Michelle MiJung Kim

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Michelle MiJung Kim (she/her) is a queer Korean American immigrant woman writer, speaker, activist, and entrepreneur. She is the award-winning author of The Wake Up: Closing the Gap Between Good Intentions and Real Change, winner of the 2022 Nautilus Gold Medal and 2021 Porchlight Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year Award. She is CEO and co-founder of Awaken, where she has consulted hundreds of organizations and executive leaders from Fortune 500 companies, tech giants, nonprofits, universities, and beyond on their equity education journey. Michelle has been a lifelong social justice activist and has served on a variety of organizations such as the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Advisory Committee, LYRIC nonprofit’s Board of Directors, and Build Tech We Trust Coalition. She currently serves on the board of Asian Americans for Civil Rights and Equality (AACRE). Her work has appeared on world-renowned platforms such as Harvard Business Review, Forbes, The New York Times, and NPR, and she has been named LinkedIn’s Top Voice in Racial Equity, Fast Company’s Queer 50, and Medium’s Top Writer in Diversity three years in a row. She lives in Oakland, California.


The Wake Up Book Overview

2022 Nautilus Book Award Gold Winner
2022 National Antiracist Book Festival Selection
2021 Porchlight Personal Development & Human Behavior Book of the Year Award Winner


Waking Up to Our Capacity to Transform Ourselves and the World 


As we become more aware of various social injustices in the world, many of us want to be part of the movement toward positive change. But sometimes our best intentions cause unintended harm, and we fumble. We might feel afraid to say the wrong thing and feel guilt for not doing or knowing enough. Sometimes we might engage in performative allyship rather than thoughtful solidarity, leaving those already marginalized further burdened and exhausted. The feelings of fear, insecurity, inadequacy are all too common among a wide spectrum of changemakers, and they put many at a crossroads between feeling stuck and giving up, or staying grounded to keep going. So how can we go beyond performative allyship to creating real change in ourselves and in the world, together? 


In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim shares foundational principles often missing in today’s mainstream conversations around “diversity and inclusion,” inviting readers to deep dive into the challenging and nuanced work of pursuing equity and justice, while exploring various complexities, contradictions, and conflicts inherent in our imperfect world. With a mix of in-the-trenches narrative and accessible unpacking of hot button issues—from inclusive language to representation to "cancel culture"—Michelle offers sustainable frameworks that guide us how to think, approach, and be in the journey as thoughtfully and powerfully as possible. 


The Wake Up leads readers through four primary phases of change:

  • Grounding: moving beyond surface-level good intentions by understanding why we want to create change and uncovering our own “hidden stories” that illustrate the hardships or absence of hardships in our lives

  • Orienting: establishing a shared understanding about the issues we are trying to solve, particularly dismantling white supremacy

  • Showing Up: learning how to approach situations with clarity and to effectively work through nuance, conflict, and complexity

  • Moving Together: owning our space, caring for others, and prioritizing humanity, healing, and community over hate


The Wake Up is an urgent call for us to move together while seeing each other’s full and expansive humanity that is at the core of our movement toward justice, healing, and freedom. 

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“A useful meditation on navigating the often-turbulent energies that flow through our moral compasses, our human hearts, our equally human organizations, and the urgent demands of social justice.”

Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother's Hands

“Michelle MiJung Kim shares valuable ways to elevate our practice in the work of creating equitable, just spaces around us—at work, interpersonally, and within ourselves. In The Wake Up, she deeply and humbly reflects on her own journey and how we can break cycles that perpetuate harm and use our means to build a just, inclusive community."

Candice M. Morgan, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Partner, GV

“Michelle MiJung Kim is a practitioner that truly walks the walk. The Wake Up is a vulnerable exploration of activism, as raw and reflective as she is. I recommend for anyone ready to be pushed from just talking towards responsible action.”

Y-Vonne Hutchinson, CEO of ReadySet

“Our journey to creating connection and belonging has been inextricably linked to Michelle MiJung Kim's work with our teams. In The Wake Up, Michelle MiJung Kim welcomes our imperfection and invites us on a journey to be become our better more awake selves.”

Melissa Thomas-Hunt, former Global Head of Diversity and Belonging, Airbnb; John Forbes Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, Darden School of Business, University of Virginia

“Michelle MiJung Kim embodies and practices the entire spectrum of solidarity work and continues to invite and challenges others to join her in deepening our collective work. Michelle MiJung Kim’s approach to the work of liberation is wrathfully compassionate and truly calls us to find our place in this movement.”

Kalaya'an Mendoza [He/Him/Siya], Director of U.S. Programs at Nonviolent Peaceforce

“Challenging, empowering, and purposeful, The Wake Up makes the foundational principles of allyship, equity, and justice accessible to all readers willing to do the work. Michelle MiJung Kim is one of the strongest voices advocating for equity and justice for organizations and individuals."

Aiko Bethea, founder of RARE Coaching & Consulting