ICHS Foundation executive director Heidi Wong.
(Courtesy Heidi Wong)

The ICHS Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises funds to support the mission of International Community Health Services (ICHS) to provide culturally and linguistically appropriate health and wellness services and promote health equity for all.

In March, ICHS, a Federally Qualified Health Center, welcomed community leader Heidi Wong to lead the ICHS Foundation as its newest executive director. Heidi brings over 15 years of fundraising, marketing, communications, and strategic planning experience to her role. She is also currently a degree candidate of the Masters of Nonprofit Leadership at Seattle University. Heidi and her husband Abe Wong are the proud parents of three beautiful daughters Makayla, Maya and Molly.

We caught up with Heidi to talk about what inspires her in her new role in service of the community.

International Examiner: Can you tell us about yourself?

Heidi Wong: I was born in Seattle, raised in Hong Kong, and later returned to the States at the age of 11. I consider my-self a 1.5 generation Chinese American.

Growing up, I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people and bringing communities together, whether it be leading an International Club in high school, organizing community events at church, or planning 30-member extended family vacations.

These experiences paved the way for my professional career in nonprofit fundraising, community engagement, and planning and development. Being a mother of three young daughters continues to stretch and teach me valuable lessons that I apply in my many roles.

Heidi Wong and her grand-ma “popo” Mei Chiu at her 99th birthday before pass-ing later that year. Mei was a well-loved participant of the Adult Day Services program at ICHS Legacy House. (Courtesy Heidi Wong)

IE: What drew you to this role in leading ICHS Foundation and supporting ICHS’
mission?

Wong: I was impressed by the depth and breadth of ICHS’ services, reaching 11 sites across King County. But what drew me to this organization is its relent-less fight for social justice, from its humble beginnings as a storefront clinic over four decades ago, to its continuous fight today for the rights of immigrants, refugees, and communities of color.

IE: What are you most excited about in this new role?

Wong: I’m grateful to be part of the ICHS family and am excited to meet the staff who are the heart and soul of this organization. I’m excited to connect with the families who’ve benefited from ICHS and learn how we can continue to improve and better serve them. I’m eager to collaborate with community partners, public and private funders, and individual sup-porters to help channel resources to ad-dress the needs of our community.

IE: What do you think is the most important lesson that the COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered for our communities?

Wong: The pandemic is a wake-up call for all of us that time is precious and life is not a guarantee. The simple joys of life to breathe clean air, to gather with family and friends, to have meaningful human interaction could be gone in an instant. We need to cherish every moment we have and not take anything for granted.

The pandemic has also brought to light the systemic racism and inequities that are deeply rooted in every facet of society. A community is only as good and healthy as the least of them. When the most vulnerable and marginalized thrive, we all thrive. The time to act is now.

IE: Why should someone support ICHS today?

Wong: ICHS is more than just a health care provider. It’s a movement towards a more just and equitable society where everyone thrives. We should all support this organization and be part of this movement because our communities depend on it, our families depend on it, we depend on it.

IE: What do you do for fun when you’re not working?

Wong: I love doing art with my daughters, bargain shopping, remodeling spaces, and repurposing furniture. I’ve recently expanded my floral design hobby into growing plants and gardening. With that said, when I’m not working, I’m usually thinking about what I’m going to do when I get back to work because my work is fun and meaningful, and I love doing it!

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