A heart of service for the Asian community

Alicia Colombo

By Mary Anna Rodabaugh


“Growing up, I was taught to serve people,” says George Choe, 66, president and CEO of the Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation. “I always had a vision of finishing my first career as early as I can, then working for a nonprofit.”

That nonprofit happened to be the Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation, where Choe has served as the CEO and president since early 2018. The organization strives to promote and fulfill the ideals of humanity through a broad range of medical and health care, older adult employment training and social services, along with educational and cultural
programs for the enrichment of the community.

The foundation operates the Jaisohn Center in Philadelphia and Lansdale, which is comprised of a medical center, home care and home health care agencies, mental health services, social services, and health insurance.

Its namesake, Philip Jaisohn, was a pioneer, a doctor and an independence activist in both Korea and America. He is considered the first Korean to become a naturalized citizen, as well as the first Korean to become a doctor in the U.S., according to the foundation. Inspired by Dr. Jaisohn’s lifelong work of service, eight physicians residing in the Philadelphia area founded the Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation in 1975 to provide medical services to newly arriving immigrants.

Choe is an engineer by training. While serving as president of the Montgomery County Korean American Association, Choe’s mentor approached him with an invitation to serve on the board of the Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation. Choe served as a board member for 15 years. It was this very same mentor who invited Choe post-retirement, to return to the foundation to work as its CEO.

“Our Philadelphia office is located around the Asian American community who really need support,” Choe says. “We’re about serving the immigrant community. People need help because of language and cultural issues.”

Prior to his work with the foundation, Choe spent more than 30 years as a global product development manager and global commercial product manager with Air Products. He also worked as an independent consultant before serving as co-chairman of the first Korean Congress Centennial Celebration Organizing Committee.

Choe also volunteers as commissioner for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Committee on Asian Pacific American Affairs.

Backed by experience
Choe credits his faith background and church community with shaping his heart of service. Coupled with his corporation development training and project management experience, Choe has become instrumental in assisting Asian immigrant communities in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas. While Choe enjoys developing new services for people in need, he doesn’t feel the foundation needs to do everything. In fact, he works hard with his team to understand the major service providers in the area.

“We can partner with (other community organizations and service providers), but also make sure they provide services with ethnic sensitivity,” he says.

Choe has dedicated his life’s work to serving as many people in need as possible. “We spend a lot of time educating these communities,” Choe says. “Community outreach is essential to protect and promote the health and well-being of vulnerable immigrant communities.”

Throughout his work, Choe discovered that many Black, Latino, and Indian communities have similar needs as the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community.

“We don’t put a wall around the AAPI definition,” Choe says. “We do what we need to do well, but we never forget there are other communities.”

Plans for the construction of a community wellness plaza that will serve as an Asian American Community Hub are in place to increase community outreach efforts in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.


For more information about the Philip Jaisohn Memorial Foundation, call 215-224-2000 or visit jaisohn.org


Mary Anna Rodabaugh is a writer, editor and writing coach.

Categories: Milestones eNews

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