On June 5th, the MinKwon Center welcomed new leadership announcing that the current Deputy Director Grace Shim will be named the Acting Executive Director of the MinKwon Center starting June 17th. The current Executive Director, Steve Choi, will become the new Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition on June 24th. Grace Shim (formerly Grace Cho) first worked at the MinKwon Center in 2005 as a legal intern and joined the MinKwon Center staff in 2009 as a Staff Attorney for the areas of labor law and housing law. She recently rejoined the MinKwon staff as the Deputy Director.
Current Executive Director Steve Choi said, “I have been honored by the opportunity these past six years to be part of an amazing team of committed activists at MinKwon." MinKwon Center’s Acting Executive Director Grace Shim said, “I am excited to join the MinKwon staff again in this new capacity. I hope to continue the organization’s rich tradition of working with and advocating for the Korean American community and the wider immigrant community.”
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On June 5th, MinKwon Center, Common Cause New York, NAACP, and NY1 co-hosted the Queens Borough President Candidate Forum at the Queens Library Flushing Branch. With five candidates from both Republican and Democratic Parties participating, panelists including MinKwon President S.J. Jung asked questions on local development, immigrant support, education, disaster preparedness, and traffic. The forum was broadcast on NY1 as well.
Korean New York Daily (in Korean)
On May 29th, New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform (NYRIR), a coalition which MinKwon Center is part of, held a press conference announcing the start of "Remember November" campaign. This campaign places focus ties the 2012 elections where the immigrant community casted the deciding vote and the vital need for immigration reform in our communities. Coalition members will hold voter registration drives, town hall meetings, legislative visits, and other grassroots events to actively push for immigration reform. At the press conference, MinKwon Board President S.J. Jung stated, "In the past, we said 'We march today, we vote tomorrow!' and we did what we said we were going to do last November. The time is now for the immigrant community to amplify our voices and to show our strength!"
On May 28th, MinKwon Center, other community groups, and local politicians held a joint press conference calling for the passage of the New York State DREAM Act in the New York State Senate at the Baruch College Press Center. With about 10 days left in the legislative session, this is the latest effort to apply pressure on the New York State Senate. Emily Park, MinKwon youth program coordinator pressed the State Senate to pass , "The New York State Dream Act requires only 2% increase in the education budget. It would open doors for many DREAMers who are already high school graduates and provide them with more opportunities to give back."
On May 25th, MinKwon Center co-hosted the second Citizenship Day of the year at the Korean Community Services of Metropolitan New York (KCS-MNY). This is the second Citizenship Day of the year hosted in collaboration with New York State Office of New Americans, KCS-MNY, and Chinese Planning Council (CPC). With the help of volunteer attorneys, MinKwon staff provided members of local Asian American community with free legal consultation and application assistance. MinKwon and the host organizations plan to hold additional clinics throughout the year.
On May 13th, MinKwon Center and the Queens Housing Coalition (QHC) participated in a hearing for Queens Community Board 7 regarding the initial stage of the Willets Point West development plan. With a vote of 22 for and 18 against, the Community Board approved the zoning change to allow for development for a mall at the current CitiField parking lot. MinKwon Tenant Group Member Ms. Yoon also testified at the hearing. Ms. Yoon emphasized that the developers need to keep their initial promise of building affordable housing. In the meanwhile, MinKwon and QHC plan to continue mobilizing for more affordable housing.
On May 2nd, MinKwon Center Board President S.J. Jung participated in a press conference held by New York State Senator Tony Avella on the withdrawal of SB 681, legislation mandating English language signs. This law would have restricted business owners from having less than 50% of their signs in English. MinKwon has previously sent a letter to Senator Avella protesting this legislation, fearing its effect on immigrant small business owners.
Photo Courtesy of Korea Times
Korea Times (In Korean)