I am Sook Jin Ong (first name: Sook Jin; family name: Ong), and I come from the multicultural cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I believe the complexity of my tanahair – homeland – in shaping my worldview that became the foundation to grow my understanding of social justice locally and globally. With that, I bring with me curiosity and empathy in learning about the stories that people carry with them, and ways in which I can host and create space for them to grow and thrive.
My passion is in the stories of how and what we eat, and the intersectionality of our identities and cultures with food. In my seven years of living in Minnesota, I have come to treasure the complex, abundant foodways of this land.
I just joined Second Harvest Heartland as of January 2021 as their first Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. I am excited to bring my passion and experiences here!
Prior to this new opportunity, I served as the Director of the Future Services Institute, an initiative of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, focusing on improving human services in Minnesota through innovation, leadership development, research and evaluation. In that role, I brought my practice of blending human-centered design and participatory leadership practices, including that of graphic recording, facilitation, and teaching.
My professional experience spans roles in both corporate and public sectors. I graduated with a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and most recently (Fall 2020!) graduated with the University of Minnesota's Integrated Food Systems Leadership Certificate.
Things I've been up to recently (chronological order):