Communication was vital to her in improving lives


POSTED: Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Former Honolulu resident Carolynn “;Carrie”; Hyun, a high-ranking Korean American in the Clinton administration who strove to improve Asian-American relations nationally, died in Chicago on July 5.

She had been battling cancer for several months and was 44. Hyun lived in Washington, D.C., her brother, Arthur Hyun of New York, said. From 1998 to 1999, Hyun served as deputy chief of staff in the U.S. Department of Transportation, where she was responsible for strategic communications and crisis and policy management.

“;It was a joy for her to communicate to the nation, indeed the world, the importance of transportation as a way of improving the lives of all people,”; said former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater.

Born in San Francisco, Hyun was raised in Manoa and graduated from Punahou School. She was an alumna of the University of California, Berkeley.

Between 1989 and 1997 she worked as company spokeswoman for GTE in Hawaii and in the GTE corporate offices. While at GTE Hawaiian Tel, Hyun worked on the company's response to Hurricane Iniki in 1992.

In 1996 a stint as a volunteer in California for President Bill Clinton's re-election campaign sparked her interest in national politics. Last year she was co-chairwoman of Korean Americans for Hillary during Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

Hyun's passion for helping Asian-Americans stemmed from her father's activism in the Korean-American community, mixed with her talent for communication and enthusiasm, said her brother.

“;She displayed such fervor,”; he said.

Hyun was a member of the Los Angeles-based boards of the Korean American Coalition, Korean Youth and Community Center, and Korean American Museum. She served on the executive advisory committee of the Asian-Pacific American Legal Center.

“;She was proud of our heritage,”; Arthur Hyun said. “;She wanted to, through her own success, make the community successful.”;

In a Star-Bulletin story after she was appointed deputy chief of staff to the transportation secretary in 1998, Hyun said she would like to have the White House press secretary job.

“;It would be awfully neat to have an Asian-American woman speaking for the White House,”; she said at the time. “;It would do a lot for race relations.”;

Hyun left the deputy position in 1999 to work as communications director for the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

“;Communication was her strength,”; her brother said. “;She was very good at conveying the emotion of the message.”;

Besides her brother, Hyun is survived by her nephew, Max Hyun.


Star-Bulletin reporter Craig Gima contributed to this report.