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It is with immense joy and celebration that the CASL Family announces the retirement of both Bernie Wong and Esther Wong at the end of 2016.

Almost forty years ago, a group of ten friends came together with an extraordinary vision for a future in which Chinese immigrants thrive as Americans. Decades later, that dream has become a reality a dozen times over, and the vision has expanded to include Chicagoans of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities.

Under Bernie’s leadership as President and Co-Founder, the Chinese American Service League has grown exponentially from a one-person shop in 1978 to Chinatown’s largest employer serving over 17,000 Chicagoans annually. Undoubtedly, CASL continues to make a significant impact on the Chinese community on a daily basis. Under Esther’s leadership as Co-Founder and board member from 1978-2002, and then Executive Director since 2002, CASL has expanded its programs to include housing and financial education–now one of CASL’s largest programs. Esther has overseen significant infrastructure improvements that have allowed CASL to better serve the community.

Bernie Wong, President and Co-Founder
“This decision has been in the works for almost two years and a long time coming. Although Esther and I recognize this is a big step for CASL and the community, we both are confident that the organization will not only succeed, but become even stronger. CASL has a strong board, leadership team, staff and supportive community that will continue moving the organization forward in new and exciting ways. We are grateful for the community’s support of CASL over the past 38 years and look forward to seeing what lies ahead, as supporters ourselves.”


Jim Mark Jr, Chairman of the Board
“Bernie and Esther have been integral parts of the founding and nurturing of what CASL is today – a cornerstone in the nation’s most vibrant Chinatown community. As the board supports them in their decision to retire, we recognize that the fruits of their labor and vision will live on for many generations to come. We are incredibly grateful to them.”

The transition, spearheaded by a transition committee of board members and CASL leadership, under the guidance of an expert transition adviser, has been underway since March of 2015 and has been carefully planned in order to honor Bernie and Esther’s wishes to retire at the end of 2016.

It is important for the community to know that this hallmark change—and the solidarity it has created among boards, leadership, and staff—means an escalation of CASL’s strength, vitality, and investment in the Chicago community. We are dedicated to ensuring this transition goes smoothly for the community as well as the organization. We encourage the community to engage us with all questions, concerns, and warm wishes for Bernie and Esther’s achievement.

Contact Jered Pruitt, Director of Development and Communications, with ALL comments and inquiries. 312.791.9846

Please refer to the UPDATES link at the top of the page for a list of real-time updates on progress and activities. Monthly update emails will be sent to all on CASL’s emailing list—subscribe below if you have never received CASL email before.

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