State Senator John Liu recognized the 2021 Woman of Distinction with a ceremony to commemorate her achievements on Monday, Sept. 13.
This year’s honoree was Eun-Kyung Kim, the executive director of YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) in Queens. Kim’s work over the past two decades focused on advocacy, management and fundraising for her community and most recently, helping families during COVID-19.
During the pandemic, the YWCA of Queens opened a food pantry that provided fresh produce for more than 22,000 of the borough’s families and offered virtual classes for the community. YWCA also distributed care packages for seniors called LOVE BOXES, which included a month of essential items.
The ceremony for Kim was held at the YWCA of Queens headquarters in Flushing.
“Last year, we faced many challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the intensifying racial divisions and injustices, the rise in anti-Asian violence, and the widening economic inequalities have profoundly impacted our community in ways we never imagined,” Kim said.
Kim noted YWCA of Queens was able to open up their facility and support the community with a weekly food pantry providing culturally related food, a Love Sharing Box for the homebound seniors, provided cash assistance and advocated for the Asian immigrated community. They also offered their regular programs in an online setting, such as ESOL, GED programs, senior programs, community support programs as well as SONYC after school program and Learning Labs and Compass Explore for children.
“I am very proud of the remarkable ability to persevere displayed by our staff and volunteers. Our ability to continue to provide services to our community amidst so many challenges is a testament to the commitment of the Y, the courage of our board, staff and volunteers,” Kim said.
Kim came to the United States from South Korea after graduating from Seoul National University. She then earned her master’s and doctoral degrees from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied composition, conducting and electronic music. She became a professional composer whose music has been performed by various artists in the U.S., Europe and Korea. Kim was also a music director and conductor of the Central New Jersey Youth Orchestra and choir director at numerous churches.
She taught at several NYC institutions including the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, Queensborough Community College, Korean American Presbyterian Theological Seminary, PS 68 in the Bronx, the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the East, Manhattan School of Music and the Reformed Union Theological Seminary of New York, where she served as a dean of the international division
The longtime radio host at Voice of NY, Radio Korea and KCBN is often called upon to be a guest speaker. Prior to her community work, she founded and was the artistic director of the contemporary music group Soundclock.
In addition to her community work with YWCA, Kim was a longtime board member at the Rainbow Center, which is now known as Women in Need Center, before becoming an executive director. After a merge with the Korean American Family Service Center, she served as director of shelter services and outreach. She is also an active leader with the Korean American Association of Queens, Korean American Human Service Provider’s Association and National Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse.
“The state of New York is made great by incredible women who go above and beyond every day helping those in need, especially during the COVID crisis,” Liu said. “Eun-Kyung Kim is just such an individual and we are proud to honor her as our Woman of Distinction.”