Philly public education champion Helen Gym looks to nab city council seat

April 24, 2015
Helen Gym (Korea Times file)

Helen Gym (Korea Times file)

Philadelphia has a new Korean American city council hopeful on its hands with Helen Gym, 47, a nationally recognized public education activist.

A former reporter and teacher, co-founder of the city’s Parents United for Public Education and a public advocate, Gym — a Democrat — was described as “Philadelphia’s preeminent public agitator” by Philadelphia Magazine, which would go on to name her one of 75 most influential people in the city in 2014, in 2013.

Perhaps she is — she’s fought relentlessly to bring changes to the education system that her own three children attend.

Last year, she was awarded a national honor, the Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change, by the White House.

Jerry Jordan, president of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, endorsed Gym at her candidacy announcement in February.

Gym said she has worked toward change for the Philadelphia community for 20 years.

Her parents, South Korean immigrants to Seattle, moved the family to Columbus, Ohio, when she was young. She grew up there before attending the University of Pennsylvania to study education.

The city will hold its primaries May 19 and its general election in November.