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SAVE Programs at Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA)

This petition had 851 supporters

Mr. John Jiwon Chung has been Board Chair of CHAA for 11 years. Since 2010, his tenure has seriously undermined the critical work of CHAA, the second largest mental health organization in Alameda County serving Bay Area un- and underserved Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Under his tenure the Board of Directors has:

  1. Terminated a beloved Executive Director (ED) in 2012;
  2. Removed power from the ED role, instead consolidated organizational power to himself (as both Board Chair & Interim Executive Director) and Mr. Chen Yu (Director of Finance appointed as a board member without staff knowledge);
  3. Violated California Corporations codes of ethical practices and fiduciary responsibilities for non-profit Boards;
  4. Ceased communicating with the Co-Interim EDs since November 2014 despite multiple requests;
  5. Failed to fundraise for CHAA over the past 11 years; and
  6. Ignored multiple staff requests for the past 3 ½ years to engage in a participatory process for recruiting and hiring a qualified ED.

Without staff knowledge or input, the Board announced a new ED on March 21st 2016.  They resigned after three weeks without communicating a clear reason for their departure. Now, without professional qualifications, training or education in the mental health field, Mr. Chung has been hastily appointed as CHAA’s interim ED on April 25, 2016!

Since his appointment as Interim ED, Mr. Chung has created a workplace environment of fear, hostility and intimidation at CHAA’s Oakland office. He has:

  • Created an unsafe physical and psychological environment for staff and community members with 5 incident reports on record and staff forced to enter and leave work in groups for fear of their safety;
  • Attempted to create divisions between staff and falsely claimed the Board wanted a participatory ED search process;
  • Blocked staff access to the organization’s internal website and drive;
  • Used the Finance Team to regularly monitor staff activities
  • Spent at least $3,000 of County funds to execute a frivolous investigation and hire a private investigator to question staff who engaged in concerted activity to express concerns about working conditions by writing a letter of concern to the new ED.

These tactics undermine and erode the safety and trust required for maintaining a professional mental health and community service setting. Services are disrupted, and morale is so LOW that staff are beginning to leave and look for work elsewhere, threatening the stability of programs for communities with few, if any other, resources.  

Alameda County has invested over fifteen million dollars in the past ten years in programs and services at CHAA:

  • Serving the community mental health needs of newcomer communities including those from Bhutan, Burma, Mongolia, Nepal, Thailand, Tibet, Tonga and Vietnam, and children and families in the Oakland Unified School District;
  • Offering a new training in Alameda County for community mental health workers and interpreters to support limited English proficient immigrants and refugees; and
  • Serving as the treatment provider for Center for Empowering Refugees and Immigrants, an organization serving Cambodian genocide survivors and their families.

This 20-year history of building trusting relationships with these hard-to-reach communities, clients and families is in jeopardy!

We, the undersigned, will not let CHAA’s Board of Directors under Mr. John Chung’s harmful, failed, unethical and incompetent leadership keep un- and underserved communities from thriving in the Bay Area. These communities deserve to be welcomed, have access to culturally relevant services/programs and allowed to develop in leadership for the well-being of their communities.

We call for the following immediate action:

  • Alameda County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to pull its annual $1.77 million in Behavioral Health Care Services contracts and reallocate the funds to a community-based organization that has sound leadership and organizational stability. 



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