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Sung E Bai is the daughter of accidental immigrants from Corea. Entering the South Africa anti-apartheid campus movement in 1986, she became an Ethnic Studies activist and later led a student campaign (1991-1996) that established the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Columbia University. She taught undergraduate Asian American women's literature, became active in NYC social justice organizing, and counseled/advocated for rape and domestic violence survivors.

Over the past 20 years, Sung E has been involved in various social justice causes, particularly police brutality, immigration, housing, youth organizing, worker rights, and food justice. As executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, a grassroots racial justice immigrant community organization (1996-2008), she served on various local/national boards and steering committees, including National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, U.S. NGO Coordinating Committee for the 2001 UN World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia, and the 2007 U.S. Social Forum. She went on to lead the political education program for Social Justice Leadership and then served as Director of National Programs at Slow Food USA.

Prior to joining the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs, Sung E was the executive director of Leading Change Network. A 1st Dan Blackbelt in HapKiDo, she teaches martial arts to children, and walks a path of mindful parenting and leadership.