A couple of days ago I was invited to a NetKAL dinner by Jason Scott Park. What is NetKAL you might ask? NetKAL stands for the Network of Korean American Leaders, a program organized by the Center for Asian-Pacific Leadership at the University of Southern California. Each year (or so), NetKAL takes a group of accomplished Korean Americans to be NetKAL fellows, and develops their leadership potential through networking events, professional seminars, and summits.
I was fortunate enough to attend the dinner this past weekend and was able to meet many fellows of the class of NetKAL V. I got to say, this program really blew my mind. It’s amazing what folks can accomplish if they get together in one room. Even the dinner itself was a microcosm of American economy, with folks representing private, public, and government sectors. The keynote speaker of the evening was Dr. Stephen Linton, the Chairman of The Eugene Bell Foundation. His fascinating history of being raised and educated in South Korea made his story ever more compelling to those that were at the event.
But this post isn’t about the event or how great it was. It’s about how incredible these leadership development programs are and how important it is for us as Asian Americans to support these programs. These programs help fill gaps in training programs that are currently offered without a target audience in mind. Along those lines, it is not enough simply to focus on leadership skills and forget about how our culture and heritage play into our lives, because those are things that we cannot get away from. Leadership programs that incorporate cultural heritage and help ethnic Americans find their place in a greater American society will ultimately contribute to a better America. Those programs are sorely needed now more than ever.
Kudos to NetKAL for doing a great job in developing Korean-American leaders!