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Member of the Month
Cyndi S. Chen

Cyndi Chen is an advocate for the Asian and Pacific Islander Iowans. Volunteering is her life style. "Live One Day A Time And Make It A Master Piece" is Cyndi's motto.

She is a data analyst, database and finance management for a federally funded project to improve transition outcomes for youth with disability, came from Taiwan in 1985 as a visiting scholar to teach Chinese Language at Buena Vista College (University now) in Storm Lake, Iowa. She has also taught mathematics, statistics, and Chinese Language; has provided trainings on how to work with Asian Americans to school teachers and administrators, medical doctors and nurses, and others; is a frequent speaker on data and issues of Asians and Pacific Islanders in Iowa.

Prior coming to Iowa, Cyndi told stories in hospitals and libraries and trained college students as storytellers; worked with orphans and low-income students as a tutor and a summer camp counselor; guided children at Taipei Zoo. She was a social worker in refugee camps in Thailand in 1980 - 1981 to provide language, vocational and recreational programs to over 10,000 Cambodian refugees and assist them to resettle to other countries.

Cyndi was one of the Initiators to raise over $110,000 for the Iowa Cares: Asian Tsunami Disaster Fund in year 2004. She is the past President of Asian American Council who led the Council to merge with Iowa Asian Alliance. She is also the immediate past president of Iowa Sister States to link Iowans to the world through working with 500 or more volunteers on eight Sister States relationship.

She was appointed by the Governor to serve on the Asian and Pacific Islander Advisory Council to push the establishment of commission of Asian and Pacific Islander from 2001 to 2004. She has been appointed by the Governor again to serve on the Commission on the Status of Iowans of Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage (www.iowacapi.us). She was elected to be the first chair of the Commission for 2004-2006 and led the efforts to develop a strategic plan and successfully lobbied the state appropriation so the Commission would be able to hire an administrator.

Besides the Commission, Cyndi also serves on the board of Iowa Asian Alliance and Neighborhood Finance Corporation; as an advisor of Chinese Association of Iowa, Iowa Chinese Language School, Center for Global Citizenship of Drake University, Multicultural Outreach Committee of Grand View College, and Diversity Committee Mercy College of Health Sciences.

Cyndi and her husband Dr. Frank Affannato who is a retired college professor have "adopted" many families and strangers. They open their home for friends and international visitors. Their home has been referred as an "international boarding house." Their Chinese New Year open house had a record of 120 some guests.

Cyndi has received many awards and honors: Governor's Golden Dome Employee Award -- Lt. Governor's Volunteer Award (2004 & 2001), AdmirAsian Volunteer Award (2003), and Iowa Governor's Volunteer Award (2001), Excellent Teacher Award from National Institute for Staff And Usanization Development (1996), etc.

Cyndi has bachelor's degrees in Economics, Mathematics and Computer Science; Master's degree in Mathematics; and has completed her doctorate coursework in Adult and Higher Education Administration.

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Last Modified: October 30, 2007