CAPAL would like to welcome our new board member, and recently elected Treasurer Mai Ichihara. Hear about her interest in the AAPI community, and why she chose to be a part of CAPAL. We’re glad to have her on the team!
Why did you join the CAPAL board?
I joined CAPAL for two main reasons. One is because I genuinely care about the organization’s mission. As a college student, I was active in promoting pan-Asian awareness on campus. In the professional world, I advocate for environmental justice and making sure the concerns of minority communities are represented when addressing climate change. Based on my own experiences working in the government sector, I recognize the importance of organizations like CAPAL to encourage Asian Pacific American participation in public service. Secondly, I wanted to get to know others who share this belief. Through CAPAL, my passion can not only be put to good use, but also is able to be nurtured as I connect with others in the CAPAL “family.” I am thrilled to be part of this welcoming team, and I love that the staff and board members represent such a rich mixture of cultures, upbringings, and careers.
What do you hope to accomplish as a board member? If you have an elected position, what do you hope to accomplish in that position?
As a board member, I hope to contribute to CAPAL’s mission to empower Asian Pacific American youth with the experiences and skills they need to succeed in life, and hopefully in a career in public service. As a child of immigrants, I know firsthand the subtle but real obstacles that minorities face when navigating the intimidating and fast-paced work culture in Washington D.C. where networking and internships are integral to success. And as Treasurer, I hope to be diligent, thorough, and prudent with all money matters to make sure that CAPAL’s finances reflect our integrity and competence. I want to maximize our financing to fund quality programs and events so that our stakeholders, donors, and government partners will continue to feel confident in their support of CAPAL. Also, I cannot wait to welcome the incoming CAPAL interns and scholars who aspire to make a positive difference in society. These bright-eyed leaders of tomorrow deserve a chance, and giving them this chance is a noble accomplishment.
How does being a board member fit in with your professional goals?
My professional goals are too many to count because that’s what D.C. does to you! You can’t help but be inspired, and I aspire to combine my interests in environmental conservation, sustainable business, international affairs, and social equity into some sort of career. And as a board member, I get to develop valuable professional skills that will be appreciated at any private firm, government agency, or nonprofit. Since I am on the Development Committee, I am particularly eager to learn best tactics and long-term strategies for fundraising and expanding CAPAL’s government partners. I cannot wait to be intimately involved in helping run a nonprofit organization like CAPAL and to learn how to effectively solicit the various facets of the public sector to achieve tangible objectives.
What does public leadership mean to you?
I regard public leadership as the courage and commitment to stand up for the betterment of society, including the vulnerable and neglected. It is altruism that not only encompasses the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others, but also requires the drive to act on that compassion by pursuing a career in public policy and advocacy. It definitely goes beyond the “ability to lead,” but nonetheless, there needs to be a firm understanding of what it means to be a good leader, which I believe CAPAL helps cultivate. Leadership encompasses many things, but the leaders I look up to are passionate about the work they do while still being attuned to other’s needs. Leadership is an amazing power: it motivates people to work hard without forcing it, and fosters an undeniable spirit of teamwork that can overcome even the worst disagreements and set backs. However, this skill can only be developed over time through personal trials and caring mentors, so I see part of CAPAL’s purpose as providing APA youth with the guidance and opportunities to become CAPAbLe public leaders of tomorrow (pun absolutely intended!).
What is the most interesting thing about you?
The most interesting thing about me is my love of wildlife. I’ve owned a lot of pets growing up! At age ten, my family moved to Monument, Colorado where our house was nestled in a dense forest of pine trees. At night, I would hear foxes yelping, and in the early morning, deer would eat my mom’s flowers, and bears would leave a mess after rummaging through our trash can. And in addition to the two dogs and one cat we acquired through normal means, my family has, at one time or another, also cared for a feral ferret, injured bird, stray cat, shelter cat, abandoned dog, adorable saltwater fish, and rhinoceros beetles from Japan. To me, the biodiversity of nature is magical and wondrous.
Mai Ichihara is currently a Program Assistant for the Government Affairs team at the Natural Resources Defense Council where she supports the legislative advocates in their implementation of governmental strategies and helps coordinate interactions with Congress, the administration, and policy experts to defend and expand U.S. environmental laws. Previously, she worked as an Associate Producer for the D.C. Bureau of TV Asahi, a Japanese broadcast network, where she covered news on foreign affairs and U.S. politics. Prior to that, she held various public service positions including at the State Department, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Congress. Mai holds a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University, and her most memorable school experience was studying abroad in Shanghai and Beijing in 2011. As a student, she was active in the AAPI community as a board member of the Japanese American Student Alliance and Vice President of an Asian interest sorority, and she hopes to continue promoting cultural diversity and service wherever she goes.
Posted by Nyana Quashie
Nyana recently graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.S. Geographical Sciences. While there she also pursued minors in Global Poverty, and Spanish. She is committed to engaging communities and creating social change both in the U.S. and abroad. In 2013, she consulted with local businesses in Nicaragua as an intern with the Social Entrepreneur Corps. She also recently completed a fellowship at the grassroots advocacy organization RESULTS, working to end poverty around the world. Nyana has previously volunteered with CAPAL, blogging on rising leaders in the APA community, and assisting with the Washington Leadership Program. Currently, Nyana serves as CAPAL’s Programs and Operations Intern and will be focusing on event planning, volunteer engagement and fundraising. In her free time, you can often find Nyana reading a book, catching up on shows, or attempting to cook.