Shirley Young, a prominent Chinese American business leader, has died at the age of 85.
Diagnosed with breast cancer, Young passed away at a hospital in Manhattan on Saturday night, according to family members.
Young is credited for helping improve business and cultural relations between the U.S. and China. She co-founded and chaired the Committee of 100 (C100), a non-partisan organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia and the arts.
Born in Shanghai, Young moved to the Philippines as a child after her father’s appointment as consul-general for China. He was executed by Imperial Japanese forces during World War II.
Young immigrated to the U.S. around the age of 10, according to the Wall Street Journal. She lived in Manhattan with her mother and two sisters.
In her earlier career, Young served as executive vice president and president of strategic marketing at Grey Advertising. Her work involved strategic marketing and communications for companies in a wide range of fields, ranging from food and beverages to automotive and airlines.
From 1988 to 1999, Young served as corporate vice president of General Motors, leading the company’s entry to China. She later served as as senior advisor to General Motors Asia Pacific.
Young also served on the boards of Teletech Holding and Salesforce.com. Additionally, she worked as director of the Bank of America, Bell Atlantic/Verizon Corporation, Dayton-Hudson/Target Corporation, Holiday Inn/Promus/Harrah’s, the Bombay Company, and as vice chairman of the Nominating Committee of the New York Stock Exchange.
After retiring from GM, Young channeled her energy into the arts. She served as board director of the New York Philharmonic and the National Dance Institute, and chair of the U.S.-China Cultural Institute.
A trained musician herself, Young was a friend of Chinese pianist Lang Lang and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. “She was a phenomenal piano player growing up and had contemplated becoming a concert pianist,” her son David Hsieh told the New York Post.
Young was the first chair of the Committee of 100. The organization expressed its sorrow over her passing in a statement on Monday.
“The Committee of 100 Board of Directors would like to express our deepest sorrow at the passing of Shirley Young, one of C100’s founders and its first Chair. This is heartbreaking news, and our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends who are grieving her loss, many of them at C100,” said current chairman H. Roger Wang.
Yo-Yo Ma, Henry Tang and Oscar Tang are some of Young’s co-founders. They recalled her vision for the organization.
“Shirley cared deeply for the mission and future of C100. It was her wish that all members will come together, as accomplished citizens of this country, to enhance the role of all Chinese Americans.”
Feature Images via Committee of 100