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Spotlight on Commerce: Jennifer Kim, Assistant Division Chief, Decennial Census Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau

Guest blog post by Jennifer Kim, Assistant Division Chief, Decennial Census Management Division, U.S. Census Bureau

I am honored to serve as the Assistant Division Chief for Content, Translation, Puerto Rico, and Island Areas Operations in the Decennial Census Management Division of the Commerce Department’s U.S. Census Bureau. In this role, I manage several operations within the Decennial Census Programs. This includes census questionnaire content and forms design, language operations, translation services, and census operations in the U.S. territories.

The decennial census provides a snapshot of our nation every 10 years. It is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and is a count of everyone residing in the United States, which includes the 50 states, District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Census data are used to determine apportionment, draw congressional and state legislative districts and inform how federal funds are distributed to states and communities each year. It is crucial that we conduct a complete and accurate count and identify ways to help reduce barriers to enumeration.

For the 2020 Census, our team worked to ensure the census questionnaire and materials were accurate, consistent, and easy to understand. We created census materials in 59 non-English languages to help non-English-speaking households respond to the census. We created a translation office to make certain that the non-English materials were accurate, culturally relevant, and meaningful. Our team also deployed to American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to conduct the Island Areas Censuses in partnership with the local governments. This was to ensure we had the most complete and accurate count of everyone residing in the U.S. territories.

What I have enjoyed the most about my 14-year career at the Census Bureau is that I have been afforded the opportunity to apply both my academic and life experiences to my work in ways that I could have never imagined. I am a Korean-born American who immigrated to the United States at the age of eight. My academic background includes a BA degree in Linguistics from the University of Michigan, an MS degree from University of Southern California, and a PhD in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland. I have always been a proponent of providing access and equitable distribution of information and services, especially to hard-to-reach communities. Being able to lead the 2020 Census team that serves the non-English-speaking communities and the Island Area population has been a true honor and the highlight of my career.

As we celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I cannot help but to reflect on the incredible contributions and accomplishments of my fellow Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) colleagues. We have not only led with our skills and talents but have also made lasting contributions that reflect our strong convictions of who we are and the resilience that encompasses the AAPI community. I am grateful for those who have come before us to pave the road to today – AAPI individuals and allies – and I anticipate that we too will help open doors for the emerging generation. Happy AAPI Heritage Month!

Ed. note: This post is part of the Spotlight on Commerce series highlighting the contributions of Department of Commerce employees during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

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