IPR is featuring some of the many AAPI pioneers who impacted the field of public relations in celebration of AAPI Heritage Month.

Mabel Lee was born outside of Hong Kong, in 1896. She was raised by her mother and grandmother while her father moved to the U.S. to serve as a missionary. Mabel Lee and her family moved to New York City in 1905 where she attended Brooklyn’s Erasmus Hall Academy. 

When she was 16, Lee helped lead the NYC suffragist parade and was highlighted in the New York Tribune for her academic achievements and passion for the suffragist movement. She led the march on horseback, steering 10,000 attendees through New York City. Lee continued her schooling at Barnard College, writing essays and giving speeches that urged the Chinese community to prioritize women’s civic involvement and education. Her essays were published in the Chinese Students’ Monthly. 

Lee graduated from Barnard College and went on to be the first Chinese woman to earn a Ph.D in economics from Columbia University. Lee also recieved a master’s degree in educational administration at Columbia University. In 1921, she published her research, The Economic History of China. Three years later she took over her father’s role as the NYC Chinese Baptist Church director and founded the Chinese Christian Center which offered English classes, health services, and a kindegarten. She died in 1966. 


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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