• A woman smiling

      Clara Tsang (Photo courtesy of Clara Tsang)

      Clara Tsang took a long, circuitous route to the City of San Gabriel as the new Public Information Officer.

      By Cheri Cabot

      Born in Louisiana, Tsang’s family moved to Hong Kong where she grew up. It was also during this time she developed a lifelong interest in the environment, with a particular interest in volcanos. “Nature is close to my heart and I spent all of my weekends as a kid in nature,” Tsang said. “Fishing in the river and hiking. So, when you get up to the career Path, volcanos just seemed very interesting to a teenager. There’s exploding and fire!”

      While attending college in Minnesota she spent half her time in Hawaii doing research on volcanos and earning her degree in geology. Hired by the US Geological Survey, she worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service in Hawaii.

      “In Hawaii I would collect hot lava samples every week. It was so fun! I choose the gentler volcanoes, ones that are not so eruptive.”

      Working for the Hawaii Fish & Wildlife Services Tsang ended up taking on PR responsibilities. “We didn’t have anyone that did that,” she said. “Everyone had their own jobs. You have your researchers and wildlife control, but there was no public outreach.”

      “I was working for Hakealala National Wildlife Forest Refuge and knew we had a good story to tell, so I took it upon myself to reach out to media to let them know. We had an open house event coming up and I gave them all the details about it. So that started me in public relations and communications.”

      Tsang decided to move to New York City and get another degree in Public Relations from NYU. Explaining her leap from geology to public relations, Tsang said, “I like working with people. I like a good story and it felt natural to me.”

      An internship led her to a position in a PR agency working with JC Penney and many renowned fashion designers and hotels. Then the recession hit in 2008 and Tsang couldn’t find a PR job she could put her heart behind. So, once again, she moved on. This time to Las Vegas representing MGM Resorts. She worked with entertainers, celebrities, and red- carpet events. In four years’ time she advanced from the bottom to heading her own team.

      “It was great. It was great for my career. It was great for my personal growth and I had really good mentors” Tsang said. “And then, I decided I wanted to play in a bigger field. Las Vegas was great, but it’s a local market, more regional. It’s very Las Vegas with a lot of the same things going on.”

      This time she moved to Los Angeles and transitioned into another PR agency where she worked with Peninsula Hotels representing all their international locations: Manilla, Thailand, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing, London and Beverly Hills. Her next step up the ladder was becoming the International Communications Manager for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board. Tsang managed the UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and India. Both of these positions required international travel, and although it was exciting, it was time to find something more stationary.

      After traveling back and forth across the United States and around the world, she finally landed in San Gabriel as the Public Information Officer.

      “I wanted to stay connected to my background in some way,” Tsang said. “For me in the past at the Tourism Board I was able to work with the China market that included Taiwan and Hong Kong, so I was able to tap into that side of me and I found that very fulfilling. When I saw this job opening, I thought that was something I can bring to the table.”

      “And also, personally, I was coming here (San Gabriel) to eat and get groceries, like every other day,” Tsang said, “so I thought, why don’t I just work in this city?”

      Tsang is enthusiastic about the challenge of working in the public sector. “I’m very lucky that this team (city staff) has been very welcoming. I’ve already seen some opportunities that I’m happy to work on.”

      From Louisiana, Hong Kong, Minnesota, Hawaii, New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Clara Tsang has finally found a place to use all her skill sets as the Public Information Officer in San Gabriel.

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