On June 7, the White House Office of Public Engagement, in collaboration with the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), welcomed more than 175 Korean American leaders from across the nation for a briefing by Obama Administration officials on issues of importance to the Korean American community.
The briefing was kicked off by Chris Lu, Cabinet Secretary and Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), who welcomed the participants to the White House, and noted that it was important for the federal government to hear from Americans about how it can better serve them.
Chris highlighted the Obama Administration efforts on behalf of the AAPI community over the past three years, including providing tax cuts for 1.5 million AAPI small business owners and over 7.5 million AAPI families.
Christopher Kang, Senior Counsel to the President, also spoke to the group and described the President’s commitment to ensuring diversity in judicial nominations. Since taking office, President Obama has doubled the number of AAPI judges serving on the federal bench. Chris also noted that appointing AAPI judges adds role models for the community, and he looks forward to continuing to work with all members of the AAPI community to identify potential appointees.
In addition, representatives from various federal agencies including the Departments of State, Homeland Security, Justice, Education, Interior, and Commerce touched on issues of importance to Korean Americans, including paying for college, ensuring international and domestic security, and increasing language access. Speakers also discussed trade, minority-owned businesses, and immigration.
Overall, the briefing not only allowed participants to share their ideas for ways in which the federal government can better serve the Korean American community, but also highlighted how far Korean Americans have come in government and all sectors of society. The White House recognizes that the Korean American community has made unique contributions to the AAPI community and the nation as a whole, and we are hopeful that this will be only one of many conversations moving forward.
Gautam Raghavan is an Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement.