This week we held our second Washington Leadership Program of 2015, with sold out attendance and distinguished civil leaders to help us better understand the Ecosystem of Advocacy and the tools and steps to advancing public policy in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities. This installment in the program expanded our definitions of identity, community and cooperation to better understand the ways we can work with all parties in order to create alliances on affinity and purpose. This work is key to passing legislation and policy to better serve not just the AAPI community, but all underserved communities.
Our first speaker was distinguished Congressman Charles Rangel of New York’s 13th district (pictured above), who spoke about intercommunity alliances, the hope for a better America, and the work he is doing today in his 23rd term in office to effect change. When asked about histories of conflict between AAPI and African American communities, he said it is not that we have a history of divisive issues between us, but that when groups are stuck in places with few options and nowhere to move and grow, tensions may build with no framework for a solution. He stressed the need for cooperative work between all groups as Americans in order to create solutions. Not just solutions for those in power, but which benefit all who believe in an America we may not have today, but can work to create.
Following Congressman Rangel was a panel discussion led by community activist and current Senior Government Affairs Advisor for National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (APACD) Melvin Tabilas. Our esteemed panelists included Kham Moua (Policy Associate Organization of Chinese Americans), Koustubh “K.J.” Bagchi, (Active Legislative Counsel, Office of Rep. Mike Honda), Krystal Ka’ai, (Executive Director, Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus), and Jason Tengco (Deputy Director, White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders). These panelists shared their expertise on policy issues and leadership on the Hill and in our communities. They have all done incredible work to advance AAPI goals, and taught the audience about the importance of working on finding the people to support and work with in all parties, to help those who need it the most, such as our veterans. The panel covered a diversity of experience and work done in D.C. by rising AAPI professionals, and helped the youth leadership to better understandthe processes to change things in politics today.
On Thursday we also had our Leadership Roundtable Lunch Series, with the leaders of the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders (WHIAAPI), Jason Tengco, Rebecca Lee (Communications Director and Senior Advisor for WHIAAPI, and a former CAPAL scholar and board member, who currently serves on our Advisory Council) and Bessie Chan (Advisor on Communications and Community Outreach, and Regional Adivsor for Regions III, VI, and VII). These young AAPI leaders shared their stories, their various backgrounds in both government, non-profit, and private sectors, as well as opening up the floor to the questions of current D.C. AAPI interns, which sparked such topics as the validity of the model minority myth, ways to develop professionally in Washington, and the rewards of a career in the federal government.
Join us next week for the Washington Leadership Program Session III: AAPI Women’s Health: A Discussion About Mental Health with Kelly Honda, who currently serves as the Policy and Membership manager at the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) where she works on education, health care, and Native Hawaiian issues and Dr. DJ Ida, who has over thirty-five years of experience working with Asian Americans, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) and has a strong commitment to the community at the local, state and national levels. On Thursday July 2nd, we also have our third LeadershipRoundtable Lunch Series with Jason Chung, the AAPI Field Director with the Republican National Committee.
Taylor Huang-Boutelle 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 under the D.C. program for the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (www.causeusa.org) and is currently one of the 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