Advancing Multilateral Public-Private Partnerships for Biden’s Priorities

One lesson I had learned witnessing the Trump transition at State was that while policies and programs may not outlast an administration, the work can continue with advancing priorities under shared values, iterating upon what works, and working with the private sector.

In the private sector, I witness an incredible array of work by innovators in climate science, aerospace, and defense protecting human lives and achieving security and sustainability agendas through greener, cheaper, lighter, and more efficient technologies.

I had an opportunity to work on a program called Engage America – a whole of government initiative to bring policies closer to the American people. With State as a more diplomatic arm of the federal government, we worked with interesting private innovators to provide public resources to local municipalities, such as Small Business Administration to provide translation services for Somali populations in Buffalo, NYC.

Many public programs, such as Engage America, did not continue, but public and private resources exist to be harnessed with a renewed sense of optimism and energy to be catalyzed. We are also at the precipice of many changes to move at scale on complicated and interrelated issues.

Executive Offices at institutional banks, like Goldman Sachs, adopted Environmental and Social Policy under a top-level operational framework. Investors are pouring an unprecedented amount of capital into start-up ventures with government stakeholders as a source of funding, building confidence among investors.

In many ways, coronavirus is accelerating what has already been out there in building the cyber resilient networks and thinking through supply chain disruptions. As a country, we should come together to think about how public-private partnerships can instrument the solutions that can be scaled.

Each entity offers from a business or government standpoint to meet the needs of consumers, citizens, and the environment in a collaborative working sense. By creating the conditions for tackling those problems within and in partnership with implementation strategies that are feasible, practical, and operational.

Government officials need to work with business or non-profit not only as a way to reduce cost but also for innovative and long-term solutions to manage multi-dimensional policies. Business leaders will need to balance responding to short-term solutions and long-term strategic policies part of the larger political reality by anticipating risk, clear social goals with flexibility and independent expert advice.

  1. Create industry coalitions for immediate solutions, such as pandemics. There are technologies we can utilize today such as sensors or commercial satellites monitoring the patterns of life. We can mobilize this data to predict the patterns of future biological threats.
  2. Establish R&D coalitions in each arm of the federal government. We can apply the technical knowledge of U.S. startups to policy goals to cover Presidential priorities, such as nuclear disarmament, food security, global health, and climate change. By working closely with the Department of Energy, entrepreneurs would help bring clean energy technologies with high upfront capital costs into the market. By catalyzing the connection with DOE, entrepreneurs, regional partners, and incubators, the partnership would foster collaborations among start-ups and federal entities. 
  3. Educate. The advent of the internet and the data is that everyone can share information. The downside to this is that everyone can share information. Massive amounts of disinformation or misinformation about the coronavirus are still out and about. Information can be weaponized to polarize each other.
  4. As the US seeks to broaden its alliances, it should engage partners not just on trade and traditional security issues, but also on emerging “nontraditional” challenges. One principal area for America to collaborate constructively with Asian nations is in “natural security,” or the security implications of climate change, environmental degradation and natural resource dependence.
  5. We could also establish bilateral technology funds, funds could support a range of initiatives, from seed projects to road test high-risk ideas to incubators for startups innovating at the nexus of defense and commercial applications.
  6. We could build anonymous data sets with U.S. allies to offset China’s scale advantage in the arena or its potential deliberate policy choices. Each government’s initiative to pool select, curated datasets can be used by companies and innovators in each country.

Achieving national security and next administration’s priorities will continue to require working across those barriers. It cannot be done without building upon what has already been effective and also through tapping into convening grounds across the public and the private entities for a safer and a more secure world.


Coding controls how we live online, and how we live.

About a third of 1% of us can write it.

Think about what we’re doing right now. You’re probably reading this article. This article itself is – coded, and run on a web browser, which is code, run on a computer which is designed by code.

It’s a very exciting time to be living today. Everything we do on the computer, and as we’re generating more data, we’re relying on it to make more decisions for us day by day.

Advancements of code can also put lives in danger in new ways.

Here is how artificial intelligence works. We give the computer a lot of examples and get it to write its own code with its own set of directions to follow. If we do not train it to consider set of decisions to go into making more decisions, the computer will decide it is not relevant. For instance, the computer may decide the parties don’t have any hispanic people, if the machine learning system don’t have any hispanic people.

I think it might be fun – to devote three months of my COVID-19 time into it.

We’ll see.

Sunday Gratitude Note

Grateful for the kindness friends and new relationships have shown me past week.

May we continue to be at peace and tranquility, at state of compassion and fullness of heart, may we mingle with wisdom, resonate with benevolence, celebrate with compassion, not be diminished by pride, but soar with comforting thoughts.

Asking for wisdom for things we cannot change and to let go of seeds that may not nourish. Allowing for gratitude, creativity, tolerance, something invisible and magical to surface from the stillness of quiet, and to preside us this weekend. 

Practicing Kindness

There are signs in Korea that says not to act superior to the employees. It also says that they can be your daughter or your son as to induce some sympathy.

Especially in Korea, where it is highly competitive, people are constantly in a hurry to get to the next place. Unfortunately we are all lucky to share the same circumstances or the opportunities. I would see the shopkeepers as no different than yourself – just taking things every day in each individual journeys.

We all like to travel, and we all work hard day to day, moving from one place to another getting to meetings on time. I really love traveling, because I’m so terrible with directions. I can get lost anywhere and not feel lost.

You’ll be surprised what you can learn from those around you. Think of it maybe as a detour in your daily life. To take the time to learn, explore, to tune into things around you a little more. Trying to be kinder is kind of like traveling in that way with unexpected surprises in your journey.

A Platform for Collective Wisdom

Impact is measured in its outputs of measurement, which I believe is reported back on platforms like Philanthropedia, GiveWell and others.

However, challenges persist in measuring impact for traditional investments, such as time period for returns. I think it also stems from changing the narrative of how to make investments accountable for impact than for a simple value sacrificing compensation.

There’s more and more talk of blended capital – a host of investors out there awaiting the emergence of profitable enterprises that will improve the lives of the poor in fundamental ways. We’ve been waiting for a while. In the real world of the poor, real change still means stepping up with money that you don’t expect to get back while demanding maximum returns in the form of impact.

There are serious challenges for improving efficiency in measuring impact – the existing power dynamic between donors and grantees prevents a feedback loop for foundations to know what is working and what is not. Investors, philanthropists, and for everyone else, people are more likely to achieve results that they intentionally seek.

The interest of the public sector is that foreign policy often equates to economic policy. An economic prowess of promoting growth and development is a drive wedge for sustainable growth, stability, peace, and prosperity.

Governments’ traditional roles have been to strengthen the reach by opening foreign markets, improving governance, transparency, as well as conditions for private sector-led growth. Governments and some foundations now provide funding to improve the social, political, and regulatory environments in which social enterprises and their investors operate—essentially a market building activity.

Today’s political environment is often described as “smart power,” using means of trade, diplomacy, aid, and others for a value-driven policy where individuals, businesses, and institutions act through global networks.

For any government to secure national interest upon economic industrial links and trades, it needs to deliver solutions to sustainability and scalability in impact investing as well as advancing conditions for private sector-led growth.

National interests are no longer simply delivered through applications of intelligence and tact to moderate relations between governments; it rather embraces solutions to cross-cutting socioeconomic challenges.

The ability to understand the evolving environment and capitalize on trends is a crucial skill of today enabling leaders to convert power resources into successful strategies.

I hope by continuing to work on a platform – we begin to understand that for more difficult problems, more nuanced and ambiguous solutions are. More ambiguous the solutions, the more diversity of voices there needs to be. Through convening of intelligence, I hope to continue the work where we cultivate conditions wherein collective wisdom emerges over time.

The Peter Pan Syndrome

I recently met a man who says he never wants to grow up.

I thought about what it meant to age.

Does it mean we have live up to the responsibilities that come with age like as jobs and family?

Do we lose freedom? Is that a scary thing? Is life going to boring?

I think it’s important to not take ourselves or events too seriously. There are no such an answer to all the questions in this world.

Thinking that we do have all the answers to the questions perhaps lets us less excited about the world.

Here’s a quote I like from a book about traveling.

So let us us dance through life. Let us go through life as a tourist than as as if we are transiting from one station to the next. Let it unfold in front of our eyes. Let all of its possibilities and impossibilities beyond our imaginations unfold. Let it unravel ruthlessly. The potential will keep us young.

A Tepid Balance

They say art is a stab at immortality. That all creators, writers, artists, and entrepreneurs of sorts would by the dint of their creations, escape death. A poet once said he decided to write because, “[he] was afraid to die.”

Allow me to coin this statement to capture it in a perhaps more meaningfully.

A commentary once wrote that to be a “better adult” is the one who thinks critically about what he would leave the next generation with.

And perhaps through the work of their creation it is one way to preserve the learnings of one’s life. I do love reading biographies for that reason.

Most of us are though are not necessarily creators. We are active consumers of different mediums.

And so another argues that the best we could do is to be a better daughter, mother, and a citizen, ideally conscious about recycling well and using less plastic.

I would say that is a very communal-value driven argument. That may not very much sit well within the more individualistic culture.

For me, ambition keep me energized. Under tutelage of my mentors, they represent an ignited passion, desire, drive and conviction ready to go at a full-speed. It is a choice to put ourselves in situations to continue grow and push yourself at full-speed ahead.

Ambition does not come alone. The anticipatory fear that sparks the ambition to the work ethic and sleepless nights. It is the continuous drive that however you have performed in the past may not be good enough. It is a chase that does not seem to quite end. All we could do is to find solace in videos of cute pets and occasionally therapeutic poetic writing. And to know that at the very least, the direction of our lives is intact.

Coming back full-circle, I realize that is the reason why we find other relationships who could help fill those gaps in our lives.

And so I leave my note of the end of 2019 and to celebrate 2020 with gratitude for my family, friends, new relationships, opportunities, and more that have nurtured me and helped me grow in ways so unimaginable.

Thank you for helping me stay grounded, happy, and centered, more than ever. Thank you for you. And happy new year.


Home has been super comfortable. I’ve been worried about my work ethic and my “why” shifting. There were books on the shelf with messages written on the first page to me. They were written by my grandfather. When I was younger, I never actually really read these books. Now that I’ve been reading them, their thoughts and stories were filled with a lot more struggle, self-doubt, and sacrifice than I could have imagined. It reminds me this – I shouldn’t be complacent, because what we have is not given to us – it is earned by our words and action. For those of you who also struggle with this – I suggest you pore into where we came from. Just like how foods have been harvested and cooked with toil and sweat, the roots of humility and beginnings will ground us to form our own opinions of the world, to march with honesty, purpose, and diligence.

What I am thankful for this Thanksgiving

올해 상반기에 나는 미국에서의 15년이라는 세월을 정리하고 한국에 왔다.

한국에서 보낸 이번 한 해는 내 인생에서 정말 기억에 남는 일년이 될것 같다. 작년은 비교적 더욱 화려하고 성취감이 들었던 해였다면 올해는 여태껏 일을 쫒느라 미쳐 챙기지 못한 인생의 소중한 부분들을 재정비하는 해였다.

미국에서는 잘 보지 않았던 한국 드라마도 엄마 아빠와 저녁때 같이 보고, 할아버지와 산책도 다니고, 요리학원도 다녀봤다. 매주 간단한 봉사지만 선생님이라는 역할에 대해 소중한 가르침을 주는 사랑스러운 보육원 사춘기 친구들도 만났다.

물론 정규직에서 오는 안정감에서 벗어나 새로운 문을 열려고 한국, 홍콩, 싱가포르 investment banks, funds 등에서 cold call, door knocking, networking 등을 하느라 고생했다. 난 참 cold call 하는 게 싫다. 불편하고 조마조마한 자리들이 있었지만 도움이 될지 몰랐던 한 활동과 공부가 은근슬쩍 활약해 너무 신기했다. 내공이 있는 멋진 분들이 정말 좋은 조언들을 많이 해주셨다.

안타깝게도 우리 사회는 자아성취와 성공을 부추기고 나 또한 미국에 돌아가면 열심히 살아갈 것 같다. 하지만 이제는 개인성취보다는 균형, 나에게 맞는 자리, 그리고 신앙인으로서의 삶이 더욱 소중하게 느껴진다. 화려한 이력서만으로 가질수없는 안정감을 찾은 것 같다.

작년 2018년에 나는 이런 글을 썼다. “I hope that in the next year, I am at the very least more me.” 이 목표를 여유로움에서 만날줄은 상상도 못했다. 시간을 항상 쪼개서 살던 나는 시간이라는 선물을 받았다. 고민과 혼란 속에서 내가 일을 하는 목적도 더욱 확고해진것 같다.

내 자신도 더 아끼고 사랑하는 사람들도 더 아끼며 행복하게 부지런히 살아가야지. 나에게 시간이라는 소중한 선물을 주었던 2019년도. 너무 감사해요.