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Thursday, Jun 13, 2024

Honoring the Lifetime Achievements of Asian Leader Dan Hom

AWARDS: Focuscom CEO Recognized for ‘Board Service, Volunteering, Philanthropy’

Dan Hom remembers the early 1980s Christmas his parents sent him to work at the restaurant owned by his family called Land of China.

“None of the employees wanted to work during the holidays, so I had to open up our restaurant in Chula Vista,” Hom said. “There was an assisted living facility up the hill from the restaurant and I remember this older gentleman walked in and said, ‘Wow! You guys are open for Christmas!’ I said, ‘Yes, doesn’t this stink? Everyone is at home and here I am, working!’

“The man looked at me and said, ‘If you weren’t open, I would have no place to go.’ And I realized then that other people just need to have a place they can go to sometimes.”

Providing a sense of place and making people feel welcome are principles that have continued to guide Hom’s actions his entire life.

The 57-year-old president and CEO at Focuscom Inc., a public relations and public affairs firm, Hom was also one of the driving forces for the resurgence of the Asian Business Association of San Diego (ABASD) and at the University Club Atop Symphony Towers.

A longtime member of ABASD, a nonprofit founded in 1990 to give a collective voice to the cultural, financial and political needs of businesses run by members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community, Hom has been board chair, foundation chair and most recently, chairman of the ABASD advisory board.

SDBJ Lifetime Achievement

On May 24, Hom was honored by the San Diego Business Journal with a Lifetime Achievement Award at a celebration for Asian Leaders held at the University Club Atop Symphony Towers.

“Dan has given much to the AAPI community and to San Diego County as a whole,” said San Diego Business Journal President and Publisher Barb Chodos. “He has been an outstanding member of San Diego’s business and civic communities for more than 40 years. Everyone who listens to Dan comes away smarter. Everyone who gets to know Dan is changed for the better.”

Hom said the honor from the San Diego Business Journal, which he called “frankly, one of the best publications in the county,” means a great deal to him, particularly because of its emphasis on the business community.

The award from the Business Journal was not the only honor Hom received in May.

He was also feted at ABASD’s annual gala with a first-time “Chair Emeritus award,” where in front of several hundred AAPI business community members, Hom officially transitioned into chair emeritus status with the group.

“Twenty-three years ago, I was the chairman of the organization,” Hom said at the event. “Time flies so fast. I see so many friends, so many folks I would debate, and maybe we were not always on the same page, but we went through it and we did something for our community.”

Hom was presented by ABASD President and CEO Jason Paguio a jacket that had “Chair Emeritus” sewn onto it, to which Hom quipped at the gala: “Being called ‘chair emeritus’ basically means, ‘You’re the old guy now.’”

Later, Hom said of al his work with ABASD, he is most proud that he organized the Asian Business Association’s first statewide convention in San Diego.

“That event at the Sheraton Harbor Island included the ABA from San Francisco, ABA from the Inland Empire, ABA Los Angeles, ABA Orange County and ABA from either Oakland or Silicon Valley,” Hom said.

He explained that the brining together members of the Asian American Pacific Islander business community is paramount.

“America has given the AAPI community a very unique perspective,” Hom said. “If I were born in Asia and let’s say my roots were in Hong Kong, I probably wouldn’t interact a lot with Filipino, Korean, Thai or Japanese people. Now Hong Kong is a metropolitan city but we probably wouldn’t get together there.

“But as Asians are born and immigrate to the U.S., we find there’s a commonality. More than just a rice-based diet! We in those different countries all speak different languages. Now in America we speak English. We feel common ground. And we also find that people are not that different from each other. We’re all here part of this great experience of ‘The American Dream.’ And that’s something we need to cherish.”

Roots in Asian Community

A fourth-generation San Diegan who graduated from Bonita Vista High School in 1984 and who attended UC San Diego, San Diego State and the University of San Diego, Hom said that AAPI community icon Tom Fat had some impactful words he shared.

Before Fat passed away from cancer in 2007, he told Hom, “Dan, just take care of the community. Take care of the San Diego Asian community. Do whatever you can.”

And from all reaches of San Diego County, that’s what associates, colleagues and mentees say Hom has done, and continues to do.

Paguio called Hom “a steadfast pillar for the Asian Pacific Islander community.”

For decades, Hom has been “dedicating himself to board service, volunteering and philanthropy. His leadership will shape the future, inspiring lasting positive change for the next generation,” Paguio said.

In addition to his work with ABASD, Hom has been a champion for many boards, groups, commissions, organizations and committees.

They include leadership roles with boards of the Asian Film Festival, Chula Vista Police Foundation, Holiday Bowl Committee, Boy Scouts of America, Multiple Sclerosis Society, San Diego Hospice, San Diego Gas & Electric Community Board and the University Club Atop Symphony Towers. He was also an Economic Development Commissioner and Planning Commissioner in Chula Vista. Currently, Hom serves on the board of directors of the San Diego/Imperial Counties Red Cross and is chairman of the Lincoln Club Business League.

Elvin Lai, an ABASD board member, CEO and president of Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach and co-founder of brewery/winery/restaurant Abnormal Company, INC. in Rancho Bernardo, said he remembers first meeting Hom at the University Club Atop Symphony Towers in 2005. He said that early on, Hom took Lai under his wing.

“It was totally awesome,” said Lai, who is 16 years Hom’s junior. “He created this young Asians group with a solid group of individuals, and we called ourselves Alpha Beta Zebra. We were like a boy band, and Dan was our manager. We had so much fun with it.”

Lai said he learned quickly that Hom was focused on making sure the Asian Pacific Islander community had a voice, and said that Hom helped Lai find his.

“I had been working in the hospitality industry where API never had a voice in San Diego,” Lai said. “There weren’t a lot of Asian people in that industry and I was trying to find my voice. Dan really helped coach me with that.

“He told me, ‘Elvin, you’re well spoken, you have a mission, you have a passion.’ I really credit Dan for getting me to where I am today. He never let go of the notion that I would be something of substance to this city. He was one of the first people to believe in me. He showed me how to show up for things and he has always been there for me, full-time.”

‘Great Ambassador’

It’s not only members of the AAPI community Hom has mentored and guided.

At the University Club, Hom was on the committee that hired food and entertainment guru Brian Lee to be its General Manager in 2020.

Lee said that when he was to initially meet the board of governors of the club, he was a bit intimidated and a bit concerned about making a good impression. He said that the stress went away after meeting Hom for the first time.

“He made it really easy for me,” Lee said. “Here I was this guy from the restaurant world going into the business world. It was Dan who helped me start to speak the language and who helped me get the club back to its glory days. He was also a good ambassador for me, because some of the members were not comfortable coming to me but they were very comfortable going to Dan.”

Lee said his relationship with Hom has continued to grow stronger even though the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. The leadership of Lee and Hom helped the University Club capture back-to-back “City Club of the Year” from ClubCorp in 2021 and 2022.

“He’s just a great ambassador for Club, a straight shooter and a true San Diego icon who is so well respected,” Lee said. “I admire how well he handles himself in every situation. He has become a mentor and a friend.”


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