This was a busy week for Professional and Leadership development at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL)! We held our Fifth Washington Leadership Program, a round table with SAALT Director of National Policy and Advocacy, Lakshmi Sridaran, and the beginning of our Professional Development Series, with a Conservation Career Symposium on USAJOBS, led by representatives from the Department of Fish & Wildlife.
On Wednesday we had one of our most attended Washington Leadership Programs on The Internet: A Platform for Democracy and Community Advocacy with our own Board Member Christian Edlagan moderating, and a panel of current internet and social media activists. This included Sandra Fulton, currently the government relations manager at The Free Press and advocating for net neutrality, Juliet Shen, formerly of Fascinasians and currently a content creator at 18 Million Rising, and Vincent Paolo Villano, who currently works for Brain Trust and as the director of communications at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).
These panelists addressed the pitfalls and spaces for change within the Internet, speaking on the ways that the Open Internet, which only exists in a World with Net Neutrality is key communities of color and marginalized communities in order to organize and advocate for themselves. This brought up topics such as the battles fought through the internet, such as Black Lives Matter, and the importance of twitter and other internet mediums in light of the failure of reporting on the part of mainstream news networks. In addition, they also spoke of utilizing the internet for more accessible activism, both through language and translation availability, and as a platform for those with disability or mental illness, who may not be able to do show up activism. The internet has not only created a platform for activism, but also a space for national grief sharing, and solidarity in times of crisis past race, state, or national borders. More than anything, towards the end of the panel, our guests maintained that internet engagement must complement work in reality. Within internet communities one must be creating a relationship, built on trust and open communication that asks for participation, and does not force or coerce people into work they do not want to do.
Thursday was a full day, starting with an engaging Roundtable with Lakshmi Sridaran of SAALT. She spoke on what led her to her position today, to her experiences working for a non-profit which transplanted to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, and her commitment to activism and coalition building between marginalized communities. She stressed the necessity of finding out what the community actually needs in times of crisis, and her belief that change ultimately comes from the outside. For her, this means bringing the voices and experiences of those affected into the spaces you have the privilege to be in. One of her greatest takeaways for the round table was that sometimes, if the work you are doing is against your principles the best choice can be to just walk away.
Later in the day we had the first program in our Professional Development Series, a Conservation Careers Symposium in collaboration with the Defenders of Wildlife presented by Nate Hawley and Drew Barnett of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This in-depth program worked to demystify USAJOBS, and instruct attendees on the specifics of applying to Federal jobs. This covered resumé creation, to the General Schedule (GS) Scale and how to look for the right pathway through your credentials, as well as interview preparation. This was an invaluable program with generous speakers, who not only explained the confusing “black hole” of USAJOBS, but illustrated the opportunities that can be found there through personal stories and a real drive to help those in the audience.
Posted by Taylor Huang-Boutelle
Taylor is an incoming Senior at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is double majoring in World Literature and Feminist Studies, with a concentration in Law, Politics, and Social Change. Taylor is in the D.C. cohort for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (www.causeusa.org) and is currently a summer interns at the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, where she is focusing on development and fundraising, and will be developing the blog content for this summer. Taylor is passionate about issues of representation, coalition between underserved communities, and creating spaces for strength and solidarity around injustices through community activism and public policy. taylor.boutelle [at] capal [dot] org