Angela Yee doesn't take traditional routes. When she found that her degree in graphic design carried no clout in California, she took whatever jobs she could get. When she started a job as a meeting planner and had to plan new meetings, she learned as she went. And when she was looking for information for Christian meeting planning and didn't find what she needed, she wrote a book on the subject.
In her new job, she's starting two new conferences. She's also writing another book and will be pursuing a degree in divinity. Plus she's a wife and a teacher — home-schooling her two children. After all these experiences, maybe Yee has just become comfortable with the unexpected.
Yee grew up with a father who was an atheist but who became a believer and then a pastor who started ministries in California for Chinese speakers.
“Mom raised us and read the Bible to us when we were little,” Yee says. “We became believers before my dad did. When he did, things changed with our involvement in ministries. Serving has always been a big thing in our family.”
After college, Yee found that employers in California weren't impressed with her bachelor of fine arts degree.
“I had a hard time finding a job, but the experiences I had were helpful in meeting planning,” she says. “The first job I had was in an audiovisual company. Then I worked for a leasing company where I was pretty much theirdepartment. Then I became a freelance designer. Now I look back and am thankful, because those were really good experiences.”
After the birth of her children, freelance work from home became difficult. Yee began working more with her church.
Those experiences led her to Ministries for English-Speaking Asians in Union City, Calif., as its Women's Conference Development Director. The group had not had a women's conference. “That's the reason the book got written. While I was doing conferences, people said, ‘I'd like to do something like this; how do I do it?’ I didn't find anything [written down], not for Christian conferences.”
For that first women's conference, she thought they'd be lucky to get 250 people. They ended up with 900. “That's a big learning curve,” Yee says.
Afterward, a woman spoke to Yee about wanting a similar conference in Los Angeles. So Yee and her director helped to start one there and in New York. Her book The Christian Conference Planner, published in March, arose from those experiences.
She found out about RCMA after she had done conferences. “That was too bad. It's a good organization. This is my second year. I went to the conference last year; it was really helpful.”
Recently she became director of Freemont Evangelical Free Church's serving ministries, where her main duties include working with volunteers. Plus, she's starting two new retreats — a couple's retreat for next spring and a family retreat that may not take place until 2005.
“I like to start things up, as opposed to maintaining them,” she says.
Yee believes that it's easier to make an impression when there isn't a lot of tradition. “People have no expectations, no picture of what it will be like,” she explains.
Starting new conferences is challenging for many reasons, including finances and finding a site. “Sites wants to know how many people to expect. A lot of Christian conference centers book year to year, with first choice going to those coming back. New groups have to squeeze in,” Yee says.
Yee goes to an office one day a week; the rest of the time she works from home so that she can home-school her children, Daniel, 9, and Megan, 7. The family also includes her husband, Albert.
She credits technology, particularly e-mail and real-time communications services, for allowing people miles apart to plan a conference efficiently.
Yee was working on her master of divinity degree at Fuller Theological Seminary until her father died last year. After taking some time off, she plans to return next year.
“I definitely feel God has called me to ministry, so this is good for me.” Working for a church is a “huge blessing. You know you're doing something with eternal significance.”