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CAPAL has a very dedicated staff team. Hear from our Managing Director Liz Thompson on her interest in the AAPI community and why she chose to work with CAPAL.

Why did you join CAPAL?

CAPAL stood out from other Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations because of its belief in providing leadership opportunities to younger generations. Our programming offers young students and professionals the opportunity to hear from and meet with senior AAPI leaders in public service and hear their perspectives and challenges on being AAPI in the workplace. In addition, they are able to get hands-on experience working in public service through our scholarship and internship program.

But what inspires me most is that CAPAL is led, and its programming developed, by young professionals. Our board and staff leadership are all under 35 years old. As a millenial, I know firsthand the impact of empowering younger generations to be part of leadership decisions and responsibilities. I continue to be impressed with the innovation, enthusiasm, and creativity at CAPAL, and its ability to implement new ideas swiftly.

What are your main responsibilities at your position? What are some of your big projects?

In my recent transition to Managing Director, my responsibilities include the oversight, development and implementation of CAPAL’s strategic plan, leading the organization’s communication strategy and building and maintaining the organization’s infrastructure to continue to grow and fulfill CAPAL’s mission. As the first and only full-time, permanent staff member, I am able to work in all aspects of the organization. However, we are delighted to announce our search for the first full-time, permanent Programs and Operations Associate to join our team. More info here.

This upcoming year I am particularly excited to continue to expand and engage our growing board and scholar and intern alumni. We have over 350 alumni across the country working in all sectors and capacities. It is our hope that we can re-engage our alumni through our programming, speaking and mentorship opportunities, and more.

How does this position fit with your professional and career goals?

I have always wanted to work with the AAPI community. Before I was with CAPAL, I worked for Asian Arts Initiative, a community-based, multidisciplinary arts center. My position at CAPAL allows me to continue to serve the AAPI community, as well as explore the high-level planning and execution of an organization. I have always been drawn to smaller nonprofits where you can wear many hats and learn different skills in one role.

What does leadership mean to you?

When I think of leadership, so many definitions come to mind. For me, an important quality is to equip others with the training, resources and advice to succeed in their own roles and career paths. The ability to step back and allow others to lead is another characteristic of a great leader.

What AAPI issue are you most passionate about?

Identity has always been an AAPI issue personally close to me. As someone who identifies as mixed/Asian American, I have struggled in the past to find my place within any community. We all come from different places, and have different backgrounds, values and experiences that we can bring to the conversation. It is important to remember that each individual’s history is valuable, and how they determine their identity is a personal choice that should be respected.

liz blog 2 Meet the Staff: Elizabeth Thompson

What is your favorite CAPAL moment/favorite part about being a staff member?

I can’t cite a favorite moment, but I will take this opportunity to thank our CAPAL summer interns YLan Nguyen and Taylor Huang-Boutelle, as well as our current Programs and Operations Intern Nyana Quashie and honorary intern Andrew Lo. Nothing makes me more happy than to share CAPAL’s unique office space with such a wonderful, funny group of individuals throughout the year. You all are incredibly hardworking, amusing and keep me on my game. 🙂

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.

Posted by Nyana Quashie

Nyana Quashie 150x150 Meet the Staff: Elizabeth Thompson

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.