of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific in their professional, as well as personal lives. Join us as we honor them at the awards presentation on Saturday, July 17th at 2:30 PM (HST).  

The EWC Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes outstanding accomplishments, including significant contributions to the promotion of better relations and understanding among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific, and the United States; significant achievement in the career field; and continuing support for the goals and objectives of the East-West Center. The 2020 EWC Distinguished Alumni Award recipients are:

Ms. Diane Grady

Ms. Diane Grady (Open Grants, MA in Asian Studies 1971-1973)

After completing her EWC-sponsored field study in Taiwan, Ms. Grady continued working for Echo Magazine for over two years before returning to the United States where she earned her MBA at Harvard University then accepted a job with McKinsey & Co. in Australia. She rose to partner, working with clients in a broad range of industries on strategic and organizational issues and led a worldwide survey on innovation which resulted in a report titled Challenging Conventional Wisdom about What Leaders Do. She was the first woman outside the U.S. to be elected to McKinsey’s global partnership and the first female partner globally to have children. After leaving McKinsey, Ms. Grady was president of Chief Executive Women (CEW), “promoting opportunities for other women leaders” as its key mission. Under her leadership, CEW developed The Leaders Program for emerging women executives which has benefited over 1,000 women and 82 organizations. She chaired the CEW task force that researched and published the CEO Kit for Attracting and Retaining Female Talent

Ms. Grady was made a member of the Order of Australia in 2009 and elevated to an officer of the Order of Australia in 2020, for her contribution to business and to the promotion of women leaders and was a recipient of the Australian Centenary Medal in 2001 in recognition of her contribution to Australian society in business leadership. In 2015, she won the AFR 100 Women of Influence, Board and Management Category. Her publications have included articles on innovation, change management, corporate governance, and diversity. She is committed to helping organizations do better at inspiring people and to promoting leadership opportunities for women.

Since 1994, Ms. Grady has been a full-time director on a range of public and private company boards as well as not-for-profit organizations. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Macquarie Group, Grant Thornton, and Tennis Australia, chair of The Hunger Project Australia, and an advisory board member of Heads Over Heels (a group that supports women entrepreneurs) and the AICD NFP Chairs Forum. She was formerly on the boards of McKinsey & Co (Australia), Ascham School (chair), Woolworths Ltd, BlueScope Steel, Australian Stationery Industries, Goodman Group, Lend Lease, Wattyl, and The Sydney Opera House Trust. She encourages organizations to develop talent management strategies to support their business strategies.


Dr. V. Bruce Tolentino

Dr. V. Bruce Tolentino (Resource Systems, PhD in Economics 1982-1986)

Dr. Tolentino has over 36 years of progressively senior-level experience in both international development agencies, governments, and NGOs in international development, governance, development finance and banking, top management, analysis and planning of socio-economic programming, reform, and research-for-development initiatives, projects, and organizations in Asia, Africa, and Central America. In June 2018, the president of the Philippines appointed him an independent, full-time member of The Monetary Board, the highest-level governing body of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) with a focus on the promotion of broad financial inclusion and financing for rural and agricultural development. He chairs the Advisory Committees on Information and Communication Technology and Corporate Communications and is vice-chair of the Advisory Committees on Monetary and Economic Policy, and Governance and Ethics.

From March 2012-June 2018, he was deputy director-general and secretary to the Board of Trustees of the International Rice Research Institute, the premier global scientific research organization focused on rice productivity, rice farmer welfare, nutrition and consumer health, and rice-based food security. He served as co-chair of the Advisory Committee of the International Sustainable Rice Platform from October 2015-June 2018 and chair of the Organizing Committee of the International Rice Congresses in 2014 (Bangkok) and 2018 (Singapore).

Dr. Tolentino has been an adjunct professor in the College of Economics and Management and College of Public Affairs at the University of the Philippines at Los Banos since June 2013. He was chief economist and director of Economic Reform and Development Programs and Afghanistan country representative at The Asia Foundation, where he received the Presidential Award for Extraordinary Program Leadership, 2007-2008. Prior to that, Dr. Tolentino was assistant minister of Planning and Monitoring, executive director of the Agricultural Credit Policy Council, and deputy minister of Policy, Planning, and International Trade in the Philippines Ministry of Agriculture.


The EWCA Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes outstanding EWCA Chapters which have provided significant contributions to the goals and programs of the EWCA.  The 2020 EWCA Outstanding Chapter Award recipients are:

EWCA APLP ChapterThe EWCA Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) Chapter exists because of the members’ affinity for the values of the EWC, EWCA, and APLP, helping to promote connection, conversation, networking opportunities, and working together to make the world a better place. The chapter publishes The Navigator, a quarterly e-newsletter which shares APLP alumni news/happenings with more than 600 alumni around the world. It organizes and hosts at least two global Pau Hana meetups throughout the year--a social get-together for APLP alumni in their home city--typically in around 10 cities around the world on the same day. An annual Global Day of Service sees APLP alumni around the world take on an activity that will better their community for at least one hour on a given day. A database of alumni is updated and shared with APLP faculty, ensuring alumni from all generations can be contacted and are connected. The APLP alumni network continues to be a talent pool for APLP as an APLP alumnus typically joins each year’s generation as a support staff member. Active social media pages are maintained on Facebook and LinkedIn with hundreds of members checking posts each month. The APLP Alumni Board, with more than 20 members representing nearly all APLP generations, meets monthly via Skype to plan events, maintain its network and work to better local communities and promote EWC values. The Board members annually organize a Mentorship Program matching APLP alumni with current APLP fellows to exchange knowledge, ideas, and coach current fellows as needed. The APLP Chapter and Board were used as a model for the Pan-Pacific Chapter and Pacific Islands Leadership Program with Taiwan (PILP) to design and start an alumni program. The APLP Chapter previously received the EWCA Outstanding Chapter Award in 2006.

EWCA Chennai ChapterThe EWCA Chennai Chapter has organized many programs over the past 20 years and cooperates with regional and international organizations such as the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai, American Scholars Associations, the EWCA APLP Chapter, Rotary Club, British Scholars Associations, universities, institutions, United Nations, and Asian International Union of Environmental Commission. It facilitates professional networking through a variety of activities including get-togethers, seminars, lectures, and workshops. The Chennai Chapter previously received the EWCA Outstanding Chapter Award in 2006 and 2016.

The chapter has organized awareness programs on health, environment, rural student development programs, and conservation of water in association with many voluntary organizations. A teacher training program was organized in cooperation with the Rotary Club of Chennai for about 100 teachers working in different schools in and around Chennai. The Fulbright Scholarship ENRICH program was well attended and the chapter received requests to organize many programs. 

In 2019, the chapter organized a Symposium for EWC Alumni and new fellows of the 2019 Asia Pacific Leadership Program (APLP) in Chennai which included a pre-conference dinner, visit with the Prince of Arcot at his Palace, tour of EWC alumna Kalpana Sankar’s non-profit organization, and reception at the U.S. Consul General’s residence.


The EWCA Outstanding Volunteer Award recognizes outstanding alumni volunteers who have provided significant contributions to the programs and activities of the East-West Center Association. The 2020 EWCA Outstanding Voluneer Award recipients are:

Dr. Amefil "Amy" Agbayani

Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani (Institute for Student Interchange, PhD in Political Science 1964-1969)

Dr. Agbayani has been involved with the EWCA Mentoring Program for more than ten years. As a member of the Matching Committee, she reviewed applications and extended her vast expertise and connections in the Honolulu community to match alumni and community leaders as mentors to current East-West Center students and participants. Upon her retirement in 2016 from the University of Hawai‘i as Assistant Vice Chancellor for Student Diversity and Director of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED), Office of Student Affairs, she assumed a larger role in the Mentoring Program as the lead volunteer Alumni-Student Coordinator. In this capacity, she planned and designed the program, reviewed applications, interviewed applicants, and led orientation and networking events for mentors and mentees.

Dr. Agbayani was president of the EWCA Executive Board from 1995-2005 and served as chair of the Nomination Committee from 2001-2018. She has received numerous awards for her service to the community and was awarded the EWCA Hawai‘i Chapter Outstanding Service Award in 1989. She has established a scholarship with the EWC Foundation.

From co-founder and former director of Operation Manong, asking Filipino students at the University of Hawai‘i to tutor new immigrant Filipinos—and eventually serving every immigrant community in the Hawai‘i public schools—to lobbying for the Hawai‘i Civil Rights Commission and serving as its first chair, Dr. Agbayani’s interest in political science, women’s issues, civil rights, immigrant rights, workers’ rights, Filipinos, and equity and diversity in higher education has led to a wide spectrum of volunteer work in the community. She has served on the Community Advisory Council of the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART); was a co-founder and board member of the Hawai‘i Women’s Political Caucus in 2010; served on the Judicial Selection Commission from 2000-2003 and as its chair from 2001-2003; and was co-chairperson of Neil Abercrombie’s gubernatorial campaign and represented Hawai‘i during the 2020 National Democratic Convention roll call. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Legal Clinic, which provides free or low-cost immigration legal services to low-income refugees and immigrants in Hawai‘i. She has written articles and co-edited two books on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in higher education.


Mr. William "Bill" Armbruster

Mr. William “Bill” Armbruster (Open Grants, MA in Asian Studies 1971-1973)

Mr. Armbruster, a retired journalist, has been committed to supporting the East-West Center and East-West Center Association and gives back by making sure the EWCA New York Chapter remains motivated and active.  He has been leading the chapter for most of the past 25 years and serves on the EWCA Development Committee.  

He systematically plans events to engage and attract members and with continual communication, he helps members feel involved and a part of the EWC alumni community. By acting as a liaison between alumni and the EWC, he provides updates from the East-West Center to keep members well informed and connected. Mr. Armbruster has been one of the first to be able to attract alumni from different generations and disciplines to the chapter by having well-known authors and personalities give presentations at chapter meetings and has been extremely successful in getting a good mix of alumni as members. He continues to try to transition more recent alumni into leadership roles by mentoring them and providing support when needed. His ability to maintain an active chapter by increasing participation from different alumni generations is what keeps this chapter thriving.

Mr. Armbruster is also involved in numerous civic and community organizations. He was one of the co-founders of the Journal Square Community Association (JSQCA) in Jersey City, NJ, and served as its first president. He is currently JSQCA’s secretary and chairman of its  Green Committee, a member of the Board of Regents of Saint Peter’s University, as well as co-chair of the Class of ‘71 Reunion Committee at St. Peter’s, and a member of the National Committee on US-China Relations. He is the former chairman of the board of the International Institute of New Jersey, a now-defunct non-profit organization that served immigrants and refugees.


Mr. Choko Takayama

Mr. Choko Takayama (Institute for Student Interchange, MA in Educational Psychology 1962-1964)

Mr. Takayama has continually and is currently still very active as a volunteer of the East-West Center Association. He was president of the EWCA Okinawa Chapter for fifteen years (1997-2012) and was a key member of the planning committee and driving force to host the 2014 EWC/EWCA International Conference in Okinawa. With his contacts in the community, he was key in obtaining sponsorships for the conference from businesses, organizations and the government. The conference was successful with more than 300 EWC alumni, friends and colleagues from 20 countries in attendance.

As an EWC alumnus, he represents the EWC well in his community involvement. Ryukyu Shinpo, the largest newspaper in Okinawa, presented Choko Takayama with the 54th Ryukyu Shinpo Award on September 25, 2018 for his social and educational contributions. The Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association (HUOA) presented a 2019 Legacy Award to Choko Takayama on November 2, 2019. From 2013 to present, he has played a key role in the fundraising efforts for the Hawai‘i Okinawa Plaza project with his Okinawa Hawai‘i Kyokai (OHK) colleagues, raising over US$1 million in Okinawa. In 2017, he co-chaired the Irei Sai Memorial Project to bring to light the 72-year search for the remains of 12 POWs from Okinawa who perished in Hawai‘i during World War II. From the series of interviews and articles about Okinawans in the Hawai‘i community that he wrote for the Okinawa Times while a grantee at the Center, he has built cross-cultural exchanges between Hawai‘i and Okinawa. While President of the EWCA Okinawa Chapter, he worked closely with leaders of the Okinawan community in Hawai‘i to bring performing artists, workshops, concerts, tours, Okinawan government officials, and businesses to Hawai‘i for cultural exchange as well as welcomed Hawai‘i visitors and coordinated their visits to Okinawa.


The EWCA 21st Century Outstanding Service Award recognizes East-West Center participants whose initial involvement in an EWC program began during or after 2000 and have provided outstanding services to the community. The 2020 EWCA 21st Century Outstanding Service Award recipient is:

Ms. Doreka Dai

Ms. Doreka Dai (Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program, 2013-2014 from Papua New Guinea (PNG)

We are proud to count Ms. Dai as one of the most inspirational members of the East-West Center community. With little tailoring skills, she mobilized ten single mothers, widows, and women of otherwise limited social means and trained them in sewing and tailoring skills and the endeavor has now turned into a Training Center. Her vision was “the establishment of a Women’s Resource Center in Boera village and communities to empower women through tailoring”. She applied for and received seed funding from the EWC Pacific Islands Women in Leadership Program to purchase sewing machines, materials for tables, and enrolled at the Garment and Textile Center in Port Moresby to attend Certificate I and II classes on apparel making. After completion of the two courses, she is now a trainer-of-trainers on Advanced Tailoring. 

In June 2015, Ms. Dai earned a slot to attend the Global Women in Management Program (GWIM) in Washington, D.C., facilitated by Plan International USA under Exxon Mobil’s Women’s Economic Foundation, a program that has trained over 6,000 women around the globe and 64 women from Papua New Guinea. The PNG women formed Advancing PNG: Women Leader’s Network, of which Ms. Dai served as a Board member for two years. She returned to Washington, D.C. in October 2017 to attend the GWIM Step Down Training and is now an internationally recognized trainer.

The Tailoring Project was designed as a tool to empower women to bring positive changes to communities in rural areas, especially in Boera, and the surrounding communities of Porebada, Lealea and Papa. Her vision became reality in 2017 when Exxon Mobil funded the establishment of a Women’s Resource Center. She has trained women in tailoring and cofacilitated training on intergenerational leadership and team building. Using financial literacy as a key to building women’s knowledge based on how to control their family’s income and budget are her contribution to women’s empowerment initiatives. “Boera Women in Tailoring” which began with 10 women has become “Plant Site Women in Business” with a membership of 40 TOTs and about 100 women from the four villages. Ms. Dai is the founder and owner of Diari Tailoring.

She is currently the coordinator for Hiri West Women in Business, identifying women’s empowerment initiatives and rolling out various training in Fashion design, for 100 participants including women, men, and people living with disability. Training in baking, agriculture, and small-to-medium enterprises will follow. She dreams of a garment factory, bakery, and other enterprises to create employment and business opportunities for women. She is proud to see women as agents of change to bring economic opportunities and positive change to rural communities.