DETROIT — Lisa Gray remembers moving to the United States and immediately feeling out of place.
Born in Beijing, China, Gray worked at BBC in London for six years before moving to Michigan in 1998, when her husband got a new job. According to Gray, adjusting to a new life in the United States was difficult.
“I struggled at first to understand many of the differences,” Gray said. “But through social connections within the local Chinese community, I was able to more readily acclimate and be successful.”
Finally feeling a sense of belonging, Gray was motivated to help others experience a similar connectedness to their community.
“I saw how much help this was to me and thought that I should pay it forward by helping community members as well as being the voice of the community when needed,” Gray said. “That is what sparked me to join community organizations.”
As Gray became more involved in the community, she started her own television station — Dragon Eagle TV (DETV) / Asian Pacific Islander American News Network (APIANN) — to “share stories and the beauty of cultures between Asian Americans and the broader American community.”
And now, Gray is the final Game Changers honoree who the Detroit Red Wings, Detroit Tigers and Comerica Bank are celebrating as part of Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
“Through the launch of DETV and APIANN, Lisa Gray has become a leader who elevates vital community connections with the fastest-growing population in Michigan and in our nation,” said Kevin Brown, director of community impact for Ilitch Sports + Entertainment. “We’re honored to celebrate Lisa as a Game Changers honoree as she continues to build impactful bridges through AAPI news coverage and storytelling year-round.”
Headquartered in Detroit, DETV/APIANN strives to build social, cultural, business, educational and political bridges between the AAPI community and the community at large.
“We originally started out sharing United States and China stories, but quickly expanded to cover all Asian cultures,” Gray said. “I am most proud of creating AAPI Voice, a show meant to amplify the voice of the AAPI community. We have been able to cover important issues and share stories of successful Asian leaders as well as entrepreneurs.”
In addition to the personal fulfillment she gains from promoting diversity and inclusion through her station’s news coverage, Gray said she is proud to serve on the boards of North American Chinese Coalition, Chinese Association of Greater Detroit, Council of Asian Pacific Americans and other organizations.
“Our communities are composed of different races, political and religious affiliations as well as philosophical perspectives,” Gray said. “Despite our differences, we all share a desire to live a safe, healthy and happy life. Reaching this goal starts with understanding and appreciating our differences.”
Gray added that the key to building a unified community is to establish relationships with people who you know little about.
“Once you see and understand all the different cultures, you come to appreciate your neighbors,” Gray said. “People will end up being more open and kinder.”
Being a Game Changers honoree this month is exciting for Gray, who is thrilled that her work reaches so many people.
“Being nominated and then picked for this award is a great honor,” Gray said. “It shows me that my work is appreciated by my community, friends and colleagues. It makes me want to continue doing more.”