DC Huskies

Translating passion into profession

“People often come to DC because they’re passionate about changing the world, whether it be through public policy, the political process or what have you,” says Jinyoung Lee Englund, ’06. “It’s important to have passion, but as Steve Jobs said, ‘Ideas are worth nothing. Execution is worth millions.’ Ideas require critical analysis, strategic planning, disciplined execution and—to varying degrees and depending on many factors—non-profit, private and public sector collaboration.” Englund’s passions and pursuits have led her to serve with grassroots humanitarian and political organizations, U.S. Congress and now with the innovative technology Bitcoin—making her an asset across multiple sectors.

Englund credits her parents with imbuing in her an extraordinary faith and work ethic. Her hard-working, first generation immigrant family faced financial struggles while Englund was growing up, yet her parents encouraged her to live according to her convictions instead of going into a particular field or working for a paycheck. Englund says her faith and personal experiences led her to enroll in UW classes related to poverty and empowerment, including courses in religious studies, philosophy, international political economy and business. She sought to understand the impact of different ideologies and the roles churches, community organizations, private corporations and governments play in facilitating social, political and economic environments to help people rise above their circumstances. After graduation, she volunteered with a faith-based nonprofit in Mozambique that provides care and economic opportunities for widows and orphaned children. While abroad, Englund discovered the value of her organizational abilities. “It turns out that one of my skills is creating order out of chaos,” she told A&S Perspectives in a January 2015 interview.

Since then, she has worked in the office of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers from eastern Washington, the Chair of the Republican House Conference and highest ranking woman in the House of Representatives, and at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research think tank with the Honorable Elaine L. Chao, the 24th U.S. Secretary of Labor. She also served on the Romney/Ryan Presidential transition team and currently is an advisor to the Republican National Committee.

Today, Englund is the director of communications and business development for the Bitcoin Foundation, the trade association that supports the ongoing development of the Bitcoin Core Protocol. Since 2013, Englund has been developing strategic partnerships between the Foundation and other businesses and serving as Bitcoin’s “brand ambassador”—experiences that have further shaped her ability to synchronize her passions, skills and interests.

Based on her portfolio of diverse work experience, Englund has the following advice for others exploring a career change: “If you’re considering transitioning from one sector to another, it’s worth taking the time to understand who you are, how you can add value to an organization and pursuing what matters to you.” She also encourages people to identify transferable skills, and to build them. “Say you’re passionate about helping refugee families. Identify your strengths and develop that skill, be it fundraising, project management, communications, programming or finance.” Such skills, she says, provide individuals with ways to grow professionally and seamlessly transition across organizations and industries. At the same time, she says, it’s equally, if not more important, to constantly work on your character. “Great teams and organizations often hire character because they can always teach skills. Be a workhorse. Being trustworthy and teachable as well as choosing to be a person of integrity goes a long way.”

Read this A&S Perspectives article to learn more about the innovative work Englund is doing with Bitcoin and how her interdisciplinary degree from UW prepared her to think critically and serve.


Photo courtesy of Peter Waterman.