Katherin Chi is the strategic communications executive at Kiwanis International where she focuses on promoting the organization’s brand and message to its global audience. Her previous role was with the Gregg for Governor campaign, where she managed lieutenant governor candidate Christina Hale’s campaign, working on everything from fundraising to voter outreach.
Before joining the campaign she was the language and project specialist at Kiwanis International, managing marketing projects in eight languages. She went to Pike High School in Indianapolis and has a B.A. in political science and Spanish from Indiana University Bloomington.
Born in Bloomington, IN, Katherin spent close to 10 years in Hong Kong as a child and into her early teens. After graduating from IU, she spent six months at Shenzhen University studying business Chinese. She is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese and is conversational in Spanish. She speaks just enough Japanese to get around in Tokyo without using a different language.
Katherin continues stay active in civic engagement. She is currently the vice president of Marion County Young Democrats. On the weekends, you might find her registering voters at various events in Indianapolis or canvassing for political candidates she supports.
How long have you lived in Indy?
I’ve lived here for a total of 13 years now. Wow! I haven’t really been counting. It’s been so wonderful to see the transformation in the past few years. I used to live in the Lockerbie neighborhood and am always shocked to see how different Mass Ave is now compared to just five years ago.
Why have you focused on using your skills in the nonprofit sector?
From my youth, my parents have taught me that I need to help other people as best as I can. Spending my childhood in Hong Kong and seeing many people in need, whether it’s on the streets or in the news, I wondered what I could do for them. In second grade, I told my mom that for my summer vacation I wanted her to find ways for me to volunteer. At the time, she couldn’t find anything like that for someone my age, so she enrolled me in a drama class. (Fortunately for kids in elementary school today, they can participate in a K-Kids Club and give back to their community.)
Since then, I knew that whatever my career is, I would want it to be something that would help someone lead a better life. At the time I thought being a doctor would be my only career option, but I was glad to learn later that there are lots of other ways to help others.
How did you find your current position?
When I was job searching after college, I was looking to work at either a nonprofit organization, a global company or an office where my Chinese skills would be used. I got very lucky and found a position at Kiwanis International that fit all three of my criteria. After several interviews and tests, I was hired as the global services coordinator by Christina Hale. My duties included serving as a liaison for the Kiwanis International Taiwan District and the Indianapolis office, administering grants and coordinating events.
After a year and a half, I was promoted into a new position where I learned marketing, communications and project management. I left to work for Christina again as her campaign manager for her lieutenant governor race in 2016. After the election, Kiwanis International had an opening for my current position and again, I was able to work for an organization that I truly believe in and with my old friends again.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
Please go for it! You will not regret it. The nonprofit world is full of very talented, competent and kind people. At the end of the day, everyone in the nonprofit world is working for the greater good of our community. And honestly, you get to work with people who truly care, and they are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
I would love to learn how to code. I’ve been wanting to learn a new language, and instead of another foreign language, a programming language might be fun and useful in this new age. I appreciate the logic in languages, and being able to create something or solve a problem with code is pretty amazing.
If you were an inanimate object, what would you be and why?
To be a communal table at a coffee shop might be quite interesting. You get to listen to ideas being formed or watch people get in the zone as they work on something they’re passionate about.
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
Lunar New Year is a big holiday in my culture. Every year, my mom and aunt would make a big feast to celebrate. They would make 10 to 15 different dishes, all with different sauces and ingredients. It’s a lot of work and a huge undertaking. In the next year or two, I would love to host my family and cook a full New Year menu. Professionally, I’ve been thinking about going back to school for more education and an advanced degree. I miss being a student and there is a lot for me to learn – I would love to apply the new skills to my work.
Share a little-known treasure of Indianapolis with us.
The best coconut cream pie is from Ralph’s Great Divide.
Most important question: Halloween parties are right around the corner! What’s your costume going to be this year (and why)?
I would love to dress up as either Captain Philippa Georgiou from Star Trek Discovery or Rose Tico from Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In the history of Hollywood, Asians have not been well represented or portrayed and it has created stereotypes that have become problematic. This year is a little different as there are at least two strong Asian female characters in mainstream media and it’s quite exciting. Being an Asian woman, I can’t help but want to dress up as one of these characters.
Want to support Katherin's work?
Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world one child and one community at a time. Join the Broad Ripple Kiwanis Club on Nov. 14 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Broad Ripple Brewpub for Think with a Drink to discuss new ways to make a difference in our community. Keep up with the work Kiwanis is doing around the globe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please also check out Katalyst — founded to connect community-minded adults with volunteer opportunities in their city or region, using digital presence to create a real-life network of influencers and change-makers.