Geum Yi

From politics to Bitcoin, jobs keep coming for Jinyoung Lee Englund

September 18, 2015
Jinyoung Lee Englund is currently the Vice President of Strategy for the Digital Currency Council.

Jinyoung Lee Englund is currently the Vice President of Strategy for the Digital Currency Council.

By Brian Han

To say Jinyoung Lee Englund’s career path has been unpredictable would be an understatement.

Almost immediately after graduating from the University of Washington, she made her way to the other side of the world to help impoverished communities in Mozambique.

After a few years she moved into politics making waves from behind the scenes by running election campaigns for the Washington State Republican Party. Her success caught the attention of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Her track record took her to Washington D.C. where she was then hired by the Romney/Ryan presidential transition team.

Then she hopped out of politics and decided to fully immerse herself in the tech sector at the Digital Currency Council where she recently signed on as the Vice President of Strategy.

On paper, it’s not easy to connect the dots between these professional endeavors. If you ask Lee Englund, she’ll pretty much tell you the same thing.

“Growing up my dad always asked me about a five-year plan, but I never really planned to go work in Congress or help with a presidential transition team or work in tech,” Lee Englund told the Korea Times.

It’s not as if she’s dipping her toes and testing the waters. She’s diving in head first and making sure she makes a positive difference.

These days she’s constantly traveling and speaking at conferences to spread awareness on the benefits of a fairly new technology called Bitcoin — a digital currency that was introduced to the public back in 2009.

It only took a few years for the concept to catch the public’s attention.

“In early 2013, the Bitcoin price went above $400 and all of the sudden the world cared about it,” Lee Englund said. “The government woke up to it, the media woke up to it.”

And with a new flood of inquiries, she was asked to take over public affairs for the Bitcoin Foundation by organization’s founder who had first met her in Mozambique almost ten years ago. Since then he had been trying to recruit her.

“I remember trying to Google it back then in 2010 and nothing came up,” she said. “By 2012 I was like I think I’m ready to move into the private sector. I decided after all these years the key issue I’m interested in is technology — specifically technology and the poor.”

Soon enough she molded herself into the face and voice for Bitcoin and the foundation’s initiatives.

Her ability to adapt to a new professional landscape landed her the honor of being the fourth name on the “Top 40 Women in Bitcoin” list by Coinfilter in 2015.

But there is an idea or even a personal philosophy that ties all these experiences together.

“At the end of the day it really comes down to how you treat people and how you interact with people,” she said. “I’ve become that person through faith.”

“Like I mentioned, none of this was planned. I’ve been lucky enough to never have applied for a job since graduating. Every opportunity has just presented itself.”

Despite her full immersion in the Bitcoin space, she is still very much involved with politics.

“I’m actually still very active,” she said. “I was recently honored as one of Maverick PAC’s Future 40 under 40 in business, law and politics and at our dinner, the Honorable Donald Rumsfeld, the 13th U.S. Secretary of Defense, shared this bit of wisdom with us, ‘If you get asked to serve in government, to serve. But then go back into the private sector, to the non profit sector, because that’s where real people and real problems are and you’ll come back with better solutions and be a better public servant.’”

Lee Englund was also hand-picked to be a U.S. representative in an upcoming global conference for the American Council of Young Political Leaders’ U.S. Delegation — a major nonprofit organization aimed at bringing together up-and-coming political and policy professionals from around the world — in Australia.

“I’m excited to be chosen… given the rising tensions in the South China Sea,” she said.

Lee Englund was born on a U.S. military base in South Korea to parents who had grown up there, moved to the states, then by fate ended up in Yongsan for a tour.

Her family then moved to Alabama, but finally settled in Tacoma.

The somewhat unorthodox upbringing and globetrotting may be part of the reason her parents also gave her more freedom in what she chose to pursue.

“I think I was fortunate because my parents were very progressive thinkers rather than your typical strict Korean immigrant parents,” she said. “Of course they would have loved for me to do something… that they understood.”

In fact to this day, Lee Englund says that her father will still ask, “You majored in linguistics, right?”

Bitcoin probably isn’t any easier to explain, but with the accolades she’s been receiving it’s safe to say her parents know she’s doing well.