KQTcon Core Team Members
Highlights of 2017–18 team organizing the 2018 national conference
Mark Ro Beyersdorf
Mark is a queer, second-generation, mixed-race Korean American activist who grew up in San Diego, CA and now lives in Queens. He has worked for grassroots organizations, political campaigns, the federal government, and national civil rights organizations addressing racial justice, LGBTQ issues, and sexual exploitation since high school. Mark is currently on the staff of the Educational Equity and Youth Rights Project at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). Prior to AALDEF, Mark worked on the staff of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) for then-chair Congressman Mike Honda and as a Field Organizer for the Obama Campaign in rural Ohio. In New York City, he is active in the local AAPI community as a member of Nodutdol, a progressive Korean diasporic organization, the Board of Directors of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, and the Coordinating Committee of the Dari Project.
Rej is a 1.5-generation Korean American born in Seoul and raised in Portland, OR. After graduating from Wagner College in Staten Island, he has spent the last 9 years serving various marginalized communities (i.e., homeless youth, LGBTQ, API, and HIV-affected) as a youth advocate, a community organizer, an activist, and a case manager. He is currently in graduate school at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health (working toward a MPH -Master’s in Public Health-). Rej enjoys staying physically active through martial arts and one day aspires to be a good Janggu & Buk player (korean drumming).
(she/her) recently landed after some eight years plus breathing and working in Seoul, Republic of Korea. She is a 2.5-generation Queerean born and raised in the American East Coast, and calls Oakland, California, "home" for now. She is a jack of all trades and a master of none: she has fought to combat human trafficking in Seoul and Washington, D.C., lent her voice for TV commercials, and helped organize LGBTQ-focused activities in Seoul. Her passion is in lifting the global Korean LGBTQI* diaspora. Jackie motorbiked alone across Asia and she misses really good Korean food from the peninsula.
Patrick is a queer Korean American documentary filmmaker and journalist. He's working on films about Asian American coming out stories, LGBTQ self-representation, and queer Asian history. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Mother Jones, ProPublica, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Businessweek and CNN.com.
Patrick is on the steering committee for GAPIMNY, which creates safe spaces for queer and trans API people in New York. He also works with the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance to help plan training and educational programming, and he helps produce a monthly pan-Asian drag show in Brooklyn. Patrick is an avid tennis player and a terrible, but passionate, hip hop dancer.
Eliza is a second-generation, queer-identified, Korean American and native New Yorker residing in Brooklyn. Since 2012, she has been a co-lead for Dari Project where she helped curate and self-publish the first bi-lingual anthology of LGBTQ Korean American stories in 2013. Since 2014, she has been a drummer and and co-lead for the award-winning Poongmul Movements Builders (PMB) where she has organized and coordinated a large team of drummers to perform in NYC’s annual Heritage of Pride parade. She also served as a steering committee member of Q-WAVE, a local, grass roots organization for queer women and trans/gender variant people of Asian descent.
When not community organizing, Eliza has professional experience in instructional design, product management, and project management. Currently, she is at Dropbox focusing on customer success and is a NYC’s onsite co-lead for Dropbox’s Pridebox, an employee resource group for LGBTQ employees. She holds an undergraduate degree from The Johns Hopkins University where she was also a student activist in Baltimore, MD, and co-lead for D-SAGA, the school’s LGBTQ student organization. When not running around to meetings or playing with her nieces, she’s chasing snow storms as an amateur ski bum.
John is a queer second-generation Korean American cis man who was raised in Queens, New York City, and now lives in Oakland, California. For over 20 years, John has been an activist, advocate, facilitator, and leader in a range of communities and movements addressing LGBT rights, racial justice, immigrant organizing, and HIV/AIDS/community health. Beginning in the 1990s, he worked to improve HIV/AIDS prevention for youth through peer education, activism, and direct action with ACT UP/NY. He was a member of LGBT Korean groups including Chingusai and Iban/Queer Koreans of New York. In 2003, he became a steering committee member of the Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York (GAPIMNY) for two years, during which time he helped to found the Dari Project which published a bilingual collection of stories about Korean LGBT experiences. He was a board member of the Audre Lorde Project (2004–2008) and CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities (2008-2011). In 2010, he was a participant in the Korea Exposure and Education Program (KEEP), promoting solidarity between Korean American activists and South Korean organizers.
Professionally, John is a designer and program director at IDEO.org, a non-profit Human-Centered Design firm. He guides teams in the HCD process from behavioral insights to prototype tests, working closely with partner organizations to implement impactful solutions for low-income people around the world. John previously served as a news-graphics editor at The Wall Street Journal, where he covered financial, economic, and political news; and he has consulted in information design and data visualization.
CLARA YOON is a community organizer, an advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community, a diversity and inclusion consultant, a career woman in corporate America, and a proud mother of a transgender, bisexual son, living in New York City. Born in Korea, she immigrated to United States in the early 1980’s and grew up in a large extended immigrant family near Los Angeles. She earned her BS at the University of California, Los Angeles. After graduating college and getting married, she moved to New York City with her husband in 1994 and made it her home. She went on to receive her MS in Information Systems at New York University. Clara has more than 20 years of corporate experience as an Information Technology professional at a number of Fortune 500 companies in New York City, specializing in project management and risk management.
Clara’s advocacy and passion for LGBTQ community started when her son came out as transgender in 2010 at age 14. Her own process of coming to terms with her son’s gender identity took a year of struggle with anger, guilt and fear. Through this experience, Clara saw the tremendous value in visibility, resource and peer support for parents to be able to overcome stigma and misguided perceptions that are prevalent in the Asian American immigrant community. She also noticed the lack of resources to address the unique challenges of cultural and language barrier many parents and families in the Asian American community face in their journey to acceptance and unconditional love. She has since become an advocate for LGBTQ youth and worked to prevent bullying, suicide and homelessness. Her advocacy work has expanded to HIV/AIDS awareness, mental health care for API LGBTQ community and families, and gender equality in the United States and overseas.
In 2012, Clara founded API Rainbow Parents (ARP) at PFLAG NYC, the founding chapter of the nation’s largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer. API Rainbow Parents provides support for LGBTQ individuals and families of Asian heritage, addressing language- and culture-specific needs of the API community and striving to build a bridge between generations and different cultural experiences. In 2016, Clara also co-founded and is currently a President of Korean American Rainbow Parents (KARP), a growing national grass-root organization for Korean American parents with LGBTQ children. KARP organized the first ever national Korean American LGBTQ seminar in Washington, D.C., which drew close to 60 people from throughout the U.S. and Korea.
Clara has conducted and spoken in workshops and events in the U.S., Korea, and Japan on challenges of family acceptance in the Asian American community. These conferences have included multiple years at Creating Change, the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference, the Chinese-American Family Alliance for Mental Health Conference, and the NYC Asian American Student Conference.
Clara was honored at the New York City Council Pride Celebration in 2017 and received the Community Catalyst Award from NQAPIA (National Queer Asian & Pacific Islander Alliance) in 2015 for her work with API Rainbow Parents to improve the lives of members of the API LGBTQ community. Clara is regularly interviewed in the media, including appearances on Korean American Story, Asian American Life at CUNY.TV, and the AARP campaign to advocate for LGBTQ causes.
Clara currently serves on the Board of Directors of PFLAG NYC. She is a former co-chair of the Ally Program Pillar of Goldman Sachs’ America LGBT Network Steering Committee. Clara is also a member of the Public Diplomacy Speaker Program within the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs and a co-leader in the Parent Speaker Program for the Family Acceptance Campaign of NQAPIA.