Michelle Kwan Joins Biden Presidential Campaign Staff

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I'm thrilled that @joebiden announced that he’s running for President! I know that there is already a field of incredible democratic candidates and the 2020 election is so important we cannot lose sight of the big picture. Ultimately, I believe that the Vice President is the ideal candidate to unify our country with his experience, knowledge and track record of fighting for Americans. He has worked side by side with @barackobama to pass the Affordable Care Act, which expanded health insurance to 20 million people and protected people with pre-existing conditions. He championed marriage equality and remains at the forefront of ensuring LGBTQ rights. He has tackled climate change and pollution to protect our environment. He has earned the respect of the international community and, through his leadership, he will strengthen our relationships with our allies and stand up to meet rising global challenges. Most importantly, VP Biden has a reputation for getting things done – from implementing the most comprehensive and progressive investments in our nation’s infrastructure and clean energy industries, to writing the Violence Against Women Act, to taking on the the NRA and winning (twice!). He’s the candidate that I’m proud to support because he will do what it takes to restore the soul of this nation, rebuild the backbone of the country, and unify America.

A post shared by Michelle Kwan (@michellewkwan) on

When former Vice President Joe Biden announced his bid to run for President in 2020, no one was too surprised since he’d been thinking about it for a while. And I wasn’t entirely too surprised that Michelle Kwan was joining his campaign, since she had alluded to potentially joining another presidential campaign (like she had with Hillary back for the 2016 campaign) during Q&A at a talk she was at recently at Yale.

Michelle made her announcement via Instagram, her preferred social media outlet:

“In an Instagram post, the world champion figure skater wrote that she was “thrilled that @joebiden announced that he’s running for President!” “I know that there is already a field of incredible democratic candidates and the 2020 election is so important we cannot lose sight of the big picture. Ultimately, I believe that the Vice President is the ideal candidate to unify our country with his experience, knowledge and track record of fighting for Americans,” Kwan wrote, citing Biden’s work with former President Obama to pass the Affordable Care Act, better known as ObamaCare.”

I like Biden and I wish he had run in 2016. Although Biden is currently leading and has been leading in the polls before he even announced, I don’t think he’ll have an easy time getting the nomination or even win it. He has the feeling of an establishment candidate (which he is) when the Democratic base is looking anti-establishment. But in the end, all Democrats want the same thing this time around in 2020 – to defeat President Donald Trump.

I thought that Michelle would have been supporting a female California candidate and Asian American, Senator Kamala Harris. Perhaps Michelle will join her campaign if Biden doesn’t win the nomination.  I’m sure Michelle got to know Biden when she worked at the State Department and that many of Hillary’s presidential staff campaign are working on the Biden campaign, since Hillary and Biden were good friends. In any case, I look forward to meeting Michelle again on the campaign trail for Biden!

Yale’s ‘The Chubb Fellowship’: Michelle Kwan, Figure Skater, Olympian, and Diplomat

As you all know, I am a fan of figure skater, Olympian and diplomat Michelle Kwan. The last time I saw her, it was for a fundraiser for Vivek Viswanathan, who last year was running for California State Treasurer.

A friend of mine who happens to be a Yale alum had posted the above video of Michelle speaking at Yale as the 2019 Chubb Fellow:

“Michelle Kwan, Chubb Fellow – Spring 2019 will be the honored guest of the Chubb Fellowship and Timothy Dwight College. Ms. Kwan will deliver the Chubb Fellowship Address to talk about her remarkable career as a figure skater as well as her public diplomacy experiences. Details at https://chubbfellowship.com”

Figure skater and Yale freshman Nathan Chan was in attendance – I imagine he helped in someone to get her as a speaker.

I didn’t necessarily learn anything new from the talk that I didn’t know, since I am quite familiar with Michelle’s history in skating (I did see her skate in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics) as well as in public service, but I was quite struck when someone in the audience asked in the first question, what was one of the characteristics that lead to her success, and she had mentioned her being ‘scrappy’ – and explained that being from an immigrant family from Hong Kong, she didn’t come from a well-to-do background, and her dad didn’t graduate from high school and her parents had nothing. So it was Michelle’s scrappiness that helped raise money for coaching, where she had to quit skating at times because lessons were expensive, ice time, as well as equipment and costumes, etc. Michelle was able to get grants as well as supporters, and had to borrow costumes (she even made it to Nationals before getting a coach).

I was struck by her comments since oftentimes, we do think that figure skaters have sponsors or come from well-to-do families, but often they do not – something that the film I, Tonya helped shed light on.

Someone also asked if Michelle was going to run for Senate one day, and she didn’t have any immediate plans to run for public office. But she did say she might help in a future presidential campaign, like she did with Secretary of State and Senator Hillary Clinton as a surrogate outreach coordinator.

Michelle Kwan Endorses Vivek Viswanathan for California State Treasurer

Michelle Kwan and Vivek Viswanathan

Here with Michelle W. Kwan reminiscing about our time on the 2016 campaign trail with Hillary Clinton. Thanks so much for your support, Michelle! Check out our campaign at www.vivekforca.com #VivekforTreasurer #RunwithVivek

Posted by Vivek Viswanathan on Saturday, March 3, 2018

Video & Image courtesy of Vivek Viswanathan for State Treasurer 2018 – https://www.vivekforca.com/

Back in early March, I was on Facebook and I saw a fundraising event titled Happy Hour: Michelle Kwan & Vivek Viswanathan in San Francisco, and I was like, what?!?

I had briefly seen Michelle back in January for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in the security line for the press/VIP entrance but didn’t get a chance to chat with her since I wanted to make the press conference for the announcement of the U.S. Olympic men’s figure skating team. The first and only time I had met Michelle was back in the Fall of 2015 for a fundraiser for Asian Americans for Hillary in San Francisco. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton didn’t become president …

Who is this Vivek Viswanathan candidate and what is he running for was what I first thought? He’s running for California State Treasurer, to replace outgoing Treasurer John Chiang (who is running for Governor of California.) Well, since Michelle was going to the event – I had to go and learn more about Vivek!

At the Happy Hour, Vivek’s remarks were brief, but I was able to stay for dinner and hear more in-depth from not only Vivek, but also:

https://youtu.be/gxzzQ8buvoY

I also had a chance to first chat with Vivek’s Aunt & Uncle, who live near San Jose, as well as his Mom & Dad as well as his brother (who were all in town for the event visiting from New York). At the Happy Hour and also during the dinner reception, I did get to learn that Vivek is a really smart guy, having gone to Harvard for undegrad, and getting his JD/MBA at Stanford.

He’s also been a Special Advisor, Office of Governor Jerry Brown and also a Policy Advisor to Hillary Clinton on her presidential campaign. Michelle Kwan, Ann O’Leary and Dan Schwerin knew Vivek from working on the Hillary Clinton campaign together at the campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, New York and that’s how they all got to know Vivik and to endorse him.

All of this at the age of 30. He’s also doing something unique to get the word out about his race for California State Treasurer – running 500 miles from Sacramento to San Diego over a period of around two months to reach out to Californians and learn & listen.

After the long evening, I did get a chance to do a brief interview with Vivek:

I really admire Vivek putting himself out there and running for office, but it will be a big challenge for him running against a very established Democrat that is very well known and liked among the Democratic establishment even if the general Californian public doesn’t know her that well (a lot of people don’t even know who John Chiang is!)

There is also apparently a Republican in the race for State Treasurer according to Ballotpedia, but given there are no elected Republicans holding state wise offices, I’m pretty sure that his chances are close to zero of being elected, but he might have a chance to make it from the open primary to the general election in November.

The only poll that matters is election day. Stranger things have happened, as we all know, Donald Trump was elected president … And first time candidate Stephanie Murphy made history by beating a 24 year incumbent to become the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress.

Oh, and I also did get a chance to meet Michelle and chat with her at both the happy hour and dinner reception:

The above photo got me over 100+ likes on Facebook 🙂 and plenty of comments …

Best of luck to Vivek is his run for California State Treasurer! You can follow Vivek at:

Website: www.vivekforca.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/vivekforca

Twitter: @vivekforca | Instagram: www.instagram.com/vivekforca

The Top 10 Asian American Sports Figures of 2012

Picture from the UFC

Northwest Asian Weekly recently published its list of the Top 10 Asian American sports figures of 2012.  The list was full of Olympians, some of who we covered before covered before, like #6 volleyball player Tamari Miyashiro and #8 wrestler Clarissa Chun, and also had others we have talked about like #7 MMA lightweight champion Benson Henderson.  While #1 is no surprise, I was pleased to see a few others mentioned who don’t get as much publicity.

Continue reading “The Top 10 Asian American Sports Figures of 2012”

Words of Wisdom from Skater Dr. Michelle Kwan

Last weekend, two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan was a commencement speaker at Southern Vermont College and received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. She noted that she’s probably the only current student (at Tufts) who is also giving a graduation speech. Kwan has already achieved so much as a skater, but when she “retired” at age 28, she had to rethink what she wanted to do for the rest of her life after focusing so much on skating.

I thought her words of wisdom were truly that:

“I suppose this is a common mistake. Whether it’s winning a competition, finishing a degree, getting the right job, paying off a loan, or finding the perfect partner — we always imagine that at some point all the waiting, worrying and striving will finally be over. We expect some magic moment of arrival, when all the pieces settle permanently into place, and life can finally begin.  But I’m starting to realize, and maybe you are too, that things usually don’t turn out that way. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, and everything right where we want it, there’s always some new challenge to contend with. So even while we pursue our goals, we shouldn’t put off enjoying life, thinking happiness waits for us at some far-off destination. We should take life on its own terms, and look for happiness in the here and now.”

Given everything Kwan has accomplished, she’s still figuring out what to do with her life. It’s somewhat reassuring to know that even from those who “have it all” from the outside, there are struggles that we all have to deal with in each of our own ways. As I start to approach “middle age,” I found it always easy to look retrospectively what one should have or could have done – as well as  deal with things you had no control over. Today, Asian Americans, especially those raised by immigrant parents, are especially “goal driven” and in the process, miss enjoying the journey.

When I graduated from business school, Ted Turner was our commencement speaker. One of his pieces of advice was to set a goal so high so that it was unattainable, so that (as I interpreted it) you could always enjoy the journey. He spoke of how his father framed his entire life on becoming rich and making $1 million a year. When he reached that goal, he had no idea what to do next, was miserable and eventually killed himself  but putting a gun to his head. So when you think everyone has everything figured out, don’t be too surprised when you learn that even the most successful could be in the same boat as you.

Mirai Nagasu Joins the U.S. 2010 Olympic Women Figure Skating Team

Over the weekend, Arcadia, California native and sixteen year old Mirai Nagasu came in second place in the 2010 US Figure Skating Championship to secure a spot on the U.S. women’s figure skating team for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Earlier in the week, Nagasu came in first during the short-program competition (see video). Ever since I was a kid and watched Dorothy Hamill skate, I’ve always enjoyed watching the sport. I’ll never forget when I got to see Michelle Kwan skate live in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics short program. She came in first at this event, later capturing the bronze overall.

Also over the weekend, The New York Times did an interesting story on the propensity of Asian American and Asian women to dominate the sport of figure skating:

“Eight of the 23 women scheduled to compete Saturday in the long program at the United States championships were Asian-Americans, who also excelled here among younger skaters… Without compulsory figures, skating became more like gymnastics. Jumping assumed a new urgency. Younger skaters could excel. The key to jumping is to leap high and spin quickly and tightly through two, three or four revolutions before returning to the ice. Asian skaters are often small and willowy, which can be an asset when jumping… Other cultural factors are also at play, coaches said. Discipline at home often transfers to discipline at the rink, Carroll said. Audrey Weisiger, a prominent Chinese-American coach, said: “A lot of Asian families really drive their kids, and I don’t mean in the car. They’re not allowed to be marginal.””

The article also mentions that former Olympians such as Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan have a lot to do with inspiring, especially Asian American women, to take up the sport. I’m sure that is the case and why I believe that Asian American role models outside of traditionally accepted passions, careers and vocations are important. Of course, the drive and expectations can have a negative effect as well – where Asian Americans (especially women), might feel put an inordinate amount of pressure on themselves.