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Los Angeles County, CA November 6, 2007 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Jay F. Chen

Candidate for
Governing Board Member; Hacienda La Puente Unified School District

This information is provided by the candidate

About the Candidate

Jay Chen is a 20-year resident of Hacienda Heights and was born in Michigan in 1978. His parents immigrated to the United States from Taiwan so that his father, Kelvin Chen, could earn a PhD at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Jay spent the early years of his life in the states of Ohio, Indiana and Oregon. From 1985 to 1988 he lived as an expatriate in Singapore where he attended Singapore American School.

Mesa Robles Middle School

In 1988 his family decided to relocate in Hacienda Heights due to its rich cultural diversity and excellent public schools. Jay attended Mesa Robles Middle School and after graduating in 1992 attended Glen A. Wilson High School. While at Mesa Robles Jay was selected for the GATE program and also began summer enrichment studies at the Center for Talented Youth at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Glen A. Wilson High School

Jay was heavily involved in all aspects of school at Wilson, and believes our school district provides remarkable opportunities for students to grow and become leaders. He was one of the charter members of Leo Club, the youth branch of Lions Clubs International, and served as Vice-President, President, and District 4-L2 President. In his senior year, and with Mrs. Toni Fosnes as advisor, Jay grew the Leo Club membership at Wilson into the largest in the United States and third-largest in the world. As District President he presided over the largest Leo Club district in the world. Among the activities he led was a water-saving toilet exchange program which earned Wilson High School more than $22,000. He is proud that through his leadership, Wilson was able to purchase brand new uniforms for the school's award-winning band.

Jay was also very active in the Paw Prints journalism program run by Mrs. Jeorgia Moore, and became an award-winning editorial cartoonist. He won first place in state competition three times, and went on to become the Editor-in-Chief of the Paw Prints weekly newspaper. He credits Mrs. Jeorgia Moore with encouraging him to branch out from his role as an artist to take on more writing and leadership responsibility, and believes that open-minded teachers such as she are critical to student growth and success.

One of the best aspects of the public school system is the opportunity it gives students to compete and interact with students from other districts, something that smaller private schools do not have the resources or network for. Besides state-wide journalism competitions, Jay was captain of the Academic Decathlon team that was advised by Mrs. Carol Tebbs and Mr. Jim Kelly and which took 5th place in Los Angeles County. He also won awards in History Day (under Mr. Jim Kelly) and at the Stanford Speech Invitational (under Mrs. Janet Oonchiti). Extracurriculars were central to Jay's development as a student and citizen, and if elected to the board one of his priorities would be to bring these types of opportunities to all schools in the district. He believes that the achievement gap some of our schools face could be mitigated if more students had access to these enrichment opportunities.

While extracurriculars were a large part of his life, Jay took his studies seriously and graduated in the top 1% of his class while pursuing a rigorous load of Honors and AP classes. He believes all students should push their boundaries and pursue the most rigorous education available to them, and urges parents to take more responsibility for their children's education through close supervision, constant interaction, and high expectations. Ultimately, parental involvement is the key to student success in the classroom.

Harvard University

With the assistance of a Marine Corps NROTC Scholarship, Jay matriculated at Harvard University in the fall of 1996. During his first year at Harvard his commitment to service and community was honored by Lions Clubs International with the prestigious Leo of the Year award, of which only 10 are given world-wide each year. He represented Lions Clubs International on their float in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in 1997.

Jay remained committed to service and public schools while at Harvard. He was a counselor for middle school students in Boston through Chinatown Afterschool and was a producer for CityStep, which teaches dance to low-income youth to build self-esteem. He was also on the Senior Staff for Harvard Model Congress, which provides a fully immersive three-day government simulation for hundreds of high school students each year.

Editorial cartooning remained a passion for him while at Harvard and an executive position was created for him at The Harvard Crimson daily paper so that he could produce more artwork and also train other artists. Jay's other passion was cultivating the Asian American community at Harvard. He was the President of the Asian American Association and published the third edition of the Handbook to Asian American Life at Harvard and Beyond, a 200 page resource that was distributed free to all freshmen at Harvard.

Jay graduated with Honors from Harvard University in 2001 with a degree in Social Studies and a certificate in Latin American Studies from the David A. Rockefeller center. He was also the recipient of a John Harvard Scholarship.

Additional Studies

Jay studied Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico, as well as at the University of Costa Rica while he worked at the US Embassy in Costa Rica. After graduating from Harvard he won a full scholarship to study Chinese for one year at Peking University, in China. While he was there a speech he wrote describing his experiences as an American in China was published in a national newspaper. Most recently Jay pursued a personal interest in cooking and completed 7 months of intensive night classes at Kitchen Academy, in Hollywood, and earned a Certificate in Culinary Arts.

Government/Non-profit Experience

Besides training with the Marine Corps NROTC program for one year, Jay also worked in the Washington D.C. office of Congressman Ed Royce (40th District). He has worked at the US Embassy in Costa Rica as well as the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights in Costa Rica. More recently he worked in Honduras as a volunteer business consultant through Technoserve, and helped develop a marketing plan for the country's nascent cacao industry. For the past three years Jay has served as a mentor for Congressional interns based in Los Angeles and recently began serving as a mentor to the Wilson High School Leo Club.

Work Experience

In 2002 Jay joined Bain & Company, a global business consulting firm. While at Bain he worked closely with top executives of Fortune 500 companies to develop and implement crucial business strategies. He managed the roll-out and evaluation of new products for a global logistics company and analyzed the cost-savings for a mergers and acquisition in the technology space with a combined value of over $1 billion. Jay believes his financial and business experience will be of great value to the school board, which manages an operating budget of over $360 million dollars and nearly 3000 employees.

Prior to Bain, Jay was a travel writer for Let's Go, the best-selling budget travel series. Fluent in Spanish, he co-authored two books and covered the countries of Belize, Honduras, Guatemala, Chile and Bolivia.

Jay is currently a real estate investor and manages a portfolio of commercial and residential properties in the cities of Santa Monica, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. He is also a project manager and shareholder in Zen Palate, a New York-based restaurant company.

Family and Interests

Jay's parents are graduates of National Taiwan University and his father earned a PhD in mathematics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. His older brother Shaw is also a graduate of Mesa Robles, Wilson High School, and Harvard University and is currently an investment banker in Hong Kong. Jay is fluent in Mandarin and Spanish and in his spare time enjoys visiting countries where he can practice those languages. His most recent trips have been to Antigua, Guatemala and the Silk Road in China.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 5, 2007 16:39
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