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Success #1: The power of consistency and perseverance with Gal Jumaoas


While waiting for a call from Rome to continue his education to become a priest, an opportunity from the Asian Chamber of Commerce has led him to become the president of the Chamber for 27 years.

While he was there, he has managed to grow the Chamber 400% from 4 ethnic communities to over 20 communities in 2013. In this interview, you will learn how Gal and his team accomplished this impressive growth.


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About Galileo Jumaoas

Galileo Jumaoas is the president of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce (GDAACC) helping  its members with business and economy development.  He’s also the executive director of the multi-ethnic education and economic and development center (MEED) providing education, business   and community development to low to moderate income individuals from multi-ethic cultural population in the Dallas, Ft. Worth area.

Raw transcript

Michael: Hi my name is Michael Nguyen. I am the founder of where Asian descendant stars come and tell their success story and how they achieved their success. In this interview I want to find out how a man who has been staying with the Chamber of Commerce since 1986 and quadrupled the reach of the Chamber to over 20 plus ethnic, Asian communities. And I have here today Mr. Gal Jumao-as. He’s the president of the Asian American Chamber of Commerce helping, its members with business and economy development. He’s also the executive director of the multi-ethnic education and economic and development center providing education, business and community development to low to moderate income individuals from multi-ethic cultural population in the Dallas, Ft. Worth area. Welcome Gal.
Gal: Welcome. Good morning.
Michael: Morning, Gal, I heard that you used the analogy of the salad bowl a lot when describing the role of the Chamber. Would you talk more about that to the audience?
Gal: Well first of all the analogy of the salad bowl is used by our founding chairman, Robert Schultz, during his interview presented at the community partners. The salad bowl is actually the picture of the different Asian community, or different groups representing different countries from Asia. So, that is how he uses the analogy and the Chamber’s the dressing. The gel that makes the different groups, you know, in the salad tasty and tastes good and looks good. So, now that is what he used. For me, I am going to start first of all, when you work with these communities and with the Chamber of Commerce you have to start the basic philosophy and your belief that for me; man is basically good. Now there might be some problems and changes and challenges in his life that limit or restricts him to come out as a good person. And then you can apply this to the different communities and you have to have this trust in them. So when I came over of course from Philippines, I was an ordained Catholic priest. I still have that basic philosophy and belief that man is good.
Michael: Is good first. And you base on that philosophy.
Gal: Yes on that philosophy. Now, as I mentioned to you, the environment and the changes around him… all the different pains and sorrows and all the different influences external made him, restricted him to become good. It’s our job, especially when I was a priest, to come out, to make sure that they come out good. And we call it in the fundamental law in the church less our neighbors and involved in the church, fundamental law of the church is the salvation of the souls. But I came to realize that it’s not just souls, but it has to be the salvation of man, the total man, the totality of man. Now when it comes to here in the United States I felt that the vehicle to achieve that is not just the church but also the Chamber of Commerce as the vehicle that we can use to achieve our basic mission which is to make man come out good.
Michael: Got ya.
Gal: And then we translate that to business economic development. But we didn’t start that way here in Dallas. When I came in 1986 there were several different groups in the metro-plex and several leaders come together. There were challenged also by this situation that we need to be heard politically. So the call of the time was political empowerment. So our founding chair, Robert Schultz, formed the Asian American Voter’s Coalition. It’s more of empowering our communities politically to vote and to be heard in the political arena. So, we formed the Voter’s Coalition and the group started supporting public service candidates for senators and congressmen here in the metro-plex. There were only a couple of communities represented: first of all the Chinese, which is basically the Taiwanese, during that time.
Michael: We come to, my next question will ask you to talk more about that. I understand that you volunteered for the chamber back in 1986.
Gal: Yes.
Michael: And nine years later in 1997 you became the president of the Chamber.
Gal: In 1997, that’s the time when the leadership said, we have this guy who has been volunteering here for us why don’t we hire him as a staff of the chamber since there was an opening through the partnership between the chamber and Dallas Independent School District. There was a job opening at the chamber for education director. Which is basically to help the Dallas School District recruit teachers, find mentors and tutors for the kids and of course mobilize the different Asian businesses to support the Dallas Independent School District.
Michael: Okay.
Gal: So that’s how I started 1997. I became the education director. It’s only in 2007 that I became the President. So there’s still a long process, period where I got involved in the chamber from 1987 until 2007. Almost like 10 years I was the education director, business development director. I was the lone manager. I was the editor of the newsletter. So, I became also the executive, the business assistant center manager of the MEED center. And those are the different positions I went through until I became president in 2007.
Michael: Got ya. I wonder what brought you to the chamber initially back in 1986 and then you stayed with them over 9 years until 1997 when you became the education director.
Gal: Right, well, it is, I don’t know, it is the calling or it’s just by accident. I was on my way, as a priest I was called to attend ongoing studies in Rome for five years. But I stayed here for a while before proceeding to Rome to visit my mother, and of course my sister who were here already ahead of me. So I stopped by Dallas and while waiting for my travel to Rome I stayed here and that’s where I volunteered in different walks for the Chamber.And that’s also how they found me and recruited me to become a member of the staff of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
Michael: Let’s travel back to time in 1997. Can you talk about the landscape of north Texas economic development and the Asian Community and the current state of the chamber at that time.
Gal: Well, the chamber at that time in general the Asian American community leaders were challenged to get involved and engage themselves in mainstream America. So instead of just doing their own styles in the different communities there was time now that we had to respond to the different calls and challenges in our communities. Most especially here in Dallas metro-plex. And of course it has some reflections in the national level, but here was the time that we were, we had migrations of different countries from Asia and we can see the increase and growing population. And one of them was the migration of the refugees from Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos. They were here because the city of Dallas, is one of those cities that accepted the refugee program so now they are here and the Chamber was challenged to respond. Partnership with the city of Dallas who challenged us to respond to these growing population in the metro-plex. And that was the role of the Chamber. It was starting as small but later on you can see in history, we grow a lot because of the legacy or the leadership also that took over the Chamber of Commerce to make sure that they respond to the call in our community.
Michael: At that time in 97, how many communities did you have under the Chamber?
Gal: Well as I mentioned earlier, there were only at least four major communities that were represented: the Taiwanese, Vietnam, India and Korea. There was no Pakistan, no other groups. The Philippines may be there but it was minority and it has its own growth dynamics in this metro-plex. And then it started growing when we already formed the chamber. And we developed several programs in advance. One of those is the, and you don’t see it anymore. We call it the Asian Charity Ball. The Asian Charity Ball is a showcase of all the Asian groups, that’s how we were able to recruit more groups into this event and then later on recruit them to become members of the Chamber. The Asian Charity Ball it was the showcase, cultural showcase of the different countries of Asia. And we featured every year one particular country. And that’s how we also got noticed by corporate America when they attend the big gala event. It’s a big fundraising gala event here in Dallas. And then after that the charity ball funds were also used to help support the refugees. And that’s where we were able also to show our work toward the refugees.
Michael: So how many jobs did you help create for the influx of refugees back in 97?
Gal: Well, what we did there at first, that’s how the MEED center was formed because most of the refugees were located in the east Dallas area and the Chamber was in north Dallas. So we opened up a satellite office in east Dallas and we created the programs for the refugees. Primarily for the refugees and secondarily for the other ethnic groups like the African Americans, Hispanics, Russians and there were some other groups that participated in the program. The MEED center was first named what’s called, the Little Asia Office of the Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce. It’s a little bit long, but we changed it to MEED center later on. But these different, designated functions because the MEED center is the 501C3 non-profit 501C3 as compared to the chamber is a non profit is a 5136 is a Chamber of Commerce and its membership based. So you can see although the Chamber of Commerce provides programs and services to its members, the MEED center provides programs and services to include non-members. It’s a wider community and wider ethnic beneficial segments in our community. So that’s why it opens up our area of growth for membership to the Chamber to grow.
Michael: So, back in 97, how did you reach out to community leaders and enroll them to the center. How did you build trust to them and show them the chamber value and come join us. How did you do that back in 97?
Gal: First of all the Chamber is a vehicle for leadership. So what the chamber did was to identify some leaders in the community and invite them to become part of the leadership by becoming board members, or get them engaged and involved in different committees. Now committees are the groups that really run the different programs and projects and events. So all these started creating some organizing some events, like the awards banquet, the scholarship education banquet. And we had these different mixers, just like any other Chamber of Commerce. Did some networking mixer events and the largest one was the Asian Festival. And that generated interest form the different communities that were probably not known. They were doing their own little things in their own little communities. But they started coming out to these events. We spotted some leaders and we get the leaders get involved, get engaged and then at the same time, take a leadership role in the chamber. And that’s how the growth started. With the growth of the membership, the growth of the programs started to come out also. And that’s why we added several programs. We added the Leadership Tomorrow Program. We formed the Asian American Contractors and to respond to the political world, we formed the DFW Asian American Citizen’s Counsel. And to respond to the needs of the people looking for loans we formed the Intermediary Lending Program. And we also formed the CDC Surplus, which is really a financial institution, which also responds to the needs of our members who are looking for a 504 loans. Like a two million loan for a building or for their business. So there were so many programs created and out of those programs comes out the growth of different organizations I mentioned earlier. The different Asian Citizens Counsel, the Leadership Tomorrow, we have the Agent Contractors’ Association and finally we grow further out of our own territory; we form the Texas Federation of Asian American Chamber of Commerce.
Michael: So if I understand you right, you use physical events to boost your growth, correct?
Gal: Yes, you have to have, to create an event where members, or individuals get engaged. You have to have this motion, this action, this activity. Otherwise if there’s no project or event there no motion, no activity, life, it becomes dead. There’s no activity or movement within our community. So it’s good that the leadership from the board and to the communities they form this activity. They organize these events and that’s how they generated, not just the Asian community but the non-Asian community, we get noticed and they get attracted to our Chamber and that’s how also we grow our membership. Our membership is not just Asians. We have membership from Hispanic, American, Anglo communities. So that’s how the growth develops.
Michael: Very well, very well. Now back to 2013 right now, how many members, or communities does the Chamber have right now?
Gal: Right now we have 22 communities.
Michael: Twenty-two communities?
Gal: Twenty-two now from four went to probably ten and then in 1997 when I became the director of education, 1997 I saw 17 groups until now it developed into 20 last year and then to 22 different representations.
Michael: As members?
Gal: As members, yeah. And then those members you can see them as individual members, but at the same time you can see them as group members because we have some non-profit community organizations. Community centers. We have temples. We have clubs. We have associations. Their membership may be just one. As in one name, but we have also members below that maybe 100 or 200 members. That’s how we influence and that’s how we reach out to the communities through those associations, organizations. Through those community centers, churches and temples in our, under our umbrella.
Michael: So how’s the landscape of north Texas economy development and Asian community development in 2013 different from those in 1997?
Gal: Well, there is still a growth and you can see it by census and by facts and figures and statistics coming in from the national or state level, or local level. The purchasing power of the Asians is still the largest. The higher purchasing power, it was like 239 billion purchasing power. And we have an average of $50,000 household income compared to the other ethnic groups Asian is still on the top. We might be small in quantity but in our purchasing power and our economic status we are still either in the middle or advanced compared to the other groups. And you can see it even without looking at facts and figures if you just drive around town. Drive around the metro-plex, you see so many Asian businesses growing. Either from moms and pops restaurants, saloons, donut shops. You can also see hotels, motels. You can see these are owned by Asians, and you can also see real estate buildings and real estate properties, investments in the entire metro-plex. So there’s a tremendous growth I should say 200 percent increase. Not just in demographics, but also in economics. That’s how I see the growth of our community.
Michael: So with the availability of Facebook and the explosion of Social media, how do those tools and technologies help, along with the physical events, help you boost the growth of the chambers in 2013?
Gal: Well first of all, if you look at the type of Asian groups we have here, Asian demographics, 65% are computer literate and owns all these gadgets that you mentioned. Computers, smart phones. Asian in general and all those tools, they are able to use it to enhance their business and of course to grow their business. As well at the Chamber of Commerce what we do is to expose them, those businesses to the social media. And as much as possible, three times a year we hold a social media workshop or conferences to help them get in tune and make the tools and technology as a tool for them for growing their business. And as you can notice also if you examine the membership of our chamber, there’s a high level of membership on the technology industry within the Asian community.
Michael: So you said back then in1997 that you used fiscal events to attract more people.
Michael: You said back then in 1997, that you used fiscal events to attract more people and boost the growth. How did you have the fund back then to host more events? Because hosting events is costing money, right?
Gal: Yeah, of course that’s another side of our leadership. The leadership during that time, starting from the chairman, their main job is really to raise money. That is basically the role of a non-profit board. To fund development and raise more funds. Now, the methods or the tools or the process that we used at that time, the chairman or the current chairman, the current leadership board will look for partners. And, of course, there are so many corporate partners interested in the Asian community because we are also an emerging, rising market.
The Asian market is a rising, emerging market here so most corporations would like to work with them and penetrate those markets. And one channel that they can use is through the chamber of commerce.
So corporate partners, they love to partner with us; they give us money, they sponsor events, they share their contributions as partners of the chamber. So we have different levels of membership and partnership with them. And events of course, if we organize those events, we get sponsors. That is how you generate revenue.
Membership dues may be still there as a constant because members pay their dues to the chamber so that the chamber will survive, will live and will exist to help them at the same time grow their business, and it has so far held its role and function towards membership development. That is how we generate revenue for the chamber. When we organized our foundation, when we set up the meed center as the chamber foundation, we started receiving grants; grants from the federal government, grants from the state level, the governor office, and also grants from the local; from the city. And that money, grants that we received; we used it to run the operations of our organization.
Michael: Excellent. So as you said, majority of the magical funding is at least from the board; those small members or those partnerships with the corporations and the grant from the government.
Gal: And they grow, our partners. Some of them have sustained until this year. We call them our sustaining corporate partners but at the same time we come up with new partners like MetroPCS, Samsung just stayed on board two years ago and now they are still on board with us. There will be new partners every year that is added to our organization’s partnership.
Michael: What are some of the threats that you see to the chamber?
Gal: Since we are strong; when you become strong, those things that you create become sometimes… will be your threats. One example is that, most member communities that we help, even groups that we help, or local chambers that we form; they’re growing. Just like children when, they grow up, they start ignoring you or forgetting about you and they do their own business and at the same time, it may appear that they become your competitors. They’re trying to grab the share of the pie that you used to have for many years; now the pie is getting smaller because you have to share it with them. That is one of the challenges.
But at the same time we have to look for new ways, innovative ways to grow the organization. We should not fear their growth. So if you see some communities growing, they are now becoming independent, they have their own centers, they have their own non-profit organizations, they have their own leadership, you should be happy with that because you have contributed. You made a difference now in the community.
But at the same time you have to look for new ways, innovative creative ways of taking the lead so you don’t just stay stagnant. As a chamber of commerce, you have to work out something newer, something different and something probably bigger; bolder goals. Like now, this year we started picking up the role for our international work.
Our chamber of commerce by the way, by nature is international. Our board is like a mini United Nations of different countries there representing. But we have to use that power, that strength that we have to go and get engaged in other work, like international work.
So we are doing some trade missions now. We are going to Korea in October, maybe Vietnam in November although we have been going to China and India for the last years but we have to continue finding new horizons, new frontiers to grow because we are not just limited here in our own backyard. We have to go out. And international, global is the way to go.
Michael: I saw some of the pictures that you took like a group of entrepreneurs or businesses to Korea or to China. How was that coming along?
Gal: Well, they have their own…once we connect them, they continue on their own business until probably they come back being members. Sometimes they come back to us asking for more help and more connections, more networking and probably ask for our advocacy work; chamber being the voice and the advocate for all businesses.
Sometimes our members run into some challenges so we come back and continue helping them, but our role right now is still to provide opportunities to our members to do international or global business. And we provide opportunities, we don’t do the business for them; we just provide those opportunities for them. So we organize international workshop sessions, trade sessions, more educational sessions, learning on how to do business overseas and how to partner with global business.
That is what the chamber does; providing opportunities for our members to work global business.
Michael: I see what you’re saying. What’s the vision for the chamber in the next 3 or 5 years?
Gal: I’m looking at the next 3 to 5 years; it would be expansion. We already did our consolidation but now we are going to do our expansion work now. Expansion could be done in the local level. That is why we open up a new office, another office in Plano because of the movement of Asian demographics towards the north. By north I mean Collin county, Denton county. Towards those cities in those counties like Plano, Makini, Cisco. And our members are moving towards those directions as citizens or residents of those cities and counties.
So we open up a satellite office or I should say branch office in Plano, with the hope that it will help service those businesses and those members who are in those areas. We can do expansion work by consolidating our federation. We have our chapter members in San Antonio, Houston and Austin. That is why this coming October we have this original conference of four chapters. They will be coming here. We are the host and that is as per the state level.
We will continue expanding our organization in the national level. So far there is no national structure we can plug in to become visible in the national level. It could probably be holding an office or partnership in Washington DC, California which we already have attempted several times to link ourselves with national organizations like in Cahaba and Cahabo in California and the East Coast.
Michael: Let’s talk about the MEED Center which is another sister of the Asian American chambers. Can you talk more about how is the role of the MEED Center? How does it sit into the Asian American chambers vision?
Gal: Well as I mentioned to you, the MEED center is the foundation arm of the chamber. Partners, organizations and companies sometimes they work with you in different manners. Like, if you are doing business, you can work with the chamber. But there are some partners, companies, groups or even individuals who would like to donate their money or allocate their funding portion to non-profit 501C3 IRS designated foundations like the MEED center and we will provide that opportunity to them.
There maybe other non-profit 501C3s or there maybe other foundations out there, but we are going to present the MEED center as their alternative because the funding that MEED center gets from these companies; the funding that it receives will be used to support the following:
Number one: those refugees who are here trying to adjust and integrate into society by finding a job, by starting a business and also by empowering and educating their community. So the MEED center provides those opportunities by the funding that it receives; it provides free computer classes, it provides ESL English as Second Language, it provides different workshops and training on how to start your business and how to connect and expand your business.
So MEED center uses those funds. And at the same time while the needs of the refugees and the needs of the unemployed, which is the second group that we are trying to respond to in the MEED center. Because there are so many unemployed, and we are attempting right now the new type of unemployed which are the veterans. The returning veterans from Afghanistan and from Iraq and from other places, they come here with no jobs. So funding from, lets say from the Governor’s Office will be used by MEED center to train veterans to start a business or to grow and expand their business so that they will be incorporated back into our society and make sure they have the opportunity to live again a normal life as citizens in our country, coming from war from Afghanistan and from other countries.
Michael: I’m sorry. I’m just curious. How do you attract those resources and sort of like a provider or service provider to help train people coming to the MEED center for help to find a job or just start a business, things like that?
Gal: Well, we have to let them know because some of our partners, some of these groups, companies or foundations and even the different government entities, probably they don’t know that there are still refugees coming in.
So the first thing we have to do is to let them know by probably writing a proposal, a narrative, a story. We have to tell our story; we have to tell them that these are the stories, the lives of our people in the community we are serving. And then they respond; some of them respond and they’re saying, “Okay, we have funding here, would you like to apply for this?” So we apply, we write grants, that is why in a MEED center we need to have a grant writer because that is the person that will be telling the story to these companies.
And then they hear them, they hear the stories and they like to respond because some of the stakeholders, members and donors love to support these types of groups; refugees, unemployed, veterans. So they provide the money and record it in the form of a grant. This is where the meed center will raise funding for its programs and services.
Michael: So let’s say if I were a refugee or the veteran coming back from the war, how do I get started with the MEED center?
Gal: We will invite them, we will let them know. There are several channels. You can use the social media, but there are traditional channels like you talk to the different institutions like the Institute for Refugee Center and the Catholic Charities, the Workforce Solutions. There are just some agencies here who are taking some data, information of the unemployed. Right now, there is probably around 37,000 in the database looking for jobs and at the same time probably wanting to start a business as an alternative to finding a job.
And that is where we get them, we let them know. We send out flyers, we have partners, we have partners in service, we let them know. And that’s how we generate attention for them to come to the MEED center and participate in those programs provided.
Michael: Got you. Let’s say if a person, if they are interested in doing or expanding to the Asian market, how do they find the Asian chambers and how do they get started with the chamber?
Gal: Depending on their needs. There are some people wanting like to penetrate the Chinese market or the Vietnamese market. We sit down with them one on one and examine their strategy or what is their plan and then the chamber provides them the following: provides them with some guidelines on how to handle their community because there are some cultural obstacles of some of these communities. Like Vietnam is different culture from Korean or from Chinese or Taiwanese. So we have to guide some of these companies or corporations that would like to do business with them, culturally.
The second one would be to find and help them identify some superiors of leadership within the community. That is how you find your start with the chamber. Like if you want to go to the Vietnamese market probably, you can start working with our board member who is from Vietnam. Then you would start working with the Chinese or Korean market, you can probably talk to Mr. Kim or Mr. Lee to operate and start that.
That is how we connect those companies through our chamber, to the community.
Michael: Absolutely. So, what is the website again that they can go to?
Gal: The website of the chamber is and then for the MEED center is just
Michael: Perfect.
Gal: So, You can navigate there and then just follow the navigation where you want to go. You can extract whatever tools you need for your business or extract whatever names or contact information you need for networking and to connect. Chamber is still the business connections.
Michael: I heard the initiative that the chamber is going to release a member directory. Can you talk more about it?
Gal: Well a publication…normally in the past, the last ten years, we do small publications of our magazine. We started with four pages of newsletter, printed newsletter and then we started…then we followed with 20 pages of chamber magazine. It is called Business Connections. But this year, the membership has taken a bold step by publishing a directory.
It is not just a directory of the members but a directory of our Asian community, our partners and our programs and services in this area. So it’s a publication and directory of our chamber and it will come out probably in October. The latest will be January in time for our installation. We are going to install the new leadership for the chamber, January 2014.
Michael: Very well. Gal, last question for you. How do you want to be remembered?
Gal: *chuckles* Well, for me, the highest purpose in life is really making a difference. Now you could see this in…you talk to individual members. Whether I myself or the chamber made a difference in their lives. By difference I mean, if you were only $40 last year now you became 40,000 and then you become 4,000,000 this year and 40,000,000 next year. That’s… you can see measurably, the difference.
You can see also the difference from our members who before were so shy; he doesn’t know how to network, he doesn’t know how to talk in public, but now they are confident, they feel good and professionally they know how to deal with themselves and of course how to face the challenges in life; that’s the difference.
And if you look at the different communities, you can see the community has already grown. One thing like before they were only in their own silence but now they are coming out. They know how to appear in public and they want to show their events because through the chamber they were able to be connected with mainstream of corporate America and able to meet leaders in the community and identify themselves as part of the society that we live in. So that is just making a difference.
In that case I can tell myself, well, I have achieved the highest purpose in my life. That making a difference in the lives of others within the chamber and perhaps also indirectly outside the chamber’s environment.
Michael: Very well. Thank you so much Gal today for your time and thank you for the talk about your stories and your achievements. I really appreciate that.
Gal: Thank you Michael I hope to see you and hear from you and also read about ourselves.
Michael: Absolutely. Thank you all for listening.
Gal: Very good. Thank you. Have a good day.
Michael: Bye Gal.


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