After graduating from the University of California-Berkeley and San Francisco State University, he earned a PhD in child psychology from the University of Hawaii.
He served two terms on the San Francisco School Board and also worked as a counselor with San Francisco's Mental Health Department.
Born in Taishan, China, he moved to the United States at the age of three and later became a full U.S. citizen. His marriage to Maxine Yee produced four children.
He joined the 2011 San Francisco mayoral race, hoping to succeed Mayor Gavin Nesom.