Shirley Wang, founder and CEO of Plastpro, Inc., will be among the outstanding Americans who will be honored Saturday, May 7, 2011, with the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor recognizes important community leaders from diverse ethnic origins for their outstanding contributions to their nation and the world. Wang will receive the award along with others who have used their extraordinary abilities to change the lives of others. The Ellis Island Medal of Honor ranks among the nation’s most prestigious awards.
Wang was recognized by NECO for her tireless efforts to foster deeper understanding and communication between the peoples of the United States and China. Beyond her professional efforts in leading Plastpro — a leading fiberglass-door manufacturer with more than $70 million in revenue — Wang devotes much of her time to charitable and community activities that pay tribute to her Chinese-American heritage. Through her alma mater UCLA, Wang endowed teacher trips to China in the hopes of promoting a better understanding of the Chinese culture for American educators.
Shirley Wang and her husband, Walter Wang, the CEO of JM Eagle, funded the first endowed chair at UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center for a national program focused on U.S.-China relations. This program also includes the U.S.-China Media Brief, a unique online media tool developed for all those who are interested in obtaining a clearer and more balanced understanding of U.S.-China relations today.
In taking an active role in building a better Los Angeles, the Wangs are lead supporters of the Drug Enforcement Agency Foundation and helped bring the DEA Museum to the California Science Center in Los Angeles.
The Wangs have also established an endowed chair at the Los Angeles Cedar Sinai Medical Center for Pediatric Surgery to fund cutting edge research in pediatric surgery and to assist underprivileged children in need of surgery.
During this year’s awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton, Battery Park, in New York City, Shirley Wang will join other notable award recipients including legendary entertainer Jerry Lewis and New York Fire Department Commissioner Salvatore Cassano.
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have officially recognized the Ellis Island Medals of Honor and each year the recipients are listed in the Congressional Record. Past recipients include six presidents of the United States, several Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity.
Shirley and Walter Wang are only the eighth husband-and-wife duo to receive the Ellis Island Medal of Honor since it began 25 years ago. Previous couple recipients of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor include Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
A graduate of UCLA with an MBA from Columbia University, Wang founded her company, Plastpro, Inc., in 1994 and built it into a leading manufacturer of maintenance-free products including fiberglass doors with Hydroshield Technology™. Plastpro also provides polyfiber doorframes, patented snap-on doorlite frames and plastic wainscoting. In 2009, Builder News recognized Plastpro’s doors as the “Best Product,” and the company was noted as the “Most Innovative” and “Top 100 Manufacturer” in the Window and Door magazine. Plastpro distributes its products to national retailers including the Home Depot and Probuild, as well as to wholesale distributors such as American Building Supplies and Barnett Millwork. In 2005, Plastpro built a 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art fully automated manufacturing facility in Ashtabula, Ohio, which is one of the world’s largest fiberglass door manufacturing plants.
Prior to her career as an entrepreneur, Wang held executive and sales positions at Citicorp and at J. Walter Thompson Advertising. While in New York, she was on the board of Outward Bound and contributed toward building the Outward Bound Center for inner city kids in the city. Mrs. Wang is a mentor for Columbia Business School students in the Non Profit Board Leadership Program, which encourages MBA students using their expertise to give back to society and introduce them to issues facing nonprofit boards and board governance.
She is also an active supporter of the China AIDS Initiative, an awareness and prevention program that provides public service announcements about the disease to 300 million people in Mainland China. A firm believer in the importance of education, Wang is on the board of Facing History and Ourselves, an international education organization that provides in-depth professional development services to 1.8 million students.
In Los Angeles, Wang sits on the Board of Trustees at Harvard-Westlake School and the board of the UCLA Foundation.
Other charitable foundations that Mrs. Wang supports are Doctors Without Borders and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center. Since 2008, the Wangs have funded staff positions at the APALC that are focused on providing legal services to immigrant domestic violence survivors. More than 300 cases for clients have been resolved with key legal services, including work permits and visas, helping these women gain freedom and independence from their abusers. For their efforts, Mr. and Mrs. Wang on Oct. 14, 2010, were honored by the APALC with its 2010 Public Service Award.
The Wangs provided key support for a pair of short documentaries, “The Warriors of Quigang,” which was nominated for the Academy Award for best short documentary in 2011, and “The Blood Yingzhou District,” which won the Oscar in 2007. Through the Walter and Shirley Foundation, they sponsored the Emmy-nominated three-part PBS documentary on Chinese-American history and the Chinese contribution to America, “Becoming American: The Chinese Experience” by Bill Moyers.