BERKELEY — Patricia Kinaga was awarded the prestigious Peter E. Haas Public Service Award from the University of California by Berkeley’s Chancellor Robert Birgeneau on April 30.
This award is bestowed annually university-wide to one distinguished alumnus per year who has made a significant volunteer contribution in the U.S., and comes with a generous grant to a charity of the honoree’s choice.
Kinaga was recognized for her nearly 30 years of pioneering work in multiple areas, including domestic violence, dispute resolution, breast cancer and disabilities advocacy. She has requested that the grant be provided to Asian Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC), which she chairs and co-founded.
“It is with deep appreciation that I accept this most wonderful honor. The grant will be enable APIDC to continue raising the visibility and contributions of APIs with different abilities,” Kinaga said following remarks presented on campus to hundreds of students, professors, and dignitaries.
She stood before the audience “in memory of my father, Thomas Kinaga, who was a proud alumnus of Cal.” She shared that her passion for civil rights was in many ways fueled by the experience and messages passed on by her parents, including her mother, Rose, who was in the audience, following their incarceration, and her father’s service with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team.
Prior to the awards ceremony, a special invitation-only luncheon for about 50 was held at the chancellor’s residence. Following introductory remarks by the Birgeneau, Kinaga shared with Mimi Haas, the widow of Peter E. Haas, how the grant will foster APIDC’s short- and long-term goals.
Kinaga stated, “In addition to information-sharing so Asians with disabilities and their families can access services, we are particularly focused on creating supportive networks for young adults who may be particularly in need as they transition into adulthood.”
APIDC is the country’s first advocacy organization to support Asian and Pacific Islanders with disabilities. Kinaga has also produced a ground-breaking, Emmy-nominated film on domestic violence, co-founded a transitional shelter for domestic violence survivors, produced an educational film on breast cancer, and co-founded the country’s first community-based mediation program for Asian adults and youth.
The university cited Kinaga’s long track record in community organizing for social change, tackling complex, sometimes controversial issues, while mobilizing scores of volunteers with her compassion and commitment.
She received her B.A cum laude at UCLA; a master’s in city planning at UC Berkeley; and her J.D. at Georgetown University. Kinaga, her husband, Peter Wong, and their children, Brandon and Emily, are long-time residents of Pasadena.