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Seattle City (spot)Light: Jeanie Ahn

Jeanie Ahn has been at City Light for two and a half years. She began in financial planning but now works as a Budget Analyst in the budget office where she sets budgets and helps keep groups on track. “I’ve always been a numbers nerd and enjoy numbers and their relationships,” Jeanie said.

True to her word, the Kansas native majored in economics at the University of Washington. While in college, she got a part-time job at Nordstrom and worked there for 19 years, most recently in the company’s budget office.  “I decided to switch over to City Light and take the public route because I was looking for a change and wanted to do something for the community,” Jeanie explained.

In this week’s (spot)Light, read about Jeanie’s love for Taekwondo, teaching and empowering women.

Jeanie in a jumping back kick

“I’ve been doing Taekwondo for about 24 years. When I was a teenager, one of my friends got into trouble and her punishment was to do Taekwondo. I watched her practice and thought it looked cool. I told my parents I wanted to try it and my dad said ‘Absolutely not.’ He saw it as a male sport, so that cemented the fact that I had to do it. We fought about it for three months until he finally caved. The first week was so hard I wanted to quit. I now teach Taekwondo and self-defense classes at my studio in South Seattle. I also practice and teach yoga which is a nice complement to martial arts.”

“My friend looked at my resume years ago and she said, ‘Oh, you’re a teacher!’ I taught piano lessons when I was younger. At Nordstrom, I was the person that trained other people and worked new-store openings. I think, in general, I like teaching. That appeals to me. While numbers are very black and white and methodical, teaching lets me be creative. I can explore my creative side and design a class based on an individual’s skills, needs and focus.”

“Teaching self-defense is really important to me because it empowers other women. Not to say it’s only for women! Men have taken it as well and women do come in with their partners. Our self-defense class was created for a novice person coming in off the street; someone who wants to learn some moves. It’s a two-hour workshop where people learn how to get out of certain grabs, but also, maybe speaking more to the female side, how to attack. I feel that it doesn’t come natural for women to strike. So, we talk about, demonstrate, and practice different ways to attack if you had to defend yourself.”

“One of my favorite parts of this class is how we end it – every person breaks a board! I never tell them that, though. It happens at the end of class, so I wait until the right moment to bring it up it. And everyone does it! I’ve never had anyone who couldn’t do it. Women really underestimate themselves and how strong they are. It’s important to leave on a positive note because it’s kind of a sour reason we’re there to begin with. Women are targeted more. It’s a downer, so it’s important to finish high.”