Building a Movement for Change: From Roots to Power

NAKASEC & KRC 34th Annual Banquet
October 19, 2017 - Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Dear Friends, 

Good evening and welcome to our 34th Annual Gala, “Building a Movement for Change: From Roots to Power,” to celebrate the accomplishments of the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC) and the Korean Resource Center (KRC). Your individual support and participation has made our work possible, so we would also like to show our appreciation through tonight’s event.

Tonight we will also pay tribute to five amazing individuals: the Honorable Congresswoman Maxine Waters serving California’s 43rd District; Luisa Blue, Executive Vice President, SEIU; Jeanette Vasquez, Fullerton School Board member; and our outstanding Youth Leaders Sameerah Haque, Hyun Joong Kim, and Eric Eunsoo Yang.

NAKASEC and KRC engage the community through a holistic empowerment model that combines social service, education, and culture with advocacy and organizing. Annually, NAKASEC affiliate KRC assists 14,000 individuals access health care programs, naturalize, secure affordable housing and apply for public benefits. Moreover, last year, we mobilized 42,290 AAPIs to vote, organized 41,193 participants to join our advocacy campaigns, and registered 9,377 voters. We believe strongly in an informed and active citizenry, and as a result of our organizing and advocacy campaigns, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community has contributed to significant policy and systematic changes that have benefited low-income families and immigrants, especially in California.2017 has been an incredibly challenging year for immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities. A small but vocal minority is working hard to spread a culture of hate, fear and anxiety. Despite these hard times, NAKASEC and KRC have seen the people we are honoring tonight and thousands of community members across the country resist, fight back, and organize towards positive change for all. The courage we see from everyday people continues to inspire us, and we are emboldened as we look ahead knowing that all of you are with us. 

Thank you all for joining us tonight!

Wan-Mo Kang, NAKASEC Board Chair
Becky Belcore, NAKASEC Co-Director
David K Song, KRC Board Chair
Dae Joong Yoon, KRC President

Host Committee

Honorary Host Committee: Arab American Action Network, Black Youth Project 100, Chinese Progressive Association, Adam Crapser, The Honorable Kevin De Leon, Mónica García, LAUSD, The Honorable Kamala D. Harris, The Honorable Ted Lieu, Khmer Girls in Action, Little Tokyo Service Center, Mobilize the Immigrant Vote, National CAPACD, The Honorable Josh Newman, OCCCO, OCCORD, Orange County Labor Federation, The Honorable Sharon Quirk-Silva, The Honorable Anthony Rendon, The Honorable Linda Sanchez, The Honorable Miguel Santiago, The Honorable Herb Wesson

Host Committee: Laphonza Butler, David Huerta, Wan-Mo Kang, Stephen K. Kurumada, DDS, Joann Lee, David Lin, Angela Oh, Courtni Pugh, LA County Supervisor , Mark-Ridley Thomas, Myung-Soo Seok, Hyun Woo Shin and Hyewon Jung, Paul Song, Bill Wong


During the banquet, KRC will award the Standing for Justice Award, Dream in Action Award, and Community in Action award to recognize outstanding organizations and individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to improving the lives of young people, working families, immigrants, and other marginalized communities. This year, we are honoring the following exceptional champions in our community:

Standing Up for Justice
Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Community in Action
Luisa Blue, Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union
Jeanette Vázquez, Fullerton School Board Member

Dreamer in Action
Sameerah Haque
Hyun Joong Kim
Eric Eunsoo Yang

Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Serving California’s 43rd District

Congresswoman Maxine Waters is considered by many to be one of the most powerful women in American politics today. She has gained a reputation as a fearless and outspoken advocate for women, children, people of color and the poor.

Elected in November 2016 to her fourteenth term in the U.S. House of Representatives with more than 76 percent of the vote in the 43rd Congressional District of California, Congresswoman Waters represents a large part of South Central Los Angeles including the communities of Westchester, Playa Del Rey, and Watts and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County comprised of Lennox, West Athens, West Carson, Harbor Gateway and El Camino Village. The 43rd District also includes the diverse cities of Gardena, Hawthorne, Inglewood, Lawndale, Lomita and Torrance.

Throughout her 37 years of public service, Maxine Waters has been on the cutting edge, tackling difficult and often controversial issues. She has combined her strong legislative and public policy acumen and high visibility in Democratic Party activities with an unusual ability to do grassroots organizing.

Following the Los Angeles civil unrest in 1992, Congresswoman Waters faced the nation’s media and public to interpret the hopelessness and despair in cities across America. Over the years, she has brought many government officials and policymakers to her South Central L.A. district to appeal for more resources. As she confronts the issues such as poverty, economic development, equal justice under the law and other issues of concern to people of color, women, children, and poor people, Rep. Waters enjoys a broad cross section of support from diverse communities across the nation.

Luisa Blue

Executive Vice President of Service Employees International Union

Prior to being elected Executive Vice President of SEIU in May 2016, Luisa Blue served on the SEIU International Executive Board from 2012 to 2016. She has dedicated the last four decades of her life to organizing and advocating for workers’ rights through the union. As a union leader, she has been at the forefront of making racial and immigrant justice a priority for the union.

Luisa Blue is one of the highest-ranking Asian American & Pacific Islander union leaders in the nation. She believes that everyone deserves access to a better future and that we must ensure that families are not torn apart because of a broken immigration system, that everyone deserves a fair wage, and that our justice system can no longer penalize people based on the color of their skin. From serving on various committees to rallying with members, Luisa Blue continues to lead the fight for workers’ rights, civil rights and economic justice.

Luisa began her career with SEIU as an organizer for the SEIU Healthcare Division organizing RNs and healthcare workers throughout the United States in 1990. Four years later, Luisa was asked to help lead the SEIU Nurse Alliance in its historic “safe staffing” campaign, which led to California becoming the first and only state to legislate nurse-to-patient ratio standards for acute care hospitals in the country.

Over these 40 years, Luisa and her husband Dave have raised a daughter, Melody and son, Cyrus, and celebrate in the joy of their seven grandchildren.       

Jeanette Vázquez

Fullerton School Board Member

Jeanette Vázquez is a passionate educator and an advocate for low-income immigrant families in Fullerton. Jeanette was elected to the Fullerton School Board in November 2016 and is an avid supporter of developing the whole child through equitable educational opportunities. 

Influenced by her Mexican immigrant parents in leading a life through the values of hard-work and integrity, Jeanette has dedicated her personal and professional life to serving the community. As an elementary school teacher she builds strong partnerships between parents, community leaders, and organizations to ensure students are empowered to succeed and serve their community. Earlier this year, Jeanette co-led a service learning project in which her students, parents, and grassroots organizers coordinated a Know Your Rights campaign for Day Laborers in Orange County.

Jeanette was a first-generation college student when she began her student advocacy work as the elected Student Body President of Cypress College in the midst of the 2008 budget crisis. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating from Berkeley, Jeanette went on to advocate for working families as an AmeriCorps Fellow with Iowa Legal Aid. There, Jeanette formed community partnerships to help educate immigrant families around worker, tenant, and immigrant rights. Upon returning to California, Jeanette joined Teach For America and taught 2nd Grade in Boyle Heights and Huntington Park. She attended Loyola Marymount University where she attained her Teaching Credential and Master of Arts in Education Policy and Administration. 

Sameerah Haque

Sameerah Haque is a born and raised Chicago activist who is now a sophomore studying Accounting at Northeastern Illinois University. A youth member and youth leader since 2015, Sameerah joined Hana Center as a member of Asian Culture Workshop, Hana Center’s traditional Korean drumming youth group. Through ACW, Sameerah became politicized and joined Fighting Youth Shouting out for Humanity (FYSH) where she became more outgoing and comfortable exerting herself. Through FYSH, Sameerah has advocated tirelessly for youth and immigrant empowerment through the Decolonize Chicago Public Schools campaign and FYSH’s annual talent show fundraiser Coffeehouse. 

Sameerah is also a founding member of Womxn That Fight, a group formed by high school to college-aged youth who are passionate about fighting for womxn’s rights and reproductive justice who wanted to create a space at Hana Center to engage in discussions regarding different situations that womxn face as they live in the U.S. Sameerah was also on the coordinating committee for Beyond Our Boundaries, the first Asian American Youth Organizing Conference, and was the lead local coordinator for Chicago. For now, Sameerah continues to attempt to balance her school and work life while continuing to be an activist with Hana Center, and through her internships with Hana Center and NAKASEC, she wishes to learn how to become a better organizer rather than just an activist, so she can one day become a youth organizer and inspire youth just as her youth organizers have inspired her.     

Hyun Joong Kim

Hyun Joong was born in Ansan City, South Korea on May 27th, 1996. He and his parents immigrated to America on December 1999. After living in Texas for some time, they moved to Annandale, Virginia when he was in 2nd grade and have lived there ever since. Hyun Joong graduated from Westlake High School in 2014. When he was 16 years old, his parents divorced and soon afterwards, his mother and sister moved back to Korea as they found it was not easy to live in America. Hyun Joong worked while he was a high school student just to get by. At that time, he did not know he was undocumented and did not find out until he was 19 years old. 

Around the same time he found out about his immigration status, his friend introduced him to an organization that could help him and that organization was NAKASEC. The work and resources they provided him have greatly impacted his life. With the help of NAKASEC, he was able to file for his initial application for DACA. Now, he is working as a barista with hopes to save enough money for college, support his family, and give back to his community. He hopes to continue to work with the amazing people at KRC and NAKASEC moving forward and see progress within his communities to come together and make positive changes for a brighter future.

Eric Eunsoo Yang

Born and raised in South Korea until the age of eight, Eric Eunsoo Yang immigrated to the US with his family in 2001. He lived in Torrance, CA for the vast majority of his childhood and moved to Gardena after he graduated from high school. During that transition, Eric learned about his undocumented status while applying for college. Eric attended a local community college to save money and be with his family. Around the same time, he received a work authorization permit through DACA. After spending time going to school, working part-time, and participating at his church, he was accepted into University of California, Irvine (UCI) as a Business Economics Major and is now a senior.

Eric became very involved at UCI when he transferred in 2016, bringing his experience and knowledge from his local community. Since his first quarter, Eric became one of student DREAMer coordinators for Student Outreach and Retention (SOAR). In that position, he has organized and facilitated program and events for the Dreamers Office. During this past summer, he became an Energy Justice Intern with the Energize College Internship and an intern at KRC. Through these opportunities, Eric continues to learn more about the vast resources for his undocumented community and the organizations that empower the diverse and vibrant immigrant communities around him. 

Now working at the DREAM Center at UCI, he is excited to see what the future has in store for him. Eric can’t wait to utilize all that he has learned about himself and the world as a Student Program Coordinator.

Guest Speaker:  Don Howard

President & CEO of The James Irvine Foundation

Don Howard is President and Chief Executive Officer of The James Irvine Foundation. He led the Foundation’s recent transition to a focus on expanding economic and political opportunity for Californians who are working but struggling with poverty. Before becoming CEO in 2014, he served as Executive Vice President, directing Irvine’s program and grantmaking activities.
Prior to joining Irvine in 2012 Don was a partner at The Bridgespan Group, where he served as a strategic advisor to nonprofit and foundation leaders, and led Bridgespan’s San Francisco office for more than a decade. Earlier in his career, Don helped corporate leaders formulate strategy and improve the effectiveness of their organizations as a Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton and later as a Managing Director at the Scient Corporation.

Don grew up in Long Beach, California, and came to the Bay Area to earn his bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering at Stanford University, where he also obtained his M.B.A. from the Graduate School of Business. He has written, spoken, and taught classes on issues of philanthropic strategy, nonprofit management and funding, and social entrepreneurship.

As a volunteer, Don has been an activist around HIV and other health-related issues, serving in the past on advisory boards at the San Francisco Department of Public Health; University of California, San Francisco; and the National Institutes of Health. He has acted as an advisor to the boards of several San Francisco community organizations and served on the board of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Don also has worked extensively outside the United States, including a volunteer posting with a USAID-sponsored initiative to provide business advice to private enterprises in Central Europe.


Capacity Builder
Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas
Dr. Paul Song

Jeff Kim and Curtis Chin
National Education Association
Service Employees International Union
Hyun Woo Shin

Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA
Black Youth Project 100 Education Fund
Fox Rothschild LLP
Stephen K. Kurumada, DDS and Julie Kil Joo Lee Kurumada
Joann Lee
Felix Lim
Angela Oh and TuTu
Service Employees International Union Local 2015
Inbo Sim
UFCW 770
Sang Ho Yoo CPA


Sound of Hope: One of the missions of KRC is to spread Korean cultural knowledge and traditional music to communities across Southern California and help Korean Americans find their roots. KRC provides a space for children and youth of various ages to learn traditional Korean Traditional Drumming, allowing them to perform at various community events, marches, and rallies to build the morale and energy of our movements.

The Caravan Against Fear was a grassroots mobilization that traveled from California to Texas for three weeks to defend immigrant rights, keep families together, resist Trump, and build momentum for the national May Day strike. KRC’s Jung Woo Kim joined this mobilization allowing him to organize with a diverse coalition of labor, community, human rights, and other organizations. At the same time, caravaners took time to sing and dance in community.

Gala Footage


  • Reception
  • Dinner
  • Opening Remarks: David K Song, KRC Board Chair; Wan-Mo Kang, NAKASEC Board Chair
  • Guest Speaker Don Howard
  • Standing Up for Justice Awardee: Congresswoman Maxine Waters
  • Community in Action Awardees: Luisa Blue; Jeanette Vázquez
  • Dreamer in Action Awardees: Sameerah Haque; Hyun Joong Kim; Eric Eunsoo Yang
  • Closing: Sound of Hope; Caravan Against Fear
  • Photo Opportunity

Mistresses of Ceremonies

Minji Chang is a Korean American actor, emcee, podcast host, and community activist and currently presides as the Global Executive Director of Kollaboration, a platform and grassroots movement that spans North America by means of 14 major city chapters. Kollaboration discovers, connects, and elevates Asian Pacific Islander American artists through live showcases, community events, video content, and weekly podcasts featuring special guests to explore Asian American culture and lifestyle.

Born in South Korea, Green Son immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of twelve. Ms. Son grew up in Los Angeles, California and spent her young adult years being involved with the Korean Resource Center, where she learned the power of community to mold change and how to play ping-pong. Ms. Son was a ping-pong champion at her law school and is currently an attorney at HCL America, Inc.