Staff and Board Members

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(Left to Right) Ed Lew, Yun Kim, Rick Eng, Michelle Sugihara, Janet Ly, Jennifer Chau, Albert Lu, Henry Lo, Steven Chow, Dave Ong, Tom Eng
Missing: Shirley Thao, Bonnie Chen

STAFF

Kurt Ikeda, Interim Executive Director

Kurt Ikeda is an educator by profession, community organizer by passion. His work is rooted in the Asian-American experience, informed by his grandfather’s WWII Japanese-American incarceration, and inspired by his love for his former students.

Hawaii-born and raised in the Los Angeles-South Bay, Kurt’s childhood included teachings from many Asian-American heroes from his widowed immigrant mother, his 3rd grade teacher and Japanese-American community leaders. He pursued his dream of joining the 3% of Asian teachers in the United States, by majoring in Applied Linguistics at UCLA. Through his work in student affairs and youth mentorship in the San Gabriel Valley, he was recruited to Teach for America. In 2015, he earned his M.A. in Urban Education – Policy and Administration from Loyola Marymount University and served the MacArthur Park community as a High School English Teacher at Camino Nuevo High School.

During his four years of teaching, he heeded philosopher Paolo Freire’s warning that education is never a neutral process, but a political one. While teaching his students a social justice curriculum, Kurt knew that greater change would require action both inside and outside the classroom. He began community organizing with the Japanese-American Citizens League and is the Board Secretary of the Pacific Southwest District and co-President of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter. To be a better advocate for his students, he served the Los Angeles Unified School District as a Leadership in Educational Equity Fellow and gained political advocacy training at the APAICS Leadership Academy and the 2016 JACL-OCA Leadership Summit.

BOARD MEMBERS

Janet Ly, President

Janet is an attorney with Garcia Hernández Sawhney, LLP, where she provides a wide range of legal services to public and private entities. Janet has been involved in the community for a number of years. Prior to law school, she was a passionate therapist-volunteer at the UCLA Psychiatric Hospital where she helped and provided therapy to young children with Autism. While living in Boston, Janet was actively involved with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC), where she devoted her time in mentoring at-risk youths to ensure they develop the necessary personal and leadership skills to contribute back to their families, schools and communities. Janet received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from University of California, Los Angeles. She earned her law degree from Boston College School of Law.

Steven Chow, Vice President

Steven was born and raised in Los Angeles to Chinese-Cambodia refugees. Currently, he works as a Field Deputy for Congressman Jimmy Gomez’s office. Prior to joining Congressman Jimmy Gomez’s office, Steven was a legislative associate at the Santa Maria Group, a LA based affordable housing real estate development and government relations firm, where he advocated for landed use related issues. Steven was also a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. for United Parcel Service (UPS) Corporate Public Affairs, where he handled governmental affairs issues and public relations crises on the national and international level. Steven has worked on political and civil rights campaigns on the local, state, and national level, including advocating for immigration and education reform with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Additionally, Steven was an intern at the OCA National Center in Washington, DC. Steven graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology.

Yun Kim, Treasurer

Yun was born in South Korea and moved to the San Fernando Valley at 5 years of age. She attended Cal State Northridge for Business while working full time. During her last year in undergrad, Yun and her family started a b2c, business to consumer. After 3 years of operations, Yun decided to take her experience into accounting in the legal industry. Working less hours she felt the need to give back. She ran a young women’s group which help develop basic adult skills. The group met weekly to discuss relationships, meals, how to get physically active for little to no money, and taking care of yourself financially. Moments of bonding helped the young women feel open to discuss the good and not so good times in their life. Based on these experiences. Yun wants to be more involved with the community.

Rick Eng, Secretary

Rick Eng is a community volunteer with a professional background encompassing communications/marketing, education and nonprofit management. His civic engagement includes present and past board membership on Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, Chinese American Citizens Alliance, El Pueblo Park Association and the Asian Pacific Community Fund. He also served as Executive Director of the Alhambra Education Foundation. In his spare time he likes sunset strolls, cooking homemade ramen noodles and playing with his two cats Nipsy and Forbes.

Lawrence Joe, Director of Advocacy

Lawrence is a southern California native with roots in Los Angeles Chinatown and the San Gabriel Valley. Lawrence is currently an attorney at Garcia Hernández Sawhney, LLP, where he provides a wide range of legal services to public entities. Prior to joining the OCA-GLA board, Lawrence worked or volunteered for a number of grassroots, community-based organizations in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Boston before returning to Los Angeles to pursue law school in 2006. Lawrence has a law degree from UCLA School of Law as well as a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. He also has a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard. He received his Bachelors Degree from UC Berkeley with a double major in Asian American Studies and Political Science. He is still trying to figure out how to turn that student loan debt into riches, while staying committed to public service.

Melissa Chen, Director of Membership

Melissa Chen was born and raised in the sunny island of Singapore and moved to Los Angeles to pursue her LL.M. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. She is currently an associate in the Los Angeles office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and represents start-ups, middle-market companies, venture capital funds, and other investors on various corporate and transactional matters, including equity and debt financing transactions, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate matters. Now that she proudly calls Los Angeles her home, she hopes to get more involved in the community and the advancement of Asian American causes.

Ed Lew, Director of Community Relations

Ed Lew is Assistant Cheif Counsel for The Walt Disney Company in Burbank, where he provides legal support for Disney Technology Solutions and Services and Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. A native of Los Angeles, Ed moved north to attend UC Berkeley, graduating with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Economics and Ethnic Studies. He returned to L.A. after college and received his law degree from the UCLA School of Law. While at UCLA, Ed served as Editor-in-Chief of the UCLA Asian Pacific American Law Journal and Co-Chair of the UCLA Asian Pacific Islander Law Students Association and Southern California Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. Ed served as OCA-GLA President in 2008 and from 2011-2013.  He also was President of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association (APABA) of Los Angeles County in 2009 and remains active as a member of its Advisory Board.  Ed currently serves as OCA National Executive Vice President. He also serves on the board of the Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theatre and Immediate Past President of the Asian Pacific Alumni of UCLA.

Albert Lu, Director of Communications

Albert is a lifelong resident of Alhambra, CA who currently works as a Software Test Manager for a tech startup in Downtown LA. In addition to his day-job, Albert is also a freelance photographer for LAist.com and an external affairs intern for the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District. Albert first got involved in the community while he was the President of Alhambra High School’s Tri-M Music Honor Society when he attended a city council meeting in Alhambra to urge support for arts and music. After graduating from High School, Albert worked on a small local water district campaign in Monterey Park and interned at a public affairs firm in Pasadena. In 2014, Albert became the youngest person to be appointed by the Alhambra city council to the Parks and Recreation Commission where he served as Vice President until 2016. Outside of work, Albert continues to keep himself busy as an active member of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance – Los Angeles, the nation’s oldest Chinese civil rights organization as well as an active member of the Pasadena Tournament of Roses where he serves as one of 935 white suits who organize the Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game.

Tom Eng, Director of Education and Culture

Born at the French Hospital in Chinatown and a graduate of UCLA, Tom is presently employed as an engineer with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Tom Eng has been very active with the community. In addition to serving as Board member of OCA-GLA, he is also a board member of Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA), advisory board member of the Friends of the Chinatown Library, and member of the following: Chinese Historical Society, LA County Asian American Employees Association, Friends of Chinese American Museum, as well as a volunteer for the Chinese Chamber of Commerce, former member of the Firecracker Run Committee and past volunteer at the 1984 Summer Olympics in LA. Tom’s photographic hobby has allowed him to be a photographer for OCA-GLA and various other organizations and events. He has attended every OCA National Convention since 1994. Through his hobbies and affiliations, Tom has been networking and interacting with the Asian Pacific American community for over 30 years.

Henry Lo, Director of Public Affairs

Henry Lo has been serving the community for many years.  Currently, he is a School Boardmember for the Garvey Elementary School District and was first elected in 2003. During his past 12 years on the Board of Education, he has served as its President three times.   Henry is also an elected delegate to the Los Angeles County Democratic Party and has been a member for the past ten years. For 17 years Henry has also worked in the district offices for several of California’s State Legislators including State Senator Gloria Romero, State Assemblymember Mike Eng and State Assemblymember Ed Chau. Henry also serves on the Board of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance, Los Angeles Lodge.  Issues which Henry feels passionate about are civil rights, social justice, education, the environment, transportation and civic engagement.   A graduate of Colby College in Maine, Henry received his B.A. in Government and East Asian Studies.

Shirley Thao, Director-at-Large

Shirley grew up in Fresno, California and came to Los Angeles for college where she received her degree in English Literature from Whittier College. Since moving to the Los Angeles-area, Shirley has been active in K-12 education issues and racial justice work and leadership development. During college, Shirley had the opportunity to lead great teams of organizers in both issue and electoral campaigns that demonstrated the impact of community empowerment. She is deeply invested in the empowerment and healing of Southeast Asians, especially as it relates to the Hmong Community. Shirley first got involved with OCA-GLA as a CTO intern and later as OCA-GLA’s Civic Engagement Field Specialist, where she led OCA-GLA’s youth civic engagement fellowship. Currently, Shirley is a Program Manager in Foundations and Corporate Relations at The Library Foundation of Los Angeles where she manages several grants and is developing a new civic engagement initiative for the young people of The Los Angeles Public Library.

Bonnie Chen, Director-at-Large

Bonnie Chen graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a BA in International Development Studies and a minor in Urban and Regional Studies. During her time at UCLA, she studied abroad at the University of Hong Kong for a year. She is currently the Program Coordinator for Diversity Programs with UCLA Alumni Affairs. Prior to this position, Bonnie was the Marketing Manager for the Asian Pacific Community Fund in Downtown Los Angeles and previously served as Development Coordinator for the Chinatown Service Center in Chinatown. Bonnie enjoys hiking, playing tennis and traveling.

Michelle Sugihara, Director-at-Large

Michelle Sugihara hails from Honolulu, Hawaii and was blissfully unaware of the struggles faced by Asian Americans until she landed in smoggy Los Angeles for college. During college, she interned for OCA National in Washington, D.C. and has been committed to social justice and the Asian American community ever since. In 2015, she received OCA’s Unsung Hero award. Michelle graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a dual major in Economics / Psychology and a minor in Asian American Studies, followed by a law degree from UCLA. Michelle is the Executive Director of CAPE (Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment). She is also an entertainment attorney and film producer. She is the Co-Chair of the Multicultural Bar Alliance of Southern California, past president of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of Los Angeles County, VP of Development and founding member of the Asian Pacific American Friends of the Theater, Director of Community Relations and founding member of the Japanese American National Museum’s New Leadership Advisory Council, and a member of PBS-SoCaL Asian Pacific Islander Community Council.  She is also an ensemble member of Cold Tofu, the nation’s premiere Asian American comedy improv and sketch group.

George Yin, Director-at-Large

George Yin works as a political law attorney with the Kaufman Legal Group.  In that capacity he advises political candidates, elected officials, political committees, companies, individuals, ballot measure committees, non-profit organizations, labor unions and public agencies on federal, state, and local election laws, governmental ethics laws, conflicts of interest and open government laws.  George holds a J.D. from UCLA Law School, an M.A. in Urban Planning from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, an M.Sc. in Public Administration/Public Policy from the London School of Economics, and a B.A. in Government from Cornell University. George is an active volunteer in the community, having served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, the Organization of Chinese Americans (Greater LA Chapter), the Asian Professional Exchange (APEX), the USC-Pacific Asia Museum Chinese Arts Council, Vincent Price Art Museum Foundation, and Project by Project-Los Angeles.  George loves the rich diversity of Southern California and is committed to promoting social justice, understanding and awareness through programs in philanthropy, social services, arts/culture, and community needs advocacy