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Celebrating the Life of Esther Wong

Please check back for updates on the ways CASL will honor Esther Wong in the coming weeks!

Dear Friends,

It is with profound sadness that we share that on Sunday, October 9, 2022, our Co-Founder and former Executive Director, Esther Wong, passed away with her loving family by her side. Our sincere condolences and sympathy go out to the Wong family during this very difficult time.

Esther was an amazing leader who gave her life to the AAPI immigrant and refugee communities in Chicago, nationally, and internationally as well. Most know Esther as one of the founders of CASL, however, she spearheaded many national initiatives such as workforce development, childcare advocacy, and improving the Chinese and Chinese American voices across the country and worldwide. Working with leaders across the country, she spent countless hours enhancing services to all AAPI communities. Her accomplishments include:

    • Masters Degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago
    • Participated in numerous state, county, and city commissions/councils for immigrant services
    • Former board member of:
      • National Asian Pacific Center for Aging
      • CISANI
      • Asian American Coalition of Chicago
      • Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community
      • Chicago Chinatown Security Foundation
      • Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly
      • National CAPACD

Esther Wong gave the Chinese American Service League her life-long devotion, having served as co-founder, Board Member, Board Vice Chair, volunteer, consultant and finally as Executive Director from 2002 to 2017. Esther’s life epitomizes the virtues of patience, kindness, courtesy, frugality and humility. She applied her guiding motto of “honor your profession and cherish your relationships”, nurtured the staff, and molded CASL into the dynamic organization it is today. In recognition and appreciation for more than forty years of Esther’s care and hard work, CASL’s grand hall was dedicated as Esther Wong Harmony Hall in 2018.

All in the CASL family have stories to tell about Esther, whether from the perspective of a family member, a colleague, a client, or a friend. Putting all stories together gives us a portrait of a loving mother, a caring wife, a loyal friend, an engaging and cooperative colleague, a respectful and patient boss, an empathic listener, an inspiring teacher, a role model, a responsible worker, and a tireless servant to our community.

Esther spent her life committed to the people she served and to the community that she loved. Her passion for service touched thousands of families in Chicago and the country, and she was held in the highest regard by CASL employees and by our community. She set an example that will continue to inspire us all. Though she was soft-spoken and preferred to let the spotlight shine on others, Esther was a powerful force and her impact on CASL and the community will live on forever.

Yours in service,

Paul Luu signature 031821

Paul Luu, CASL CEO