Angela’s parents are Americans of Chinese descent who came of age in China during the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. Angela’s father, Dr. James S. C. Chao was born in Jiading District, Shanghai China. His parents, Yiren Chao and Yuechin Hsu Chao, emphasized the value of education. An able student, Dr. Chao won many scholarships. He was a popular student leader and an outstanding athlete.
Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, Angela’s mother, was born in Anhui province, to a distinguished and progressive family that believed in the education of women. She was the second of five children of Wei Qian Chu, a magistrate in the Judicial Yuan in Nanjing, and Hui Ying Tien.
Ruth was educated at the well-known Ming De Christian Middle School for Girls in Nanjing. Both her parents grew up in an era marked with political turmoil, societal upheaval, foreign invasion, and civil war where life was fraught with hardships, instability, and uncertainty. All they sought was peace and safety. The successive wars destroyed everything.
S ubsequently, Angela’s parents separately relocated to Taiwan. There, they met again, married and started a new life together. By the mid-1950’s, Dr. Chao had advanced with unprecedented speed through the ranks to become one of the youngest ocean-going sea captains at the age of 29. In 1958, he shattered all previous records in Taiwan by achieving the highest score ever achieved on the national Master Mariner Examination. This accomplishment singled him out for further studies abroad. Even though Mrs. Chao was then seven months pregnant with their third child, she supported her husband’s decision to go to America for greater opportunities.
The family was separated for three long years before they were reunited in New York. Their initial years in America were not easy. Despite many challenges, James and Ruth Chao always maintained hope and optimism for a brighter future.
W hile in America, James and Ruth had three additional daughters, including Angela. James and Ruth’s determination, optimism, love of family and emphasis on education continue to inspire Angela and her sisters today.
Angela and her sisters attended prestigious American universities: The Honorable Elaine L. Chao, Mount Holyoke College, Harvard Business School; Jeanette C. Chao, Smith College, College of William and Mary; May M. Chao, Wellesley College, Harvard Business School; Christine Chao, Colgate University, Columbia Law School; Grace Chao, Wellesley College, Harvard Business School, Ph.D , Columbia University; Angela Chao, Harvard University, Harvard Business School. Angela has six nieces and nephews. The family’s tradition continues to be contribution and service to society.