Dr. Joanna Wan-Ying Chan, playwright, stage director and a Maryknoll Sister will be the recipient of the Dynamic Achiever’s Award this Saturday, November 11, 2017, at the OCA Westchester & Hudson Valley Dynamic Achiever Awards Gala. Sister Joanna is being recognized for her extraordinary contributions in her profession and community.
Sister Joanna Chan has been a prolific playwright and stage director in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the U.S. for over 40 years. A graduate of Chung Chi College, Chinese University, in Hong Kong, majoring in mathematics, she was made Director of Youth Services at the Transfiguration Church in New York’s Chinatown from 1969-1976, and created her first theater company, The Four Seas Players; a CCD program for young adults; and started a youth choir. During those seven years she also put herself through college, earning two Master’s Degrees and a Doctorate from Columbia University’s Teachers College. Throughout the years her relationship with Transfiguration never waned; she was still directing the Four Seas Players in NYC as she began working as Artistic Director for the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre (1986-1990), and continues to give spiritual talks and retreats to the parishioners. Dr. Chan also co-founded Yangtze Repertory Theatre of America in 1992 to produce works for and by Asian artists. She has written, adapted, and directed near-70 productions.
Dr. Chan began working in the Rehabilitation through the Arts Program at Sing Sing Maximum Security Correctional Facility in 2002. She was instrumental in the release of an innocent man jailed in Sing Sing prison for over 17 years. That story was featured in a one-hour special of Dateline on NBC in 2014. Today, she is still an active volunteer at Sing Sing.
An accomplished painter and designer, her art works (oils, water colors and computer designs) have been presented in solo and group exhibitions in upstate and downtown New York.
Most recently, Sister Joanna is the single living Chinese who was chosen by the Museum of the City of New York for the permanent exhibition, New York at its Core, on New York City’s 400-year history, which opened on November 18, 2016. Her life story as an artist and a pioneer community and spiritual leader is in an interactive, digital display along those of 74 other notable New Yorkers including one of the US’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, David Rockefeller, J P Morgan, Fiorello LaGuardia and Dorothy Day.
OCA Westchester & Hudson Valley Chapter– is one of oldest and most successful advocacy and cultural organizations in the Hudson Valley. The award-winning chapter is a vital part of OCA- Advocate, the national advocacy organization embracing the hopes and aspirations of the 19 million Asian Pacific Islander Americans in the United States. The Dynamic Achiever Awards Gala is the opportunity to recognize outstanding Asian Pacific Americans for their leadership and contributions in their professions and communities.