I worked for the Dodgers between the late ‘90s and early ‘00s and like many former colleagues, I woke up November 13 to learn one of our own had made history. Kim Ng, who had served as the Dodgers’ assistant general manager, had been hired as General Manager for the Florida Marlins -- making her the first woman and the first Asian American to hold one of the highest executive positions in baseball and possibly in any major professional men’s team.
Just the week before, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris made history and now, Kim Ng. Be still my gender-equity seeking heart. Kim’s history making moment was 30 years in the making and a collective “finally” was palpable from all over the country – baseball fan or not, Marlins fan or not.
But this news came with an extra layer of pride, because during her nine years as Vice President and Assistant General Manager for the Dodgers, Kim and her husband Tony lived in Echo Park (she left the team in 2011 to work for the MLB). For me and many in 90026, Kim wasn’t just a former colleague, she was an Echo Park neighbor making history and breaking barriers.
In my time at the Dodgers, there were only a handful of us from the neighborhood, and even fewer who moved in after accepting a job with the team. Corporations often tout their care for the neighborhood in which they do business, but team members don’t always choose to live within the same zip code – Echo Park in particular. Kim was all in – building her community at work and in the neighborhood.
I would occasionally pass her house, which was along a short cut I took to the post office on Alvarado Street. to avoid dreadful left hand turns into its parking lot, and noticed gradual improvements on their home along with their neighbors’. They weren’t opulent improvements – just ones that show the owners were present and invested in their home and neighborhood.
Years after I left the Dodgers, I opened a spa in Silver Lake. During a great conversation with a client who had been coming to us for years, I learned that she was Kim’s younger sister.
And years after that, when my husband and I opened a restaurant in Echo Park, one of our team members mentioned that her friend Kim came in for lunch, and Kim happened to work for the Dodgers. Yup, another reminder of Kim, the neighbor. How one treats restaurant staff is a solid way to judge someone’s character. This team member adored Kim and her husband and their dogs, who she looked after when they traveled.
The Kim sightings weren't just limited to Echo Park. During a business trip to New York, I took my team out to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner and who else was sitting next to us but Kim and her party. It didn’t take much time for us to feel like we were in Echo Park again, just neighborhood folks catching up.
In many reports and stories since she became GM, along with her depth of experience, and how deserving yet overdue this hire is, what people say about Kim is that she has a natural ability to make you feel like the most important person in the room. She is approachable, empathically curious and relatable and confidently unassuming. She is also the neighbor you are actually glad to run into at a restaurant or on your way to drop off mail.
I will always bleed Dodger Blue, but that won’t stop me from cheering on Kim, from the neighborhood.
Thien Ho is a strategic communications executive and long time Echo Park resident.