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RandySF

(62,731 posts)
Wed Jul 10, 2024, 10:42 AM Wednesday

SPOTLIGHT CAMPAIGN: Michelle Kang for GA-HD99

I’m a proud first-generation Korean-American immigrant who came to the States in 1992. After earning my degree from a university in Seoul and starting a career in Intellectual Property law, I decided to move to Georgia to build a better life for myself and my future family. I’ve had the privilege of calling Georgia home for over 30 years. The longer I’ve lived in our great state, the more invested I am in seeing Georgia thrive. I am running for office to make Georgia the best place to live, work, and raise a family and improve the quality of life for all Georgians.

I am running for office to represent all of my neighbors regardless of their income, race, religion, or the language they speak at home. I am running for office to lower housing costs, strengthen our economy, keep our community safe, restore reproductive freedom, provide more opportunities for our children, and leverage the diversity of our community for everyone living in the district.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in serving my community in whatever way I can. Starting in high school in South Korea, I helped to organize visits to orphanages and public nursing homes in my community. Through this experience, I realized the necessity of a social safety net to take care of the weak, the poor, and the children in our community who did not have access to the resources they needed to help them live up to their full potential.

A commitment to public service has been like a compass to me. It led me, at the age of 41, to pursue the Master of Public Administration Program at the University of Georgia. I moved to Athens with my three little daughters to study the impact that public policy has on people’s lives, especially the lives of those in marginalized and immigrant communities. After graduation, I began working as a Center Manager at the Asian American Resource Center, a 501(c)(3) organization in Gwinnett County, taking care of immigrants who recently moved to the States and managing HUD cases.

I got my start as a community advocate in Gwinnett County working to create spaces for Asian Americans to speak to and hear from their local elected officials.

I served on the Korean American Association of Greater Atlanta (KAAGA) and the Asian Pacific American Council of Georgia (APAC). During my time on the Gwinnett Place Mall Equitable Redevelopment Community Partner Advisory Board, the Gwinnett Transit Development Plan (TDP) Stakeholder Committee, and Chairwoman Love Hendrickson’s Citizen Budget Review Committee, I always found ways to incorporate equity and inclusion into every stage of development and planning. I am proud of the work I have done to advocate for small businesses in Gwinnett County, to push for expanding public services, and to ensure voices of minorities are heard.

I have learned time and time again that public policy in action—no matter how local—is most successful when there is real community input at every step of the process. I am running for office to bring this same commitment to listen and uplift every voice in our community to the Gold Dome.

Before running for office, I was a small business owner of retail stores and restaurants across the state of Georgia. Now, I am the founder of AAPI Outreach & Engagement, LLC. I strongly believe small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They create jobs, pay taxes, generate revenue, and make our community abundant and prosper.

In 2020-2021, I served in the Korean American Chamber of Commerce of Atlanta as the Vice President of External Affairs. In 2020, I was appointed to the board of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. In 2023, I helped to connect Asian small businesses with the Economic Development Department of Gwinnett County, organizing a small business roundtable discussion with Chairwoman Love Hendrickson and other department executives. We discussed alleviating workforce shortage, strengthening supply chain, and increasing training and capital access.

In office, I will continue to leverage my experience as a small business owner to uncover more community development opportunities on behalf of our district.

I have been recognized as a creative community organizer while organizing the first events, meetings, and festivals of their kind in Gwinnett County.

I organized candidate forums with local, state and Congressional candidates for Korean Americans to raise awareness of the importance and power of voting, mobilizing this community to participate in their own democracy and vote.

I started organizing cultural events, like the first AAPI Heritage Month Celebration at Suwanee Town Center Park, because I wanted to bring opportunity to minority groups to be seen and heard. Organizing cultural events is so important to me; I believe in the power of culture to increase understanding among racial and ethnic groups and bond us together as one community.

In June 2020, when Black Lives Matter groups rallied and marched in Duluth, I organized a Korean supporter group and participated in the protest. I became more understanding of the ways that systemic racism and racial injustice are a matter of life and death for many families in our district.

When 6 innocent Asian women were among 8 victims on March 16, 2021 in the Atlanta spa shooting, I reached out to the leaders in the Korean community and formed the Atlanta Korean American Committee Against Asian Hate. Leaders from faith-based organizations and leaders from the AAPI community, the Black community, and the Latino community came together and grieved this tremendous loss following this senseless act of violence. We all agreed to stand together against hatred and build solidarity against systemic racism and social injustice.

Through the movement to Stop Asian Hate, I was able to continue to connect local, state, and federal governments with local Asian communities, building bridges between racial and ethnic groups to advance racial equity and inclusion.

As a community advocate, I have had the opportunity to work with nonprofits and campaigns—at every level of government—to help elect candidates committed to protecting voting rights, expanding access to health care, and championing economic prosperity.

I helped to organize the Asian community across the state of Georgia to elect Georgia’s two Democratic senators, Senators Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock. I saw, firsthand, the importance of fighting to elect leaders who are actually invested in improving the lives of all Georgians.

While doing this important work, I got to meet countless voters from all walks of life. I got to hear about their worries, and about the future they wanted to secure for their children.This experience encouraged me to think about serving my community in higher office to find solutions to the challenges we all face.




https://michellekangforga.com/

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