Cao K. O

Cao K. O has served as executive director of the Asian American Federation of New York since it launched operations 12 years ago. Under his direction, the Federation has grown in size, reach and influence, gaining local and national recognition for its dynamic, cohesive leadership on behalf of the entire Asian American community. Mr. O’s vision and dedication have netted substantial gains for Asian American New Yorkers, in financial and management resources, new programs and services, and public policy advocacy.

Prior to heading the Federation, Mr. O held key social service positions in the private and public sectors in New York City and New York State. From 1988 to 1990, he served as a consultant to the United Way of New York City, where he helped manage a $1 million grant program and was a chief adviser on the Asian American Initiative, which led to formation of the Asian American Federation. From 1986 to 1988, Mr. O developed programs for the New York State Office of Mental Health to improve mental health care for the state's refugee population. Before that, he served from 1983 to 1986 as development director of the Hamilton-Madison House, a multi-service settlement house on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Earlier in this career, Mr. O was a social worker and case manager for the New York City Department for the Aging and the Vietnamese American Cultural Organization.

Active in several community organizations, Mr. O currently is vice chair of the 9/11 United Services Group, and a board member of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, Hamilton-Madison House, the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, and the Human Services Council of New York City. He has served on numerous advisory committees such as the United Way of New York City, Chinatown Manpower Project, the New York City Schools Chancellor's Advocacy Task Force, and the Center for Excellence in New York City Governance, affiliated with New York University's Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Affairs. Mr. O was also a board member of two national organizations, Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics and United Neighborhood Centers of America.

Mr. O has been honored by New York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi and City Council President Andrew Stein, the Coalition for Asian American Children & Families, the Brooklyn Chinese-American Association, the Korean American Senior Citizens Society of Greater New York, the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York, and the Organization of Chinese Americans, New York City Chapter. Mr. O has also been featured as an “Unsung Hero” by WPIX-TV in May 2002.

Born and raised in Vietnam, Mr. O arrived in the United States as a refugee in 1975 with only rudimentary knowledge of English. Within five years, he had earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cornell University. Mr. O subsequently received a master’s degree from the Hunter College School of Social Work, and he has pursued doctoral studies at the Columbia University School of Social Work.


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