In line with the mission of our Center for Race, Equity, Justice and Inclusion, we are proud to highlight some of the region's most prominent leaders who are directly impacting change.
During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we are highlighting individuals who identify as AAPI, selected for their impact and countless contributions to people and communities in need. We asked these leaders to answer five questions:
- I am dedicated to being a change maker because …
- My super power (area of expertise) is …
- My leadership journey described briefly is …
- A quote that resonates with me is …
- With unlimited resources (within my organization or business) I would …
We'd like to thank all who responded. We appreciate their candor and perspectives.
1. Our children should have the freedom to explore the world and experience life without feeling limited due to their color, ethnicity or gender identity. As a Korean-American immigrant, mother of two boys and a business owner, I have a first-hand understanding of the lack of representation in leadership roles and other struggles many people of color face. These unique journeys we have navigated endow us with the determination to overcome adversities and the power and responsibility to make a difference, as we pave the way forward for others.
2. My super power is understanding the pain points and obstacles faced by many nonprofits, especially within their accounting, audit and tax responsibilities. I use my expertise to help nonprofits navigate through their daily operations, as they push towards achievement of their missions.
3. My leadership journey has been reaching within to find courage in the face of adversity, which does not come naturally.
4. “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” —German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche ... Because every time I faced a challenge that seemed impossible to overcome, the challenge transformed into an opportunity for a positive change and advancement for both myself and our firm. Overcoming difficult challenges molds me into an even stronger, smarter and more empathetic leader. This process prepares me to handle those next, even more difficult obstacles that may come my way.
5. With unlimited resources I would invest in our people! I would love to provide more benefits to our employees, especially the parents. One benefit I would love to implement is an onsite company-run day care to provide an easily accessible option for our parents. Too many parents, especially moms, sacrifice their careers due to the lack of accessible child care or the financial burden of day care costs. I would also like to expand our services to recruiting/staffing dedicated to stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce. I’ve seen numerous women struggling to find jobs after a long period of staying at home with their children. Many of these women held exciting careers previously and possess valuable talents and skills, yet had difficulty landing their first job when they were ready to return. I have helped place a few returning moms recently, but I would love to offer that service as a part of our business.
1. As someone who has often been the only AAPI sitting around a table, if I don't speak up for AAPIs, then who will?
2. My super power is bridging mainstream America and AAPIs.
3. Going from a shy girl to empowering AAPIs demonstrates that we all can speak up.
4. "If you are not at the table, you will be served up on the table." ... If we are not at the decision-making table, we will be the ones to be sacrificed.
5. With unlimited resources I would continue to support the needs of the AAPI community—i.e., financial, human resource, infrastructure—to eliminate the inequities.
1. Accepting the status quo is a cop out. It's always easier to follow the path of least resistance. But that may not be the most ideal or efficient alternative. Making the world better takes effort, planning, and getting through pain points. Leadership is convincing everyone to start that journey together.
2. My super power is using numbers to tell stories and using stories to explain the numbers. Many organizations don't know how to approach their finance and accounting teams. The best organizations understand that stories and numbers complement and magnify each other.
3. I believe that leaders lead by doing. Do things well and leadership comes.
4. "Culture eats strategy for breakfast." Usually attributed to Peter Drucker ... People and culture are the true life blood of any organization. The best ones can spontaneously generate an organic strategy for you. Or they can be an impediment to the best thought out strategies on paper. . . People and culture are the most important factors, whether you are dealing with change at the organizational or societal levels.
5. With unlimited resources I would give everyone the time, resources, and leisure to plan for the future. Society today is too focused on the near term and has a shorter and shorter attention span. Longer term planning over three to five years doesn't get the attention it deserves. And some of the best ideas won't bear immediate fruit. They require longer term investments and patience for returns.
1. We all have a finite time to leave our communities better than we found them.
2. My super power is Nonprofit Tax Consulting and Compliance.
3. Do what is right. Never stop learning. Act boldly. Respect others. Do what matters.
4. "When you talk, you are only repeating what you know; but when you listen, you learn something new." by the Dalai Lama ... Because unless we honestly commit ourselves to hear and see the struggle of others, we'll never take meaningful action to make things better.
5. With unlimited resources I would continue to build upon our organization's commitment of a diverse, equitable and inclusive workforce, investing in lifelong financial learning programs from elementary through university, so that more individuals from underrepresented groups choose the financial services industry to build careers and advance to leadership positions within the profession.
1. I want to be a part of creating a better world for my children and to see hope and compassion increase, and hate and despair decrease.
2. My super power is the intersection of wholistic outreach, faith and anti-racism.
3. In my leadership journey, I strive to keep learning, stay humble, fuel compassion, seek justice, revive hope and joy, and practice self-care.
4. “The beauty of anti-racism is that you don't have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it's the only way forward.”—Ijeoma Oluo ... This captures the need to work in the world and in yourself when it comes to fighting racism.
5. With unlimited resources, I would be a part of creating a more compassionate, equitable, and harmonious world where all people have hope, community, and opportunity to thrive, starting with Washington, DC.
1. I am an immigrant who saw the potential of getting more people like me involved in politics and civic life, including policymaking.
2. My super power is cultural competency across several platforms, as a woman, Asian American and immigrant, and the intersection between politics, economy and cultures.
3. From a Chinese immigrant to an American politician, my story shows immigrants don't have to wait a generation to be Americans.
4. "Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life, but by the obstacles one has to overcome."—Booker T. Washington
5. With unlimited resources I would grow the economy for all income and skill levels.
1. I believe that the nonprofit sector can drive innovation and meet the challenges of today—but only to the extent that it values inclusivity and empowers minority voices.
2. My super power is helping nonprofits understand legal concepts and solve legal problems. With free legal services and training, organizations can focus their time and resources on advancing their mission and maximizing their impact.
3. My leadership journey is striving to be flexible and dynamic in how I form partnerships and collaborate with stakeholders.
4. “We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice.” —Justice Sonia Sotomayor ... As a member of the legal services community, I am passionate about improving access to justice. More generally, Justice Sotomayor's quote reminds us to think of education and expertise as community assets that can be leveraged and shared in the pursuit of social change.
5. With unlimited resources, I would ensure that accessing legal expertise is never a barrier when it comes to launching and growing social sector organizations, especially for disadvantaged entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders.
1. I am dedicated to being a change maker because we need to leave the world in a better place for the next generation.
2. My super power is engaging in deep discussions on policy issues.
3. My journey has been understanding how I can be the best agent of change.
4. “Be the change you want to see in the world”—Gandhi ... It can be overwhelming to start fixing the world. Start with yourself.
5. With unlimited resources I would serve all underserved AAPIs in the DMV region and be an advocate for policy change to give our AAPI community a voice.