ESTHER KANG is a middle school science teacher in East Oakland. Originally from Chicago, Esther moved to the Bay Area in 2010, and found community in the LGBTQ API spaces that API Equality – Northern California provides. As a Korean American woman navigating a LGBTQ & Asian intersection, she believes that the two identities are not separate to her.

Her volunteerism with API Equality – Northern California escalated when she was given the opportunity to co-facilitate a Breakthrough Conversation training with community organizer Tracy Nguyen at this year’s Queer & Asian Conference at UC Berkeley. Being a teacher, the training opportunity gave Esther an opportunity to share her story and journey around having conversations with her friends and family.

“I feel like I really want my work to be around building communities. Young people are the perfect people to do that. To educate youth, to empower youth–that is the perfect way to build better communities.”

Esther is also a star volunteer for Berkeley Free Clinic as an HIV test counselor. She strives to outreach and train other counselors to continue the work in API community health environments. All the skills she learns as a counselor are transferred to her teaching, as she develops the skills necessary to have hard conversations with her students. Nowadays, Esther wants to get more involved with immigrant communities, to illuminate voices that aren’t often heard.

We thank Esther for all her work with Breakthrough Conversations, PRIDE, community meetings, fundraisers, and Dragonfruit.

Fun fact? Esther loves spicy foods, and would challenge anyone to a spicy food eating competition.