Here's everything we know about Mina Chang, who rapidly rose from a self-described singer to a State Department official with a dubious resume

Mina ChangMina Chang.Department of State

  • Mina Chang, a 35-year-old State Department official, prompted a flurry of interest over her credentials this week after she was alleged to have embellished her work history and educational experience.
  • In a statement from her previous nonprofit group, executive director Ian Dailey characterized the news reports as a "classic 'hit-job'" and said he was "disgusted with the unwarranted attack" against Chang.
  • Here's what we know about Chang, who joined the Trump administration in April.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Mina Chang, a 35-year-old State Department official, prompted a flurry of interest over her credentials this week after she was alleged to have embellished her work history and educational experience.

At first glance, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary to the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations appears to have received extensive training and education from prestigious institutions, but a closer look reveals she may have misrepresented her background.

In a statement from her previous nonprofit group, executive director Ian Dailey characterized the news reports as a "classic 'hit-job'" and said he was "disgusted with the unwarranted attack" against Chang.

"Shame on you every outlet [sic] that picked up this story without doing your own research and merely surmised the onerous positions of the original," Dailey wrote, in reference to NBC News's original report. "You wonder why the media isn't trusted? … it's this, right here."

Here's what we know about Chang:

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Chang worked as the CEO of a nonprofit group.

Chang worked as the CEO of a nonprofit group.

Chang was the CEO of nonprofit group Linking the World for nine years.

"We create broad awareness of America's unique role in the world," the group says on its website. "By first helping others recognize why a stable and strong America is vital for global security, we will be able to make the case for a proactive national security, defense policy, and foreign policy rather than the more traditional reactive approaches of the past."

Linking the World advocated for the use of drones in international humanitarian responses, including disaster relief.

"Applying insights gleaned from a broad range of civilian and military data sets, data analytics, social science and geo-spatial intelligence capabilities to identify and assist vulnerable communities, the organization worked to isolate root causes of instability, and direct development initiatives to remove exploitation points used by violent extremist groups," the website adds.

According to the nonprofit group, $10,000 was spent for overseas work in 2015. The group claims that the low spending is indicative of a highly efficient model of "minimal US staff and no local offices or employees."

In 2019, the group was notified by the IRS of a "potential issue" relating to its previous tax filings. The group stopped taking donations while it works to resolve the problem, according to Ian Dailey, the executive director.

Chang was an aspiring musical artist.

Chang was an aspiring musical artist.

In 2014, Chang told The Dallas Observer that she previously had a career in music and recorded albums in Korean and English. The 2010 earthquake in Haiti is what she cites as the reason for her career shift.

"I took a huge chance stepping away from something I thought was safe and such a huge opportunity, but I knew this is where my heart is," she said to The Dallas Observer at the time.

Her works, including a rendition of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas," can be found on YouTube.

"My work has given me such a perspective and it's taught me to walk through a period of my life," Chang reportedly added. "When you're in the field you're stripped of who you are. You're just existing together in that moment. It's not about your clothes, or your image, it's about what you're giving. This year is just one season on my journey."

Chang traveled the world for the nonprofit work.

Chang traveled the world for the nonprofit work.

Chang claims to have traveled the world for her nonprofit work. Her destinations included Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Nigeria, and the Philippines, where she frequently uploaded photos and videos of her travels.

At least one member of the media scrutinized her work during her trips.

"I spent two days in Mogadishu at the same hotel as her in 2016," Kevin Sieff, a Washington Post bureau chief, said on Twitter. "A truly bizarre experience."

"There were photo shoots in front of the city's ruins and vlogs back at the hotel," Sieff added.
"She talked a lot about 'stability operations,' but mostly seemed confused. I remember thinking it was one of the more misguided humanitarian missions I'd seen."

Chang joins the US State Department.

Chang joins the US State Department.

Chang, who joined the Trump administration in April, was nominated to manage the US Agency for International Development in Asia and its $1 billion budget. According to her former nonprofit organization, she formally withdrew her nomination, despite NBC News's reporting that Congress pulled it.

"Simply, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has been rather busy with other activities and all nominees were subject to extensive delays," the nonprofit group said. "Mina loves her position at State and decided to withdraw herself from the process to focus on stabilization operations."

The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Chang educational experience is under scrutiny.

Chang educational experience is under scrutiny.

Chang's biography has come under intense scrutiny following an NBC News investigation.

Her information from the State Department mentions she is an "alumna" of Harvard Business School. In 2016, Chang attended a seven-week course at the college, but did not obtain a higher-education degree from the university, according to NBC News.

Chang's nonprofit group says she had "correctly stated that she is an alumnus of the school," given that she completed the $82,000 course.

In addition to her claim of being an alumnus of Harvard, Chang mentions she had graduated from other prestigious institutions after attending seminars, including the Army War College.

It is unclear whether Chang has obtained an Associate or Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

According to her educational history on LinkedIn, Chang writes that she took part in a six-day "Executive Nonprofit Leadership" program at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

Business Insider discovered that Chang's enrollment information is absent. Her basic information was found in the school's database, but it never received payment or course records on Chang, according to a course official.

"I wouldn't understand why somebody would lie about the program," a course employee said, adding that the course is beneficial for those who are interested in the nonprofit sector.

According to her now-private LinkedIn profile, she also attended the University of Nations with a focus on "Development" and "Aid Practices."

The University of Nations, which describes itself as an international, Christian learning center founded on biblical principles, claims to have chosen not to apply for accreditation due to "major differences" in national accrediting agencies.

Chang appeared on a fabricated TIME magazine cover.

Chang appeared on a fabricated TIME magazine cover.

Chang appeared on a fake TIME magazine cover, which a magazine spokesperson confirmed to be "not authentic," according to NBC News.

Asked about the origins of the magazine cover in 2017, Chang told an interviewer her focus on drone work and disaster response "brought some attention to that."

In the video interview, the interviewer suggests that Chang brought the cover with her to the interview.

Chang's former nonprofit group said she did not create or commission the work, and that an artist created it after a request from a personal friend. The group added that Chang was surprised by the magazine cover during the interview, which was purportedly reflected by her broad response.

"In retrospect, she should have clarified the origins of the cover in that moment, instead, she answered the question she was posed, more broadly," Ian Dailey, the executive director for "Linking the World" said in a statement. "We have never inferred this was a real magazine cover, nor that we were the creator of it."

Chang claims she has roots in the military.

Chang claims she has roots in the military.

Chang claims to have "come from a Marine family" in her now-hidden personal blog posts.

In a blog post titled "Symbols of a Shared Flight" Chang uploaded pictures of a Marine Corps Recon paddle, a ceremonial item, which was purportedly given to her by a special operations trainer.

"I do not deserve this and am verecund to be given something reserved only for the heroes I look up to," Chang wrote in the May blog post. "Though we have the privilege of working alongside our military partners in conflict zones, we as a support community have a big needle to move before we can feel a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment in contributing to our national security efforts."

"I love our country deeply. It stems from the gratitude for all the opportunities our country has given to me and my family, and to so many all over the world," Chang added. "I'm grateful ... just grateful for the opportunities to continue to serve. I will work to deserve this."

According to a Dallas Observer report in 2014, Chang said her parents worked as Salvation Army officers.

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