Samuel Chu is a contributing fellow with the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at University of Southern California where he engages in research, writing and teaching around community organizing, public leadership and the role of religious institutions in social change.
Chu is a nationally recognized organizer for social change. He currently directs the national synagogue and advocacy strategy for MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, where he oversees over 900 synagogue partners and organizes a growing political constituency that has effected numerous changes, including $8 million in new state funding to provide free school lunch to 62,000 additional low-income students in Minnesota, universal breakfasts for over 1,000 public school campuses in Texas and improved access to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly know as “food stamps”) for thousands of families, seniors, veterans and homeless minors in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Massachusetts and California.
He is the founding chair and president of OneLA-Industrial Areas Foundation, one of the nation’s largest and most diverse community organizing networks, where he helped to create successful projects such as the largest community-based enrollment program for the Affordable Care Act in California and the nation’s first publicly funded mortgage principle reduction plan during the Great Recession.
A first generation immigrant from Hong Kong and the son of a Southern Baptist minister, Samuel came to America in 1990 when he was 12 years old. He completed an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of California, San Diego and a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
He pastored at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Koreatown in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2009, where he served a community of mainly undocumented immigrants and a diverse congregation with members from 70 different nationalities.
Samuel served as the executive director of California Faith for Equality and California Faith for Equality Action Fund from 2008 to 2011, and was the first straight person to head a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender supportive organization. Under his leadership, CFE filed some of the largest amicus briefs to the courts in support of marriage equality at both the state and federal levels. In 2011, Chu was recognized by the City of Los Angeles with the LGBT Pride Award for his leadership in promoting and organizing religious support for LGBT civil rights and marriage equality.
From 2007 to 2014, he was board president of 1010 Development Corporation, a non-profit affordable housing developer in Los Angeles rooted in the United Methodist tradition.
Chu also directed special projects for Consumer Watchdog as well as the social justice program, Minyan Tzedek, at IKAR, a Jewish spiritual community that stands at the intersection of spirituality and social justice in Los Angeles, led by Rabbi Sharon Brous.