Teamwork makes the dream work. Here at ActiveSGV, we are fortunate and grateful to work alongside some amazing folks! This month's Staff Spotlight is Andrew Fung Yip.
1. How did you get started working at ActiveSGV?
I met Javier Hernandez, who was the former Executive Director of ActiveSGV, in 2011. I volunteered as a ride marshal and quickly moved on to other tasks such as tabling and graphic design. At the time, I was still at Mt. San Antonio College and often took transit to school. When I transferred to Azusa Pacific University, I rode my bike every other day to school from my home in Hacienda Heights. I realized how horrible our streets were for transportation modes other than driving. I wanted to do more and found ActiveSGV's Facebook page.
I remember volunteering at the Emerald Necklace rides and moved on to plan some small rides myself. I was certified as a League Instructor in 2013 and helped coordinate and teach over 50 classes throughout the San Gabriel Valley. In 2013, I graduated from the San Gabriel Mountains Leadership Academy and was brought on ActiveSGV as the first part-time staff of the organization. My primary role was to help do outreach and advocate for a National Monument designation for the San Gabriel Mountains. I went to Washington D.C. to lobby with the San Gabriel Mountains Forever Coalition on behalf of ActiveSGV and by October 2014, I attended the National Monument designation by President Barack Obama at San Dimas' Frank G. Bonelli Park. It was a huge honor to be a guest of the White House and that cemented my passion for advocating for not only active transportation but for open space in our communities (read an article in The Guardian Andrew was quoted in).
By early 2015, I came on board as the first full-time staff member of ActiveSGV and my focus was on organizing community bike rides, designing materials, coordinating bicycle classes, and advocating for our San Gabriel Mountains. It was perfect timing because I was honorably discharged from the United States Army by the end of that year, which allowed me to take on more work at ActiveSGV. Fast forward to the present, I am now one of 14 staff so I'm not as lonely and it feels great knowing I can rely on my coworkers when I need help.
2. What do you like most about ActiveSGV?
ActiveSGV touches on a lot of the issues that matter for me as a resident of the San Gabriel Valley. Our communities have been historically and systemically overlooked in the areas of education, transportation, environmental justice, and in general, money. I'm glad to be able to work for an organization that understands that and actively seeks out programs, grants, and projects that benefit our communities. Whether it's advocating for parks, transportation funding, air quality research, bike rides, etc; the focus is on improving the well-being and livability of our communities.
3. Favorite and/or memorable ActiveSGV experience
Many memories have been made over the years. Although I can pinpoint all the happy ones, I do have to say the most memorable memory has also been one of the most tragic memories. When ActiveSGV was rolling out these new grants, it also meant a lot of new staff were coming on board. We're not just coworkers, but many of us are good friends outside of work. One of them was Brian Velez. He passed away suddenly and our hearts broke. It was through this difficult time that we found solace in each other's memories and experiences with one another. I want to make sure we remember him because he made such a huge impact in this organization and in many of our lives - in spite of the short time he was with us.
I still think about Brian a lot, what he has done for this organization. And through all the new happy memories we create, I've always wondered whether he would have enjoyed our memories too.
4. If a friend from out of town were to visit, which place in the SGV would you take them to and why?
I would take them to the top of the Puente Hills on a clear day to show them how vast Los Angeles County is since the hills offer 360 views. You can see the San Gabriel Mountains, Downtown Los Angeles, and even Catalina Island on a clear day. Even though the region is so large, we can see how our communities are interconnected. There are no visible borders except for our freeways.
5. What you're listening to/ reading/ watching/ digging right now:
I'm currently reading "The Changs Next Door to the Díazes" by Wendy Cheng (KPCC interview here). The book talks about how racial identity is shaped by place with its focus on the San Gabriel Valley. Funnily enough, I found the book while browsing The Strand Bookstore in New York. I'm currently listening to "decolonized: a love story" playlist on Spotify. Give it a listen!