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When I first heard about CAPAL, I was an unemployed California boy fresh out of law school without a dollar in my pocket. My parents bought me a one-way ticket to D.C. and paid for my first two months of rent. My cousin and fellow board alum Jonathan To introduced me to the organization by bringing me to one of the meetings. He told me this would be a great place to get my feet wet and start networking. At the board meeting, they fed me free food so I immediately wanted in.

Jonathan introduced me to Jeewon Kim, a former board chair and current Advisory Council member. Jeewon was roommates with Juli Kim, Jonathan’s girlfriend at the time (now wife), who was also part of CAPAL. I still remember our first meeting at a coffee shop and all the advice she gave me about networking. She taught me to write some descriptor words on the back of the business cards of people you meet at events to help you remember them. For example, “likes basketball and from Berkeley” etc.

Serving on the board was a fantastic experience where I made lasting friendships and learned very practical D.C. hustlin’ skills. One of my most memorable experiences with CAPAL was hosting the “Capital Hearts for Japan” fundraiser for the earthquake relief effort in Japan. It was non-stop work but it was a great way to meet like-minded people/communities across the beltway, help with a great cause, and build lasting relationships. It helped me visually see that “if you build it, they will come.” We raised over $10,000 from a group of young professionals in the D.C. area.

I often bundle CAPAL into the package of my D.C.I think CAPAL = D.C. It really solidified my focus, no matter where life took me, and to never forget about the core things that matter to me — faith, family, being a positive force, and supporting the right causes.

Currently I’m an international corporate crimes attorney focusing on reducing fraud and/or corruption risks in multinational corporations. I spend the bulk of my day leading/supporting multi-country investigations on potential white-collar criminal issues. We also work around the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act where we help companies investigate and identify bribery/corruption risks within their organization and find ways to mitigate that risk.

I’ve been in China for nearly five years now but I read the updates regularly on CAPAL’s website. When I was legal counsel for the organization, we were filing the 501c3 as an all-volunteer organization with zero paid staff. Now CAPAL has a Managing Director and just hired a Programs and Operations Associate. That’s awesome.

In my opinion, CAPAL fills a very important niche in the D.C. AAPI community. I like the energy, the young professional community, the all-volunteer board, the focus on AAPI representation, and the emphasis on public service. You put all those things together and you build a very strong foundation. Staying relevant will always depend on inspiring new generations of young AAPIs to step up to the plate and believe in the strength of the community. It’s about doing good work in the community. It’s always about doing good work.

Public service is not having a job at a non-profit, working on the Hill, or some other public sector job. And having a job in the private sector does not mean you are not a public servant. Public service — to me — is more of a perspective in terms of how you lead, inspire, and direct your focus and work no matter what you do for a living. We should all be public servants and that means to serve others whether they are our friends, fellow colleagues, or strangers. We also need to be public servants for future communities and that means protecting our planet and beyond.

I continue to stay engaged now because I can still picture myself sitting on the board going through agenda items or blasting emails for a fundraiser while stuffing takeout pad thai or pizza in my mouth. I want to support that and keep it going (of course, a healthy diet is always a better approach). CAPAL is a great platform to build future leaders in the AAPI community and it was one of the key opportunities that helped me build practical skills that I use everyday today.

As alumni we should all stay engaged to keep the vibrant CAPAL network going. For example, I connected with founding member John Trasvina to help send summer interns from the University of San Francisco School of Law to DLA Piper in Beijing and was invited by USF to lecture about my investigations practice. That’s just a small example of the type of synergies that happen regularly when you network and stay engaged.

There will always be potential synergies somewhere. Do not ever forget the people and/or institutions along the way as your “team” in life is made up of the collection of all those people you met along the way who inspired you.

The CAPAL team thanks Jason for being a member of our Champions Circle! Learn more about our 2016 campaigns and make a donation here.

 Jason Chang is an investigations attorney assisting companies primarily with reducing fraud and bribery/corruption risks in China as well as the greater Asia-Pacific region. This entails helping companies with employee training, better understanding on-the-ground operations in various localities around the world, strengthening compliance programs and policies, and assisting with any investigations and/or litigation matters in relation to the same. Companies ask for my assistance in a wide variety of situations, including mission critical issues as well as proactive preventative measures.

Jason is a specialist within the DLA Piper litigation and regulatory group focusing on white-collar crimes, investigations, compliance, anti-corruption, U.S. securities, and cross-border litigation matters. He helps manage a large and diverse team across DLA Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong offices. On a regular basis, he works with PRC local counsel, consulting firms (forensic and investigations), LPOs, big four auditing/accounting firms, other law firms, enforcement officers in China and the U.S., as well as clients and colleagues all around the world. 

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. Elizabeth recently 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 2015 Managing for Success Program. She is an active member of AFP and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. 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