There's a common concern that Jennifer Luu and Rachael Ng say even they shared not too long ago. Is AsiaTown, straddling the East 30s and 40s along Superior Avenue, the extent of Northeast Ohio's Asian population?
Not quite, as it were.
Luu and Ng today serve as co-presidents of MotivAsians, a local professional organization that brings the region's widespread Asian-American population together to cultivate an even more vibrant community. The group's origins date back to 2002, but Luu and Ng say they were led to its work just a few years ago.
"We're really trying to make the community grow," Ng says. She arrived in Cleveland in 2010 and came upon MotivAsians rather quickly. "When you first come to Cleveland, you're like, 'Where is everybody?' But then you become part of this group and you're like, 'Wow, there are actually quite a lot of Asian communities all over Northeast Ohio.'"
With more than 600 members spanning all ages and, geographically, the whole of our region, the group certainly highlights a population that's broader than what one might first think. Ng and Luu have taken the reins and helped promote a more social group setting, one that works wonders in retaining the sort of professional talent sought after by companies across Northeast Ohio. Revolving around networking and fun, the lively atmosphere championed by Ng and Luu has developed a certain momentum that will keep their work going for a long time here.
After all, their own thoughts about the not-so-concentrated Asian community of Northeast Ohio writ large are shared by many.
"At the time I was just a young professional and a student but, shockingly, growing up in Cleveland I actually didn't have a lot of Asian friends," Luu says, describing her own initial encounters with the organization. "I figured I'd join and see what's going on with the Asian community. Once I graduated, the very first opportunity that came along was a volunteer opportunity and I took that." Luu went on to take on more responsibilities within the group and garnered the co-president slot with Ng in 2012.
Their hope in the years ahead is to connect even more of Northeast Ohio's Asian-Americans; they intend on leaning into the Akron area and drawing a broader sense of cooperation along the I-77 corridor.