We asked Dani Chun a few questions about herself and her role at ICH. Read on to learn more!
- How would you describe your role at ICH?
I hold a dual role as a research and evaluation project manager at ICH and the strategy and partnerships manager at LZC. In my project manager role, I attempt to make sure our project work gets done, which involves coming up with lots of check-in questions and scheduling more meetings than anyone probably wants. Wearing my strategy and partnerships manager hat, I support the overall vision of LZC, run the LZC Immigrant Scholar internship program, and build relationships with interested partners.
2. What is your educational background?
I got my master’s in public policy (MPP) from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. I concentrated in economic and racial equity–then known as the poverty alleviation concentration–and unofficially in immigration policy/immigrant integration. My bachelor’s degree from Messiah University is in economic development, with concentrations in sustainability and business. I minored in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) at Messiah, which I took up in my junior year while studying abroad in Lithuania.
3. What was your career path before coming to ICH?
It’s sort of funny, but I had steadfastly avoided the policy concentration in the economic development program at Messiah. I equated policy with politics and didn’t want anything to do with that. During my junior year in Lithuania, I had this thought–”Master of Public Policy”–flash across my mind. It was so unexpected, so strange, that I wrote it down in my journal. During my senior year, I came to understand the importance of policy for sustainable economic development to happen.
Cue a yearlong fellowship in policy advocacy and justice mobilizing after college with the Christian Reformed Church in North America’s Office of Social Justice, during which I learned a ton about U.S. immigration policy and climate justice, created action alerts for our constituents, and–perhaps best and most terrifying of all–drove a 15-passenger van from Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Washington, DC, for the Ecumenical Advocacy Days conference, during which we visited state senators and representatives to advocate for our policy priorities. I decided to apply to MPP programs and came across the Heller School’s MPP program, which ended up being the only one that I applied to.
During my time at Heller, I worked as a graduate research assistant with Dr. Jessica Santos, then-director of community-engaged research at the Institute for Economic and Racial Equity (IERE) on the Empowerment Economics portfolio. I became the project coordinator for our team and eventually the project manager after I graduated in 2020 and was hired as a research associate at IERE. I worked there until I joined ICH in January 2022.
4. What made you decide to come to ICH?
I had been working closely with Jess on the Empowerment Economics portfolio at IERE. When she joined ICH to launch the Leah Zallman Center, we talked about my role and, thankfully, a research associate position at ICH opened up that I was able to apply to. I loved the mission of ICH and the participatory nature of the work, so it was an easy decision!
5. What are some projects that you are working on right now?
We’re working with Southern New Hampshire University’s Center for New Americans and the New Hampshire Equity Collective on an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) needs assessment in Greater Manchester, NH. We’re wrapping up a two-year study with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) on the New American Cities pilot, which provides individualized career services to refugees and immigrants in five cities. We’re also wrapping up a project with No Kid Hungry that looked at the strategies Latinx community-based organizations around the country use to thaw the chilling effect of the Trump administration’s public charge ruling.
6. What are your favorite project topics and why?
I love projects related to economic well-being and development as well as immigrant integration. Economic well-being is such an integral part of health, and I’ve appreciated continuing to learn about how both fit together. As an immigrant and someone who loves food and culture, learning about people and thinking about how we can thrive together, immigrant integration is a beautiful topic to me.
7. What are you most excited about for the future of ICH?
I’m excited for us to continue building out our niche as experts in participatory evaluation, participatory action research, and applied research. I’m excited to continue building the Leah Zallman Center and for ICH/LZC to become even more known in the immigrant health space.
8. What are your hobbies or things you like to do for fun?
I love eating, reading, watching Manchester United, doing puzzles, playing the guitar, watching shows/movies with friends, and playing games and sports. We’re currently working on a 1,000 piece white puzzle, which I am surprisingly genuinely enjoying!
9. Do you have any plans for the holidays? Anything that you are looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to going home to Malaysia to meet my new niece, spend time with my family, and eat tons of food!