Home > Asthma > Supporter Spotlight – Karen Lai

Mei-Ling (Karen) Lai joined Breathe California early in 2017 as a Health Educator. She emigrated from Hong Kong by herself when she was only 16 years old. Driven by a goal to help improve asthma patients’ quality of life by reducing asthma episodes through education and prevention, Karen is currently working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Respiratory Care at Skyline College. She speaks fluent Cantonese, Mandarin and English. We hope you enjoy learning more about her in this Q&A Session.


What inspired you to seek a position at Breathe California?

As a Respiratory Care student, I admire Breathe California’s mission—to fight lung disease, advocate for clean air and advance public health. As asthma often begins in childhood and can be well controlled, patients can live more active lives with proper education about managing their asthma. I volunteered with Breathe California’s Asthma Program Manager MariaElena Alioto, AE-C a few times before working at Breathe California.  She is the person that inspired me to train to become a Certified Asthma Educator.

What responsibilities have you taken on at Breathe California and what projects are you working on?

I am currently working in the All About Asthma program. I assist MariaElena with community outreach, providing asthma education workshops and collecting surveys from the classes. We also work with individual families to provide personalized asthma education and do follow-ups.

What have you found to be the most challenging, rewarding or fun about the work you’re doing at Breathe?

The most rewarding and fun experience is providing asthma education presentations in Cantonese. Many people may not be getting the information that they need because they don’t fully understand English, and resources in other languages may be difficult to find. I feel an even greater sense of accomplishment when I can share my knowledge and skills with others who speak my primary language. I look forward to expanding the All About Asthma Program into the Asian community.

If you could share one thing with others about the value of Breathe California’s work, what would it be?

Breathe California is one of few non-profit organizations that develop programs to promote lung health and to advocate for clean air. I admire everyone on our team because they work very hard to provide education and prevention programs that make a positive impact in the community.