The Airport Authority is recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month and the contributions of our Asian American and Pacific Islander employees.
This year’s AAPI Month theme is “Advancing Leaders through Collaboration,” which makes us think of our Senior Director of External Relations, Michelle Brega.
For more than 20 years, Brega has been doing this, creating cross-sector partnerships that contribute to the economic development of communities.
Here at the Airport Authority, she oversees the Government Relations, Communications, and Board Services Departments while also championing the Authority’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives.
A daughter of immigrants from Hong Kong, she says her first childhood memories are of airports and airplanes when meeting her grandparents in Hong Kong.
So how does her Asian-American heritage influence how she executes her leadership position?
“There are principles of Confucianism, and of yin and yang, that are inextricably woven into my approach to relationships and to collaborating with people,” says Brega.
Still, Brega says there weren’t many Asian peers or role models for her to turn to while growing up in the 70s in the DC metropolitan area, instead, assimilation was the goal.
“In hindsight, that striving for conformity was very challenging,” she said.
Nowadays, she says it’s wonderful to see the evolution over the decades and to live in a society where diversity is now embraced, recognized, and celebrated.
“There’s a deep appreciation and gratitude for the struggles and accomplishments of the Asian Americans who came before me that allows me to show up to work as the person I am today. But we’re also definitely in a moment of crisis in our country’s history and there continues to be a lot of bridge-building to be done.”
*Michelle Brega pictured on the right with her little sister, Stephanie, on their first visit to Disneyland.