Play Video

Jay Chen

Episode 014

Service and Mission

Jay Chen was recently reelected to his second term on the Board of Trustees for Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. SAC). Prior to Mt. SAC, Jay served eight years on the board of education for Hacienda La Puente Unified School District (HLPUSD), the largest school district in the San Gabriel Valley, and was twice elected Board President.

The child of immigrants from Taiwan, Jay, attended HLPUSD public schools and earned a Naval ROTC scholarship to attend Harvard University. While in college, he wrote for the budget travel guide Let’s Go, covering Central and South America. After completing a fellowship at Peking University, he joined the global strategy consulting firm Bain & Company and later consulted with Technoserve in Latin America.

After leaving consulting, Jay started his own real estate company, investing and managing commercial real estate in Southern California. He has worked with some of the most successful retailers in the world, including Apple, CottonOn, and Gymboree.

An active member of the Democratic Party, Jay was a pledged delegate for President Barack Obama in 2008 and a pledged delegate for Senator Bernie Sanders in 2016. In 2012, he was the Democratic nominee for Congress for California’s 39th district.

Jay is a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserves, attached to the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was recalled to active duty in the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. LCDR Chen served as the branch chief of an intelligence team and was awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal.

Jay is a Marshall Memorial Fellow and speaks Chinese and Spanish. A trained chef, he enjoys cooking for his wife Karen and their two little boys and planning long road trips to find good food.



Best way to contact

Jay Chen Quotes

  • “Mandatory service… I think is actually a really good thing. Any kind of service that brings you together with people you wouldn’t normally interact with, I think, is positive.”
  • “And still, there is this perception that sometimes Asian Americans are not American enough, and knowing that and knowing that I had the opportunity to change that perception, I had that initial thought to participate. And that’s why I decided when there was an opportunity to join the reserves I thought I would enter. ”
  • “The whole Japanese-American experience, I don’t think, is recognized enough.”
  • Jay was born in Michigan and lived in the Midwest and Singapore
  • Jay moved to the SGV in his youth and thought of himself as a native.
  • Jay went to HLPUSD public schools until he went to college.
  • Jay got accepted into Harvard and went on an ROTC scholarship
  • After college, Jay enlisted in the Naval Reserves.
  • Jay sat on the board for HLPUSD public schools as president for two years
  • Jay also runs his Real Estate firm
  • Jay now sits on the Mt. SAC Community College.
  • Jay also served in the fight in the Middle East as an Intel Officer.
  • Russell and the guest of the show today share several things in common, and one of the most significant similarities is that they both served in the military. Jay Chen comes on to episode 14 to share his story, and he has been successful in the San Gabriel Valley.


Jay is an intelligence officer and a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. Jay has been in for around ten years, and he was sent overseas in the fight against ISIS and was stationed in Kuwait.

Jay was away on this mission for around a year, between training, boots on the ground, and demobilization.


Jay has a family of a wife, Karen, two sons, Lincoln and Carver, and a dog.

While Jay was away for a year, Karen was incredibly pressured to run the family’s real estate company and raise two boys.

But without Jay there, he was worried that his oldest wasn’t getting the proper support to help guide his foundation in math.


Jay was not born in California, but much of his life took place in the SGV, so he considers himself a native. Jay attended HLPUSD public schools from 5th grade and up. He then went to college at Harvard University.

Jay went to Harvard with a Navel ROTC scholarship. However, after trying it out, Jay decided to be an average college student instead after trying it out. After college, Jay joined the Navel Reserves.

After college, Jay traveled a little bit but found his way back to SGV because he knew he wanted to help his community.

After seeing what kind of effect a strong and committed School board can make, even on the individual level, Jay decided to run in 2007 to be on the Hacienda La Puente Unified Schools board. He served for two terms on the board. After serving Hacienda La Puente, Unified Jay ran to be on the Board of Trustees for Mt. San Antonio Community College (Mt. SAC) and was recently elected for a second term.

Jay is also very active with the Democratic party. Jay decided to help Obama run for office in 2008 after they reached out to elected officials.

Jay also has his own real estate company, where he also manages residential and commercial properties in the SGV and LA.


In high school, Jay’s father encouraged Jay into the ROTC program after Jay brought it up. He was also a young man when he considered the military, and because of that, it was attractive to him.

There was also the idea, according to Jay, that there are not many Asian people in the military because there is a perception that Asians are “not American enough.” Jay wanted to branch out and change that perception.

What Jay loved about the military was that he could work with new people he probably wouldn’t have met or worked with. His whole military experience opened his eyes to see an entire realm of life.


Intel officers take the raw information from the field and turn that information into something that can be used for the troops on the ground. They also need to be in the same time zone and area because they need to be able to give briefs at any time.

Even though Jay was on base, it still had creature comforts such as restaurants and places to shop. It was mindblowing.


Jay manages and invests in real estate. He works with Mt. SAC community college. They recently passed a 700 thousand dollar bond to upgrade their facilities. Mt. Sack is an old building that needs updates.



1. Old Pasadena: Jay used to live in Old Pasadena. It’s turned around because of development in the area.

2. Mt. Sac. Jays College. Many community events are happening all the time, such as giant stuffed animals, farmland with animals, farmer’s markets, and a lot more.

3. Yakia. A Japanese restaurant in the area that is of higher quality in a quiet area.

Picture of Jay Chen

Jay Chen

My 1st recommended place in SGV

My 2nd place recommendation of SGV

My 3rd place recommendation of SGV