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Check Out Our Award Winners From Our 2018 Annual Connections Dinner!


Every year we celebrate at the AACC Annual Connections Dinner to celebrate the accomplishments and new relationships formed throughout the year between Asian professionals, companies, and those who do business in Asia. With another sold-out event this year, we’d like to thank the incredible River City Casino for hosting our 550+ attendees!

This year we were honored to have in attendance professionals from the Regional Business Council, River City Casino, Ameristar Casino, Wasabi Sushi Bar, Monsanto, and Hollywood Casino. We were honored to have in attendance our special guest Anna S. Hui, Missouri Director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. In attendance we were also delighted to have join us, Steve Stenger, St. Louis County Executive. We’d also like to thank Kathy Osborn, Regional Business Council Executive Director for speaking.


Congratulations to all of our Award Winners of our 2018 Annual Connections Dinner!
This year we celebrated our:

Business Owner of the Year – Ashwin Patel

Ashwin Patel moved to St. Louis from India in 1978 and had the opportunity to purchase Seema Enterprises and Seema World Travel, the first and only Indo-Pakistani Grocery store in St. Louis at the time in 1985 with his wife Raksha. In 1990 he opened a second location in West County to be closer to the nearby Hindu temple, mosque, and growing South Asian population moving into St. Louis West County.

Ashwin has been an integral part in cultivating the culture of the Indian-American community in St. Louis. He has served in various leading roles including the India Association of St. Louis (President, 1997), Mahatma Gandhi Center (Chairman, 1998), and Midwest FOGANA (Chairman, 2004). He was involved in the founding of the Mahatma Gandhi Cultural Center and Hindu Temple of St. Louis. He continues to remain involved with each of these organizations and is on the Advisory Board of the Bal Vihar Center for Indian Cultural Education and the Gujarati Samaj of St. Louis. Ashwin has also served as a generous donor to multiple Indian cultural groups in the St. Louis area.

Connector of the Year – Dr. Chikako Usui

Dr. Chikako Usui serves as Associate Professor of Sociology at University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL). She obtained her Ph.D in sociology from Stanford University in 1998 and specializes in the area of comparative social policy, organization, management, Japanese society, population aging, and gender. She has published two books and more than 40 journal articles.

During the past ten years, Dr. Usui served as President of the Japan America Society of St. Louis (JASSTL), whose mission is to achieve better understanding between the people of Japan and the United States. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Board of JASSTL, she now serves on the National Association of Japan-American Societies (NAJAS) to aid US-Japan relations on a national level. During her ten years of leadership, Dr. Usui strengthened the organizational capacity of JASSTL and formed new partnerships with local organizations to enrich the life of the St. Louis community.

Champion of Inclusion & Diversity – Monsanto

Creating an inclusive environment where employees of all genders, ethnicities, backgrounds, and orientations feel welcome and able to contribute is core to Monsanto’s mission to create a great place to work. Monsanto supports a cariety of employee-organized and led resource groups called Business Resource Networks (BRNs). These BRNs engage Monsanto employees on topics relevant to: Africans & African Americans; Asians; Hispanics & Latinos; Women; Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender; Families; Veterans; and Differently Abled.

Beyond the BRNs, Monsanto’s Executive Inclusion and Diversity Council provide a venue for Monsanto’s senior leaders to strategically shape a culture of inclusion through the efforts of a required Unconscious Bias training, Monsanto Supplier Diversity Mentoring Program, annual feedback program, and through other many initiatives.

These award videos can also be found in the YouTube links above!

Our vision is to be instrumental in connecting Asian American businesses and organizations in the St. Louis region as well as positioning this region to be internationally competitive.