I (she/her/hers) grew up in New York City (specifically, Queens) with limited-English speaking immigrant parents who worked in blue-collar jobs. As a first generation immigrant, I started helping my mom with her business when I was eight years old. I was the first person in my family to go to college and graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor’s in Political Science and International Relations. I also have a Masters in Public Administration from Cornell University. I’ve been privileged to have traveled to 30 countries (and counting!) and have had some of the best adventures overseas. This includes backpacking through two continents and working for the United Nations in Sudan.
I’ve worked for almost 15 years in the non-profit sector in communities of color focusing on ending gender based violence and immigrant/refugee rights. I’ve served as an advocacy coordinator, community organizer, public outreach officer, and Executive Director for a variety of non-profits including: International Rescue Committee, the Asian/Pacific Islander Domestic Violence Resource Project (DVRP), San Francisco SafeHouse, and the LeaderSpring Center.
Why do I care about non-profit leadership?
I had been working at DVRP in Washington, D.C. as the Director of Programs for about a year and half. I reported to our Board of Directors since we didn’t have an Executive Director. Our organization was at high risk of shutting down due to lack of funding. The funders and the city also didn’t believe that Asian/Pacific Islander survivors of domestic violence needed culturally specific services. I met with several major funders who told me that DVRP had to hire an Executive Director if they were going to continue supporting us.
I reported this back to my Board and offered to resign so there would be funding available for that position. They asked me if I would be interested in being the Executive Director. I said no. I didn’t think I was good enough. The imposter syndrome was real. The Board Chair convinced me to try it out. Over the next six months, I worked rigorously with the Board to turn the organization around. Our hard work paid off. The organizational budget doubled in size as we brought on new funders. We hired full-time case managers. Our quality of services improved. We went from serving 50 survivors a year to over 200.
Due to support from my Board of Directors, executive coaching, and participation in an Executive Directors Leadership Program for Asian Pacific American leaders, I was able to create and implement critical turnaround strategies. We implemented community care practices and focused on creating spaces for healing. I vowed that if I was able to turn my non-profit around, I would pay it forward by mentoring/coaching other non-profit leaders.
Fun Facts About Me
Currently, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my partner, Mike Lok, and our rescue dog, Hansyn. Mike works in development for a non-profit health center in Oakland. Hansyn is a certified assistance dog. I coach Asian Pacific American non-profit leaders and implement community care practices at organizations. Also:
I love reading/watching the news - especially CNN which plays the same two news stories around the clock. That just means I have to get my news fix from elsewhere too.
I’m a gamer and once raised over $1,000 in donations for my non-profit organization.
I’m a Certified Professional Diversity Coach and facilitate diversity, equity, and inclusivity trainings through Healing Equity United, a project I co-founded with a friend/former colleague.
Along with my friends, I organized the first walk to raise awareness of modern day slavery on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.