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May 25, 2020 The Power 50 Class of 2020

2020 Power 50: Anh Vu Sawyer

Anh Vu Sawyer, executive director of The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
Anh Vu Sawyer
  • Title: Executive director
  • Organization: The Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts
  • Located: Worcester
  • Residences: Boston & Worcester
  • Colleges: Calvin College & MIT Sloan School of Management

More Information

Since 1990, Vietnamese immigrants have made up the greatest portion of Worcester’s foreign-born population, accounting for 10%. In her role, Sawyer supports Southeast Asian immigrants, refugees and long-term residents so they can successfully integrate into the community while maintaining their cultural identity.

A major part of her and SEACMA’s efforts is its Small Business Development program, working with funding from the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corp. to promote entrepreneurship among Worcester’s Asian community. Sawyer points to the 10 Asian-owned businesses within a mile of each other along Franklin Street, near Kelley Square, as a sign of the success of these efforts. 

What makes Central Mass. unique? Its glorious diversity. Central Mass. was built by immigrants, refugees and people from very diverse backgrounds who have forever cared deeply for the city. The COVID-19 crisis is the perfect example of how, within hours, the whole city and its various communities came together to make sure no one is left behind, let it be making facemasks, providing and distributing food, or assisting with shelter.

Flying high: In the early 1980s, I joined the startup People Express Airlines to offer affordable airfares to  low-income young people and families who could not afford to travel and see the world. We changed the travel industry forever, making air travel affordable for all people. We later merged with Continental Airlines.

Aiming high: In 2018, trying to get all of SEACMA’s youth to apply not only to college, but to the top colleges, I asked them if I, at 63 years old, would apply to my most favorite college, why couldn’t they? We challenged each other. Not expecting to be accepted, I got into MIT’s Sloan School of Management and will graduate in May. Since then, 51 SEACMA youth have been accepted into college, including UMass universities, Quinsigamond Community College, Clark, Holy Cross, WPI, Worcester State University, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, Brown, Columbia, and more.

Power 50: View the entire Power 50 Class of 2020

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