Washington Leadership Program

Washington Leadership Program

CAPAL WLP 2024 Flyer (1)

About

Through weekly sessions over the summer, the Washington Leadership Program introduces students to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) leaders in public service who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement. Through panel discussions and participatory activities, this free program served over 220 individuals in prior years.

Our 2024 Washington Leadership Program series is made possible through the generous support of the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs (MOAPIA).

This year’s theme is, “Empowering Our Voices”. Through conversations with community advocates and public service leaders, attendees can learn about various ways to become involved in the public sector and be inspired to make change and uplift the voices of AANHPI communities. 

This event series is free and open to the public. In-person attendees will have the opportunity to meet other DC interns, ask panelists questions, and receive free dinner.

RSVP for CAPAL’s 2024 Washington Leadership Program here or register and learn more about individual sessions below. RSVPs will be on a first come, first serve basis, up to the first 50 registrants per session. There will be a waitlist and standby line at every session at the in-person session venue.

Venue Info

CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program Series will take place at multiple venue locations in Washington, DC. Please RSVP here for updates on location.

Session Locations 

June 12 | WLP 1: University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

June 26 | WLP 2: USDA, 1278 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024 (Visitors must enter via Jefferson Dr and bring a valid photo ID) **Deadline to RSVP here is 5 pm Tuesday, June 25th for in-person attendees. If you RSVP afterwards we will share a Zoom link. USDA does not take walk-in registration**

July 10 | WLP 3: University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

July 17 | WLP 4: U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center, First St SE, Washington, DC 20515

July 24 | WLP 5: University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

July 31 | WLP 6: University of California Washington Center, 1608 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036

**Registration for virtual attendees will close at 3:00 pm ET on the day of the session. If you RSVP later, please tune into our Youtube channel here to watch our livestream**

Transportation/Parking

  • Please RSVP to receive updates on transportation/parking.

Event Schedule

All WLP sessions are 6:00-8:00 ET with free dinner served at 5:30 pm ET. All sessions will consist of a panel discussion and audience Q&A, followed by optional networking and mingling afterwards with speakers and attendees.

  • Registration & Dinner: 5:30-6:00 pm ET
  • Panel Discussion and Q&A: 6:00-7:30 pm ET
  • Networking & Mingling: 7:30-8:00 pm ET

CAPAL Event Media Waiver

By registering to any of our Washington Leadership Program 2024 sessions, you agree to CAPAL’s media waiver.

Check the links below or sign up for our mailing list and follow us on X, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram for the latest updates on our 2024 WLP season!

2024 Washington Leadership Program Sessions

This session will discuss topics surrounding how to keep oneself politically literate, how to weed out fake news, and how to enter in the public service sphere as a student/young professional.

Moderator

Kolby Keo | Board Chair, CAPAL 

Kolby Keo (he/him) is a director on the international affairs team at FGS Global. Son and grandson of Cambodian refugees, Kolby proudly worked as a legislative aide for Congressman Alan Lowenthal helping serve one of the largest Khmer communities outside of Cambodia. He previously led stakeholder engagement for the University of California Washington Program (UCDC) and served as an appointed city commissioner for his hometown, Garden Grove, California. He is a past president of the global nonprofit Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), served as board secretary for the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of DC, and continues to serve as a Fellows Trustee for the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS). Kolby received his BA from UC Irvine and is a proud transfer alum from Orange Coast College, where he served as student body president, district trustee, and held regional and statewide offices advocating for California’s community college students.

Panelists 

Mary Tablante | Project Manager, AAPI Strategy 

Mary Tablante is communications professional with ten years of experience advocating for AANHPI communities. She serves on the AAPI audience strategy team at AARP’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, working on projects and campaigns that empower the 50+ AAPI community and their families. Previously, Mary was the assistant director of communications at the civil rights organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC where she planned and created digital advocacy campaigns and messaging ranging from protecting voting rights, combating xenophobia, and more. Mary has also covered AAPI issues and stories as a freelance reporter and journalist. She served on the board of CAPAL from 2016 to 2018.

 

Eesha Bhave | Program Officer, Gender and Reproductive Equity Grantmaking, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies

Eesha Bhave serves as a Program Officer with Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, supporting the Gender and Reproductive Equity grantmaking portfolio. She is committed to improving access to safe reproductive health care and building equitable and dignified workplaces for all. Prior to joining Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Eesha worked at Futures Without Violence, providing training and technical assistance to a broad range of organizations that serve survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She has also worked in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as an appointee under the Obama Administration providing logistical and strategic support for the front office of the agency. Experiences in the nonprofit and federal government sectors have cemented her interests in gender equity work from a policy and programmatic lens. Eesha holds a Master’s of Public Affairs from Brown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Studies from American University. When she is not working at Schusterman Family Philanthropies, you can find her practicing yoga, volunteering for state and national campaigns, and daydreaming about getting a dog one day.

 

Areeba Haider | Senior Executive Administrator and Research Manager, National Partnership for Women & Families

Areeba Haider is the Senior Executive Administrator and Research Manager at the National Partnership for Women & Families, where she supports research for President Jocelyn Frye and the Partnership’s cross-cutting priorities. Prior to her role at the Partnership, she was a Policy and Data Analyst at the Georgetown Center for Poverty and Inequality, where she conducted policy research and data analysis on projects related to market power, health and human services, and racial equity. She was also previously a research associate with the Center for American Progress Poverty to Prosperity team, supporting research on vital anti-poverty programs including SNAP and the Child Tax Credit. When she isn’t working, she enjoys attending concerts, buying cookbooks, and taking the scenic route.

 

Thao Tran | Supervisory Program Manager

Thao Tran has over 15 years of federal government experience, focused on strategic planning, federal budgeting, monitoring and evaluation, and advocacy with Congress and the media. She is a trained facilitator in public governance, Tribal consultations, inclusive leadership, and community engagement. She has served as the Deputy Public Diplomacy Chief for the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt, Germany, where she oversaw public diplomacy through various educational, cultural, and media engagement programs to support U.S. foreign policy goals and objectives.

From 2017 to 2021, she directed the budget, performance, and accountability of a $1.3 billion Department of Interior (DOI) program administered on Native American tribal trust lands and DOI-managed public lands, national parks, and refuges. From 2010 to 2017, she served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where she led capacity development of partner countries and local entities and developed innovative partnerships to advance foreign assistance programs in Egypt, Uganda, and the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.

Born in Vietnam, Thao immigrated to Houston, Texas at a young age and graduated with a BA and MPA from the University of Texas-Austin. She was named a 2015 Fellow of the International Career Advancement Program (ICAP) and served on the board of DOI’s Federal Asian Pacific American Council (FAPAC) and the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL). In March 2020, she succeeded in receiving the U.S. Office of Personnel Management certification for non-competitive eligibility to the Senior Executive Service following completion of DOI’s SES Career Development Program. She is enthusiastic about developing and empowering people and organizations, and her leadership values are driven by collaboration, learning, and adaptive management.

 

Jeremiah Azurin | 2019 CAPAL Scholar

Jeremiah Azurin is a 2019 CAPAL Scholar alumnus from Washington, DC. He graduated with honors in 2020 after studying Computer Science, Art, and Psychology at Harvard University. Jeremiah joined the Foreign Service later that year and has served in Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkmenistan as a Diplomatic Technology Officer at the U.S. Department of State. Now he’s based in Mumbai, India with his chihuahua sidekick, Timon.

 

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

This session will revolve around sustainability initiatives, particularly in the agricultural field, and how it pertains to AANHPI food security and sovereignty.

Opening Remarks

Kenya Nicholas | Deputy Director of Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Ms. Kenya Nicholas assumed the duties of Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in October 2012. Her primary responsibilities are executive level cross-agency collaboration to plan and coordinate outreach efforts in underserved and veteran communities, design strategies and communication plans to inform the masses and the communities about USDA initiatives and establish partnerships with higher education institutions and nonprofit/community-based organizations to achieve strategic goals.

During her 32+ years of service, Ms. Nicholas previously served as a Supervisory Grants Manager, where she coordinated outreach efforts with grantees to maintain open lines of communication on funding opportunities, events, and to keep stakeholders abreast on the latest USDA programs and services. She also served as a Loan Specialist with Rural Development within the Rural Utilities Service as well as the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. She attended Strayer University in Alexandria, Virginia and is a military spouse and Florida nnative and who currently lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

 

Sanah Baig | Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics, U.S. Department of Agriculture 

Sanah Baig has served USDA across two Presidential administrations. She was appointed by President Biden to serve as the Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE) in November 2022. In her role as Deputy Under Secretary, Baig leads the management of the more than $4 billion USDA Science enterprise responsible for ensuring U.S. agriculture’s success through the advancement of science, technology, and innovation. Under Baig’s leadership, REE is focused on increasing research and extension support for underserved communities and strengthening partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions, advancing precision nutrition research in support of more equitable health outcomes, and positioning agricultural transformation as a fundamental solution to fighting the climate crisis.

Prior to this role, Baig served for one and a half years as the REE Chief of Staff. Before returning to federal service in 2021, Baig served for three years as Chief of Staff for the global nonprofit the Good Food Institute. She also served as Program Director at the National Association of Counties in Washington, D.C. Baig worked at USDA for six years during Obama Administration, in a variety of capacities including serving as an advisor in the Office of the Secretary, Rural Development, and the Marketing and Regulatory Programs (MRP) mission area.

Baig started her federal career at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) after working at the Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Woodbridge campus. She is a proud D.C. resident and graduate of the University of Virginia.

 

Panelists 

Caitlin Balagula | Special Advisor, Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture 

Caitlin Balagula currently serves as Special Advisor in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Prior to USDA, Caitlin worked for the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. With a BA in Psychology, Caitlin has also contributed to food and nutrition policy development for a former Brooklyn Borough President and New York State Senator. Her leadership and passion for sustainable and equitable food systems are at the heart of her efforts to drive meaningful change. She loves jigsaw puzzles, bachata dancing, and tofu.

 

Mitch Heidenreich | Senior Legislative Assistant, Representative Jill Tokuda 

Mitch Heidenreich serves as a legislative staffer for Congresswoman Jill Tokuda of Hawai‘i. He is the policy lead for energy, transportation, tax, and environment issues and leads the Congresswoman’s Agriculture Committee work. Previously, Mitch was a policy staffer for Congressman Ed Case and worked at the American Council of Life Insurers. He graduated from Willamette University and is from Honolulu, Hawai‘i.

 

Elaine Zhang | Policy Analyst, House Committee on Agriculture – Minority

Elaine Zhang, currently a Policy Analyst for the House Committee on Agriculture, is deeply passionate about food security and agriculture. She applies this passion to her work on urban agriculture, local food systems, and nutrition policies.

Prior to joining the House Agriculture Committee, Elaine was in the 28th class of Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows, where she worked to address the root causes of hunger and poverty across the United States.

Elaine holds a B.A. from UCLA, majoring in Linguistics and Asian Languages and Cultures, with minors in Food Studies and Environmental Systems and Society. As a native of Stockton, CA, she understands the unique challenges faced by AANHPI communities and is committed to creating a more equitable food system for all.

 

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

This session will focus on topics and issues centering around economic disparities within the AANHPI community. Topics such as job security in the recent economic climate, as well as navigating the various career pathways and sectors within public service, will be discussed.

Moderator

Denise Lew | Executive HRO Leader Coach, Cognosante LLC; Board Member, CAPAL  

Ms. Denise Lew (she/her/hers) is a US Air Force veteran who retired as a Colonel from the military after serving 26 years as a healthcare administrator. She is board certified and a Lifetime Fellow (LFACHE) in the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) and past chair of the ACHE’s Asian Healthcare Leaders Forum (AHLF). After retiring from the military, she spent 10 years as a healthcare consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP, and supported multiple projects for the Military Health System, specializing in health plan operations, strategic planning, quality management, and patient safety. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she lived in Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Utah and in the Azores, Portugal, before settling in the Washington DC area. During her time at Deloitte, Denise was actively involved in several firm initiatives, including recruiting, the Experienced Hire Initiative, and military veteran transition programs, as well as a wide variety of inclusion activities, such as the firm’s Federal Inclusion Council and the Armed Forces and Asian Business Resource Groups. Denise is also an active member of the Board of Admissions and the Community Affairs Committee of the University Club of Washington DC. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a BA in Health Arts and Sciences, and earned an MPA from California State University, East Bay. She is a proud single mom of her daughter, Leslie, who currently serves on active duty as a Navy Surface Warfare officer and is a 2013 graduate of the United States Naval Academy and 2020 MBA graduate of the Wharton Business School.

 

Panelists

Emily Gee | Senior Vice President for Inclusive Growth, Center for American Progress

Emily R. Gee is the senior vice president for Inclusive Growth at the Center for American Progress. In her role, she oversees economic policy, health policy, and the Women’s Initiative, guiding research, policy development, and advocacy. Previously, Gee was an economist at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama White House. Gee holds a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University and an A.B. in government from Harvard College. She is originally from Washington state.

 

Nahida Uddin | Director of Narrative & Communications, National CAPACD

Nahida (She/Her) is the Director of Narrative & Communications at National CAPACD, a coalition of nearly 100 community-based organizations that serve low-income Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AA and NHPI) communities to advance equity and create healthy, vibrant neighborhoods. Originally from NYC, she worked for several years as a Community Organizer at Chhaya CDC. Nahida’s commitment to justice is rooted in her own experiences growing up in a working-class Bangladeshi Muslim community in Brooklyn. She has a BA in History & International Studies from Fordham University and an MA in South Asian Studies from Columbia University.

 

Stevie Marvin | Research Assistant, Economic Policy Institute (EPI), Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE) 

Stevie Marvin is a research assistant with the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy (PREE). They joined EPI in January 2023 after completing their undergraduate degree at American University, where studied Economics, American Studies and Transcultural Studies. They are originally from Seoul, Korea and Honolulu, Hawai’i, and their roots inform their passion for racial and economic justice, and decolonial politics.

 

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

This session will feature panelists from the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, discussing topics such as NHPI history, data disaggregation, etc., as it pertains to Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander identity.

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

The final session will discuss cross-community building initiatives between various BIPOC communities. Topics such as cross-community coalition building and the nuances that exist when building connections both within and outside of the AANHPI community will be discussed, as well as avenues in which to uplift all communities.

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

This session will center around the 2024 elections and cover topics surrounding: AANHPIs as a voter bloc, the various career pathways to get involved in the electoral process and political organizing, as well as addressing how to mobilize voters to show up for their community in the current political climate.

More About The Washington Leadership Program

The Washington Leadership Program (WLP) provides a space for young AANHPI students interning in Washington, D.C. to come together, build community, and explore their heritage within the context of public service. Through six sessions over the summer, WLP introduces students to AANHPI public service leaders who can inform and inspire students’ own civic engagement.

The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) seeks to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline. We envisions a future with equitable AANHPI representation throughout all levels of government and public service.


By registering for CAPAL’s Washington Leadership Program, you give permission to be recorded or photographed during the session. Food provided at this event may contain nuts, dairy, gluten, and other allergens. Vegetarian options will be available.

Learn More About Our WLP Series

The Washington Leadership Program gave me valuable insight to various aspects of our nation’s politics and gave me the chance to meet several inspirational individuals. Being a part of the CAPAL family made this summer memorable.

-Sara Yang, University of Georgia—Food Surveys Research Group, Agricultural Research Service, USDA

Leave Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *