Cecilia Moy Yep was born and raised in Philadelphia and has lived in Chinatown most of her life. She attended St. John's School, and later graduated from Holy Redeemer School. In 1947, she graduated from the John W. Hallahan High School. Cecilia began her career at Curriculum Materials where she was a film librarian for 10 years. She has served on many of Philadelphia’s civic organizations.
In 1966, when the Holy Redeemer Church and School were scheduled for demolition for the Vine Street Expressway, Cecilia realized the irreparable damage this would do to the community. She formed a grassroots advocacy group which later incorporated into the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC). The organization's mission was successful as the School and Church still thrive as a very integral part of the community. PCDC, as an organization, has continued to serve and represent the community in matters of urban renewal and community development for the past 45 years.
In 1976, Ms. Yep became the Executive Director of PCDC and was responsible for 235 units of new residential and commercial development in the Chinatown community. Her last development, Hing Wah Yuen, received the national Maxwell Award from the Fannie Mae Foundation for excellence in community development. Among her many projects is the China Friendship Gate, an internationally known project and landmark, erected at 10th and Arch Streets. Although formally retired as Director Emeritus of PCDC, she continues to serve on the Board and many of its committees.
In 1987, she co-founded the Asian American Women’s Coalition (AAWC), an organization dedicated to the advancement of Asian American women through leadership and mutual support. AAWC honored her by establishing a scholarship in her name. The scholarship program raises funds to assist needy Asian American female high school students to pursue their educational goals. This past year the program celebrated its 25th Anniversary and AAWC was successful in assisting 100 Asian female high school students to continue in their educational endeavors.
She was appointed to the first Women's Commission by Mayor Green and reappointed by Mayor Goode. She was appointed to the Nominating Committee for the School Board by Mayor Rendell and subsequently by Mayor Street. Other appointments by Mayor Street were the Transition Housing Task Force, the 21st Century Economic Development Summit and the Philadelphia Advisory Gaming Task Force.
Besides her involvement in community, at PCDC and AAWC, she also serves on the Board of On Lok House for the elderly, as Vice-President. Other civic boards she serves on are the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC) and its Executive Committee, the Community Advisory Board of PNC Bank, and recently was a trustee for The Philadelphia Award.
She has received numerous awards and was especially proud when, in 1994, she received an honorary degree from Community College of Philadelphia. In 2000, the College presented her with their first Civic Investment Award. Another highlight was in 1996, when the Archdiocese inducted her into the Archdiocesan Hall of Fame for Distinguished Students. She was honored by her Alma Mater, the John W. Hallahan Catholic Girls’ High School when they entered her into their Hall of Fame. Among her many accolades is the coveted and prestigious Philadelphia Award.
Cecilia Moy Yep still resides in Chinatown. Although she is still actively involved in community events, she makes time for family. She has three grown children, who she is extremely proud of, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.