Isle man wins SBA award
for top accountant advocate

By Tim Ruel

A few years ago, the nonprofit Hale Ola Windward Abuse Shelter was facing uncertain death. It owed money to Castle Medical Center and was in a financial hole, but a group of local businesspeople got Castle to forgive the debt, saving the shelter.

One of those people was Alan Mun Leong Yee, a Honolulu accountant who is being honored today in the nation's capital for helping Hawaii's businesses and organizations to survive.

Yee, managing partner of the Honolulu office of Grant Thornton LLP, in April received the 2002 Accountant Advocate of the Year award from the U.S. Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy.

Yee will receive the national award at a luncheon today at a Senate office building in Washington, D.C. Later in the day, Yee said he plans to meet with Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Sen. Dan Inouye. He has already met with Sen. Dan Akaka and hopes to meet with Rep. Patsy Mink.

Son of Wadsworth Yee, Alan Yee contributes more than 100 hours each year on top of his accounting work to helping Hawaii, the SBA said.

Yee has served as chairman and director of the Native Hawaiian Revolving Loan Fund, and as president of the Minority Business Development Center.

Yee is also president of the Mutual Assistance Associations Center in Kaimuki, another nonprofit that he helped to save. In 1994, the federal government pulled a grant from the center, which was helping Southeast Asian immigrants to find jobs.

"We basically went from a $500,000 budget to almost zero," Yee said.

As was the case with the abuse shelter, Yee was faced with the choice of abandoning hope or making things work. Choosing the latter, he secured funding from the private Hawaii Community Foundation and other sources. "When I get involved, I want to see it through," Yee said.

He is also director of the Hawaii Tax Institute, consultant to the Kalihi-Kai Japanese School and an instructor at Leeward Community College.

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