The Future of America’s Chinatowns: An Evening with Trailblazer Grace Young and Friends

Celebrate AAPI month with food, culture, and community! Join the US-China Education Trust and friends on May 22 for a lively discussion and light supper at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, located at the vibrant nexus between Washington, DC’s Chinatown and downtown. We will honor Trailblazer Grace Young, renowned Chinese cultural historian, author, and activist on behalf of America’s Chinatowns. Grace will be in conversation with local filmmaker Penny Lee, the co-producer of Flashback Chinatown D.C. and coproducing editor of A Tale of Three Chinatowns, and Di Gao, who leads the America’s Chinatowns Project at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Jen Lin-Liu, the globe-trotting culinary journalist and Beijing cooking school founder who now makes her home in Washington, DC, will moderate the conversation. They will examine the importance and preservation of America’s Chinatowns today and delve into DC Chinatown and Chinese food’s unique and evolving role in the nation’s capital. Join metro DC decision-makers and ”Chinese foodies” for this timely and dynamic conversation. A reception with light supper follows on the rooftop library terrace catered by Chang Chang, DC flagship of celebrity chef Peter Chang’s family of Chinese restaurants on the East Coast.

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Grace Young is an award-winning cookbook author, culinary historian, and activist working to save and support America’s Chinatowns. She is a 2023 Forbes 50 Over 50 honoree and is the 2022 recipient of the Julia Child Award. She received the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2022 and is a USA Today Women of the Year honoree for her advocacy. Dubbed the “accidental voice for Chinatown” by Grub Street, Grace has been featured on CBS Mornings, Today Show, PBS Newshour, and NPR’s All Things Considered. She has also been profiled by The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Smithsonian, Vogue and Cherry Bombe. Her accolades include James Beard Awards for her Wok Therapist comedy video and cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge. She is currently partnering with the James Beard Foundation on the #SupportChinatowns social media campaign to raise public awareness to preserve and protect America’s Chinatowns.

Di Gao serves as the senior director of research and development, leading a team that provides technical and analytical support to strategic initiatives across the National Trust. Di is responsible for developing new preservation initiatives including the America’s Chinatowns program, supporting project execution across various preservation initiatives, conducting feasibility analysis and business planning, helping to grow the organization’s GIS practice, and identifying growth areas for the National Trust. Di’s work is currently focused on the intersection of preservation and equity, inclusion, and social justice, and mobilizing preservation action to better support America’s Chinatowns and other APIA ethnic enclaves.

Penny Lee is a documentary producer, director, and film editor in television and film. Her passion for storytelling has driven her to create content highlighting the immigrant experience in the US, with a primary focus on Chinese American voices. Penny co-produced and edited the award-winning feature-length documentary “A Tale of Three Chinatowns,” examining Chinatowns in Washington, DC, Boston, and Chicago, which is available on Amazon Prime Video. She produced and directed a short documentary called “Through Chinatown’s Eyes: April 1968,” about the civil disturbance and street violence following the assassination of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and its impact, especially on DC’s Chinatown. Penny also produced an oral history series in partnership with the 1882 Foundation called Flashback Chinatown DC that showcase the voices of Chinatown residents to tell stories about family, immigration, and growing up in DC Chinatown. Penny resides with her husband in Silver Spring, MD.


Jen Lin-Liu was born in Chicago and grew up in Southern California. She is the author of the forthcoming FORMIDABLE MRS. CHAO: The Story of China’s Julia Child. She has written two culinary memoirs, SERVE THE PEOPLE: A Stir-Fried Journey through China and ON THE NOODLE ROAD: From Beijing to Rome with Love and Pasta. She is the events director and a culinary consultant for Chang Chang, a restaurant in Washington D.C. by Peter Chang. Jen developed a lifelong passion and career in Chinese cuisine after receiving a Fulbright Fellowship to China in 2000. She has written for The New York Times, Newsweek, The Economist, and Saveur. In 2008, she founded a cooking school in Beijing called Black Sesame Kitchen. Jen is married to Craig Simons, an author and diplomat. They have lived with their two children in Chengdu, China and Havana, Cuba, and Beijing, China. They now make their home in Washington D.C