Yoon Mo Lee, Ph.D.

In 2007, Dr. Lee retired form the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) after 14 years’ service as the Chief of Research, Planning and Development of IDHR. He also served as IDHR’s Grant Project Director, the Webmaster, and Strategic Planner.

Currently, Dr. Yoon Lee is the President of the Hansa Institute of Chicago. Hansa Institute is a non –profit organization started in 2005, with a mission to conduct researches and develop leadership projects for the Korean American community. 

Dr. Lee received his B.S. degree in agricultural science from Seoul National University, and his M.Div. degree in Christian Social Ethics from the Seoul Methodist Theological Seminary, South Korea. Later, he completed the coursework for a Th.M. degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in sociology from Loyola University of Chicago.

Since 1972, Dr. Lee has been actively involved in the Korean American community of Chicago at various capacities. He played a pivotal role in the growth of the Korea Times of Chicago, for which he was a reporter, the managing editor, and the chief editor for almost twenty years. This initial weekly edition of the newspaper has grown to a Korean language daily newspaper, now serving over twenty central states. As the first CEO of the Korean American TV of Chicago, Dr. Lee set the foundation of a cable programming outfit to grow to a fulltime UHF broadcasting enterprise. Currently, the firm owns and operates the Channel 41 TV of Chicago with multiethnic programming.

As an accomplished researcher, Dr. Lee voluntarily undertook research for the well being of the Korean community. He designed and conducted a housing market survey for the Korean American Housing Corporation, which received funds from FHA for two $3 million-plus public housing projects in the early 1980’s. He also conducted four research surveys for the Korean American Community Services (KACS) of Chicago. Consequently, KACS founded the Korean community’s childcare center, senior citizens organization, youth service programs, and continues to grow. Under his leadership the Hansa Institute has hosted six bi-annual  presentations of research reports on Korean Americans prepared by academicians in the Chicago area. As a member of the Hansa Institute, Dr. Lee took the responsibility for analyzing the American Community Survey data series.  

Dr. Lee played a key role in resolving the Korean-Black conflict which erupted in the Roseland community of Chicago in June 1990. He was the volunteer spokesperson for the Korean Merchants’ Association, and his accomplishments were featured by the New York Times, major mass media in Chicago, and personal interviews broadcasted by CNN and WGN-TV. After the resolution of this conflict, he initiated a fund raising within the Asian American community for the Food Basket Program to help low income African Americans of Chicago. Since then, this annual charity program has become a model program in race relations. During the Los Angeles riot in 1992 after the Rodney King incident, Dr. Lee proactively engaged in media-relations, and headed off another uprising in the African American community of Chicago.

Dr. Lee served as a board member and advisor of the Asian American Institute of Chicago from 1997 to 2000. He also served as a member of Discrimination Action Grant Review Committee of the United Way/Crusade of Mercy-Chicago Council in the early 1990’s. He served as the Vice President of the Korean American Coalition of the Midwest (KACM) in 2000-2002, and initiated a Midwest petition drive for reunification of Korean Americans with families in North Korea. He coordinated the delivery of over 100,000 signatures collected from a nationwide campaign to the U.S. Department of State, and to have meeting with Secretary Colin Powell (September 2001) and Assistant Secretary James Kelly (April 2002).

Dr. Lee wrote a number of reports for the government based on his research, which include Home Mortgage Lending Patterns in the Chicago MSA, Home Mortgage Lending Patterns in Downtown Illinois, and Sexual Harassment in Illinois. He also has authored numerous reports on discriminations concerning lending, home sales and racial profiling in traffic stops, hate crimes, as well as studies on employees and clients for IDHR management’s use. 

Dr. Lee has authored a monograph, the Seventy Years’ History of the First Korean United Methodist Church of Chicago in 1995. Before coming to the U.S. in 1970, he translated two books from English into Korean, including The Line and Plummet (published by World Council on Churches). He has published a number of academic papers and journal articles.

Dr. Lee is a prolific public speaker and has been the keynote speaker or the guest speaker on a number of occasions. He has delivered speeches on race, ethnicity, and social issues at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Chicago Historical Society, Asian American Librarians Association Annual Conference, and others.

Dr. Lee has been married to Hwa S. (Kim) Lee for over thirty-six years.


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