Asian American and Pacific Islander Month story

Honoring Our Asian American & Pacific Islander Team Members

In celebration and recognition of our Asian Pacific Islander employees, their rich culture, and vibrant community, we are thrilled to tell the story of three notable Morrison Living employees: Julia Wong, Willie Cho, and Sindu Mathew. These three dynamic leaders continue to impact and inspire their teams within our organization, and more poignantly, inspire and impact the world around them.

Meet: Julia Wong, Senior Director of Finance and the co-chair of our Diversity and Inclusion Action Council

For Julia, a first-generation Chinese-American, celebrating AAPI culture is not new. In her family, embracing their roots is a part of everyday life. She’s elated that the stories, accomplishments, and perspectives of Asian American & Pacific Islanders are being shared all over the world. “Learning about our cultures and broadening your understanding of them helps to honor our heritage, and by honoring AAPI Heritage, you are letting me know that you respect an important part of my being.”

To make a better life for himself, Julia’s father became a freedom swimmer as a teenager. Although her parents are both from China – mother from Hong Kong and father from the mainland – it wasn’t until 1978 that they met in the big city of New York at a high school for immigrants. Julia and her older brother, Alfred were both born in NYC and raised in the suburbs of New Jersey.

Today, Julia and her husband, Mark (who is also a first-generation American), reside in Georgia with their two daughters, Avery, 8, and Aiden, 14. She’s been a member of our Compass Group family since 2013 and continues to be a valuable member of our team. When asked how she inspires others at Compass Group and in her community, she stated, “I always try to lead with love – everyone deserves compassion and empathy.  On the DIAC we often say, ‘be the change you want to see in the world.’ I really try to live by that.  I know we have so many challenges, especially with this last year’s pandemic and the fear that it has brought against our community, but positivity is contagious.  If we stand together, we can lean on one another, lend a hand, and we CAN make a difference.” Morrison Living is thankful for the difference Julia makes to our organization.

Meet: Willie Cho, Regional Vice President

A Korean-American, born in Brazil to a mother who was a professional basketball player and an entrepreneurial father, Willie descends from a beautiful fusion of cultures. His parents, both born in Seoul, South Korea, left Korea for better opportunities. His father migrated to South America during the Korean war. His mother, a point guard for the South Korean National Team went on a pro basketball tour, where she met her future husband. In the 80s, Willie’s family moved to the United States (New York City), to seek more opportunities that weren’t in Brazil at the time.

As the son of first-generation Korean immigrants, celebrating AAPI Heritage Month allows him to reflect on his own immigrant experience, and also pay it forward, using his story to mentor the next generation of AAPI leaders. Growing up, his father was strict and insisted that he preserve his Korean heritage and learn the native language. An international business school graduate, Willie is fluent in four languages – English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese. In 2011, Willie was recruited for a role in senior living, igniting his love and passion for seniors. Embracing his Korean roots and the importance placed on elders, he felt right at home serving the wonderful residents in our communities.

Willie lives in Gilbert, AZ with his wife, Amanda, and two sons Dexter and Simon. When not working, he enjoys camping, time out on the golf course, and rap battles with his kids. His positive spirit is infectious to everyone he encounters, both within Morrison Living, as well as in his community.

Meet: Sindu Mathew, Regional Director of Operations

The daughter of a nurse mom and a radiology tech dad, Sindu was bound to succeed. Her parents, both immigrants from South India, struggled in their new country – learning the language and raising their children. To instill a sense of pride in both cultures, Sindu and her family made a point to travel to India every couple of years. During the visits, she’d learned a lot about her culture, including one of her favorite values: family.

In her heritage, family is not just reserved for those who share the same DNA. Family applies to anyone in the community. While in the 8th grade, Sindu recalls a teacher encouraging her to run for vice president of the student council. Fearing she’d lose and get hurt, her parents deterred her but she was determined. She won the position, birthing her fervent passion for leadership.

First starting her career in patient transport, then moving to environmental services, linen, and finally food and nutrition, Sindu knows all about operational excellence. Joining the Morrison Living team in April of 2020, Sindu loves her role as RDO. “Being an RDO allows me to do what I love every day. I’m able to work with my teams to create amazing food memories for our residents and delight them daily. Collaborating with my leaders and our clients to enhance resident satisfaction is something that excites me. It’s easy to get up every morning when you love your job!”

Celebrating AAPI means so much to Sindu. “During last year, all of the persecution Asian Americans faced makes this year really special. We’re able to stand together against any kind of persecution through our connection of love and heritage.” Speaking of love, outside of work, Sindu can be found spending time with her three-year-old, Anjali, and her husband, Rush. She also enjoys the holidays with her extended family. One special meal, Masala Dosa (potatoes in a savory crepe), kindles memories of her mom returning home from a double shift to cook it for her family to enjoy. “It was the blood, sweat, and tear of my parents who came to this country to literally make a better life for their three kids and they did it by working two jobs, balancing both cultures, and leaving behind their own parents to start this new life here.”

We are thankful Sindu’s journey led her to Morrison Living.