ILF Announce the Appointment of Chiling Tong and Tina Wei Smith to the Congressional Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture

Chiling Tong is President/CEO of National ACE, and Tina Wei Smith is the former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; the two were recently appointed by Senator McConnell to the 8-Person Commission as directed under legislation authored by Representative Grace Meng, and signed into law by President Biden last June.

WASHINGTON, DC – On Monday, May 15, 2023, U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell submitted two appointees for the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture – Chiling Tong of Maryland and Tina Wei Smith of Kentucky.

This Congressional commission was originally introduced as a bill by U.S. Representative Grace Meng of New York and signed into law in June of 2022. It establishes a commission of eight individuals with various expertise in museum planning or Asian Pacific American history and culture to examine the feasibility of establishing, maintaining, funding and operating such a facility in the nation’s capital, possibly as part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The commission is responsible for submitting a report with recommendations to the President and Congress on the potential creation of a museum; the report may also culminate with a national conference relating to the museum and composed of individuals committed to the advancement of the life, art, history, and culture of Asian Pacific Americans. Congress would then need to act on the final recommendations to establish the museum.

“I am honored and humbled by this appointment,” said Tong. “The stories of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders are ones of innovation and great contribution to this country’s development, amid great challenges. I very much look forward to the opportunity to assist in the creation of a museum focused on these stories and the vast cultures within the AANHPI community.”

“This study is the first step towards the realization of a national AAPI museum,” says Smith. “It will help move our community forward and recognize not only the challenges AAPIs have overcome throughout our nation’s history but also celebrate the contributions AAPIs have made. The establishment of a national museum will increase knowledge and understanding, as well as elevate the national dialogue on addressing the needs and concerns of the AAPI community. I look forward to a space that will highlight and honor our country’s rich history and share our stories to inspire future generations. I am honored and grateful for this incredible opportunity to serve.”

Chiling Tong is the Chief Executive Officer and President of National Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship representing the interests of 2.65 million Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) small business owners and entrepreneurs. National ACE collaborates with over 120 affiliate AAPI chambers and partner organizations across the country to advocate for AAPI small business, to enhance capacity building and to foster the next generation of AAPI entrepreneurs and executives. Tong is also the Founding President of the International Leadership Foundation (ILF), a nonprofit organization promoting civic awareness and public service for AAPI college students since 2000. The ILF has over twenty active chapters nationwide.

Tong previously served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Trade Administration and was subsequently the Chief of Staff and Associate Director for Minority Business Development Agency in the U.S. Department of Commerce. She was appointed as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and was also a member of the National Advisory Council on Minority Business Enterprises at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Currently, Tong is a member of the Treasury Advisory Committee on Racial Equity, Director of the Congressional Awards for young leaders, Census Bureau National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations, and the Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities. In 2017, Chiling Tong was named Advocate of the Year by the Minority Business Development Agency due to her significant contribution to minority business development.

Tina Wei Smith served as the eighth Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders from 2019 to 2021, where she spearheaded workforce and economic development for the AAPI community through the U.S. Department of Commerce and an interagency working group across the federal government. Together with the President’s Advisory Commission on AAPIs, she concentrated their efforts to help AAPI owned businesses and workers to tap into federal resources and opportunities as they faced the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. An immigrant from Taiwan, Smith has spent much of her career in public service, nonprofit work and higher education. After leaving federal service, she has continued to work with the International Leadership Foundation on growing and mentoring the pipeline of AAPI college students into federal internships, Congressional offices and DC think tanks. In addition, Smith is currently living, working and raising her family in Eastern Kentucky, and is committed to being part of the economic transformation and workforce development of youth in Central Appalachia.

A former college educator and administrator on global and cross-cultural education at Asbury University in Wilmore, KY, Smith is a 2015 Fulbright grant recipient. She has previously served as an appointee in the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Public Liaison and Office of the Secretary, serving the needs of the minority communities and providing outreach to the Asian Pacific American community through large-scale conferences, training opportunities, and mentorship programs. Smith also previously served as an aide to the now retired U.S. Representative Rodney P. Frelinghuysen (NJ-11th) and also served as senior advisor to former Secretary Elaine L. Chao at the Hudson Institute.

Under Rep. Meng’s measure, members of the commission are to be appointed by members of the House and Senate leadership, including the Senate Minority Leader.

A copy of the bill and additional details about the commission can be viewed here.

The appointments can be viewed here.


About the International Leadership Foundation
The International Leadership Foundation (ILF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that promotes the civic awareness, public service, and economic effectiveness of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Our mission is to develop young leaders in the United States, Asia, and other Pacific Rim countries in the fields of public service, entrepreneurship, and international business and politics through a network of business and community leaders. For more information please visit our website: