Foremost Statement on Passing of Chair & CEO Angela Chao

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New York, NY – February 12, 2024 – The Foremost Group releases the following statement regarding the passing of Angela Chao:

“It is with deep sadness that Foremost Group announces the passing of Angela Chao in a tragic car accident. Angela Chao was a formidable executive and shipping industry leader, as well as a proud and loving daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother. She was also a precocious youngster, learning about the shipping industry at an early age as she lovingly followed her father, Dr. James S.C. Chao, around during “Take Your Daughter to Work” days on his ships. After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics magna cum laude from Harvard College in just three years, she attended Harvard Business School where she wrote a case study on “Ocean Carriers” that to this day is part of the required curriculum for first year HBS students.  So, it was no surprise that as our Chair and CEO, she charted new paths that led the company to record achievements in the shipping industry.  

Building on the legacy of honor, integrity and performance established by her father and our company’s founder, Dr. James S. C. Chao and her mother, Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, she made exceptional customer service, efficiency, and superior performance the hallmarks of her leadership.  She was also a passionate advocate for incorporating environmentally sustainable practices throughout the company’s operations. That’s why the Foremost Group’s fleet includes some of the largest, most modern, and eco-friendly ships in the world. But most importantly, Angela believed that the foundational element of success is the belief that shipping is not an asset finance business, but that it’s about people. She placed special emphasis on paying attention to the care and well-being of our crews, and to everyone onboard and onshore who played a role in performing our services. As a result, her leadership in the shipping industry was widely recognized. Among other honors, she served as a Board Member of the American Bureau of Shipping Council, Member of UK P&I Club, as well as a Board Member of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s International Maritime Business Department Advisory Board. She will be greatly missed and leaves a legacy of pioneering leadership- especially for women- in shipping, philanthropy and the arts.”

Dr. James S.C. Chao will return as Chair of Foremost Group.

About Foremost Group

Foremost Group is an American shipping company headquartered in New York that charters out some of the world’s largest and most eco-friendly ships to blue-chip clients who use the vessels to transport dry bulk products to markets around the world. As a global leader in dry bulk shipping, Foremost Group has earned a worldwide reputation for its commitment to exceptional service and performance while always holding itself to the highest ethical standards.

Foremost Group is an industry leader in incorporating fuel-efficient designs and technologies in its fleet of modern and eco-friendly dry bulk carriers. The company can ship more than 23 million tons of goods around the world each year for its blue-chip clients. This includes a wide variety of dry bulk products, such as grains, soybeans, iron ore, and other essential goods. Foremost ensures the highest-quality service by exclusively managing ships that have been built to its high standards and specifications.

Dr. James Chao Statement on the Passing of Angela Chao

New York, NY – February 12, 2024 – Dr. James S. C. Chao released the following statement on the passing of his daughter, Angela Chao:

“It is with a heavy heart and deep sadness that I announce the passing of my beloved youngest daughter, Angela Chao. Angela is a brilliant woman, a charismatic and visionary leader and much-loved by all her sisters, our entire family and friends. From an early age, she displayed a delightful precociousness and fierce intellectual curiosity that endeared her to everyone and helped her excel at everything she did. As a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, wife and friend, she was unfailingly filial, thoughtful, kind and devoted. These qualities were complemented by a spirited personality, exceptional intelligence, compassion for all and a wonderful sense of humor. 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.
Angela Chao and her father, Dr. James Chao

Angela is unique in that she was academically gifted, hard-working, and possessed strong core values during her entire life. She expressed an interest in the shipping industry at an early age and was a wonderful and inquisitive companion accompanying me to the office on “Take Your Daughter to Work” days. We were so proud that she graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College in just three years. While attending Harvard Business School, she used her enthusiasm and knowledge of shipping to write a ground-breaking case study on “Ocean Carriers” that to this day is part of the required curriculum for first year HBS students. 

She always believed in helping others and became a beloved member of the Harvard community, serving on the HBS Board of Dean’s Advisors and establishing the Ruth Mulan Chu Chao and James Si-Cheng Chao Family Fellowship at Harvard College. As a trail blazer for women in the executive suite, she inspired others to pursue their dreams. She also loved music and tried the French horn as her instrument when young, insisting on carrying it herself to every lesson. These early experiences created a lifelong, passionate commitment to the fine arts. She put her advocacy into action by serving on the Chairman’s Council of the Metropolitan Museum of the Arts, and as an Advisory Board Member of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition, she generously supported many health and community philanthropies, including serving as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Hospital for Special Surgery. We are especially gratified by Angela’s devoted service to the Asian-American community. Although born in America, she never forgot her roots and throughout her life helped build bridges of understanding between East and West. Among other special honors, she served as Honorary Chair of the Chiao-Tung University Alumni Association in America, Co-Chair of the Advisory Council of the Asian American Foundation, and a member of the Young Leaders Forum of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

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. Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian-American community. Although we are heartbroken, my family and I have the deep conviction- nurtured by our Christian faith- that we will see Angela again, along with her mother and my beloved wife, Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, and our daughter and her sister Jeanette. They are forever in our hearts and our minds.”
Photo of the Chao family taken at a press conference announcing a $40 million gift to Harvard University and Harvard Business School. From left to right in the back row is Angela Chao, Christine Chao, May Chao and Grace Chao. (Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images / Getty Images)