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Meet the Asian Pacific Islander (API) ERG Lead, Sunny Lee, Lead Project Manager out of SWCA’s Pasadena office. In honor of API Heritage Month, Sunny shares a bit about himself and his experience co-leading the API ERG.   


Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your career – how did you get started at SWCA?

SWCA employee Sunny Lee holding a fish with his son. Sunny Lee and his son

A: I’ve been with SWCA for nine years now, starting out as a field biologist and working my way up. Austin Xu and I are both currently supporting SWCA’s largest client with desktop reviews for distribution and transmission projects where they need to replace infrastructure.


Q: What are your favorite things to do outside of work?

A: Spending time with my family is still my favorite thing to do. They recently got into fishing, so now I get to do two of my favorite things most evenings after dinner at the neighborhood pond. 


Q:  How did you become involved with leading the API ERG and how has it impacted you?

A: This group came into fruition a few years back due to the rising number of racist and violent incidents against the Asian community during the pandemic. Austin and I shared a mutual concern, and when we were asked to lead the company’s API ERG, I was hesitant at first but reluctantly agreed. I don’t consider myself a leader in any situation, not in the least bit. But what I’m good at is mediating. And I’m learning through this group that leading, and mediating are not mutually exclusive. We have a great bunch of people in our group, and I enjoy our monthly discussions. This group has helped me realize, yes, I can be a leader, and my own misunderstanding of leadership was holding me back.


Q: What are the goals and activities of the group?

A: This group provides an inclusive space to hang out with peers and address any problems members of our group may be facing as well as to discuss topics related to API current events and issues. Goals for the API ERG this year include hosting a guest speaker. Stay tuned!

SWCA employee Sunny Lee with his family and dog Sunny Lee with his family and dog


Q:  What are some things you like people to know about your culture and history? 

A: Many Asian cultures communicate by means of high-context communication. We rely less on direct verbal communications and tap into non-verbal gestures, implicit expressions, formality, and context. We use hints and imply what we want when communicating. It’s like the saying, “read between the lines”. This allows us to take on a less abrasive approach but is often misinterpreted as non-confrontational and perceived as reserved or shy by non-Asian Americans. We are neither reserved nor shy. We are just contextual in our communication.


Q: How can individuals better support and be allies to the API community? 

A: Support your local immigrant mom-and-pop businesses. They are out here trying to change their stars and make better lives for their families. And be vocal when you see injustice against immigrants because your voice is more powerful than you think.