Strengthening Communities: APEX President Jason Scott Park
When Jason Scott Park, 28, was in college, he led a student organization and was exposed to many community projects. Through those experiences, he developed a passion for building and strengthening communities. That enthusiasm has today led him to be President of Asian Professional Exchange (APEX). APEX focuses on professional development, community service, and cultural awareness, as they pertain to the Asian Pacific American community. Its programs and events include a mentoring program for college students and young professionals, a day-long career fair, a networking reception for community leaders, and a youth Olympics that promotes leadership through team-building games. Jason’s responsibilities as president include managing APEX’s board, fundraising, and strengthening relationships with the city of Los Angeles and the state of California, where the organization is based. To learn more about APEX and Jason’s leadership, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.
Asian Professional Exchange (APEX)
Jason Scott Park
Outskirts of Marina del Rey, California
Los Angeles, California
University of California, San Diego
B.S. in Management Science
Asian Professional Exchange (APEX)
Korean American Advisory Board for the 48th California Assembly District
Asian Pacific Islanders Leaders Group Steering Committee
Organized by Paula Daniels, Commission on the Board of Public Works
Goodwill Southern California
Volunteer Task Force Member
Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP)
Leadership Conference Planning Committee Member
Domestice Violence Project
Hosted by the Center for Pacific Asian Families, the Korean American Family Service Center, the Korean Community Center of the East Bay, and the Korean American Bar Association
Planning Committee Member
APA’S RISING: Political, Progressive and Proud
Community Leader Host Committee Member
Korean Churches for Community Development (KCCD)
UCSD Triton Enterprise Network (TEN) of Greater Los Angeles
FUSION 2005: Celebrating the Fabric of Our Diverse Community
Los Angeles Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month Committee
Steering Committee Member
Gospel Broadcasting Company (GBC 1190AM)
Host of “Meeting the Next Generation”
United Escrow Co.
LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc.
General Electric Financial
About the non-profit
The Asian Professional Exchange (APEX) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan community based organization with multifaceted goals and purposes that are charitable, cultural and educational in nature. Established in 1993, APEX currently boasts an e-community membership of over 2,000 members.
The APEX mission is to be the premier membership organization for Asian Pacific Americans in Southern California who have a strong commitment to excellence in professional development, community service and cultural awareness.
Purpose and Vision
The purpose of APEX is to serve as a medium to bring increased awareness about and to Asian Americans through community service, fellowship, charitable fundraisers, cultural events, professional networking and educational seminars. By combining diverse skills and resources to support common goals, APEX strives to benefit not only the Asian American community, but also society at large. Ultimately, APEX hopes to create a unified sense of community among all Asian Americans, here in the United States and abroad.
- Provide an opportunity for Asian Pacific Americans to develop, refine and achieve their full potential as future community and corporate leaders.
- Address key philanthropic, cultural and business concerns of unique importance to the Asian Pacific American community.
- Support activities that seek to raise the cultural awareness and enhance the perception of Asian Pacific Americans.
- Facilitate increased interaction, communication and the exchange of ideas among Asian Pacific Americans.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
APEX is an incredible organization fully run by volunteers, who are full-time professionals. Without any paid staff, we continue to provide a powerful platform for Asian Americans to grow both professionally and personally, while emphasizing the need for community relevance. As the leading professional organization for Asian Americans here in Southern California, APEX recruits the best of the best in our communities.
On a day-to-day basis, I balance my full-time professional career while managing a non-profit board consisting of 15 directors and 18 committee chairs. My responsibilities for APEX include the strengthening of relationships within the City of Los Angeles and State of California, corporate fundraising, bridging professional organizations, creating numerous platforms to cultivate leadership, and most importantly, instilling the vision of community empowerment.
Most notable milestones
Going into our 15th year, APEX provides valuable opportunities for the Asian American community. We have recently been awarded the Outstanding Community Service Award at the Asian Pacific Women’s Center’s 6th Annual Metamorphosis Gala held at the City Club on Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles.
APEX’s annual marquee events and programs are as follows:
- APEX Mentoring Program: A free five month mentoring program that bridges college students with young professionals and a second tier that bridges young professionals with senior professionals.
- APEX Youth Olympics: A day that champions leadership through team building games and activities for the youth in our communities.
- APEX Awards Gala: An evening of community empowerment by recognizing excellence in our communities. To view pictures from our recent 14th Annual APEX Awards Gala, please visit: http://www.pics.yophotography.com/apex/
- APEX Career Symposium: The largest day of professional development for Asian Americans in Southern California with a day-long career fair. For more information or to register for FREE, please visit: http://www.apex.org/career
- APEX Community Leaders Reception: A powerful networking event bridging young professionals with elected officials, community leaders, and members of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Staff (APALS).
- APEX Leadership Luncheon Series: An intimate luncheon that allows our community to build substantial relationships with figureheads in the Asian Pacific American community.
- APEX Youth Art Leadership Award: An art contest for Asian American youth in grades four to eight that champions leadership.
What’s the niche?
APEX is unique in that it truly develops leaders in all facets of society. My biography is a testament of how this organization can develop an average working professional:
I am a Relationship Manager for United Escrow Co. I come with over five years of real estate management experience from the LandAmerica Financial Group, Inc. and a financial services background from General Electric Financial.
I am also an avid supporter of the community. From 2002 to 2003, I served as a mentor at Green Pastures Youth Center, an alternative high school in Koreatown. From 2003 to 2006, I hosted a weekly radio program entitled “Meeting the Next Generation” on GBC AM1190, which was widely broadcasted to the Korean communities in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Through my weekly radio segment, I built bridges between his guests and his listeners by interviewing various artists, figureheads in the community, and corporate leaders who were making an impact in society. From 2003 to 2005, I sat on the Executive Board of APEX as Vice President, with the 12th Annual APEX Awards Gala as one if his signature events. In 2005, I helped with the creation and reviewing process of grant applications for the Young Nak Presbyterian Church (YNPC) Serving the Community Grants, which was a grant that initially allocated $150,000.00 to the community. I also sat as a Steering Committee Member for the Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month (of May) for the City of Los Angeles. In 2006, I was recognized as a community leader at the historic Dodgers vs. Padres game on Monday, September 18, 2006. I also moderated a plenary session for the Korean Churches for Community Development’s (KCCD’s) Lighting the Community Conference titled Revolutionizing the Way Churches Do Community Service.
As a result of his involvement in the community, I have been featured multiple times in The Korea Times, on KSCI-TV’s (Channel 18) vignettes titled “Making a Difference” and “Our Role Models,” and in the Editorial Section of the December 2005 issue of ViViD Magazine: The Premiere Source of Influential Chinese Americans. Aside from being interviewed on GBC AM1190 and Radio Seoul AM1650, my work in the community has also been recognized by the LA Times, The Chinese Daily News, and the offices of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, California State Controller John Chiang, Congressman Xavier Becerra, Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez, California State Senator Jack Scott, California State Senator Lou Correa, Vice Chair Judy Chu of the California State Board of Equalization, Honorable Michelle Steel of the California State Board of Equalization, Assemblymember Ted W. Lieu, Assemblymember Mike Eng, Supervisor Yvonne B. Burke, Supervisor Don Knabe, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, Councilmember Ed P. Reyes, Councilmember Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Tom LaBonge’s office, and the City Council for the City of Monterey Park. In support of the community, I also co-emceed the 20th Anniversary Korean American Insurance & Financial Professional Association’s Banquet at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in downtown Los Angeles and the fifth Anniversary Celebration & Awards Gala for the Korean Churches for Community Development at the Radisson.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is communicating the importance of community relevance for a younger professional audience. As we transition from a generation of immigrants, the mindset for survival has changed to a mindset of comfort. Many Asian Americans are achieving the “American Dream” and still view the idea of a community as a source of comfort for those who face cultural and language barriers or for those who are seasoned in their careers and have the time to give back.
However, there’s empowerment for a young professional community through mentoring, leadership, and networking. With changing generations and changing times, it is our responsibility to KNOW our target audience and EFFECTIVELY communicate our message.
What’s in store for the future?
We are currently in a transition period for next year’s APEX 2008 Leadership Team.
Take a stand and make a lasting positive impact for your community!
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Learn how to listen.
The ability to discern is a powerful skill set that can transform wishful ideas to revolutionary plans for change.
Guiding principle in life
Greatness isn’t achieved by the absence of failures, but greatness is achieved by overcoming them.
Yardstick of success
I would measure success by the number of individuals in my spheres of influence that are able to realize and pursue their passion in life.
Goal yet to be achieved
Develop a senior housing center and effective after school programs for the Koreatown area in the City of Los Angeles.
Best practical advice
Maintain a balanced life.
With the progression of age, job promotions, and relationships, it’s easy to neglect a component of a healthy lifestyle (i.e. exercising, spending time with family and friends, times of reflection, etc.).
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
My parents tell me this often as a reminder to never lose sight of the initial purpose for my actions since it can easily get clouded by the amount of work I need to endure to pursue social change.
I have numerous informal mentors in various industries, but 2 individuals who really helped develop my leadership skills are:
Steve Liu, APEX Founder/Chairman
CEO of HPI Emblem
Adam Ritter, APEX Legal Counsel
Partner at Holland & Knight LLP
Aside from my parents, these two individuals were always frank and honest with me. Hearing the truth is hard to hear sometimes, but hearing the truth is hard to come by as well. I value their friendship and their ability to stretch me personally.
What motivated you to get started?
In college, I led a student organization and had an opportunity develop relationships with a few folks in the media as well as the Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Board for the Mayor of San Diego at that time. Through their friendship, I was exposed to several community projects and the experience initiated the passion I have now to develop communities.
Like best about what you do?
I enjoy the opportunity to meet extraordinary individuals. My definition of an extraordinary individual is an individual who is pursuing their passion.
From high profile executives and politicians to your average working bee and volunteer, I am thankful to come across such amazing people who are willing take a stand in what they believe in and do not wither when the wind blows.
Like least about what you do?
Changes take time. Relationships take time. It’s so easy to get caught up with the want for immediate results. But through patience, I am reminded that lives and communities are being transformed. The time is worth the investment.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I wanted to be a doctor? I forgot.
What was your first job?
I was a cashier and a host at the Jerry’s Famous Deli in Marina del Rey, which was down the street from my home.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Traveling and working out. My schedule can be quite unforgiving, so any available time I can get, I just like to rest.
Person most interested in meeting and why?
Mayor Michael A. Bloomberg, I’d love to pick his brain to find out his business plan and strategy to develop the City of New York.
Leader in business most interested in meeting and why?
GE CEO Jeff Immelt, When I used to work for GE, I always wanted to meet with Jeff to find out how he transitioned from Jack Welch’s leadership and style of business.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I was part of an educational science television show when I was in elementary school.
- My first internship was in high school and I interned in the graphic arts department at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in Beverly Hills.
- I was the prom king in high school.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- Developing communities
- Traveling overseas
- Meeting passionate people
“The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren
Aside from APEX, I have heart to develop the Koreatown area in the City of Los Angeles and the neighboring communities. Development includes:
- Low income/senior housing
- Increased homeownership
- After school programs
- Beautification projects
- Consistent and effective town hall meetings
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Aside from corporate partnerships, we really look for individuals who want to make a genuine difference. There are numerous ways to get involved since we focus on professional development and community service.
Interview by Vanessa Chan
Introduction by Preeti Aroon
Edited by Valerie Enriquez