Message from MOCA's Chair and Executive Director

Message from Chair, Board of Trustees, Museum of Chinese in America


March 14, 2009

Dear Friends, Members and Supporters,

Later this year, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) will open the doors to its new home. This momentous occasion will take place as the result of years of hard work by our dedicated staff and Board, with the faithful support of a host of public and private funders, individual donors and "angels."

The opening of the new MOCA is a milestone in our long-term Strategic Plan. While the current economic climate presents many challenges, through far-sighted planning we are positioned to survive and thrive. Our new home will allow expanded institutional capacity six fold and house a range of exhibitions and programs that will facilitate dialogue about Chinese American history, identity, and culture - and the United States' own journey as a multicultural nation. MOCA will serve as a showcase for our many diverse stories, and be a catalyst for a deeper understanding of the past and an inspiration to create the future we seek.

One part of the Strategic Plan was kept quiet until recently. Charles Lai, our Executive Director, returned to MOCA five years ago (after co-founding the institution 29 years ago) with a personal goal of turning over the leadership reins once our new home was complete.  Everyone familiar with MOCA knows that much of the institution's success is due to his leadership and perseverance. The Board salutes Charlie for his three decades of service, vision, skills and commitment. Since Charlie's personal departure timeframe is near, the Board Search Committee has decided to officially announce the search. We are fortunate that Charlie will stay on until the search is completed successfully, ensuring a smooth transition; he will remain an active member of the MOCA family as he has always been.

MOCA has always been able to attract the best and brightest and this transition will prove no different. We will take advantage of the momentum created by the opening of our new home, and with your support and participation we will expand based on the foundation built by Charlie, our past and present staff, and our generous donors. We invite you to make MOCA your home and join us in building a long-lasting national institution that will remain relevant for our present and future generations.

Jonathan K. Ligh, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Chair, Board of Trustees (MOCA)



Message from the Executive Director


March 14, 2009

Dear Friends, Members, and Supporters,
Later this year, the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) will transition into our new home at 215 Centre Street, solidifying our role as an important arts and culture anchor in Lower Manhattan and becoming a beacon for the Chinese American community. 
Five years ago I returned to MOCA with one goal – to transform a small community museum into a mid-size national museum.  Fast forward to today. We are now inches away from completing one of the greatest leaps this institution has ever made – our debut as a national institution in a world-class home.
This moment also marks a milestone in my own journey.  After John (Jack) Kuo-Wei Tchen and I co-founded the organization 29 years ago, I spent 10 years building a solid institution; once MOCA was on firm ground I was able to hand off management to a talented staff. The success MOCA achieved during the ensuing 14 years led us to create that national institution in a world-class home. With our new location nearly completed and the institution’s programmatic and operational foundations laid securely, it is time for me to transition out of my position as Executive Director and once again hand the institution off to a wonderfully talented and committed staff and the Museum’s next generation of leaders.
This moment is the culmination of the creativity, hard “trench” work, tenacity, talent, skill, wisdom, perseverance and commitment of MOCA’s extraordinarily dedicated staff, trustees, and expansion team. My personal gratitude goes to our lead “angel” and advocate Amy Stursberg, as well as to our investors - The September 11th Fund, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the City of New York - and to the corporations and foundations and the Chinese American community.  With their help and the hard work of the staff we have raised $12 million and expanded annual operations from $700,000 to more than $1.8 million.
We must all remember that the heart of the Museum is the inspiration of our Chinese American forebears and our diverse community members.  It is their spirit, their struggles, their contributions, and our collective desire – in spite of great odds, discrimination, and legal restrictions and practices during the past 160 years – to advance the highest ideals of our American Constitution.  We owe it to ourselves and our children to create an educational institution that is committed to fostering dialogue and exploring the meaning and dynamics of our diverse, immigrant-based-and-built American identity and society.
This is the essence that guided Jack, me, all of the past and present staff, trustees, members and supporters for the past 29 years and helped us strengthen MOCA’s foundation.
While it has always been my plan to end my tenure as Executive Director after we open our new home, I will always remain supportive and available to MOCA.  I hope you, too, will embrace MOCA as your own. Become a member of the MOCA family. Support the organization, staff, leadership and trustees. Participate in its programs and activities. Advocate on its behalf. Take an active role in enhancing the strength of the Museum for another 30 years. 
Thank you so much for your support and encouragement.
Most sincerely,
Charles Lai
Co-founder and Executive Director