Chao Family and Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Foundation Receive Outstanding Achievement in Philanthropy Award from the US-China Policy Foundation

On November 18, 2015 the US-China Policy Foundation held their annual Gala Dinner, which this year celebrated 20 years of dedication to improving the relationship between the two countries. The Foundation fosters improved understanding and communications through an extensive variety of programs, such as: research, exchange programs between policymakers, education, collating and disseminating information, and hosting seminars and conferences to expose and discuss mutual issues facing the US and China.

The U.S. – China Policy Foundation LogoThis year, the Foundation honored the Chao family and the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Foundation, by presenting them with the award for Outstanding Achievement in Philanthropy. Receiving the honor was Dr. James S.C. Chao, patriarch of the family and founder of the Foremost Group, an international shipping company, and two of his daughters, former Secretary of Labor, Elaine L. Chao, and Ms. Angela Chao, Deputy Chairman of Foremost Group.

The Dinner opened with welcoming remarks by the Honorable James Sasser, former US Ambassador to China and former U.S. Senator from the state of Tennessee. Congressman. Rick Larsen of Washington State gave the keynote address and the Honorable Richard Solomon, former Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Dr. Chi Wang, US-China Policy Foundation President gave the closing remarks.

In bestowing this award, the US-China Policy Foundation has acknowledged the years of philanthropic service given by Dr. Chao and his late wife, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, especially through the activities of the Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation. This Foundation has awarded thousands of scholarships to students in China and America, opening the door to quality education which their economic circumstances would have kept closed. Also noted at the Gala Dinner was the gift the Chao Family Foundation made to Harvard University recently for the construction of a new academic center—the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Center—which will be the first building on the Harvard campus to bear the name of a woman and of someone with a Chinese family name, as well as the scholarships at Harvard College and Harvard Business School that have been established since.

Accepting the award on behalf of the Chao family and the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao Family Foundation was Secretary Elaine L. Chao. She shared with the Gala attendees the story of her parents’ journey from war-torn China to America. Secretary Chao stressed the importance of her mother’s early appreciation for education, the result of her own struggle for educational opportunity, and the role this later played in the focus of her mother’s philanthropy. Her father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, achieved his own milestones in education and in spite of tumultuous times, managed to break records, becoming the youngest ever ship Captain at only 29, earning a score of #1 in the National Exam, which broke all previous records, leaving home and family to come to America, and succeeding in building , from the ground, an international shipping company that is well-known around the world.

Secretary Chao said that her parents never focused on money. They led simple, ethical lives, succeeding through diligence, determination and the power of education. She spoke of her father’s belief that America gave him many opportunities to succeed, and the education he received in China fortified him with the strength to overcome all the obstacles that crossed his path. It is with this determined adoption of the assets of East and West that her parents advocated and supported not only educational advancement, but also stronger ties between the US and China — a mission which shaped their lifetime philanthropic efforts.