2016 Leadership Academy Kickoff Recap

 In Leadership Academy

On June 17, 2016, CAUSE hosted the 25th Annual Leadership Academy Kickoff at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Elsa Tung, Policy and Research Manager at Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust and Leadership Academy Class of 2002 alumna, served as the mistress of ceremonies. During her welcome remarks, she emphasized how transformative the program had been in her life. She conveyed that the program fostered her commitment to serve the community, stating that “[the Leadership Academy has continued] to grow and evolve over the past 24 years. However, there is one thing that remains unchanged—its focus on giving back.”

CAUSE Board Chair Charlie Woo shared the Leadership Academy’s history as well as the importance of the program. “Our number one priority for over 24 years is to make sure that we have an excellent group of civic leaders coming out of the next generation… we invest in you because the community needs leaders like you,” said Woo.

“I am so inspired by their fearlessness in leading this community forward,” Kim Yamasaki, CAUSE Executive Director, shared about the interns. Yamasaki also thanked the program’s supporters for believing in the work CAUSE does to develop the next generation of civic leaders.

Tammy Tran, Senior Community Liaison at Southern California Edison and CAUSE board member, shared her company’s support of civic engagement and leadership development’s programming. Tran remarked, “To the CAUSE interns, I really advise to take advantage of the next 8 weeks, because it is the next 8 weeks that is going to change your lives.”

Annie Yee, President of Chinese American Citizens Alliance- Los Angeles Lodge (CACA- LA), welcomed the Class of 2016 Leadership Academy interns. CACA-LA has been the program’s longest sponsor to date.

The Honorable Mike Eng, Vice President of the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District, delivered the event’s keynote speech. He commended CAUSE’s dedication to develop a leadership pipeline for the APA community. During his remarks, he challenged each and every single program participant to be of service to the community.

Tanya Edmilao, CAUSE Leadership Academy-LA Program Coordinator, and Joshua Alegado, CAUSE Leadership Academy-DC Program Coordinator, detailed the program’s components and introduced the class of 2016 Leadership Academy interns.

Program participants followed with their personal introductions and what they hoped to gain from the program.

“Growing up, I have experienced firsthand the struggles and joys of navigating two burning questions- who am I? And what does it mean to be Asian American? …The next step of my journey is how to serve the APA community through public service.” -Blessing Haeeun Jee, 2016 Leadership Academy, Washington, D.C. Cohort, Rising Junior at Harvard University, Intern with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“CAUSE is an organization that I am passionate about because their mission parallels and aligns with my personal mission – to advocate for and empower communities of color and ensure their voices are heard in the political system.” – Edwin Saucedo, 2016 Leadership Academy, Washington, D.C. Cohort, Rising Senior at University of Southern California, Intern with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

“After meeting [those who] fought for their representation and awareness of the APA issues, my life was inspired for the better.” – Zenni Duong, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Recent Graduate of University of California, Davis, Intern with the Office of U.S. Congressmember Judy Chu

“Learning for the sake of doing and doing for the sake of learning…I believe that the CAUSE Leadership Academy embodies this ideal perfectly as it forces us out of our comfort zone to learn from new experiences.” – Kevin Hsu, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Sophomore at Claremont McKenna College, Intern with the Office of California State Treasurer John Chiang

“This summer, I plan to take one step further by learning and internalizing the skills that I need in order to create real tangible change and inspire [others] to do the same.” – Sabina Li, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Junior at University of California, Los Angeles, Intern with the Office of California State Controller Betty Yee

“CAUSE provides the unique opportunity to practice Asian American activism in the professional field of public policy. I really hope, in the future, to combine the grassroots movement and public policy changes to represent our diverse community.” – Jess Liu, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Junior at University of Michigan, Intern with the Office of U.S. Congressmember Adam Schiff

“When I heard about the CAUSE Leadership Academy and its mission in uplifting the APA community, I knew this would be an invaluable opportunity for me to expose to the political process and to understand how I can be a leader who creates positive change in APA community through civic engagement.” – Eric Phung, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Senior at Yale University, Intern with the Office of California State Assemblymember Ed Chau

“I am grateful for opportunities like the CAUSE Leadership Academy to develop my professional skills and gain some community organizing experience necessary to becoming a more informed advocate and effective catalyst for change in the APA community.” – Phoebe Shen, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Senior at Scripps College, Intern with the Office of California State Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez

“I am excited to be a part of the Leadership Academy because it combines my desire to empower the Asian American community with my interest in law and public service.” – Joanna Tien, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Junior at University of California, Los Angeles, Intern with the Office of U.S. Congressmember Grace Napolitano

“Growing up, I did not have a lot of role models that look like me- Asian, female and low income… I want to challenge the notion that Asians and women cannot be leaders.” – Xuan Tong, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Rising Junior at University of California, Riverside, Intern with the Office of Los Angeles Unified School District Boardmember Scott Schmerelson

“Through [my office internship with CAUSE], I was able to witness firsthand the power of community-based organizations and the influence that the local governments have on people’s daily lives.” – Erika Zheng, 2016 Leadership Academy, Los Angeles, CA Cohort, Incoming Freshman at University of California, Berkeley,  Intern with the Office of City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Aki Leung, CAUSE Director of Programs, closed the program by thanking the CAUSE Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, friends and family for their support.

A huge thank you to all our sponsors, speakers, and attendees for making this program successful!

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