For the better part of 20 years, I’ve volunteered and lead efforts to support organizations in education reform and mentoring, with an emphasis on under-served communities. There have been a handful of social entrepreneurs with whom I’ve worked — as a board member, volunteer or donor – and who inspired me by shining a light on and boldly addressing a critical need, while being influential and approaching their work with a servant’s heart. I am thinking about magnetic, visionary, results-oriented leaders like Maureen Holla, Lindsey Wood Jeffries and Katherine Roboff at Higher Achievement; Jennie Niles, the founder of the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School; and Jayne Park, who founded the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center (APALRC) and Jenny Yang, who served as its Board Chair for many years.
Early in my law career, I learned that, even if through my vocation I could not make enough of a social impact, I could still develop a niche as a volunteer and supporter of impactful organizations, even outside my areas of expertise, and that I might be able to provide assistance within my areas of expertise, mainly the law and, now, real estate. I became a lawyer to be a public servant. Initially, I wanted to be a public defender. During law school, I learned that I probably could not work in that capacity and be happy. I turned my focus toward international trade instead and became a lawyer in that field. Ultimately, I ended my law career as a corporate attorney, focusing on IP licensing and mergers and acquisitions.
In the 90s, as a young Asian American who’d just moved to DC, I felt the CAPAL board was my DC family and its social network was my home away from home. I really loved the fellowship that existed among CAPAL members. CAPAL helped me improve my leadership skills. My role was to develop and implement the educational program for the young Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) interns who would come to DC each summer. We organized brown bag lunches, panel discussions and social events. We had a great time and strengthened the belief among these young people that a career in public service was attainable, rewarding and fun!
Personally, I really enjoyed CAPAL retreats, where we’d spend two or three days together, contemplating our impact and making concrete plans to effectuate change and progress. I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet more established members of the community, whom we admired and who led us by example. I loved the planning sessions at Chantale Wong’s house, where she showed us how to collaborate, set goals and operationalize them into results.
CAPAL nurtured meaningful friendships, broadened our view of public service and modeled the many ways that generations within a community can strengthen each other by giving and receiving mentorship.
Along the way, I was lucky enough to discover my passion. My real estate investing hobby, which began in the late 90s became my obsession, and, ultimately, my vocation. With my partners, I currently own a DC/MD/VA real estate brokerage with over 300 agents. Within our firm, I run the top sales team, Eng Garcia Properties, which has sold $100 million worth of real estate in each of the last three years. With my wife, Lucinda Eng, I have three children. I remain committed to making a positive social impact and now serve on the President’s Council for Higher Achievement and the Board of Trustees of Connecticut College, my alma mater.
The CAPAL team thanks Carlos and his wife Lucinda for being members of our Champions Circle through Eng Garcia Properties, LLC! Learn more about our 2016 campaigns and make a donation here.
Posted by Elizabeth Thompson
Prior to CAPAL, Elizabeth Thompson worked in a development and communications capacity for Asian Arts Initiative, a community-based multidisciplinary arts center in Philadelphia. She is currently serving on the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) Metro D.C. Chapter’s Steering Committee and is a mentor for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, DC Chapter (YNPNdc) Mentoring Program. Elizabeth served as the grantmaking co-chair for The Spruce Foundation, which cultivates the next generation of philanthropists through community giving. She is the recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Diverse Communities Conference and Bridge Conference scholarships and received a scholarship for ProInspire’s Managing for Success Program. She is an active member of AFP, YNPNdc and AAPIP. Elizabeth received her BA in Art History from Western Washington University and her MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania. When not promoting young philanthropy and leadership, Elizabeth spends her time thrifting and playing with her handsome Manchester terrier. elizabeth.thompson [at] capal [dot] org