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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Building a National Leadership Community Advocating for Korean Americans

Last updated Tuesday, April 2, 2024 10:30 ET

The Council of Korean Americans is steadfast in its mission to amplify the voices and expand the impact of Korean Americans through leadership education and advocacy programs

Washington, DC, 04/02/2024 / SubmitMyPR /

The United States of America has become home to hundreds of nationalities, enticing immigrants with greater opportunities and the promise of a more prosperous life for themselves and their families. As of 2023, approximately 2 million Korean Americans are living in the US, either foreign-born or born and raised in the States. While this community continues to make significant contributions to the country and advance within the professional sphere, there remains a disconnect in the representation of senior executive and top leadership roles in both the public and private sectors. The Council of Korean Americans (CKA) aims to bridge that gap, focusing on nurturing current and future leaders with the critical leadership skill sets necessary and expanding a community driven to invest in them.

The Council of Korean Americans is a not-for-profit organization created as an answer to amplifying the national voice of Korean Americans and ensuring their leaders are increasingly in decision-making roles in both the public and private sectors. Dr. Abraham Kim, Executive Director at CKA, believes that to have more Asian American leaders in influential positions in business and government, a thriving and supportive community that invests and advocates for them is essential.

“By nurturing capable leaders and a supportive community to back them, it serves two important purposes,” adds Dr. Kim. “First, it ensures Korean American and Asian American leaders have opportunities to contribute to and shape their sectors, networks, and the United States as senior leaders. Second, it establishes a powerful community of influencers and speakers to provide a strong voice representing our Asian American communities at the top levels of this country to remind people we are a vital part of the tapestry that makes up American society.”

Although Korean immigration to the US began in 1903, many Koreans immigrated to the United States between the mid-1960s to the late 1990s. “Many of our parents came here decades ago with the hope for increasing economic opportunities and their kids' access to a great education,” adds Abraham. Now, as grown-up children of this immigrant generation, the members of CKA have all come of age, and have become successful professionals in their respective sectors and disciplines. While honoring the sacrifice and resilience of immigrant parents and bonding over a shared immigrant experience, a new generation of 1.5 and 2nd-generation Korean Americans is recognizing the need for a different kind of supportive network to nurture trailblazers, innovators, creators, and decision-makers so that this rich and dynamic community can continue to thrive and make significant contributions to the United States into the future.

In 2011, CKA began as a small group of Korean American leaders determined to build a national organization to strengthen the community's voice, visibility, and influence. In addition, CKA also recognized the essential need for a robust network within the Korean American community, fostering mentorship, community building, and collaboration across diverse boundaries. At first, the group represented three locales - San Francisco, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles - but the community rapidly spread as a membership network of leaders across the country. Today, the organization has over 500 members nationwide, representing varied professions ranging from biotech entrepreneurs to non-profit thought leaders, from sports franchise owners to media executives.

Despite its rapid national growth and now thirteen years since its founding, CKA remains committed to its core mission to advance the national voice and the interest of the Korean American community. Now, it achieves this mission through an expansive and diverse range of executive training fellowships, policy forums, advocacy programs, youth mentorship programs, and cross-cultural collaborations with partner organizations across the United States. As a not-for-profit, CKA invites businesses and individuals with aligned values and purposes to join in its nationwide movement to build a strong, civic-minded leadership community.

“Building this kind of Korean American network is a long-term journey,” says Dr. Kim. “However, it is an important journey for us because the Korean American community needs national representation. Plus, our vibrant community has much to contribute as leaders, creators, and innovators. But, to build toward this goal, it requires intentionality, collaboration, planning, and investment by the community.”

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