7th annual Donald Blake Center Academic Conference, April 10-12, 2023

Videos of each of the keynote speakers' lectures will be available soon. Please check back here later. 

Keynote Speakers

Marie Rose Wong will be presenting, “Building Tradition: The Legacy of Seattle’s Chinatown and the Single-Room Occupancy Residential Hotels” at 7:00pm on April 10 at the Winter Educational Complex (WEC) in lecture hall 209.

Marie Wong joined the Institute of Public Service faculty in January 2002. Prior to joining Seattle University, she taught at Texas A&M, Iowa State University, CalPoly-San Luis Obispo, and the University of Washington.

Marie’s teaching and research interests are in Urban Studies, including housing, urban and architectural history, land use development, sustainability, and in Asian American studies. She has a number of presentations and publications on Chinese American settlements and urban preservation of ethnic communities that include a book on Portland, Oregon’s First Chinese communities entitled Sweet Cakes, Long Journey: The Chinatowns of Portland, Oregon and a recent publication entitled Building Tradition: Pan-Asian Seattle and Life in the Residential Hotels.

Originally from the Midwest, Marie received her Bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in Community and Regional Planning. She holds a Master’s degree in Planning and Community Development from the University of Colorado and has a Ph.D. in Urban Design and Planning with specialty areas in urban and architectural history, Chinese American history, and a Certificate in Preservation Planning from the University of Washington. In addition to teaching, Marie has over twenty-five years of experience in public and private sector urban planning and has worked for agencies such as the Puget Sound Regional Council, King County Transportation Planning, the City of San Diego, and King and Associates in Denver. She is currently on the Board of InterIm Community Development Association and is President of the Board of the Kong Yick Investment Company.

Shawn Wong will be presenting, “How I Came to Understand Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in only 50 Years” at 11:00am on April 11 for CommUnity in the University Church. A Q&A session will occur at 12:00pm in the Fellowship Hall of the University Church following his presentation. Lunch will be provided. 

Shawn Wong is the author of two novels, Homebase and American Knees, the later was adapted into an award-winning feature film.  He is also the editor and co-editor of six anthologies of Asian American and American multicultural literature, including the landmark anthology, Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian American Writers.  He is currently a Professor of English and the Byron and Alice Lockwood Professor in the Humanities at the University of Washington where he has served as Director of Creative Writing Program, Chair of the Department of English, and Director of the University Honors Program.

Frank Abe will be presenting, “We Hereby Refuse: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration” at 7:00pm on April 11 at the Winter Educational Complex (WEC) in lecture hall 209.

FRANK ABE is lead author of a graphic novel, WE HEREBY REFUSE: Japanese American Resistance to Wartime Incarceration (Chin Music Press, 2021), named a Finalist in Creative Nonfiction for the Washington State Book Award. He wrote, produced, and directed the award-winning PBS documentary Conscience and the Constitution on the largest organized resistance to the camps.

He won an American Book Award as co-editor of JOHN OKADA: The Life & Rediscovered Work of the Author of No-No Boy (University of Washington Press), in which he authored the first-ever biography of Okada and traced the origins of his novel. He is currently co-editing The Penguin Book of the Literature of Japanese American Incarceration (Penguin Classics, 2024).

Abe helped produce the first-ever “Day of Remembrance” in Seattle in 1978 with Frank Chin and Lawson Inada, and together they invented a new Japanese American tradition to reclaim the history of wartime imprisonment and publicly dramatize the campaign for redress. He was an original member of Chin’s Asian American Theater Workshop in San Francisco and studied at the American Conservatory Theater.

Abe worked as a reporter for KIRO Newsradio in Seattle, and as communications director for King County Executives Gary Locke and Dow Constantine, and the Metropolitan King County Council.

Susan Monahan will be presenting, “Chinese In Charge: Domestics in the Homes of Walla Walla” at 12:00pm on April 12 at the Winter Educational Complex (WEC) in lecture hall 209.

Susan Monahan moved to Walla Walla fourteen years ago and was soon intrigued by the community's history. She served as a docent and on the board of Kirkman House Museum for nine years and has for three years helped to coordinate the Living History Program at Fort Walla Walla Museum as well as performing as time-traveling characters. She writes for the “Times Past” column in Walla Walla's Union Bulletin newspaper. Her book Walla Walla Past and Present was published in March of 2022 by Arcadia Publishing Company. The Chinese community of Walla Walla is a topic of special interest to her and she is pleased to share the fascinating stories of the Chinese domestics who kept so many households running smoothly.

Susan has been awarded the 2023 David Douglas Award, which recognizes the significant contribution of an individual or an organization that informs or expands appreciation of Washington State history, by the Washington State Historical Society.