Gary Locke’s grandfather, an immigrant from China, worked as a servant in exchange for English lessons. Locke’s father (who was also born in China) worked 14-hour days as a Seattle grocery store owner to provide for his family. In 2011, Locke himself returned to his ancestral home to begin a three-year stint as U.S. ambassador.
Locke grew up in south Seattle’s tight-knit Chinese community. He later joined Boy Scout Troop 254, an all-Chinese troop whose leaders celebrated their Scouts’ heritage while preparing them for life in the larger society.
Those leaders did their job well. After earning degrees at Yale University and the Boston University School of Law, Locke returned home, where he served 10 years as a state representative, three years as county executive, and eight years as governor. As governor, he led 10 international trade missions and helped grow the state’s exports to China to more than $5 billion per year.
After a stint at the international law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, Locke served as commerce secretary and ambassador to China in the Obama administration. In the Chief Seattle Council, Locke lent influence to the council’s Scoutreach program, which serves young people in inner-city neighborhoods like the one where he got his start.