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When I served on the CAPAL board in 2001-2002, we were trying to garner basic support and were probably idealistic. We were able to establish two scholarships for students who wished to intern in DC, but needed financial support to make that dream happen.

Besides the camaraderie among the members, I remember how Members of Congress generously gave their valuable time to mentor and share their experiences with CAPAL members. In fact, the entire AAPI Caucus in Congress was involved. I will always remember it. I used to believe that public service was the only method of giving back. However, I realize now that there are many other ways to pay it forward such as mentoring someone and having a more direct impact.

I recall the now late Senator Paul Simon of Illinois was a strong supporter and attended our key events such as the annual gala and showcase meetings on the Hill. He was such a remarkable leader. Soft-spoken and smart, he exemplified the highest caliber of public service.

To me, leadership exemplifies an intelligent person who can evaluate a situation at a very high altitude and make informed decisions. Leadership is also about leading by example and delegating authority to those who can best execute the aims and goals of the organization.

CAPAL demonstrated to me the ability of Americans of Asian descent to coalesce, build a lasting organization and provide a stronger and more vibrant voice in America for the next generation. This has helped shape how I approach and advise on other organizational issues with clients who wish to strengthen their organization with an eye towards longevity and purposefulness.

I am very happy continuing to build my private law practice in New York and New Jersey. I have found it intellectually rewarding to represent international clients to try to bridge not only legal concepts, but cultural ones as well.

The issues that concern me the most are equality and justice for all Americans, particularly minority groups. While the election of President Obama seemed like a watershed moment, I think race relations have worsened in America. I believe that discrimination based on race and ethnicity in the US legal and justice system remains and is pernicious, but many don’t realize it. We may never eliminate it, but we can try.

A trusted corporate attorney with over 20 years’ experience dedicated to commercial and corporate law.  Previously, he was General Counsel of an infrastructure investment fund based in Beijing. He served as a Foreign Affairs Fellow in the U.S. Senate tracking foreign operations bills in the Appropriations Committee. Prior to that, he served as Chief China Researcher to Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski in Washington, DC.

In addition to legal matters, he continues to be actively involved in academic issues at New York University, where he serves on the Board of Trustees, Harvard University Asia Center External Advisory Committee, and Johns Hopkins University.  He is a member of the Asian American Bar Association of New York Board of Advisors and its Judiciary Leadership Council, New York City Bar Association, New York State Bar Association, Council on Foreign Relations, and National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.  He previously served as a CAPAL board member.

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