because I said I would at NetKAL Summit 2015

Because I said I would is definitely a phrase that resonates with us all. For some, it may bring up positive memories of when a loved one or friend came through on a promise. For others, it may conjure up negative experiences around disappointment. But did you know that because I said I would is also a non-profit organization and social movement? One that aims to end human suffering, establish peace and build happiness? And it is because of the group’s mission that they have recently connected with the USC School of Social Work through the 2015 NetKAL Summit.

Alex Sheen is the founder of because I said I would. His work has been featured on major media outlets, including Good Morning America, ABC World News, and NPR. Through his philanthropic work, his personal commitments, and the stories of his supporters, Sheen tours the world and speaks to audiences about the premise of his work: to keep a promise. Recently, participants of the 2015 NetKAL Summit were able to listen to his message.

“My father was a man of his word. When he made a promise, he kept it,” said Sheen. He went on to explain that his father, an immigrant from Korea, was a tough man that was able to beat cancer. As a pharmacist he took on the harshest chemo, knowing the risks, said Sheen. He went on to explain that at first it paid off, as the tumor shrunk and the cancer went into remission.
“Unfortunately, the cancer came back and spread throughout his body,” he said. The audience listened attentively as Sheen finished. “But this story is not about my father’s death, nor is it about cancer,” he said. “We all struggle with loss. During my struggle I kept coming back to the importance of a promise. You see, long before my father was born, and long after I’m gone, we are all treated by the integrity of our word.”

The way his nonprofit works is fairly simple. Promise cards are filled out by participants, they are then sent out to the recipient(s) of the promise, and returned to the sender when the promise has been completed.

Sheen is confident as he speaks on stage. More importantly, he is enthusiastic. He is excited about helping people keep their promises. Some promises are heavy, like that of a terminally ill father who promised to write out enough daily messages for his daughter to last her through her eighteenth birthday, others are less intense, like promising to hit the gym every day, but they’re all important to the people who make them.

“Because I said I would will take its movement beyond social media. I’m working on starting chapters around the world, they’ll be led by people like you, people who make promises to better our communities,” said Sheen.

Since his father’s passing in 2012 because I said I would has sent over three million promise cards to over 150 countries. Alex’s commitment to the betterment of humanity has inspired millions around the world to reflect and proclaim to do something honorable for themselves and others. Now attendees who were inspired by his stories at the 2015 NetKAL Summit know about the organization and its mission, and may even call upon it one day to help them follow through on their own promise(s).

Website: becauseisaidiwould.com

NetKAL Summit 2015 – Recap

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.

NetKAL Uses Its Diversity For Good

Fellows in the school’s Network of Korean-American Leaders, which promotes civic leadership among second-generation professionals, came together to rally for Korean Americans who were impacted during the recent riots in Baltimore. Much like the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the Baltimore protests severely affected numerous Korean-American business owners in the city.

NetKAL members, whose careers include journalism, law, nonprofit, government and more, collaborated with other civic and local entities to show support for Korean-American victims in Baltimore. There have been fundraising efforts for some business owners – four stores were completely burned down and 55 seriously damaged – and David H. Kim, chair of the Korean American Grocers Association, penned an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun.

Another project is The Dream Unfinished: A Symphonic Benefit for Civil Rights, a gathering of musicians and prominent artists and figures who will join the chorus of calls for civil rights, social justice and an end to systemic racism. The concert will be held on July 17 at the Salvation Army Centennial Memorial Temple in New York City to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death.

In addition to NetKAL’s recent efforts in Baltimore, the organization was highlighted in the bookConnecting to Change the World (Island Press, 2014) as one of more than 30 successful network projects with social impact. The program was recognized for its connectivity network, linking people together to create a powerful pipeline of Korean-American leaders that crosses political, economic, social and cultural silos.

Source: http://uscsocialwork.org/2015/07/10/netkal-uses-its-diversity-for-good/

Winning the Day

By NetKAL IX, Host Committee Week 2: Christine, Dan, Jess, Jim, Priscilla

 

6:30 AM. Saturday morning. Hit snooze, maybe twice. Check emails. Slide out of bed out into what feels dark and cold. Wash up. Shower and shave. The clothes you picked out last night don’t look so sharp now. Wrestle with your clothes while struggling with consciousness. Yesterday was fuzzy. Crazy party? No,

just another NetKAL Friday.

Yet you made a decision at some point in your life, that the long game is as important as the short, that you’ve got something worth fighting for, and that you’ll sleep when you retire; and today is no exception. So you’ve agreed to spend six weekends with twenty-five of this nation’s crème de la crème Korean-American leaders, that strange but formidable hyphenated sub-group that’s understood to outsiders as part foreign and part familiar, who’ve decided the same.

Together we’ll examine each other, strengthen weaknesses, extend our reach. Great, but how?

Winning the day
Winning the day

In part, you put a group of highly ambitious and talented individuals like us together and magic is bound to happen.

But we’ve been enriched and energized under the auspices of the sagacious Dr. Greg Patton, an expert in communication, and interpersonal and leadership effectiveness, who looks like he’s done this once or twice before. In session 1, he turned us inward to chart the way we perceive the world, and how others, including our boss, might as well. We were reminded that we’re just as often, if not more often, persuaded by emotion rather than credentials or the all-revered logic. That wars are fought and history made not based on a comprehensive risk-assessment and mitigation strategy plan, but on who miffed who.

And we better recognize it, as Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience,” despite what our JD’s, MD’s, and PhD’s might tell us.

We also learned about Dr. Philip Jaisohn, the first great Korean-American (after all, in 1890, he was the first Korean to obtain American citizenship),[1] directly from Peter Choi, President of the Jaisohn Memorial Foundation. Jaisohn was the best in many of us—journalist, businessman, physician, politician, military advisor, diplomat, rebel, visionary—and decorated in whatever he did. He must’ve never heard of the bamboo ceiling.

In session 2, Greg made us brand managers, LinkedIn advisors, Warren Buffets, and arctic wayfarer survivors. The purpose wasn’t merely to make decisions—thank goodness, most of us died in the arctic—but to be conscious of our group’s dynamics and interactions as we prepare for our keystone public service project proposals. In and amongst the initial greetings, Facebook requests, and increasing interactions, we’ve begun to develop a bond that is sure to mature over time. Why? Because NetKAL is like an incubator of the most dynamic and leaned-in people being coached and spurred by veterans who know what success looks like.

Look how much fun we have at work.
Look how much fun we have at work.

And in and amongst the techniques, strategies, and self-conscious exercises, we’ve not only become better aware of who we are, but what we could become. Development officers to community organizers with expertise in fostering community-to-donor relations and engendering a culture of philanthropy. Scientists to leading innovators developing the next generation of synthetic biomedical technology. Officers to military veterans with expertise in strategic planning, regional adaptation, and combat and field experience to craft the next line of defense. Television producers to programs entrepreneurs sniffing out stories and getting the next generation of civic improvements into your living room. Policy analysts to strategic and regional managers promoting free markets, humanity, and democracy. Lawyers to activists bending bad governments to play by the rules they signed up for. You get the point.

Why? Why all the school beyond school, the grind sessions, the weekends that could be spent back in the warm bed?

To put what we learned to the test, we had the opportunity to learn from David S. Kim, NetKAL Leadership Council member and our keynote dinner speaker, whom we were all probably analyzing for his delivery, poise, branding. Was he engaging? Concise? Nervous? Obstructive power point? He passed with flying colors.

Our Jess in the ring standing toe-to-toe with David
Our Jess in the ring standing toe-to-toe with David

But a week later, and a 1000 pages of memos to read, like the cold floor hits you when you get out of bed, you still have to face the world.

But now you know you’re not alone. You’ve got allies who make the same decision every morning to be more than just good at what they do. But to be a force for good in this world and to leave an imprint, a legacy for yourself, your family, and for the next generation of Korean-Americans in this nation.

Because until now, Korean-Americans at large are still viewed as the excellent and passive researchers. Not those who win the day. Without a seat at the decision-making table, our voices are negligible. And as one of our own said at the last weekend session, if we’re not actively crafting our brand, someone will do it for us.

So where are the next Harold Koh’s? Jim Yong Kim? Nam June Paik? Yul Kwon? Do Won Chang? Philip Jaisohn?

Mark Twain said those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t. Then similarly, those who don’t flex, stretch, strengthen their leadership abilities have no advantage over those who can’t. We have a duty to those before us and to those ahead.

As John Donne put, “no man is an island,” for every one NetKAL fellow, it took a community to raise you to where you are. And for every NetKAL fellow, there are two more kids you can probably think of who need your guidance.

Our best days lie ahead. Our history is yet to be made.

President John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

We don’t know exactly what Dr. Jehoon Lee and his talented staff have in store for us for the remainder of the seminars and onward. But we’ve bought in to the need for elevated leadership.

Because the next time someone is asked what he or she thinks about Korean-Americans, let the answer be, “Leaders.” You know winning the day starts from the morning. And today is no different.

Host Committee members with the speaker David S. Kim
Host Committee members with the speaker David S. Kim
[1] Philip Jaisohn Memorial House, Brochure, http://v-nep.org/pdf/JaisohnHouseBrochure24pg.pdf

FELLOW PROFILE: JINHA PARK

Jinha ParkNetKAL Fellow Jinha Park has a long history with the University of Southern California.  Currently the Director of MRI and Radiology Research at City of Hope and Beckman Research Institute, he received his M.D. and Ph.D. from the USC Keck School of Medicine.

However, Jinha does not see himself as just being involved in medical care.  “I see a broader need for policy change, community action and public health, particularly with Korean-American health issues,” he commented.  “So when a friend approached me about joining NetKAL to gain leadership experience and broaden my network, I signed on with enthusiasm because this would be my chance to learn about areas outside of my profession.

The entire experience was new to me because I had never been exposed to any business, leadership or communications courses in my field of study.  I had had a little experience working with hospital administration and there is a business aspect to the healthcare system, but NetKAL afforded me an opportunity to learn about how to propel yourself higher in your own workplace and to interact and communicate effectively with leaders in other fields.  I absorbed everything like a sponge!”

One of the highlights of the program for him was the chance to bond and share with fellow Korean-Americans who had a similar background with regard to life and career.  The commonality was extremely valuable as it reaffirmed for him that he was not alone in some of these struggles.

“Growing up Korean-American, there was an eagerness for our immigrant or first-generation parents to have us succeed,” recalls Jinha.   “The environment was hyper-competitive and, for example, when the local Korean newspapers would showcase someone who was accepted to an Ivy League school or to Stanford then your parents would really put the pressure on you to do the same.  So when we were in high school, all of the Korean-American kids were focused on competing with each other.

The message of NetKAL is different.  It emphasizes that we all need to work together, get to know each other so we can help each other.  That we have common, shared experiences and that networking with each other is of paramount importance.   We no longer need to be competitive with each other, but should compete together to enable ourselves as a community.”

Class VII was the second of the NetKAL classes that incorporated a “group sharing” session into their program.  It was an open forum format in a confined space where careful listening could be conducted.  Each class member was given an opportunity to share anything they wanted, and most went far beyond talking about their professional aspirations.  “It was deeply personal and emotional,” remarks Jinha.  “People shared some of the psychological traumas that they had gone through as individuals and with their families, the trials in their personal lives and in their careers.  Things that you need to work out in order to be successful.  To be able to share all of this in a supportive setting was invaluable.”

Since completing the NetKAL program, Jinha has found that the leadership skills and guidance that he received as a member of Class VII has impacted his day-to-day work.  He is less afraid to speak up about issues beyond his general scope of knowledge in clinical medicine or research and science.  As a result of this personal empowerment he has taken on more administrative responsibility at his hospital and solely credits his NetKAL experience with instilling the confidence needed to successfully approach organizational management.

As an alum of the NetKAL Leadership Program, Jinha also feels strongly about giving back.  “I want there to be a Class IX and, hopefully, a Class XXX.  I think that this program is so worthwhile that I have given my own personal funding to help ensure that this happens.  I have seen such tremendous personal and professional benefits in my life from having participated in Class VII, and as a community we should want to see this continue to expand and develop.”

Jinha Park has been a member of the NetKAL Alliance annual giving program for the past two years.

NetKAL Welcomes Two New Advisory Board Members

The Network of Korean-American Leaders (NetKAL) at the USC School of Social Work, has appointed two new members to its advisory board:  Kyung Hee Choi, VP of the Korean Medical Program at Holy Name Medical Center and David Lee, Executive VP, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer of Zynga.

“We are very pleased that Kyung Hee Choi and David Lee have agreed to join the NetKAL advisory board.  These are two very accomplished individuals representing the Korean-American community at the highest levels, and we look forward to benefiting from their leadership,” stated Suok Noh, president of the NetKAL advisory board.

KHChoi

KYUNG HEE CHOI is Vice President of the Korean Medical Program (KMP) of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey. Developed by Ms. Choi to address the language and cultural needs of the Korean-American population, the KMP has, under her leadership, transformed Holy Name Medical Center into one of the preeminent healthcare institutions in the New York / New Jersey metropolitan area for members of the Korean-American community.

Previously, Ms. Choi worked as Managing Director at JP Morgan for 25 years overseeing New York, Seoul and Singapore, where she played key leadership roles in managing several business groups including Counterparty Risk Management, Commitments Office, and International Controller’s Office.

Ms. Choi is actively involved in community service, including as an elected trustee of the Northern Valley Regional High School Board of Education, and a board member of the Korean School of New Jersey, the Northern Valley Educational Foundation and FGS Korean Community Center.  Her community recognition has included the YWCA Tribute to Women and Industry, the American Conference on Diversity Humanitarian Award, Public Service Awards from the County of Bergen, the Senate and General Assembly of New Jersey, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare of the Republic of Korea.

davelee

DAVID LEE, is the Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Accounting Officer of Zynga, where he leads the company’s finance, accounting, corporate development and human resources departments. He brings with him 20 years of experience across retail and consumer industries, with a successful track record of helping to drive business transformations, develop organizational effectiveness and increase shareholder value.

Previously he was Senior Vice President of Finance for Best Buy, and was responsible for leading the company’s corporate strategy, financial planning & analysis (FP&A), treasury, and transformation. Prior to Best Buy he led the takeover-private transaction of Del Monte Foods to KKR for $5.5 billion. He held several leadership roles at Del Monte, including SVP of Strategy (corporate strategy, M&A, transformation, corporate affairs), SVP of Consumer Products (GM of $2 billion division), VP of Strategic Planning & Business Development, divisional CFO, and VP of sales (FP&A).

David is a NetKAL VII Fellow and is married to NetKAL VI Fellow Susan Kim.  They have two lovely daughters Emmy and Maddie.

NetKAL Service Projects Make a Difference in the Community

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The Fellows Leadership Program provides individuals with the skills, mentoring and resources that can transform lives and communities.  A key focus of the program is emphasizing social work and civic responsibility, and Classes are required to institute community service projects as part of their leadership ventures.  Below is an update on some ways in which our NetKAL Fellows are helping the community:

Korean-American Community Service Day was conceived out of NetKAL VIII with a vision for developing the event into the largest nationwide day of service sponsored by an Asian-American group. The goal is threefold:

1) Organize fragmented volunteer work around the country for greater impact and be a catalyst for creating long-term relationships.

2) Increase exposure for active Korean-American community engagement in all underserved communities.

3) Provide an annual event to unite NetKAL alumni and their networks.

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NetKAL Fellows and volunteers working in Astoria Park, New York City

On November 8, 2014, the inaugural Korean-American Community Service Day took place simultaneously in New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Thanks to the leadership of the NetKAL VIII Service Day Team – Amy Ahn, Seung Baik, Gina Chon, James Jung, Peggy Kauh, Ellen Kim, Celina Lee, Rich Lee, Angela Moon and Michael Park – 25 charitable organizations participated, creating a powerful network for one day of community service.

10403479_741520465923604_1214559721903759230_nWith over 250 volunteers participating, communities were served in various ways including feeding the hungry, tutoring inner city kids, working with disabled children, assisting WWII veterans, planting trees, cleaning public parks,  registering voters, and making kimchi for shelter and transitional housing residents.

“We created KA Service Day to mobilize Korean-Americans across the country to demonstrate our collective will and power to bring positive change to both our local communities and nationwide.  Our goal is for KA Service Day to inspire thousands of dedicated volunteers to participate, and expand the event to being one of the largest days of service in America.  We could not have launched our inaugural day without NetKAL, and we look forward to further growing this movement with the strength and support of this network.” – Peggy Kauh, NetKAL VIII

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Pathway was founded by members of NetKAL VII, and is a mentorship program designed for young Korean-American college students and recent graduates.  Rather than a one-on-one mentor/mentee pairing, the Pathway program connects each mentee with a permanent team of mentors who work with them to navigate personal and professional goals throughout college and beyond.  Participants in the program will also benefit from the extensive network of NetKAL alumni in business, law, entertainment, medicine, politics, and many other fields. The genesis of this program came from the philosophy of “paying it forward” and actively demonstrating NetKAL’s mission to mentor the next generation of leaders, serving to strengthen the Korean-American community at the local, national and international level.

After a competitive interview process, the selection committee comprised of NetKAL Fellows David Lee, Eddie Ahn, Chris Lee, Young Chung and Jennifer Chung, chose the program’s first three student mentees.  Each student has been paired with four Bay Area NetKAL VII Fellows and the program officially kicked off in October 2014.

“We are excited to connect a younger generation of Korean-Americans to a network that so many of us have found inspiring and life changing.  Pathway is a unique opportunity to meet Korean-Americans with a broad range of personal and professional experiences who are absolutely committed to helping each other.” – Jennifer Chung, NetKAL VII

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The Korean Foster Family Initiative was born out of NetKAL VI. The Fellows wanted to bring awareness to the deficit of Korean-American foster parents and ultimately recruit Korean-American families to become licensed foster care providers.  The program is overseen by Fellow Connie Chung Joe, executive director of Korean-American Family Services (KFAM) and thanks to her leadership, and the support of NetKAL Fellows and friends, the program is making a tremendous difference in the lives of Korean-American children in Los Angeles.

Recently, 16 Korean-Americans graduated from the Los Angeles County DCFS foster license training program in their native language. Thanks to KFFI, two Korean-American siblings were placed among the first graduating couples.  These foster children were recent immigrants who were removed from their home due to child abuse, and were forced to live in separate residences until KFFI was able to find a home for both of them.

“It’s not often that something we contribute to has such a direct, profound impact on others in need. So thank you all at NetKAL who have helped get this program off the ground and continue to support it with your time, donations, and moral support.”  – Connie Chung Joe, NetKAL VI

Next John Kennedy Among Korean-Americans?

– 2014 NetKAL Gala & Summit: What’s Next?

By Maya Meinert

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Keynote speaker: Steve Westly

This year’s Network of Korean-American Leaders (NetKAL) gala and summit focused on the theme of innovation, asking “what’s next?” when it comes to developments in everything from technology and business to politics and popular culture.

Held in San Francisco on Oct. 17-18, the annual event brought together leaders in technology, media, law, business, education, entertainment, politics and social networking to recognize the achievements of Korean Americans and the significant role they’ll play in leading innovation here and abroad.

The gala, which was held at the San Francisco Design Center, featured a keynote speech from Steven Westly, former controller and chief financial officer of the state of California, who pointed out how far South Korea has come in the last 50 years and urged Korean Americans to think outside the box when it comes to success.

“Our country is crying out for the next generation of smart leaders not to join venture capital firms or start new companies, but to take this know-how and make our government worthy of the economy we have to drive us,” he said. “I am calling on more young Korean Americans to come in to public service and help change the world. The next John Kennedy is amongst us. John Kennedy said, we are going to the moon not because it is an easy task but because it is hard. We need to do the hard things. That is what America has always done, and that is what the Korean-American community has always done.”

NetKAL, which is based at the USC School of Social Work, was established as a fellowship program that promotes civic leadership among successful second generation Korean Americans. Fellows, who come from a variety of professions, participate in a six-month program that provides participants with the tools they need to expand their professional networks while defining their own multi-faceted role as a Korean-American leader.

“The NetKAL gala and summit is a unique experience. It’s a chance for Korean-American leaders to socialize and exchange new ideas with the shared goal of making the Korean-American community better every year,” said Jehoon Lee, director of the USC Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership, which manages NetKAL. “The power of networking between these exceptionally talented second-generation Korean Americans exemplifies the pivotal position they hold in the Asian-American community and society as a whole.”

Run River North performing at 2014 NetKAL Gala
Run River North performing at 2014 NetKAL Gala

Striking out on their own

As a testament to this idea of leading the way for the community, the latest class of NetKAL fellows announced its new project, Korean American Community Service Day. Borne out of this class’ NetKAL community service competition, Korean- American Community Service Day aims to become the largest day of service sponsored by an Asian-American group by creating an annual occasion for Korean Americans and their friends, families and networks to volunteer in their local communities.

In another first, Stephen Kahng received the inaugural NetKAL Pioneer Award, which recognizes Korean-American leaders who have substantially contributed to the health, growth, accessibility or sustainability of the community. Kahng was the founder of Power Computing Corporation, the first company chosen by Apple to build Macintosh-compatible computers, and now focuses on philanthropy and nonprofit work.

He talked about how he left a stable job to try his hand at riskier ventures and failed multiple times before striking gold.

“Don’t feel too comfortable with your current position. Set your goals very high. Try risky ventures,” Kahng said. “Your first venture probably will not work out as you planned, but keep on trying until you’re successful. I learned more from failure than success. It’s important that you have passion and work very hard to be successful.

“I hope we can work together to make this world a better place.”

Playing off the theme of innovation, this year’s gala entertainers represented the new guard. Jane Lui, a singer-songwriter who made a name for herself via YouTube and crowdfunded her latest album, performed a one-woman set for the NetKAL crowd. Run River North, a group comprising Korean Americans, played a rousing set of its version of indie folk-rock.

2014 NetKAL Summit: What's Next?
2014 NetKAL Summit: What’s Next?

At the next day’s summit, leaders from the technology, academic, political, media and legal industries described the trials and tribulations of following the road less traveled – to big results. Many of the panelists followed their dreams, often in the face of adversity, to lead well-known companies such as Guitar Hero, Zynga, Dropbox and Facebook.

Richard Lee, founder of Caseflex, a legal technology startup that makes it easier to search federal court filings, said he was inspired by the gala and summit speakers’ stories of perseverance.

“The speakers and panelists at this year’s summit were all innovators in their own right,” he said. “It was incredibly inspiring to hear them talk about overcoming challenges to forge their own path. I took many of these lessons with me back to New York.”

Lee, who is a NetKAL fellow, said he left the event with a renewed sense of camaraderie.

“The strength of NetKAL lies in its members, and in the connections between those members,” he said. “The annual gala and summit is one of the few occasions that brings together the entire organization. For me personally, it’s a great way to strengthen existing relationships as well as meet new members of the NetKAL family.”

Special Thanks to all our Sponsors!

More photos of the gala

More photos of the summit

NetKAL Class is First to Fully Participate in Giving

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For the first time in its history, an entire class of the Network of Korean-American Leaders (NetKAL) at the USC School of Social Work has pledged donations to the organization that brings together accomplished individuals from various industries to promote collective civic and professional leadership in the Korean-American community.

The $50,000 pledge from NetKAL Class VIII will go toward supporting the high quality programming that NetKAL members have enjoyed over the eight years since it started, as well as providing a path toward sustainability for future fellows – emerging Korean-American leaders who receive training through a six-month series of intensive workshops and seminars.

“This pledge from our fellows, many of whom are 1.5 and second-generation Korean Americans, shows that they are invested in the future of the program and of their community,” said Jehoon Lee, director of the USC Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership, which manages NetKAL. “As leaders in their industries, the fellows wanted to pay forward the experience they had in NetKAL, with high-level networking opportunities, professional development and community service activities, so other successful Korean Americans would be able to benefit from the strong, highly respected network in the future.”

Phillip Kwun, the top donor in this class of fellows, said that this group was very cohesive.

“You only have so many opportunities in your life to build significant friendships and relationships,” said Kwun, who is a founding member, managing director and chief financial officer of the boutique investment bank Sonenshine Partners in New York. “We collectively value the program and thought it was important to give back as a whole.”

Since its inception, NetKAL has brought together leaders in business, education, entertainment, nonprofit organizations, politics and media to celebrate and discuss the accomplishments of Korean Americans, as well as the role they will play in their community’s future. The organization, which holds a gala event and an educational summit each year, has been on an upward trajectory in terms of its reputation – so much so that the Republic of Korea welcomed the group in 2012 with visits to Samsung headquarters and the presidential Blue House, as well as a North Korean refugee resettlement center, a soup kitchen serving seniors and a youth mentoring workshop.

“Giving is part of committing to a certain set of values,” Kwun said. “NetKAL promotes leadership based on integrity, diversity and mentorship. Supporting a leading organization where that dialogue is taking place is important. NetKAL fellows want to see the organization continue to thrive.”

Jane Norman, another member of Class VIII who helped lead the fundraising charge for the group, agrees that meeting people from all walks of life and who work in different industries helped her grow in more ways than one.

“Professionally, many of us are at the points in our careers where we are assessing what’s next or where we want to go. Having the opportunity to explore this with peers and to identify concrete things to do to facilitate that has been invaluable,” said Norman, who is a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Obama Administration.

She said the experience has been even more powerful on a personal level.

“I’m a Korean adoptee, and NetKAL has helped me connect with Korean culture and accomplished Korean-American leaders in a way I didn’t think would be possible. As someone who didn’t grow up in a Korean community or even a Korean family, it has been exciting and deeply satisfying to establish these relationships,” Norman said.

When it came to ensuring the future of the program, Norman didn’t hesitate.

“It’s about making sure NetKAL can continue to grow and offer opportunities to other Korean Americans. The program plays a critical role in helping to show the strength and diversity of Korean-American leadership, as well as helping younger Korean Americans see many different ways to be successful,” she said.

“Accomplishing [this fundraising goal] together as a class was a wonderful way to put a cap on a great series of sessions. So many of us have gotten value out of NetKAL, and we wanted to give back to the program that has invested in us.”

NetKAL Class VIII’s gift boosts the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Three years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $3.5 billion.

Korean-American class supports community leadership

– NetKAL group invests in the future of its long-running civic program

Read Original Story: USC News

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For the first time in its history, an entire class of the Network of Korean-American Leaders (NetKAL) at the USC School of Social Work has pledged donations to the organization that brings together accomplished individuals from various industries to promote collective civic and professional leadership in the Korean-American community.

The $50,000 pledge from NetKAL Class VIII will go toward supporting the quality programming that NetKAL members have enjoyed over the eight years since it started, as well as providing a path toward sustainability for future fellows — emerging Korean-American leaders who receive training through a six-month series of workshops and seminars.

As leaders in their industries, the fellows wanted to pay forward the experience they had in NetKAL.

Jehoon Lee

“This pledge from our fellows, many of whom are 1.5 and second-generation Korean-Americans, shows that they are invested in the future of the program and of their community,” said Jehoon Lee, director of the USC Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership, which manages NetKAL. “As leaders in their industries, the fellows wanted to pay forward the experience they had in NetKAL, with high-level networking opportunities, professional development and community service activities, so other successful Korean-Americans would be able to benefit from the strong, highly respected network in the future.”

A collective effort

Phillip Kwun, the top donor in this class of fellows, said that this group was very cohesive.

“You only have so many opportunities in your life to build significant friendships and relationships,” said Kwun, a founding member, managing director and chief financial officer of the New York-based boutique investment bank Sonenshine Partners. “We collectively value the program and thought it was important to give back as a whole.”

Since its inception, NetKAL has brought together leaders in business, education, entertainment, nonprofit organizations, politics and media to celebrate and discuss the accomplishments of Korean-Americans, as well as the role they will play in their community’s future. The organization, which holds a gala event and an educational summit each year, has been on an upward trajectory in terms of its reputation — so much so that the Republic of Korea welcomed the group in 2012 with visits to Samsung headquarters and the presidential Blue House, as well as a North Korean refugee resettlement center, a soup kitchen serving seniors and a youth mentoring workshop.

“Giving is part of committing to a certain set of values,” Kwun said. “NetKAL promotes leadership based on integrity, diversity and mentorship. Supporting a leading organization where that dialogue is taking place is important. NetKAL fellows want to see the organization continue to thrive.”

Professional growth

Jane Norman, another member of Class VIII who helped lead the fundraising charge for the group, agreed that meeting people from all walks of life and who work in different industries helped her grow in more ways than one.

“Professionally, many of us are at the points in our careers where we are assessing what’s next or where we want to go. Having the opportunity to explore this with peers and to identify concrete things to do to facilitate that has been invaluable,” said Norman, a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the Obama administration.

She said the experience has been even more powerful on a personal level.

“I’m a Korean adoptee, and NetKAL has helped me connect with Korean culture and accomplished Korean-American leaders in a way I didn’t think would be possible. As someone who didn’t grow up in a Korean community or even a Korean family, it has been exciting and deeply satisfying to establish these relationships,” Norman said.

NetKAL Class VIII’s gift boosts the Campaign for the University of Southern California, a multiyear effort that seeks to raise $6 billion or more in private philanthropy to advance USC’s academic priorities and expand its positive impact on the community and world. Three years after its launch, the campaign has raised more than $3.5 billion.