Marianne Chung, Associate Director Center for Pan Asian Community Services

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Spotlight Spotlight interviews advocates, community leaders and policymakers who have dedicated their careers to improving our communities, our nation and the world.

As the associate director of the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) Marianne Chung oversees the operations of ten departments and programs to deliver culturally and linguistically competent and comprehensive health and social services for the Asian American community in Georgia.

Under Ms. Chung’s leadership, CPACS administered a community-wide survey documenting access and barriers to affordable health care for Asian Americans in Metro Atlanta.  The results of that survey were included in the Health Disparity Report of 2010 by the Georgia Department of Community Health.

What (or who) inspired you to do the work you are doing?

My grandfather came to America in the late 1930’s and settled in Alabama and then Tennessee.  I often think about him working long hours and facing much discrimination and racism living in the American South, all so that his children and grandchildren could live a better life in America. 

This motivates me each day to do the work that I am do for immigrant and refugee populations in Georgia and all over the South. Georgia has the fifth fastest-growing Asian American and Pacific Islander population in the United States. The Atlanta area is home to large and vibrant communities with a diverse population of refugees and immigrants from many countries, including Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Korea, Laos, and Vietnam.

Some of these residents face challenges in accessing health services, including language barriers, lack of health insurance, and difficulty understanding the complex U.S. health care system. Many do not receive preventive services and seek care only when a medical condition such as cancer, diabetes, or hypertension becomes impossible to ignore. Or, if they are low-income, they can be intimidated or discouraged when applying for state health and social services programs such as Medicaid or PeachCare for Kids.

The Center for Pan Asian Community Service (CPACS) brings together various community organizations and individuals to promote unity and improve the well-being of all Asians and Pacific Islanders in Georgia.

Who would play you in a movie and why?

No one can play me but me!

What is the biggest policy challenge facing the United States and how would you fix it?

I believe the impact of anti-immigration policy is the biggest policy challenge facing the United States at this time.  These actions adversely impact all of us promoting continued racism and political, social, health and economic inequities. 

Efforts that support just and fair immigrant rights and integration work will lead to Americans who are self-sufficient and productive that contribute back to our communities.

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Thanksgiving because it is a time to show gratitude and I love the traditional thanksgiving day foods.  My grandmother has the best recipes that  integrate traditional American Thanksgiving foods with Chinese style flavors.

How can people find out more about your work or get involved?

They can visit the CPACS website at, like us on Facebook can connect to us on Twitter

What was the last book you read? What is the most important thing you learned from it?

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. He talks so beautifully and poetically about human life and how to live it fully.

What advice do you have for young people who are interested in your field?

Find a mentor and be inspired.

How do you find balance in your life?

I am  a part of an multicultural multigenerational women Korean Drum Troupe and am an avid bikram yogi.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I love ice cream!