the transformation. He wants to stop the exodus
of young professionals from Cleveland as they
climb the corporate ladder. The 34-year-old
leads MotivAsians, a group founded in 2001
to help retain Asian professionals, and also
serves on an executive committee of 25 young
professional groups that believe that Cleveland
is a great place to live and work.
Huynh wants to make his home better by
retaining all young professionals — not just
Asians. “I want to see Cleveland rise again,”
Huynh said. “Clevelanders are starting to
believe in themselves again. I got vested in
Cleveland. I kind of made my home here and
feel very fulfilled professionally and civically.”
Cleveland’s Asian community is glad
Huynh landed on the shores of Lake Erie.
Johnny Wu, a local filmmaker, called Huynh a
respected leader. “When he wants to do some-
thing, he does it,” Wu said. “He loves the area
and wants to keep professionals in Cleveland.”
Huynh also volunteers with the Cleveland
Pops Orchestra, the United Way and
HandsOn Northeast Ohio, a group that helps
route volunteers to projects of their choice.
And in his spare time he hosts and reports for
Image TV Ohio, a 30-minute magazine-style
program about the cultural diversity of Asian
Americans in Ohio.
He attributes his drive to the Cleveland
Bridge Builders Program, a 10-month leader-
ship program for rising civic leaders, and
UNC. Rising through the band ranks and
organizing intramural sports launched him
onto another path. “Before I went to Carolina,
I was never a leader,” he said. “That whetted
my appetite for leadership. It set a vision and
transcended into what I do today.”
His successes don’t surprise Alyssa Naragon.
The lifelong Clevelander and former president
of MotivAsians said Huynh inspires others.
“He always wants to do what’s right,”
Naragon said. “He has the drive and goes out
to talk the talk. He doesn’t sit still. I don’t
know how he does it.”
Huynh’s volunteer duties have expanded
statewide. The Ohio governor appointed him
to the statewide Asian American Pacific
Islander Advisory Council. Cleveland Mayor
Frank Jackson lauded Huynh and called the
Asian Festival one of the city’s most successful
and favorite events. “The Asian Festival is a
perfect vehicle to showcase Asian culture and
celebrate its influence in the city of
Cleveland,” Jackson said. “This event adds to
the diversity and vibrancy of Cleveland cul-
Huynh deflects the spotlight.
“I’m just doing my part,” he said. “It’s not
one person who makes it all happen. It’s been
— Mark Puente ’05
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