The Korean American Community Foundation’s 3rd Annual National Convening of Korean American Nonprofit & Philanthropic Leaders 2023 was held on November 6-7 in New York City.
The convening, the first and largest of its kind bringing together Korean American nonprofit and foundation leaders from across the country, creates an opportunity for the leading changemakers in our communities to forge new connections, discuss emerging issues of economic insecurity, share expertise and strategies, and explore opportunities to work more collaboratively across generations and geographic boundaries.
This year’s agenda was co-created with participating organizations and focused on:
KACF’s National Vision & Expansion: Opening Conversation with KACF’s President & Board Chair
- Kyung Yoon – Co-Founder & President, Korean American Community Foundation (KACF)
- Jeannie Park – Board Chair, Korean American Community Foundation (KACF)
“When we thought of philanthropy it didn’t evoke the image of someone that looked like us,” said KACF’s Co-Founder and President, Kyung B. Yoon, reflecting on the Foundation’s and growth during the opening conversation with Board Chair, Jeannie Park. From building authentic relationships with nonprofit partners that allow for vulnerable conversations to growing more deliberate about diversifying and developing KACF’s board of directors, they shared the lessons learned in how philanthropy can truly be by and for the community. Kyung also provided an overview of how KACF is expanding its impact nationally, including a snapshot of insights and learnings from KACF’s latest national grantmaking cycle.
“How can we make the “pie” bigger and more effectively connect people to each other so that we can help those who don’t have what they need?” – Jeannie Park
“Relationships that allow for vulnerability are fruitful.” – Kyung B. Yoon
Centering Women: Gender, Immigration & Economic Insecurity
- Sung Yeon Choimorrow – Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF)
- Katherine Yeom – Executive Director, Korean American Family Services (KFAM)
- Seongwon Kim – Program Manager, MinKwon Center for Community Action
Sharing personal stories illuminated the resilience of Korean immigrant women in our lives who have often served as the pillars of our families and communities. Sung Yeon (NAPAWF) refocused the conversation to focus on how culturally rooted gender dynamics and systemic issues have impacted them and prompted reflection on how we as individuals and as a community can build a society in which they do not have to sacrifice and be resilient. Katherine (KFAM) and Seongwon (MinKwon) emphasized the experiences of the marginalized Korean women, including those who are undocumented or survivors of domestic violence, and how they must surmount economic insecurity at the complex intersections of race, gender, and immigration status. Nonprofit leaders also had an opportunity to talk about how the work of their organizations can be done in ways that dismantle barriers for women.
“I’ve heard [community members] say, ‘I’m glad you’re a woman, because I don’t how how else I could share what I’m sharing.’” – Seongwon Kim
“A lot of times, survivors leaving a spouse do not have status-their spouse is the one with status. And if you get in trouble with law enforcement, the one who speaks English is the correct one.” – Katherine Yeom
“What is your part in creating a world where Korean women don’t have to be resilient?” – Sung Yeon Choimorrow
Building Power in Coalition
Facilitator: Marissa Martin – Executive Director, The Advocacy Institute
Marissa Martin (Advocacy Institute) led a session on coalition building, dissecting both strategies and obstacles faced by organizations. Nonprofit leaders offered valuable insights into how their organizations actively contribute to community empowerment through coalition efforts. Nonprofit leaders shared their testimonies on the the transformative power of collaborative action and expressed the challenges they have experienced in building such partnerships.
“Our work has to be led by people who are directly impacted.” – Inhe Choi
Let’s Talk About Race!
- Inhe Choi, Executive Director @ Hana Center
- Sebastian Yoon, Program Officer @ Open Society Foundations
- Moderator: Brennan Gang, Vice President of Programs & Operations @ Korean American Community Foundation (KACF)
This session aimed to create a safe space to lean into our personal discomfort and fears of speaking up in conversations about race and reflect on how we see our organizations and communities are engaging in them. Panelists and nonprofits leaders discussed ways to bridge conversations about race, racism, and racial justice between different generations of Korean Americans.
Supporting Korean American Older Adults
- Ji-Young Cho, Executive Director of the Korean Community Service Center of Greater Washington (KCSC)
- Linying He, Associate Director of Research at the Asian American Federation (AAF)
- Mikyung Je, Executive Director at the Asian Women’s Christian Association (AWCA)
- Moderator: Kyung Yoon, Co-Founder & President @ Korean American Community Foundation (KACF)
During the first interactive panel discussion on Day 2, Linying He (AAF) presented the preliminary findings from the research we commissioned on the barriers that Korean older adults face in aging in place. This groundbreaking research being conducted on a national scale will provide critical data and insights to help us identify and mobilize to address unmet needs. Ji-Young Cho (KCSC) and Mikyung Je (AWCA) highlighted the lack of affordable housing, mental health and isolation, and the high rate of low English proficiency among older adults as critical issues among the older adult populations they serve in the Greater Washington area and Bergen County, New Jersey. Panelists and nonprofit leaders underscored the need to advance policy change and structural reform to create a more equitable future for the aging immigrant community.
The full report on the findings from the national Korean American senior study, which will also include data and insights disaggregated by city, will be released in early 2024.
- Alexa Kim – Communications Editor, Koreatown Youth & Community Center (KYCC)
- Rachel Koelzer – Director of Communications & Special Initiatives, National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC)
- Moderator: Brennan Gang – Vice President of Programs & Operations, Korean American Community Foundation (KACF)
Alexa Kim (KYCC) and Rachel Koelzer (NAKASEC) spoke about the role that communications plays in critical role in program outreach, fighting mis- and disinformation, policy advocacy, and narrative change, as well as how they have been building it into the culture and operations of their organizations. They also shared effective strategies and best practices for nonprofits that do not have a dedicated team or staff member to fill the role.
“It can’t be the last thing you think about; communications needs to be embedded from beginning to end.“
“It doesn’t have to be a complex machine. Start small, think about who your audience is. A lot of our community members are low-income and monolingual – posting a flyer for a program on Instagram might not be effective as printing it and flyering in the neighborhood.“
An evening reception was held at 8282, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant in the Lower East Side serving up a fresh take on Korean food and cocktails. We thank Jee Kim and the 8282 team for their warm hospitality!