We had the good fortune of connecting with Rita Liu and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rita, what do you attribute your success to?
The success of any endeavor is directly related to the passion of the people involved. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have built a core team of volunteers whose passion is the driving force behind A-PAL. Our team of forty people genuinely believes in the A-PAL mission of nurturing Asian community participation into the greater multicultural communities of the Longmont and the Boulder areas. Their commitment is what allows us to develop and host our cultural, educational, and artistic projects and events. Every member on the team is extremely talented and has unique skills that they fully commit to our work. Knowing that I can rely on my team means that I can take on ever more challenging projects while still producing excellent results.
The other part of our success lies in our partnerships. The resources of one organization are limited. In order to reach out to a much broader audience, we need to partner with those who can complement our skills and experience in a mutually beneficial manner. We are extremely fortunate to have found such partnerships with the Silver Creek Leadership Academy at Silver Creek High School, the St. Vrain Valley School District and its Innovation Center, City of Longmont, and many other non-profits.
One thing that I am especially proud of with my team is their individual leadership abilities. In order to bring everything together, we need leaders who have vision, passion, and commitment. We need leaders who are respected by every member on the team and, more importantly, leaders who respect each team member. This is how you build trust, a must in an effective team. Good leaders understand the strength and limitations of each individual and assign responsibility accordingly. This helps each individual to succeed and, by doing that, the entire organization succeeds.
Tell us more about your professional life and career.
I worked for BULL/GE (General Electric) in Germany for two years, GE in New York City for another two years, and then IBM for 36 years, mostly in New York. Throughout my career, I have gained experience in programming, IT management, strategic planning, and consulting, with many years of international assignments in Asia and Europe. IBM provided excellent management, consulting, and leadership training throughout my career.
As an Asian female, I had to work twice as hard as others in order to advance my career, and all that hard work paid off. My career has given me a unique set of skills to make it possible for me to serve the community after retirement when we moved from New York to Colorado.
Here in Longmont, I am the Founder and President of the Asian-Pacific Association of Longmont (A-PAL), a nonprofit organization. Our mission is to promote diversity and bridge cultural gaps through the development and hosting of cultural, educational, and artistic projects and events. A-PAL also provides mentoring opportunities for student volunteers.
Additionally, I was the Chair of Longmont Multicultural Action Committee for 6 years, and am currently a member of the Longmont Rotary Club, a board member of the Longs Peak Hospital Foundation, and a member of the Senior Computer Tech Center. I have also been working on major projects for the school district and the community. I could not have done all that alone. So many wonderful people believed in me and worked with me throughout all those years. They gave me the courage and desire to “give-back” to the community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love when friends visit with small children. Young people are great: They are so inquisitive and smart, and they make me feel hopeful about the future. I like taking children to the Longmont Museum. They always have a diverse program of events, and interactive programs for children of all ages. The St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center is another place we would visit. It is an interesting venue for children to learn about forward technologies, such as robotics and virtual reality. Kids also love the Get Air Trampoline Park. I like to take my grandsons there when they visit.
For the adults, there are so many beautiful places to visit, such as the parks and surrounding Rocky Mountains. My personal favorites are The Garden of Gods, and the Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater. Having spent most of my career in and around New York City, I found these two places to be absolutely stunning.
The best part of having friends visit, though, is catching up with each other. Since I live in Longmont, we could do that while walking through Main Street to shop at the many interesting stores, then by having lunch at the Pump House or Mike O’Shay, with a stop at Cheese Importer to try out the samples. We could also go to McIntosh Lake or the Union Reservoir for a nice walk and to rent kayaks.
For friends visiting during the Chinese New Year season, I would of course bring them to A-PAL’s Chinese New Year Celebration where they can meet people from both Longmont and the greater Boulder area in a fun and interactive setting.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The reason we have been successful in achieving and exceeding our goals is due to the contribution of our partners and each participant. The success belongs to the Asian-Pacific Association of Longmont (A-PAL), the Silver Creek Leadership Academy, St. Vrain Valley School District and the St. Vrain Innovation Center, City of Longmont, and other contributors, And, most importantly, every member on the planning team and all the 200 volunteers, many of them students from the St. Vrain School district. The planning team members and the volunteers are at the very core of our success.
Jack Greene Ricardo Mejia