Tributes in Memory of Shinae Chun

ShinaeNetKAL has lost one of its longest and most enduring supporters. Shinae Chun, who served as director of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor from 2001 to 2009, died on Oct. 15, 2013.

As director of the Women’s Bureau, she advocated for women in the workforce and implemented innovative projects. Her important initiatives included technology-driven online learning programs for women, financial education for working women and flexible workplaces. At the time of her directorship, she was the highest-ranking Korean-American appointee in President George W. Bush’s administration.

Prior to her role at the Women’s Bureau, Chun headed the Illinois Department of Labor and Illinois Department of Financial Institutions, and she was first to serve as special assistant to the governor for Asian-American affairs.

Chun said her three most important principles for achieving success began with core ethical values, thinking big, and surrounding oneself with good people. She expanded on these principles in her book, You Are 99% Potential, which was published in 2009.

Chun was the first recipient of NetKAL’s Exemplary Leadership Award for Public Service in 2007 and an inaugural member of the USC Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership Advisory Board since.


A sampling of tributes shared with NetKAL follow:

“Shinae was a public servant of great influence and stature in her work in state and federal government. Indeed, she advanced the status of 21st century working women.The School of Social Work was so honored to have Shinae’s leadership and influence almost from the inception of our NetKAL program.  She was emblematic of the potential for achievement in this society by Korean-American women, a trailblazer, and an inspiration for us all.”

-Marilyn Flynn, Dean, USC School of Social Work


“It is because of Korean-American pioneers like Shinae Chun that subsequent generations can continue to strengthen the influence and service of the Asian-American community here in the United States. We honor her life, her career and her dedication to support emerging leaders within our community.”

-Abraham Kim, The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana


“I am honored to have met her and am deeply saddened by her passing. A huge loss for the Americans and the Korean Americans in particular. I am only heartened by the fact that her contributions will live on and people would remember her for the positive influence she imparted on them.”

-Perry Ha, DFJ Athena


“My wife Linda and I want to express our deep sadness at the loss of a wonderful person. Shinae introduced us to the Korean-American community, especially NetKAL, where we shared important and memorable events. As a former senior manager in the U.S. Department of Labor/Women’s Bureau, and where Shinae served as director, I witnessed her passion and commitment to working women’s issues at the highest level. Linda and I will light a candle in honor of Shinae and never forget her grace and kindness to us.”

-Major General (Ret) Collis Phillips and Linda Groff


“Shinae will definitely be missed by the NetKAL family. I am personally saddened with her passing and send my condolences to her family. Through NetKAL, I met Shinae, which led to my being among the lucky few who regularly enjoyed Shinae’s famous hand-made salad luncheons in her D.C. office, during which she freely dispensed her advice and support to myself and other Korean Americans serving in government. Shinae also inspired the NetKAL fellows. In 2009, when we were planning the first NetKAL Summit in D.C., she challenged us to take more ownership and to make it happen. With her leadership, NetKAL held a successful gala dinner and summit. A great reminder of her spirit and commitment to our community.”

Stephen Suh, NetKAL IV


“What a loss … I do remember meeting her and hearing her speak at a NetKAL event. She truly was a pioneer and an inspiration for Korean-American leaders, especially for Korean-American women.”

-Michelle Ahn, Marriott International


“Shinae was a critical part of my early professional development and my role model when she was director of the Illinois Department of Labor under Gov. Jim Edgar and I was a newly minted legislative liaison under him right out of college. Calm, cool, decisive and intelligent is what Shinae projected and what I wanted to become. Our community has lost an impactful leader and voice that will not be forgotten.” 

-Bernard Moon, NetKAL III


“The NetKAL family lost one of its most influential thinkers, contributors and supporters. Shinae was a great role model who selflessly shared her wisdom and stature for the greater good of the community.” 

-Suok Noh, President, NetKAL Advisory Board


“I am deeply saddened by this loss of Shinae. She was a person of great influence and stature — and a wonderful friend. Your community has lost a world-class role model.”

-Becky Norton Dunlop, The Heritage Foundation


“I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former Director of the U.S. Department of Labor Shinae Chun.  Throughout her life, she was an inspiration to Koreans and Americans alike through her devotion to public service and pioneering spirit. She contributed greatly to the strengthening of US-Korean relations and to the advancement of the underserved in society. She will be dearly missed by all who knew her”.      

-Kim Moon-Soo , Governor of Gyeonggi Province,  Republic of Korea


“Shinae was dedicated to her vision of preparing American women for ‘Better Job! Better Earning’s! Better Living!’  She poured her energy and creativity into her work.  She left behind a living legacy in the lives of women and their families who benefited the program she initiated. “

-Thomas E. Peres, secretary of Labor.


“Shinae was someone who was truly respected for her leadership and vision. We will deeply miss her, but her memory will live on through the foundation she laid for the Korean-American community and NetKAL. She was a true visionary and had great passion for the Korean-American community. She was my mentor and teacher and always shared with genuine professionalism. “

-Jehoon Lee, USC Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership


Headshot2In honor of Shinae Chun, the NetKAL Board of Advisors approved a measure to designate yearly a “Shinae Chun Fellow” who is dedicated in their work as a public servant and will carry on Chun’s legacy through leadership in the Korean-American community. This year NetKAL VIII Fellow Jane Norman has been chosen by the Board as the Shinae Chun Fellow.

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