Join us as we kick off the 2015 season of CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program (WLP) “Building Our Future.” WLP is an opportunity for interns and young professionals to learn about issues facing the APA community, explore careers in public service, and share their stories. Sessions include panel discussions as well as skills-based simulations.
Since 1989, CAPAL has offered the Washington Leadership Program (WLP) to interns and young professionals in Washington, DC free of charge, as a supplement to a summer internship experience. WLP has been the only educational and leadership development working series in Washington that focuses specifically on the APA community and our role in public policy.
Moderator Monica Thammarath
Monica Thammarath is currently the National 2nd Vice President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA) and co-chairs the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) Education Committee and Housing & Economic Justice Committee. As co-chair, Ms. Thammarath represents NCAPA’s members when working with entities such as the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI) and others. Aside from her role in APALA and NCAPA, Ms. Thammarath is a senior liaison in the Minority Community Organizing & Partnerships Department at the National Education Association (NEA), where she works to connect NEA’s 3 million members to parent, community, and youth organizing around educational and social justice issues such as equity, immigration rights, civic engagement, and voting rights. She is NEA’s liaison to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and oversees community organizing grants to NEA affiliates in California and Washington. Prior to joining the NEA, Ms. Thammarath was the education policy advocate at the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). Ms. Thammarath’s work is grounded in her experience organizing as a student for affordable, high quality public education and providing direct services to low-income, immigrant, and refugee communities.
The daughter of political refugees from Laos, Ms. Thammarath is a proud product of California’s public K-16 education system. She received a BA in Social Welfare, BA in Political Science, and minor in Asian American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley as well as a MPA from American University’s School of Public Affairs.
Rita Pin Ahrens
Rita directs SEARAC’s education policy work, highlighting disparities and obstacles in access to high quality education, and finding policy solutions to education equity. Previously, Rita served as a senior policy analyst for the Campaign for High School Equity, a coalition of national civil rights organizations that advocated for historically underserved and disadvantaged students, including students of color, English language learners, Native students, and low income students. Rita has also served as Director of Policy for the National Board for Professional Teaching standards, where she focused on research in teacher effectiveness, teacher compensation, improvement of NBPTS programs, and the equitable distribution of effective teachers. Before moving to Washington, D.C., Rita was a middle school math teacher in Connecticut.
Rita holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Yale University and a Masters in Education from the University of New Haven. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education Policy. Prior to her career in education, Rita worked in the technology sector analyzing online behavior. She was active in the international campaign to ban landmines, as a co-founder of the Connecticut Coalition to Ban Landmines, and also helped establish the first Buddhist chaplaincy at Yale University. Rita is a refugee from Cambodia and grew up in Twin Falls, Idaho with her parents and two brothers. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, writing poetry, painting, drawing, and learning Khmer classical dance.
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