Alumni Changemakers: James Chan

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alum James Chan completed the Junior Summer Institute at Princeton University in 2011.

Fostering Leadership in Underrepresented Communities

Despite the numerous challenges of his youth, James Chan dedicated himself to his goals receiving both his BA in Business Administration and Political Science from the University of Florida and his MPP in Public Finance and Public Management from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. During this time, he remained engaged in public service.

He interned with the United Faculty of Florida and The Florida NEXT Foundation which gave him experience in collaboration, research, and writing on issues impacting the state. He served as a Research Assistant for the Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center at The University of Minnesota and as the Research Director for The Florida NEXT Foundation where he collaborated with young leaders and helped redesign and address policy. And while working as a Contractor for State and Local Government Affairs at Target, he analyzed legislation and policy trends to support future legislation in all 50 states.

After completing his education, James called upon his analysis and strategy skills as the Deputy Campaign Director to successfully support the Campaign to reelect Florida State Senator Geraldine Thompson for Senate. His work at C1 Bank as both a Senior Personal Banker and as the Banking Center Manager, Assistant Vice President gave him the opportunity to foster relationships and guide business leaders on policy and procedure.

“PPIA has been a life changing program for me, personally and professionally. The need for diverse voices in government and public service is more urgent than ever.

Without PPIA, I would not have been able to afford a graduate education. Simply put, I would not be where I am today in my career without the financial investment of PPIA and its consortium members. I will be forever grateful to this organization, and it is why I give back by sharing my experiences with future generations of diverse change makers.”

While working as the Florida Programs Consultant for the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS), he helped organize programs and summits to support leadership development. He continued to bring people together as the Client Relations Manager for Lee Law Group. James Chan began focusing and understanding intersectionality while holding the position of Field & Advocacy Manager for the nonprofit Florida 501c3 Civic Engagement Table which focuses on a variety of underrepresented communities. Even though there were many separate advocacy issues represented, he noted the similarities and built upon them.

“There are so many common issues and values shared between these groups, but there’s a lack of coordination between them. So, my work was to really work with all these partners to try to increase the specific engagement capacity of different groups.”

His efforts as the Florida State Director for the State Innovation Exchange (SiX) resulted in collaboration, unity, and leadership, an example of which was the creation of a progressive policy platform, The Florida Sunrise Agenda, the first effort of its kind in Florida. He currently holds the position of National API Civic Engagement Director at SEIU, where he designs, leads, and executes SEIU’s comprehensive union-wide API civic engagement coordination with various departments, campaigns, locals, and API organizations. James Chan continues to volunteer his time and effort to organizations like New Leaders Council which fosters young progressive leaders. He also sits on the Alumni Advisory Council of the Public Policy and International Affairs Program.

His efforts have not gone unrecognized either. He was chosen as one of Tampa Bay Business Journal's Up and Comers and a Rising Star in Florida Politics by INFLUENCE Magazine. He was also recognized as the Young Floridian of the Year in 2019, a prestigious award presented by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida.

James Chan is not only successfully increasing civic engagement in underrepresented communities, but he is also helping to develop the necessary leadership skills needed to push progressive policy forward.

Thank you, James, for activating leadership and potential in historically underrepresented communities. You are fostering a culture of unity in diversity as you connect people and policy on behalf of the greater good.

Read more Changemaker profiles here

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