As a daughter of a pastor and pastor’s wife, I was drawn to public service at a very young age. I saw my parents serving the community through the church–whether it was providing interpretation services at court hearings, counseling sessions, rides to doctor’s visits, or being a friend to a church attendee. My parents gave selflessly to the Korean church community, and it was instilled in me to be at service to others, especially to those most in need, even if you do not have all the answers and resources. Ultimately, my mother is the whole reason I am in public service and particularly in politics. She told me to apply to my first internship at the White House because she saw it in a Korean newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia, and told me anyone can apply if it’s in a newspaper. That internship opened up doors for me to serve my community through politics not only in volunteering in my first campaign — Sam Yoon’s Boston City Council re-election–but also in Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s office.
I am most passionate about social justice issues that address the intersection of race, class, and gender and also in refugee issues. I discovered theses passions in college through student organizing and from learning how to advocate for myself, who was once a kid in the South bullied at school because I was Asian American. I care about refugee issues because of my personal connection as a Korean American to the Korean Peninsula, where many North Korean refugees are suffering.
I heard about CAPAL through my friend, Gene Kim, who told me joining the CAPAL Board is one of the best ways to work with amazing, passionate people who care about serving the AANHPI community. My experience was unforgettable, and I have great friendships to reflect this. While on the Board, I led the 26th anniversary CAPAL Gala and helped forge partnerships between CAPAL and the White House. My favorite memory with CAPAL was the Alumni Brunch after the Gala, where I met incredibly enraged and humble CAPAL alumni who are ready to mentor and commiserate with us as we navigate balancing our commitments with CAPAL and other aspects of our lives. The organization has been and continues to be a leader in creating a pipeline of AANHPIs in public service. The budget, number of interns, and reach have grown since I served.
Grace Choi is the Associate Director for Global Gender Policy and Advocacy at Save the Children. Previously, she served as Policy Advisor in the Secretary’s Office on Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. Before that role, she served as Staff Assistant in the White House Liaison’s Office at the U.S. Department of State. She is a Member of the Council of Korean Americans, a NetKAL Fellow, and served on the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership’s (CAPAL) Board of Directors as Vice Chair for Programs. Prior to her political appointment at the Department of State, Grace worked for the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office, the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC), President Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign, the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Refugee Affairs Division. She holdsa Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a Bachelor of Arts from Boston College.
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.