Angela Chao, shipping CEO and sister of Elaine Chao, dies in a car accident

Angela Chao, shipping CEO and sister of Elaine Chao, dies in a car accident

Angela Chao, the CEO of the dry bulk shipping company Foremost Group and the sister of former Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, has died in a car accident, according to the company and her family.

Her father, James S.C. Chao, said the family was “heartbroken” over her death. Neither the company nor her family provided further details of the accident. 

“Angela’s name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity. She certainly gave more than her share of both to this world,” the elder Chao said in a statement. “Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian-American community.”

Angela Chao, one of six children, served as the Foremost Group’s CEO since 2018 and was also involved in a number of organizations, holding board positions on the American Bureau of Shipping Council, Harvard Business School’s Board of Dean’s Advisors, and the Metropolitan Opera, among others. Additionally, she was a founding advisory council co-chair of the nonprofit The Asian American Foundation, as well as chair of the foundation’s education committee, which aimed to help students “access quality education.” 

“The Asian American Foundation is heartbroken to learn of the devastating death of Angela Chao, a beloved businesswoman, philanthropist and respected leader,” the nonprofit said in a statement. “Angela has left an indelible mark on The Asian American Foundation and the AAPI community. A brilliant and committed leader, Angela’s warmth, kindness, and infectious energy will live on in our work for decades to come.”

Chao was born in 1973 to James S.C. Chao, founder of the prominent shipping company, and the late Ruth Mulan Chu Chao. Her sister Elaine is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Information on other survivors was not immediately available.

Early on in life, Angela expressed interest in the shipping industry, according to her father.  

“[She] was a wonderful and inquisitive companion accompanying me to the office on ‘Take Your Daughter to Work’ days,” he said in the statement. 

She also took to music as a child, playing the French horn and “insisting on carrying it to every lesson,” her father said. “These early experiences created a lifelong, passionate commitment to the fine arts.”   

Angela Chao graduated from Harvard College, then attended Harvard Business School. She worked in the mergers & acquisitions department of Smith Barney, now part of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, before joining the Foremost Group in 1996.

“As a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, wife and friend, she was unfailingly filial, thoughtful, kind and devoted,” the elder Chao said in the family statement. “She kept us laughing and smiling. She believed deeply that the true treasures in life are family, friends and helping others. Losing her at such a young age is something we never even imagined, and our entire family is devastated with grief.”

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Kimmy Yam

Kimmy Yam is a reporter for NBC Asian America.

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