We had the good fortune of connecting with Dr. Ken Fong and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Dr. Ken, what habits do you feel play an important role in your life?
I”m determined to produce each week’s episode on time, as promised. This requires me to always be on the lookout for new guests, inviting them to let me interview them, scheduling the sessions, recording them, editing them, creating each episode’s artwork, and finally publishing them. I took over the entire process in the fall of ’20. At first I was tempted to call it quits, but I decided that it was time for me to step up and learn the rest!

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Even when I was a child, I naturally made friends with all kinds of people. I grew into a natural conversationalist and networker. After college and seminary, I became known as an innovative, cutting edge pastor in the LA area, helping transform a historically Japanese American church into one of the first English-only, multi-ethnic, majority pan-Asian American one in the U.S. When I learned that one of our church people was a crack addict, I got him into a residential rehab program, where I volunteered monthly for 20 years and served on the board for nearly 10 years. Embedding myself with people whose addictions had completely humbled them, I eventually came to see my own addiction to hubris and self-righteousness. I began leading our church by that paradigm, which finally inspired me to lead the church to fully embrace LGBTQ+ people. About 30% of the church weren’t happy and left, but by the time I retired in 2017, almost 15% of the church were LGBTQ+ folks or their loved ones. One of the biggest lessons I learned was that, in order for marginalized people to experience equal rights, privileged people will need to lose or give up some of their rights or advantages. It means the must be willing to suffer loss. And this isn’t what some are willing to do or experience. I learned to stay focused on where we needed to go, and not to be distracted or dismayed by those who are upset or who jump ship.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Nearly every Monday for the past two years, I’ve been exploring the LA Basin with a good friend on our e-bikes. So I would rent or borrow an e-bike for my friend, and I would show them the Arroyo, the Rose Bowl, and visit Descanso Gardens. We would ride to Chinatown on another day, ordering amazing egg tarts from the walk-up window at Won Kok. On another day we’d leave from South Pasadena and ride to the Venice Boardwalk, people-watching, grabbing lunch in Santa Monica, then taking the train back to Union Station, and riding back to the start. After a day to recover, we’d ride to Griffith Park, up to the Observatory to take in the view, then take the LA River Trail, grab cappuccinos and muffins at the shop alongside the trail, then back home.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Filmmaker Christopher Wong and I worked on a documentary film together for several years, but we ended up deciding that we couldn’t finish it. About a year later, he approached me about our starting a podcast together where we invited Asian American “culture-makers and -shapers” to share their stories with us. Without Christopher’s technical skills and expertise as a director, I could have never dreamed of doing this. He partnered with me for the first 5 years of our show, freeing me to find and invite guests and conduct the interviews. When it was time for him to leave, Alison Chang, who then was still in Ausin, TX, volunteered to take on all the technical stuff. She was a lifesaver! She relocated to LA during the pandemic, and when she finally landed her dream job, she was the one who schooled me on producing and publishing the show.

Website: www.aapodcast.com

Instagram: asianamericapodcast

Linkedin: Ken Fong

Twitter: asianamericapo1

Facebook: Asian America: The Ken Fong Podcast

Image Credits
Ken Fong

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.