Over the past two years, the rise in anti-Asian hate and xenophobia, combined with a global pandemic have made normal, everyday life difficult for the AAPI community. By sharing stories and insights from those in the Chinese American community, Committee of 100 hopes to shed light on the issue and help celebrate the amazing accomplishments from within the Chinese American community to the world at large.
The staff of Committee of 100 sat down with some of our Next Generation Leaders and asked them about their careers, what the past year has been like as a Chinese American and their hopes for the future. Committee of 100’s Next Generation Leaders program focuses on young leaders who are passionate about the organization’s mission to promote the full inclusion of Chinese Americans across society and advance the betterment of U.S.-China relations. The program was first established in 2017.
This month, we spoke with Annie Liang-Zhou, Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Liang Capital Partners. LCP is a private multi-family office established by 5th generation Liang family and like-minded co-founders focused on impact, women’s empowerment, and generational wealth management. The company provides a suite of professional services including cross-border wealth and estate planning, investment stewardship and management, tax services, insurance and risk management, as well as diversified concierge services. LCP believes in the power of NextGen families who seek social and environmental impact in addition to wealth succession. Annie currently manages the impact portfolio, focusing on climate and social impact investments. Annie is also the Founder and Managing Partner of Universal Pacific Advisors, a cross-border consulting company focused on financial advisory, strategy, and government relations for sustainable businesses.
Previously, Annie was part of the founding team and Director of External Affairs of the U.S.-China Green Fund, one of the only PE funds dedicated towards cleantech investments, and still manages the fund’s corporate foundation focused on environmental education and action. In her earlier career, Annie was a development and research associate with the World Policy Institute, a non-partisan think tank dedicated to solution-focused policy analysis, where she helped to publish a paper entitled “The Water-Energy Nexus: Adding Water to the Energy Agenda.”
Annie can be reached on LinkedIn here.
Committee of 100: As a Chinese American, what are some of the challenges you have encountered to become a leader in your respective field?
Annie: There remains strong stereotypes about Asian women and their competitiveness in professional fields, and I myself faced many obstacles when it came to female leadership and being assertive in the workplace, especially in my previous places of employment. A lot of women in general are still not recognized for their contributions and hindered from career advancement. However, I was also very fortunate to have had supportive mentors who helped me to become more confident and develop the necessary skills in my professional development. I do believe it’s important to speak out for what you believe in, whether it is about improving work efficiency and effectiveness, completing projects, or striving to achieve your goals. Self-discipline and humility are also two virtues that I hold dear which have helped me to learn, improve, and add value to my professional endeavors.
Committee of 100: There are more than 6 million Chinese Americans in the United States today and it is one of the fastest-growing populations in the U.S. Do you feel that Chinese Americans are well represented in government, business, and other parts of society?
Annie: I feel that Chinese Americans have not attained fair and equal representation, particularly in government. While we are well-represented in professional fields, such as finance, law, consulting, science, and academia, the plight of Chinese Americans has been very different for various communities, many of whom still don’t speak English or have been assimilated into “American” culture. Therefore, I believe it is important for Committee of 100 to become a voice for all Chinese Americans and to address the issues that affect different communities, so that we can be better represented in society. It would also be beneficial for us to support more Chinese Americans in political office who can advocate for policies that serve and protect our communities, as well as provide better foundations and opportunities for political action.
Committee of 100: What do you believe needs to be done so that more Chinese Americans feel empowered to follow their dreams and push forward to create the programs/businesses/position they want?
Annie: I believe there needs to be better ways to unite Chinese American communities around common issues and goals, as well as to communicate more targeted messages for us to mobilize, elect more representatives in office, and promote each other in our professional development. Instead of seeing each other as competitors, Chinese Americans in various disciplines should be helping other Chinese Americans with their career advancement and elevating the image of our communities.
Committee of 100: What moment or learning experience inspired you to work in your professional field?
Annie: I was very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to join the founding team of the Asia Green Fund to build a private equity fund from the ground up and specifically focused on cleantech and climate investments. Having worked in traditional finance, I believe it is crucial for us to use finance as a tool to fund impactful businesses and ventures, and that was what led me to continue my work in impact investing, in identifying and supporting innovative and disruptive climate-driven businesses and technologies. I really believe that we can achieve both financial and social/environmental returns through our work and mobilize more capital towards sustainable industries. I have seen how sustainable businesses have been able to fundamentally change a person, a community, or a country, and am inspired to continue this meaningful work. In addition, social equity is important to us, and we are also looking to support more female-led ventures and businesses and create a cohesive community for them.
Committee of 100: For those Chinese Americans and AAPIs who just recently graduated college, what advice would you give to them?
Annie: You have a choice to work in a field, company, or organization that’s meaningful to you, and don’t be afraid to pursue those endeavors that may not seem conventional. It is your will, determination, and inspiration that makes the Chinese American and AAPI communities so diverse and enriching.
Committee of 100: What do you most want to be remembered for in terms of making your mark on this world?
Annie: I came to the earth with nothing, and I will leave the earth with nothing. I just hope that during my brief time on this planet, I would have contributed more than I have taken, and that I was able to influence the people around me and in my communities in a positive way.