Photo by Inga Roberts

Photo by Inga Roberts

About Esther Y. Kang 

b. 1986    Detroit, MI   

I grew up with parents who instilled the importance of two things: understanding historical context of any given situation and building relationships with others based on their qualities as a person (instead of specifically race, class, and gender). Their emphasis on these two beliefs meant asking a lot of questions, doing a lot of research, taking a lot of initiative, and picturing myself in circumstances other than my own. This spirit of inquiry developed throughout my formative years in the midwest, the south, and the west coast.

Each location fostered a position that appreciates authenticity, curiosity, and empathy. All of which inform my work and process.

I most recently completed a one-year term as the inaugural Designer-in-Residence at the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) under the Obama Administration, and, in May 2016, received an M.A. in Social Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Both the position and the program focused on solving* complex problems by applying design principles, a human-centered approach, and creative strategic thinking. More on my process here.

I have 6+ years of professional experience in philanthropy, public administration, and arts management, and have developed community-centric programs in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I approach all projects with a perspective that focuses on equity, creativity, and innovation. More on my skill sets and focal points here.

In my spare time, I like to read nonfiction (unless by Dostoevsky), eat local cuisine, ride my skateboard, bike by the beach, drink coffee or beer, join a historic walking tour, or binge watch TV drama series (like Law & Order). 

*I use solving very loosely. I believe the focal point is more so on finding the next best step in order to ultimately eradicate the complex problem. 

Gap Year

Durban, South Africa & Perth, Western Australia  
Youth With A Mission '04 - '05
Assist runaway youth and HIV+ teens find appropriate healthcare, shelter, and treatment 


Maryland Institute College of Art
M.A. Social Design '16

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago  
B.F.A. Photography & New Media '10