Last month several hundred leaders from around the country and world came together to honor a long-time NetKAL tradition, the annual NetKAL Summit & Gala.
This year’s summit was held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in New York, and featured a series of TED style talks from inspirational speakers, including former South Korean Olympic swimmer, Bryan Kim, and fashion designer known for styling Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, Ted Kim. The summit committee also honored government representative, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, for his ongoing work as an advocate for Korean War veterans and U.S.-Korea relations in Congress.
USC School of Social Work’s dean, Dr. Marilyn Flynn, gave the welcome at the dinner, and praised the leadership efforts of both Congressman Rangel, and the program fellows.
“During my tenor as dean, one of my proudest achievements has been to see the establishment and progress of the Network of Korean-American Leaders,” said Dean Flynn. She went onto to introduce Congressman Rangel, thanking him for his pioneering work in social justice as a government representative.
This was the 7th annual summit presented by the Network for Korean American Leaders (NetKAL), a leadership program housed under The Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work. The event brought together prominent leaders from across the spectrum of business, politics, education, nonprofit, and entertainment sectors. The goal was to share expertise, learn from one another’s backgrounds, and, ultimately, continue to build a network that participants could call upon after the summit.
“I am honored to speak at a critical gathering of influential Korean Americans who are shaping communities throughout our great Nation,” said Congressman Rangel, he went on to congratulate audience member for their astounding leadership and success, asking them to continue working towards empowering others.
Now in its tenth year, the NetKAL program has graduated nine cycles of classes. Ranging from their late twenties to forties, the fellows have undergone intensive leadership training, and were provided with vast networking and professional building opportunities. Now, many of them serve as leaders in their industries and communities, spearheading socially oriented initiatives.
“As the Korean American community in the U.S. matures, the agenda for the community is shifting from survival mode to giving back. The landscape is transforming from issues of immigration and integration to broader civic leadership,” said Dr. Jehoon Lee, director of the NetKAL program. “As a program we are finding ways to strategically leverage individual philanthropic involvement in order to create the largest impact on the Korean American community, as well as broader society.”
And the fellows are doing just that. October will mark the second annual Korean American Service Day, an initiative that is all about taking what Korean Americans are already doing to better the broader community through service work, and furthering it by joining forces for one day each year.
With the success of this year’s summit behind them, the NetKAL Board is now gearing up to make the program international. Currently working with leaders in Korea to establish a NetKAL Korea Foundation that will be based in Seoul, the board is working to leverage the already successful national network into an international alliance that will work to address issues in the Korean community, while continuing to foster leadership that aims to help improve broader society.