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.