I owe CAPAL a tremendous debt for helping me navigate my way through Washington DC as a young professional. In the tough world of politics, figuring out how you can make a difference requires a bit of know how and a lot of networking to find your champions as you advance your career.

I came to DC in 2008 after working on a Congressional campaign in Chicago. My co-worker and future CAPAL board chair Gene Kim, urged me to join the board more or less sight unseen. It is a decision I’ve never regretted.

For an intern or entry-level staffer, walking into DC with a built-in group of supporters and champions in your corner is tremendous. That network is the difference between successfully developing a future leader in the AAPI community and having someone walk away disillusioned and frustrated with how the system works.

Every year we turn out a smarter and more prepared intern class who are excited to make a difference in government and the world at large. While I am thoroughly impressed with CAPAL’s interns, it is truly amazing interacting with past interns and board members who have ascended to senior level positions in government. Then I am even more impressed when those same senior level officials offer advice and support to the current intern class.

As a former fundraiser, I have to say my most memorable moments were putting on our fantastic galas every year. All those hours finalizing contracts, raising money, reaching out to speakers were fun and enjoyable because I knew that we were raising the critical funds to help support our intern class.

I am so impressed with how far CAPAL has come over the years. From new sponsorships, a professional staff and office space to the increasing experience level of the board. I appreciate and wholly support the direction CAPAL is going.

I am excited that the organization is a permanent and growing fixture in the AAPI community. I can’t walk too far without running into a CAPAL alum and hear about the fantastic work they are doing.

My annual donation to CAPAL is one I do with no hesitation. You, reader, should do the same (preferably now). See you at the CAPAL Ball on Saturday, October 15! More info on the CAPAL Ball here.

Gary Le is currently seeking his MBA at Georgetown. He is the former finance director for Senator Maria Cantwell and Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. He is also a former campaign alum for Hillary Clinton for President, Governor Martin O’Malley, Public Citizen, among others. Over his career, Gary has raised tens of millions of dollars and led operations to statewide victory at the federal and state level, as well as at not-for-profit organizations. He received his BA at the University of Washington and has a dachshund named J.J.


Posted by Elizabeth Thompson

Prior to CAPAL, Elizabeth Thompson worked in a development and communications capacity for Asian Arts Initiative, a community-based multidisciplinary arts center in Philadelphia. She is currently serving on the Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) Metro D.C. Chapter’s Steering Committee and is a mentor for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network, DC Chapter (YNPNdc) Mentoring Program. Elizabeth served as the grantmaking co-chair for The Spruce Foundation, which cultivates the next generation of philanthropists through community giving. She is the recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) Diverse Communities Conference and Bridge Conference scholarships and received a scholarship for ProInspire’s Managing for Success Program. She is an active member of AFP, YNPNdc and AAPIP. Elizabeth received her BA in Art History from Western Washington University and her MA in East Asian Languages and Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania. When not promoting young philanthropy and leadership, Elizabeth spends her time thrifting and playing with her handsome Manchester terrier. elizabeth.thompson [at] capal [dot] org