Honoring the Ing Family: 2015 Bob Santos Leadership in Sustainability Award Recipient

The Bob Santos Leadership in Sustainability Award is presented to an organization or individual whose “leadership in sustainability has had a positive impact on communities of color by promoting affordable housing, equity, environmental justice and cultural continuity.”

InterIm Community Development Association is proud to present the 2015 Bob Santos Leadership in Sustainability Award to Joey Ing, in honor of the Ing Family – Joey, Joel and posthumously, Vera. The Ing family has contributed to lasting change through their gifts of time and talents, through their leadership, mentoring and support of community leaders across many generations.

 The award has been given in the past to Doris Koo, Martha Choe, Norman Rice, and Sue Taoka. This 2015 award will be presented to Joey Ing at InterIm CDA’s Gala on Saturday, May 2, 2015 at the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, 2100 Alaska Way, Seattle. Reception starts at 5:30 PM with dinner at 7:00 PM.


It was the summer of 1959 when Vera Chan attended a friend’s wedding and was introduced to Joey Ing, a young architecture student from Hawaii.  Joey asked Vera out.  She said yes.  One year later, they were married, a fifty-three year love affair that lasted until Vera passed away last year.  In the 1960s, while Joey began to establish his career as one of the city’s creative architects, Vera’s world centered around raising a family.  In a relatively short period of time, Vera gave birth to three children–JaDeane, Joel, and Jeffrey.

In the 1970s, when the Ing children were old enough to go to school, Vera decided to go to school as well.  She was about a generation older than most of her fellow students but this didn’t stop her from earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in urban planning.  In fact, she was inspired by the student activists who attended school during the day and brought back their expertise to preserve and revitalize the International District–to fight for better housing, social services, arts and culture, street improvements, and restoration of historic buildings.  With her background in urban planning and her affinity for the neighborhood of her childhood, Vera wanted to use her skills in the overall effort to preserve the International District.

During what she described as the “golden era of Asian activism” from the 1970s through the mid 1980s, Vera became engaged in the preservation on the International District.  She joined the board of Inter-Im where she served alongside such community leaders as Tomio Moriguchi, Ben Woo, Shigeko Uno, and Dolores Sibonga to support the leadership of “Uncle Bob” Santos and his young dedicated staff.  Eventually Vera would serve as Board President during a highly productive time for Inter-Im when demonstration projects such as a mental counseling project, a community clinic, a day-care project, a tenant services project, and a community pea patch program would lead to establishment of the Asian Counseling and Referral Service, International Community Health Services, the Denise Louie Education Center, the International District Housing Alliance, and the Danny Woo Community Garden.

During these formative years, Joey’s career flourished.  He became the “go-to-guy” for restaurant design and layout, earning praise and popularity for such eating establishments as the iconic Thirteen Coins, Louie’s Cuisine of China, and Anthony’s Restaurants.  But Joey was a community activist in his own right.  He was a charter member of the International District/Chinatown Special District Review Board.  He designed the International District’s Children’s Park.  And according to Uncle Bob (in his book Hum Bows Not Hot Dogs), it was Joey who developed the layout for the original International District Community Health Clinic on Maynard Avenue.

Vera and Joey were quite a pair.  They were involved in a myriad of community causes and efforts that went beyond the API Community.  Vera served as President of the Mount Baker Community Club, President of the Seattle International District Rotary Club, chaired the Bumbershoot Festival Advisory Committee, and served on the boards of the North Seattle Community College Foundation, United Way, and the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority.  Joey served as President of the South Seattle Community College Foundation and President of the Architects, Engineers Legislative Council.  Joey also served on the Governor’s Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise Advisory Committee, the Architectural Review Board for the City of Redmond, and various historic building review boards.

Together, they created scholarships for students at North (Vera) and South (Joey) Seattle Community Colleges.  Together, they were generous supporters of the arts, longtime contributors to the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.  They donated rehearsal space for APA-themed Repertory Actors Theater.  Joey and Vera were honored in 2011 as Joint Distinguished Alumni, Multicultural Alumni Program, University of Washington “honored for their work on committees, boards, and offices of virtually every non-profit agency in the International District.  As an architect, Joey mentors UW architecture students and in recent years, the couple has been active in multicultural theater groups that stem from the UW School of Drama.”  In 2011, Joey and Vera were also honored jointly with the Leadership Award by the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation.

The Ing house was a hangout for fundraisers, get-togethers, and political dinners where Vera and her fellow political conspirators such as Ruth Woo and Dolores Sibonga would plot, strategize, and devise ways to get favorite candidates elected.  Joey played host.  Seafair parties were legendary for networking and schmoozing.  It was in this environment that exposed the Ing children to the social and political activism of their parents.

And now continuing this legacy of community activism is Joey and Vera’s son, Joel.  Joel is a Managing Director of Shelter Resources, Inc., a real estate development company that constructs and redevelops multi-family affordable housing throughout the northwest. Like his mother, Joel also served as Board President for Interim CDA during a crucial time in its development.  As Board President, Joel shepherded the successful merger of InterIm CDA and the International District Housing Alliance.  His background in real estate, finance, and asset management provided much needed expertise in overseeing such Interim CDA projects as Samaki Commons and Nihonmachi Terrace.

Like his parents, Joel’s civic activism goes far beyond the International District.  Joel is a past Board President, board member, and Executive Committee Member of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation (ACLF.)   Like his parents, Joel was honored in 2013 with the (now called) Kip Tokuda Leadership Award by ACLF for “outstanding contributions to ACLF and to the community.”  He currently serves on the boards of the Washington State Public Stadium Authority and King County Housing Development Consortium.

And beyond Joel, Joey has four grandchildren who are the hope of tomorrow’s generation–Trevor, Justine, Connor, and Carlyn.