In the first session of our Washington Leadership Program, Communities of Color, we will address the historical and contemporary relationships between AAPIs and other communities of color, with a specific focus on the AAPI’s community’s role in civil rights movements. We will provide attendees with tools and strategies that they can bring back to their communities and use in order to build solidarity with other communities of color. This session will also address current attitudes on what it means to be part of a minority group and on how identity can inform one’s journey through public service. Lastly, this event will act as an opportunity for attendees to connect with AAPI public service leaders who work with communities of color for their career perspectives and insights.
Sandra Vu Le, Esq. is an 18 year immigration attorney, a cultural integration specialist and the current cable TV host of MMC-TV “The American Journey.” As a former United States Senate Youth Ambassador of America to Japan and the first ever female Vietnamese-American Texas state congressional candidate, Sandra truly believes in living a life “full of possibilities.”
Her passion is to empower Asian Americans, new immigrants and foreign born students and professionals with leadership and business communication skills to succeed in the U.S. culture so that they may be an asset to their organizations and communities.
Sandra is a frequent speaker at corporations, universities, federal agencies and a favorite at local and national conferences including the Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC), Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE), the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP) and Ascend/NAAMBA.
Sandra holds a BSBA from Washington University, St. Louis and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University (SMU) Dedman School of Law.
To connect with Sandra, visit www.yourculturaledge.com
Grace Choi is a Policy Advisor in the Secretary’s Office on Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State. Previously, she served as Staff Assistant in the White House Liaison’s Office at the Department of State. She is also a NetKAL Fellow and served on the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership’s (CAPAL) Board of Directors as Vice Chair of Programs.
Prior to her political appointment at the Department of State, Grace worked for the Council of Korean Americans (CKA), where she helped to create a greater platform for Korean American voices at the national level, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) in Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office, the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC), President Obama’s 2012 Presidential Campaign in Virginia, the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Refugee Affairs Division.
Grace is a Robertson Foundation for Government Fellow and graduated from the Fletcher School at Tufts University with a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy and from Boston College with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies. Grace is a proud southerner who hails from metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia.
As Director of Strategic Initiatives for Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Marita Etcubanez manages varied projects including supporting naturalization efforts in the DC metropolitan area and working with our Community Partners to produce demographic reports on Asian American and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander populations. Marita came to Advancing Justice | AAJC with more than 10 years of experience in legal services. She has worked with the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, and Texas Rural Legal Aid. Marita received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan.
Paul Igasaki is Chair and Chief Judge of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Administrative Review Board, hearing appeals from Labor department administrative decisions. He was appointed in 2010 by Secretary Hilda Solis and reappointed by Secretary Tom Perez. Prior to this, Judge Igasaki served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Equal Justice Works, strengthening the management of an organization that places new lawyers in public interest fellowships. Before that, he served as Executive Director of Rights Working Group, a coalition of organizations concerned about civil rights and liberties in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.
President Bill Clinton appointed Judge Igasaki as Vice Chair, Chair and Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. His leadership is credited with turning around a crippling case backlog and securing the largest increase in several decades from a conservative Congress. On his watch, the EEOC expanded protections against sexual harassment and bias against immigrants and those with disabilities.
Judge Igasaki was Executive Director of the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco, the nation’s first Asian American civil rights legal organization. He was staff to the U.S. Senate campaign of the late Congressman Robert Matsui. While serving as Washington, DC Representative for the Japanese American Citizens League he helped secure funding for the Japanese American redress program, protected family sponsored immigration laws and expanded employment discrimination laws.
Judge Igasaki is a founder of both the Chicago and the National Asian American Bar Associations. He is currently co-chair of its Civil Rights committee. He was the first Asian American to Chair the American Bar Association’s Section on Individual Rights & Responsibilities and has served on many committees, and is currently the Task Force on Stand Your Ground Laws.
Lakshmi Sridaran comes to SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) with a deep commitment to racial justice. Most recently she served as the Policy Director for The Praxis Project, a Washington-DC based, national movement support organization. In that capacity she provided policy, research, training, and campaign development support for grassroots organizations in communities of color working to advance health justice legislation at the state and local level. She also represented Praxis in various coalitions to engage policymakers, funders, and national civil rights organizations in creating integrated and shared agendas for improving health outcomes in communities of color. Before this, Lakshmi completed six years of work in New Orleans, Louisiana where she started as a community development specialist with Bright Moments public relations firm and PolicyLink to produce findings and recommendations for improving federal contracting opportunities for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises after Hurricane Katrina. She concluded her time there as Director of Programs for Neighborhoods Partnership Network (NPN). Much of her work there was focused on building neighborhood organizational capacity among the over 100 NPN members, helping shape local advocacy campaigns on participatory budgeting, public school closings, and infrastructure improvement, linking these to state and federal policy efforts.Lakshmi holds a Masters degree in City Planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in Ethnic Studies from The University of California, Berkeley.
Andrew-Brian Nguyễn is a Presidential Management Fellow, Budget Analyst at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Prior to earning a Master of Public Policy from the McCourt School, he served as a Legislative Aide to former California Assembly member Mike Feuer. He was the primary staff person for AB 1436 (2012), which was enacted to increase voter participation through same-day voter registration in California. His extensive experience advocating for the Asian Pacific Islander community includes being the External Affairs Director of the Asian Pacific Islander Capitol Association (APICA) where he liaised with API elected officials and the greater Sacramento API community. As a former External Vice President for the Union of North American Vietnamese Student Associations (UNAVSA), he advocated for increased civic engagement and education among Vietnamese youth. Andrew-Brian attended the University of California, San Diego as an undergraduate and served as President of the Vietnamese Student Association and co-founded the Coalition of Asian Pacific Islanders (CAP).
Check back soon for more information on our speakers.
More About The Washington Leadership Program
The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AAPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through eight weekly sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AAPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement. The overarching theme for WLP 2016 is Redefining Public Service, and each session will challenge the conventional image of public service through its content, its speakers, or its activities.
2016 Washington Leadership Program Planning Committee Soo Koo • Amy Wantanabe • Krystal Ka’Ai • Irene Lin • Rebecca Lee • Gita Ram • Daniel Jung • YLan Nguyen • Shiv Rawal • Justin Trinidad • Mai Ichihara • Tiffany Hsieh • Sam Cho • Carrie Kagawa • Christian Edlagan • Alton Wang • Elizabeth Thompson
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By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session.