The 2015 Korean American Grassroots Conference (KAGC) united Korean American leaders from across the United States in Washington DC. The three day conference took place from Tuesday, July 21st, to Thursday, July 23rd. Hosted by the Korean American Civic Empowerment (KACE) and the Korean American Association of the Washington Metropolitan Area, and joined by nearly 500 Korean Americans, the conference sought to emphasize the importance of Grassroots Leadership Development and allow for Nationwide Network Building between the participants originating from 20 different states, including New York, Washington DC, New Jersey, Texas, and California.
On the first day, the participant of KAGC were introduced to the grassroots activism and 8080 campaign by KACE President Dongchan Kim, Chairman Dongsuk Kim and staff attorney Chejin Park. The 8080 campaign is a year-round campaign initiated by KACE, which aims to accomplish 80% voter registration and 80% voter turnout rate in the Korean American community. The role of grassroots activism, and being proactive in addressing public concerns was greatly highlighted throughout the orientation. Denis Halpin made a presentation as the keynote speaker of the day.
On the second day of conference, participants divided into multiple groups based on state origins to meet members of the United States House of Representatives at their offices in Capitol Hill. The members of the groups often met with their own congressional representative to express social concerns and national policy issues worrying the Korean American community. In all, the groups met with 20 members of congress to present their concerns, and visited nearly 200 congressional offices.
Later that day, KAGC Gala, the main event of the conference, took place at the Hyatt Regency Hotel and was attended by 13 members of US Congress, including Rep. Mike Honda and Rep. Charles Rangel, US Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and four members of the Korean National Assembly. The turnout increased from last year’s, despite the fact the the Congress was ablaze due to the Iran deal.
On the final day, the groups met once again to reflect on their individual experiences of 2015 KAGC. They addressed both the successes and challenges faced during the conference to plan ahead for what will hopefully be another successful Korean American Grassroots Conference in 2016.