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Mark Lee Keam Edit Profile

Lawyer , State legislator

Mark Lee Keam, Korean state legislator, lawyer. Named one of Best Lawyers Under 40, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, 2004.

Background

He was born in Seoul, South Korea and has lived in Vietnam, Australia and California, at different times of his life. Keam was born to a Presbyterian minister in Seoul, South Korea, in 1966.

Education

Bachelor of Science in Political Science, University California, Irvine. Juris Doctor, University California, San Francisco.

Career

A Democrat, he has represented the 35th District since 2010. His district encompasses a portion of Fairfax County, including the town of Vienna, Virginia, where he resides. He was formerly an aide on Capitol Hill, and was an executive with Verizon Communications until he left in 2009 to run for the Virginia General Assembly.

The family eventually settled in Orange County, California. To help support his family, he worked odd jobs, from construction to collecting shopping carts from a retail parking lot. He received a Political Science degree from the University of California at Irvine and later earned a law degree from Hastings College of the Law.

Keam served as Senator Richard Durbin's chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2001 to 2007, when he left to join Verizon Communications as a Vice President and Counsel. In 2009, he took an unpaid leave of absence to run for the Virginia General Assembly. In 2009, Delegate Steve Shannon, the Democratic incumbent, did not seek reelection in the 35th district in order to run (unsuccessfully) for Attorney General of Virginia.

Keam declared his intention to run for the seat. On Election day Mark Keam defeated Republican challenger James E. Hyland. He was sworn into office on January 13, 2010 at the State Capitol in Richmond, Virginia.

In February 2010, Keam and fellow freshman delegate James LeMunyon, a Republican, authored an op-ed in The Washington Post about their introduction of a bill to the General Assembly, which would attempt to make the voting records of General Assembly members more accessible to the public. The bill passed the 86 to 13 later that month. A State Senate committee carried the bill over for a year, and it has not yet been voted on.

Keam said in 2010 that he would abstain from voting on any bill which would pose a conflict of interest due to him being on an unpaid leave of absence from Verizon Communications, and he would not introduce any telecommunications legislation to the Committee assignmentsKeam has served on the House committees on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (2012–), Education (2012–), Finance (2010–), and Militia, Police and Public Safety (2010–2011). Despite the landslide victory of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell in the 2009 Governor's race, James Hyland was not able to take advantage of McDonnell's victory and was defeated by only 350 votes.

Religion

After arriving in Australia, Keam and his brother attended Newington College while their father was founding pastor of the Korean parish of the Uniting Church in Australia at Strathfield, New South Wales.

Politics

His family later founded a church in Vietnam, before fleeing when the country fell to Communism in 1975.

Views

He told a local newspaper in his district in January 2010 that he can legislate from an immigrant's point of view. Saying that "I want to be able to speak on issues where people say, ‘I’ve never met an immigrant in my life. I don’t know what you guys think about it,’.

I want to be able to say, ‘Well, let me tell you what they think about it.’" He has also sponsored another bill which would raise the number of ESL, or "English as a second language" teachers in Virginia’s schools from 17 full-time positions to 30 full-time positions for every 1,000 students.

Membership

Active in District of Columbia Hate Crimes Task Force, District of Columbia Mayor's Neighborhood Advisory Council, Building One Neighborhood Project, Coalition of Asian Pacific American, Virginia. Graduate Leadership Washington, 2001. Den parent Boy Scouts Vienna Pack 1139, Virginia.

Appointed Virginia Governor Asian American Advisory Board. Member of American Bar Association, Asian Pacific American Bar Association, Greater Washington District of Columbia (past president), District of Columbia Bar, California Bar, Korean American Coalition-District of Columbia, Vienna-Tysons Regional Chamber of C., Rotary Club Vienna.

Connections

Married Alex Seong; children: Tyler, Brenna.

spouse:
Alex Seong

children:
Tyler Keam

Brenna Keam