Three to be honored for leadership at Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans annual dinner

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The State Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans will honor three individuals Friday, at its annual Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month Dinner at the Ramada Plaza Minneapolis.

The Asian Pacific Leadership Awards are given to honor, recognize, and celebrate the work of individuals and organizations that have demonstrated continuous commitment to and leadership in the Asian Pacific Minnesotan community. The Council is pleased to announce this year’s recipients:

  • David Zander (Lifetime service award)
  • Bernard Quebral, M.D. (Outstanding Community Leadership Service Award)
  • Zafar Siddiqui (Humanitarian award)

The dinner will feature keynote speaker, Colet Lahoz, a pioneer in the practice of holistic medicine in the United States and the founder of the East West Acupuncture Clinic.

Left: Zafar Siddiqui (contributed photo)

Zafar Siddiqui is a software engineer who is co-founder and interfaith and civic relations director of the Islamic Resource Group. It is an educational outreach organization that is celebrating its 20th year of working to bridge Minnesota’s Muslim community with people of other faiths.

Siddiqui is has worked to show that the religion of Islam, the Qur’an, and Muslims condemn violence. His work since 2001 especially has helped to ensure Islam’s place in the community by addressing misunderstandings and reducing incidents of backlash and hate-based crimes in the post 9/11 world.

The Islamic Resource Group provides outreach for the community to learn about Islam and Muslim cultures from American Muslims. Trained and certified speakers present in all types of settings in the Twin Cities and surrounding area. The speakers cover basic Islamic terminology, beliefs and practices and address misinformation and stereotypes.

Siddiqui also serves on the advisory board of the Muslim Christian Dialogue Center at the University of St. Thomas. He is a member of the Twin Cities Interfaith Network and is active in several interfaith and diversity-related initiatives in the Twin Cities.

The Advocates for Human Rights presented the organization with its 2011 Special Recognition Award to the Islamic Resource Group for its excellence in promoting peace and understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims.

The IRG speakers present to law enforcement and healthcare organizations, and at faith based organizations. Each year the IRG visits approximately 300 schools to deliver a presentation for students and faculty about Islam, Islamic culture, and interacting with Muslim students.

Left: Bernard Quebral, M.D.

Dr. Bernard Quebra has for more nearly three decades been at the heart of local Filipino community efforts. He is also instrumental in medical relief efforts in the Philippines.

Quebral served as president Philippine-Minnesota Medical Association, which in partnership with the Philippine Nurses Association of Minnesota, perform local medical screenings and community public health events in the Twin Cities. In addition, the organizations take part on semi-annual medical missions to the neediest areas of the Philippines.

The Philippine-Minnesotan Medical Association was founded in 1972 as a non-profit organization that works to promote public health through a continuing program of education for physicians in the State of Minnesota. The volunteer doctors and medical students provide charitable services in America and abroad through networking and professional support.

Quebral graduated from the University of the Philippines College of Medicine in 1990. His Internship and Residency in Internal Medicine was with Cook County Hospital in Chicago.

He currently practices at the HealthPartners Woodbury Clinic, and is a member of the American College of Physicians, and the Ramsey County Medical Society

Left: David Zander

David Zander has worked closely with Minnesota’s Asian and Pacific Islander community for more than three decades. Even in retirement since 2011 he continues to be active in assisting nonprofit organizations and storyteller groups.

Born at the outset of WWII in London, Zander recalls the nightly trips to air raid shelters to escape the bombings. Before graduating from high school he was already traveling on work-study trips in Europe and joined the International Voluntary Service.

Zander graduated with honors in creative writing and English from a teachers training college of the University of London. He went on to study cultural anthropology after teaching students from Africa and the Caribbean, followed by a teaching job in Nairobi, Kenya, close to where the Masai were living on the plains of the Rift Valley.

Zander came to Minnesota to complete his an anthropology degree was admitted into the University of Minnesota Graduate program in the Department of Anthropology in 1974. He worked with the new Hmong arrivals and changed his plans to live in Canada to stay in the progressive, welcoming environment of Minnesota.

After working on research projects with the Native American community and evaluated the Limited English Program for Minneapolis Public Schools, Zander assisted medical professionals with refugee cultural beliefs and taught anthropology at Inver Hills Community College.

Zander chaired a community advisory group to establish the Center for Cross Cultural Health. He went on to become the field researcher with the Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans where he spend the next two decades constructing field reports and organizing support for various legislation at the State legislature.

Over the years Zander said the highlights of the Council have been with learning how to draft bills that benefit the Asian communities and get them authored and passed into law. When the bills passed it sometimes meant a fair allocation of resources to help nonprofits complete their mission and address disparities.

Zander became a citizen in 2005. This is an important step for an immigrant and he called it “the graduation ceremony into American life.”

A lifelong storyteller, Zander joined the Northlands Storytelling Network, a subculture of storytellers in Minnesota that works to preserve oral folktales, and went on to help establish a network of Asian storytellers and performing locally at events such as Tellebration, the Minneapolis Mosaic and World Refugee Day. Locally they are all part of the North Star Storytelling League.

The CAPM dinner is supported by the financial contributions of businesses and community based non-profits and organizations. Lead sponsors are Blue Cross Blue Shields of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesotan National Guard, ECOLAB, Minnesota Korean Service Center, Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, Japanese American Citizens League, Think Small, Samoan Organization of Minnesota, and Minnesota Historical Society.

In 1993, to honor the achievements and contributions of Asian/Pacific Americans, Congress, by Public Law 102-450, designated the month of May each year as “Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month.” The Heritage Month Dinner has since become a tradition for the Asian Pacific Minnesotan community – each year, it brings together hundreds of community members and leaders from the API community and the non-profit, faith, government, and business communities.