This October, the Northwest Asian Weekly presents the Visionary Awards Gala, an event honoring visionaries in the APA community.
By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
As an army brat, Englund and her family moved often when she was young, jumping from military base to military base. She was born in a military hospital in Seoul, South Korea, lived in Germany, and has always wanted to help the less fortunate.
“I really wanted to learn how to empower poor people,” Englund said. “While we weren’t devastatingly poor, we were a one income family and my father was an enlisted soldier. My mother at times would take on odd jobs, like working at Burger King on base in Germany when my father was deployed during Operation Desert Storm. My brother and I were on reduced/free lunch at school, and my parents didn’t have enough to save for college. I knew if I were to marry someday, I wanted my family to not experience the stress of living paycheck to paycheck. I kept thinking, ‘How do I not waste everything that my parents have invested in my life?’ I wanted to build on what my parents had sacrificed and help to take that experience and help my family do better in the next generation.”
With that in mind, Englund went into college wanting to study the best policies that would help the disadvantaged. She enrolled in the comparative history of ideas (CHID) program at the University of Washington, with a focus on capitalism and Christianity.
But, instead of pursuing a consulting career like many of her friends, Englund took a risk and prayed about what to do next. Through her relationship with God, she found that it was her next step was to work for a nonprofit organization in Mozambique. During her time abroad, Englund learned best practices for empowering the poor, helping to build schools and provide medical services. She also began to understand that the policies that best empowered people are ones that coupled compassion with accountability and genuine relationships.
After her experience in Mozambique, she looked for ways to get involved in public policy, eventually landing a job running the victory campaign office for the Washington State Republican Party, an extension of the Republic National Committee. During her term as the field director for the RNC, her office outperformed every other office. She received a call to work for Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Washington, D.C., where McMorris Rodgers was then the newly elected vice chairwoman for the House Republican Conference.
McMorris Rodgers sees Englund as a natural leader dedicated to her comunity.
“I appreciated the way that Jinyoung is proud of her heritage, and recognizes the value that different cultures bring, the strength of someone’s heritage and how that can add to a discussion, politics, business, or the future of our country,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Tomio Moriguchi, a mentor and longtime family friend, agreed.
“Jinyoung cares deeply about Asian-Americans leading on policy issues and despite living 3,000 miles away in D.C., and she spends thousands of dollars each year to come back home and find or create opportunities for Asian Americans to have a voice with Republican leadership,” said Moriguchi.
Throughout her time working in D.C., Englund has also worked for former Washington state GOP Senate candidate Dino Rossi and former Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao.
Englund has learned a lot from her employers. She remembers advice that they’ve offered her, such as McMorris Rodgers telling her to be faithful with the little things.
“Take a boring task and still give it 100 percent, because if you’re faithful, then you’ll be entrusted with more,” she explained.
Former employer Rossi described Englund, “She’s incredibly gifted and has the talent to help and influence people. The way she works and the outreach she does to all sorts of communities has been really impressive as well. She’s a quality person and incredibly smart,” Rossi said.
After working for Chao, Englund was recruited for the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan presidential transition team. After four years of public policy experience, Englund finally decided it was time to move into the private sector.
She joined Coinlab, a Seattle-based tech start up, which was founded by an entrepreneur she met while working in Mozambique. She is still active in public policy; she has been nominated to serve on the advisory council for the Republican National Committee.
Although Englund has been blessed with meeting incredible people in her life, it hasn’t always been smooth.
“Financial provision was a challenge I had to overcome personally, I had a deep fear that we’d run out of money, and that I wouldn’t be able to earn more than my parents,” she said.
Growing up, Englund’s father always told her, “’Don’t chase money, make money chase you.’ What he meant by that was, if you do what you’re passionate about, the finances will take care of itself. This has been one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to overcome; reconciling my fear of living paycheck to paycheck and making career choices based on my convictions, not the salary.”
Englund’s biggest goal in life is to have a successful marriage. “My primary focus is to have a healthy, loving marriage and one day, raise children who will know and love Jesus, and be positive contributions to society. In addition, if I could be in a position where I’m shaping policy that empowers people and cultivating a culture of women helping other women, and paying it forward, I would consider that I lived my life well.”
Englund is grateful for the men and women who invested in her life, which includes her good girlfriends who have been there for her through thick and thin, and her bosses because they have been mentors.
“As women, we can’t compare ourselves and we can’t compete with women. We were meant to be the leading ladies of our own stories. In order for us to live extraordinary lives, we have to be willing to be both the heroine and damsel in distress,” Englund said.
Englund and her husband, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Geoffrey Englund, plan to move back home to Washington state upon completion of his service with the Marine Corps. In the meantime, Capt. Englund is stationed at Quantico, a Marine Corps base near Washington, D.C., where they both reside. (end)
The Visionary Awards Gala is Oct. 18 at China Harbor Restaurant from 6–9 p.m. Tickets are available for $70 before Oct. 15 and $80 afterwards. For more information, email email@example.com.
Nina Huang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.