Sam Shim was 11 months old when his parents fled Korea. His parents’ opportunities were limited but they knew that education was the key to success and instilled this core value in Sam. Once he had two daughters of his own, Sam wanted to be involved in making sure they had a great public education, too.
Sam attended one of the very first Ready to Lead trainings in Michigan in 2012. After being approached about an open seat on the Worthington, Ohio School Board, he decided to make the jump and was elected in 2013. He put his New American Leaders training to work in crafting a compelling campaign narrative that made his immigrant story an asset:
“For a lot of people who are first- or second-generation immigrants, they’re often not comfortable saying my parents immigrated, but I think it’s a powerful story. My parents immigrated, we lived in a middle-class neighborhood, they struggled but they really cared about education. People can connect to that because we’re all from somewhere else. Just being able to get to the point where you can tell your story is big because I don’t think it’s intuitive to a lot of people to tell the story about their life in order to win an election.”
Sam was successfully re-elected in 2017 and remains one of the most active members of the New American Leaders alumni community. He has worked to ensure the school district embraces diversity and innovation.