In June 2021, the Peabody Institute Advisory Board (PIAB) welcomed its newest member, Eugene Choung. Having held positions at Booz Allen Hamilton, Morgan Stanley, and the University of Chicago Endowment, Choung’s background in finance has already proven to be an asset. And he also brings another welcome viewpoint: Choung is the parent of Lindsey Choung, a violoncello performance major in the five-year Bachelor of Music/Master of Music degree program who is studying in the studio of cellist Amit Peled.
“Parents offer an important perspective to the board,” says Choung, who is the founder, partner, and director of Emerald Hill Capital Partners, which focuses on private equity opportunities in emerging markets in China, India, and Southeast Asia. “They are [often] the paying customers at Peabody and can provide unique insight into the particular needs of students.”
Choung first became a Peabody donor during Lindsey’s sophomore year, after learning about her experiences in her dorm, which was in need of several upgrades. After he sent an email to Peabody Dean Fred Bronstein to share some concerns, Bronstein invited Choung to a meeting with himself and Townsend Plant, associate dean for enrollment and student life, during Choung’s upcoming trip to Baltimore to see Lindsey perform.
“I was very impressed with how much they listened to me and how much they prepared for that meeting,” says Choung. Once Choung understood that the cost of updating the dorm would go beyond standard operating costs, “I felt compelled to be part of the solution,” he says. With his support, Peabody leaders were able to refresh some residence hall lounges and rooms with new furniture and fresh paint, among other upgrades.
Since then, Choung and his wife, Hyun Joo, have continued to support Peabody, both through gifts to Peled’s studio, where Lindsey, who is also minoring in the liberal arts, has learned to be a more technically sound and expressive performer, as well as through unrestricted donations. “I trust [Dean Bronstein’s] judgment to put those funds to the best use,” Choung says.
As a member of the PIAB, Choung is most interested in being involved with Peabody’s upcoming campus renovation project. Coming full circle from his first engagement with Dean Bronstein, Choung has been tapped to serve on the Steering Committee for the Peabody Programmatic Space Planning Study focused on discussing the future state of the institute’s facility needs and desires.
Choung was part of a similar initiative when he was vice chairman of the board of trustees at Hong Kong International School, which rebuilt one of its buildings on campus while managing the challenges of keeping classes in session during construction.
“The challenges that Peabody is facing are fairly similar because they’ve got a small space in Mount Vernon and they’re looking to build more capacity and better facilities there, while keeping the school running in the meantime,” says Choung. “Those challenges are very exciting to me.”
Having had extensive experience on governing boards, Choung thinks the most successful ones include a mix of members, including alumni and donors, as well as parents. “You want to have people who are energized and whose interests are very much aligned with the success of the school, and parents are fundamentally invested in Peabody,” he says.