I grew up in Honolulu and moved to the Puget Sound area in 2007, which was an acute adjustment to my Vitamin D intake. I had spent 12 years in newspapers — at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (now the Star-Advertiser) and the Kitsap Sun — as a journalist, and wanted to learn new ways to be a public servant. So I enrolled at the University of Washington's Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, where I earned my Master's of Public Administration and Certificate of Non-Profit Management.
This proved to be a life-changing experience for me. I got the chance to serve as Vice President of UW's Graduate & Professional Student Senate, where I successfully fought to secure new childcare funding for students with children. As a student-parent with an infant at the time, I got to see first-hand what the student-parent experience was like, and I worked to organize other student-parents to push for more campus support. I drove a campus-wide campaign for students with children that, years later, eventually resulted in the announcement of a $3 million on-campus childcare center. I was also the founding chair of the Evans Student Association's Symposium of Public Affairs Research.
After graduating, I worked to produce national reports on living wage standards, the influence of money in politics, and America’s foreclosures crisis as Senior Policy Associate with the Alliance for a Just Society (currently People's Action). I've appeared on NPR, the Huffington Post and Bloomberg News, and my research findings reported on by CBS News, The Hill, ThinkProgress, and dozens of local news outlets across the country.
I have also worked to be involved in my community, as former Board President of the Asian Pacific Americans for Civic Empowerment (APACE) and a graduate of the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation's (ACLF) Community Leadership Program.