Sam Joo

VP, Student & Community Services at Para Los Niños

Sam’s journey in community work started in 1991 after he attended UCLA, where he majored in History with an emphasis on Asian American Studies. As a substance abuse counselor with the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP), he directly witnessed the generational impact of the crack epidemic in South Los Angeles, especially for children and youth in the community. With the desire to address systemic challenges facing families, Sam transitioned to the Prevention Unit of AADAP and managed several community projects that focused on improving neighborhood conditions that impacted the quality of life for families.

The desire to continue his work supporting a multicultural community drove Sam to join Koreatown Youth and Community Center (KYCC), a multi-service community-based organization serving the diverse community of Koreatown. KYCC recognized that the demographics in Koreatown were changing and most families represented a diverse Latino/a community. As the Director of Children and Family Services, Sam worked with agency leadership to diversify the staffing and leadership structure to better address the evolving needs of the Koreatown community.

Prior to joining Para Los Niños, Sam served as Director of the Magnolia Community Initiative (MCI). MCI is a voluntary social innovations network of 70+ organizations in partnership with community residents to improve child and family well-being in MCI’s 500-block catchment area. The Initiative addressed a broad range of neighborhood and family conditions and equipped parents to understand and respond to their child’s health and developmental needs.

Sam has served on the board of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, working on local and state policy agendas. He currently works with a number of partnerships including the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation Steering Committee and the National Academy of Medicine Culture of Health Initiative.

Sam lives in Torrance with his wife and two children.



  • VP, Student & Community Services

    Current role

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