2019 Leadership Institute Fellows
Our program is highly selective and each member of our cohort is selected based on their leadership abilities, public service, and community involvement. All of our program fellows are identified and nominated by leading elected officials, select nonprofit partner organizations, or a CAUSE Board Member.
Field Representative, California State Senator Janet Nguyen
Augustine Han served as a Field Representative for the former State Senator Janet Nguyen in the 34th District. In this capacity, Augustine served as the Senator’s districtwide representative to constituents, government officials, industry associations, businesses, media outlets, non-profits, and community groups. In addition, Augustine conducted outreach to the API Community and also created a youth development program focusing on career development, educational attainment, and financial literacy for under-served high schoolers.
Prior to joining the California State Senate, Augustine worked in the environmental compliance and hazardous materials industry in Denver, Colorado. Augustine performed various functions, working with clients such as local school districts, The United States Geologic Survey, and The Air National Guard.
Born and raised in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, Augustine is a graduate of Crespi Carmelite High School and The University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a minor in Political Science.
Director of Impact in Schools, Teach for America
Bianca was a 2011 Los Angeles Teach For America corps member who taught high school special education in South L.A. She is currently a Director of Corps Member and Alumni Impact with Teach For America Los Angeles where she focuses on coaching and developing our special education teachers while also managing our Community Leadership Days. Prior to this role, she was a Manager of Teacher Leadership Development on the TFA-LA team for three years where she supported more than 100 first and second year teachers in reaching their vision for their classrooms in marginalized communities.
Bianca additionally teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in special education at Loyola Marymount University as a part-time faculty member. She worked on a national level as the co-chair of the Asian American and Pacific Islander Corps Member Summit which brings together about 100 first year AAPI teachers each summer to discuss what it means to be an AAPI educator in our diverse and stratified society. Bianca also was a Teach For All Learning Differences fellow where she partnered with East Asia Pacific regions to increase access for diverse learners.
Bianca received her B.A. in Public Health with a minor in Global Poverty and Practice at UC Berkeley and her Master's in Special Education from Loyola Marymount University.
Former Field Director of CA-25, California Democratic Party
Carmen Chang recently returned to Los Angeles after working in politics, federal government, and international development the last ten years. In 2018, she worked as the Field Director on the Katie Hill for Congress campaign in northern Los Angeles (CA-25). Prior to that, she was the Organizing Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in Nebraska.
From 2013-2016, Carmen served in the Obama Administration at Peace Corps HQ and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation in Washington DC. Before entering government service, she worked on President Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 in Virginia and Nebraska. In between the campaigns, Carmen served in the Peace Corps as an NGO & business advisor volunteer in Cameroon, Central West Africa from 2010-2012.
Carmen holds a Masters of Public Administration from George Mason University and bachelors in political science & global studies from UCLA. She is currently the co-founder and board treasurer of the Houston Alexander Foundation, based in Omaha, that focuses on hip hop and youth.
Carmen has currently traveled to all continents around the world except for Antarctica - her life goal is to visit every country in the world.
Consultant of Global Programs & Operations, Muppies: Muslim Urban Professionals
Carmille Lim is an independent consultant/director at Brooks Pacific, where she offers strategy + operations consulting services to startups and nonprofits. Her banner client is the Muppies: Muslim Urban Professionals, where she is guiding the global membership organization to scale its operations and programs.
Lim is a former nonprofit executive and has substantial experience in government relations, public policy analysis, media relations, capacity building, and organizational development. She most recently served as executive director of Common Cause Hawaii where she oversaw the state chapter’s lobbying, fundraising, and community outreach activities. Lim holds a Master of Public Policy: International Economics from the University of Michigan. She is currently based in Venice, and has danced ballet for over 20 years.
Programs Associate, Equality California
Carolyn Chu is currently a Program Associate at Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ civil Carolyn Chu is a Program Associate at Equality California, the largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, focusing on the elimination of tobacco-related disparities in LGBTQ communities. Her professional background includes nearly ten years of experience working in non-profits, primarily serving low-income populations and people experiencing homelessness. Carolyn’s work has always included a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens which aligns with her life-long desire to work for justice.
Outside of employment, Carolyn is active in the Asian Pacific American community. While living in Portland, Oregon, she volunteered with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) to plan cultural arts events that elevated Asian Pacific Islander (API) voices through arts and media activism. With APANO, Carolyn led a climate justice poster campaign that reflected how climate change affects the livelihoods and cultural traditions of API community members. Most recently, Carolyn joined API Equality-LA’s Steering Committee to support their work in strategic visioning and planning, as well as to grow her own skills in non-profit leadership.
Originally from San Francisco, Carolyn has spent seven of the last eight years living (the dream) in the Pacific Northwest. She graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Environmental Science and currently resides in Pasadena. In her free time, Carolyn enjoys creating art through various mediums and has dabbled in letterpress, printmaking, zines, comics, and illustration. Her newest craft and main hobby at the moment is making wheel-thrown functional pottery.
Christopher Teng Balmaseda
Vice President, Taiwanese American Professionals Los Angeles
Co-Founder & CFO, Arclyte Technologies, Inc.
Christopher Teng Balmaseda is the co-founder and CFO of Arclyte Technologies, Inc., a company providing service parts solutions for mobile devices. He currently serves as Vice President of Taiwanese American Professionals Los Angeles and sits on the board of the Taiwan United Fund and Alhambra Chamber of Commerce.
He received his undergraduate degree in Molecular & Cell Biology from the University of California at Berkeley and Master's degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics from the California Institute of Technology.
School Board Member, Mountain View School District
Principal Consultant, Clint Weirick Consulting
Clint Weirick was born and raised in San Luis Obispo County on California’s beautiful Central Coast where he continues to live today. As a half-Chinese American he has been active with the AAPI community his entire life, including his own local Central Coast Chinese Association where he has enjoyed being the Co-Emcee for the annual Chinese New Year for the past several years.
Clint has been engaged on community advancement in many roles with primary focuses on youth civic involvement, public health, mental health, substance use, K-12 education, higher education, business-friendly communities, and good government policy. He has served on the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce Legislative Action Committee, South County Chambers of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee, San Luis Obispo County Tobacco Control Coalition Chair, County of San Luis Obispo Drug and Alcohol Advisory Board Chair, and currently as Chair of the County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Board.
He is a proud graduate of numerous programs that has advanced his ability to better serve and make a positive impact in his regional community and throughout the state. Some of those programs include the APAICS National Leadership Academy, FBI Citizens Academy, National Recreation and Park Association Leadership Program, American Planning Association California Chapter-Central Coast Section’s San Luis Obispo County Citizens Planning Academy, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Citizens Academy, Leadership San Luis Obispo, Leadership North County of San Luis Obispo County, Visión Unida of San Luis Obispo County Community Building Institute, and USC’s Sol Price School of Public Policy Executive Education Forum for Policy for Local Leaders Program. He’s currently in the inaugural class of Leadership South County of San Luis Obispo County.
Over the years, he has been honored with numerous recognitions and commendations for his service, engagement, and leadership. These have included AAPI elected officials California State Board of Equalization Chair Emeritus and District 2 Member Fiona Ma, California State Controller Betty Yee, California State Treasurer John Chiang, and United States Senator Kamala Harris.
Public Affairs Communications Specialist, Southern California Edison
Denise Luu is a Communications Specialist on the Policy Engagement Team at Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the largest U.S. electric utilities, where she helps advance the company’s vision of a clean energy future by educating and influencing government and community leaders through content strategy and development.
Prior to joining SCE, Denise managed strategic communications campaigns for various labor unions, plaintiffs’ law firms and healthcare foundations at BerlinRosen. A media relations expert, she has extensive experience working with mainstream and ethnic media throughout California and across the country on a wide range of issues, including access to affordable health care, diversity and inclusion in Hollywood, education, environmental protection, and energy conservation.
She also previously served as an Account Executive at Imprenta Communications Group, where she spearheaded public relations campaigns for government initiatives, Fortune 500 companies, and environmental justice organizations. During graduate school, she was an intern at the U.S. State Department, where she successfully leveraged digital media to promote global initiatives.
A proud San Gabriel Valley native, Denise holds a master’s degree in Public Diplomacy from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Cal Poly Pomona.
Chair, Board of Directors, Taiko Community Alliance
Derek Oye is a nonprofit professional specializing in grant writing, program management, and strategic planning. Most recently, Derek was Health Systems Manager, Primary Care Systems, at American Cancer Society where he provided quality improvement consultation and cancer education to Federally Qualified Health Centers across Los Angeles County. He also co-lead American Cancer Society’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Employee Engagement Group, working with senior leadership to implement Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. Derek is passionate about healthcare rights for low-income and uninsured families, education opportunities for second chance youth, reducing hate crimes across Los Angeles County, and the promotion of arts and culture.
A fourth generation Japanese American born and raised in Torrance, CA, Derek is currently the Chair to the Board of Directors of the Taiko Community Alliance, a cultural arts service organization that empowers the people and supports the art of taiko (Japanese drumming). He’s also a member of the seminal North American taiko ensemble, Kinnara Taiko, and an active volunteer at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.
Public Finance Analyst, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group
Los Angeles Chapter President, Project by Project
Eileen Ung currently works at Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group covering Public Finance in the Wholesale & Investment Banking division. In her role she underwrites for clients in the public sector, spanning government, transportation, healthcare, housing, power/utilities, and higher education - managing a portfolio of accounts totaling $500MM+ in bank commitments.
As a first-generation college graduate and child of Chinese-Cambodian refugees, Eileen has demonstrated commitment to giving back to underserved communities, volunteering in Long Beach, East Palo Alto, and Los Angeles as a mentor and tutor over the past 10 years. At Project by Project, a nonprofit that aims to develop a pipeline for the next generation of API leaders in philanthropy, Eileen co-founded a pro-bono consulting initiative connecting multidisciplinary professionals with community nonprofits to address specific challenges across healthcare, education, immigrant rights, and domestic violence.
Eileen received a B.S. in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University.
Office Manager, Young Kim for Congress
Eunice publishes books at Mighty Fortress Press, and also writes children’s books. Her newest book is titled Mama, What If?. She also teaches Political Science at El Camino College. She organizes fundraising events for Asian American Freedom PAC, including selling out a “Crazy Rich Asian” movie screening fundraiser at the Del Amo Mall.
Her past experience consists of having fundraised for Young Kim’s congressional campaign 2018, which raised $2 million in the last election cycle. She has also fundraised and organized special events for the Korean American Coalition
Eunice has earned a Ph.D. in Political Science and International Relations from the University of Southern California, an M.S. from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, and a B.A. Public Policy and Management from the University of Southern California.
She is proud to be a South Bay girl from Torrance, CA.
AAPI Liaison, Field Deputy, Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor, Hilda Solis
Hoang lives in East Los Angeles and is currently serving as the AAPI Deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis. A graduate of UCLA's Political Science program, Hoang decided to work in public service and policy after his experience with politics and organizing on campus.
In his free time, Hoang tries to read his untouched stack of books, which he impulsively bought based solely on unrealistic expectations
Commissioner, California Healthcare Policy Commission
Jasmeet currently works as a full time Family Medicine Physician at a Federally Qualified Rural Health Clinic (FQHC) in Taft, California. She is among only three full-time physicians that provide care to a surrounding population of roughly 20,000 and is the only physician working at an FQHC providing care for the majority of Medi-Cal and uninsured patients.
She serves on the Board of Kern Regional Center and works closely with the Developmentally Disabled population of Kern County. She also serves as a Commissioner for the California Healthcare Policy Commission, which has given her the opportunity to bring her experiences to Sacramento and help form health policy and represent rural healthcare. Jasmeet was selected for and will soon start a Psychiatry Fellowship to receive the extra training to tackle the American mental health and substance abuse epidemic. Additionally, she works closely with pre-med students and has helped launch a mentoring / shadowing program in her community to help increase the healthcare workforce.
She loves to travel and has been able to help provide healthcare to many parts of the world including Africa, India, Central, and South America. She was born in Cleveland, Ohio but grew up in the Central Valley of California mostly in Delano.
Community Relations Associate, Stanford University Office of Government & Community Relations
Jason Galisatus currently serves as a Community Relations Associate with the Stanford University Office of Government and Community Relations, where he supports the university’s General Use Permit engagement efforts and monitors information concerning matters of current and proposed public policy that may impact the university's land holdings, which spans six contiguous local jurisdictions across 8,100 acres. Prior to joining Stanford, he served as an Account Executive at Ground Floor Public Affairs in San Francisco, helping his clients to achieve a broad spectrum of public-facing goals.
A longtime community advocate, Galisatus serves as the Acting Chair of the Redwood City Complete Streets Advisory Committee, as a member of the SamTrans Citizens Advisory Committee, and as a member of the Redwood City Education Foundation Board of Directors and the PenTV Board of Directors. He is the former chair of the Peninsula Stonewall Democrats and the San Mateo County LGBTQ Commission. With his partner Chris, Jason lives in his hometown of Redwood City, where he ran for City Council in the November 2018 election. His guilty pleasure is binge-watching telenovelas on Netflix.
Galisatus graduated with a B.A. in political science from Stanford University in 2015.
Senior Analyst / Planning Commissioner (Vice Chair), Southern California Edison
Jeffrey Lee currently works on the policy engagement team at SCE. In this role, Jeffrey works with local communities, civic leaders, and elected officials to help shape a clean energy future through sustainable energy policies.
Currently, Jeffrey is serving as the Vice-Chair of the Temple City Planning Commission where he helps direct the short and long range growth of the City through legislative and judicial functions. Jeffrey is also an ex- officio member of the Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Advisory Committee for the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments.
Working on policy issues that help move society and communities forward is something Jeffrey is passionate about. Throughout his work, he tries to live up to the Athenian Oath which states:
"We will ever strive for the ideals and sacred things of the city, both alone and with many; we will unceasingly seek to quicken the sense of public duty; we will revere and obey the city's laws; we will transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better, and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us."
Jeffrey is a graduate of University of California Irvine and Syracuse University.
Senior Director, Colliers International
Jingjing joined Colliers in 2016 to focus on Colliers capital markets, including leasing, buying/selling, and financing transactions. She lives and works in Greater Los Angeles for more than ten years and was born and raised in China. She speaks and writes Chinese (Mandarin).
Jingjing came to Colliers from Savills Studley where she dealt mainly in advising both domestic and international institutional investors on investing and financing transactions in LA, SF, Seattle, Boston, DC, and Manhattan. She worked with the team at Savills Studley and helped advising clients on approximately $1.5 billion of transactions across all major asset classes.
Before that, Jingjing spent four years in the debt and equity industry at Colony Capital, CorAmerica Capital, and George Smith Partners. She was instrumental in the underwriting, due diligence process, and closing of more than $900 million debt and equity transactions in commercial real estate assets, including bridge loans for value-add properties, long term fixed rate loans for stabilized properties, construction loans for condominiums and multifamily development, and joint venture for mixed use ground up development. After college, she helped the controller to manage the finances at a residential development firm on three joint venture development projects in Southern California. She currently lives in Culver City.
Policy & Research Analyst, Advancement Project California
JunHee serves as a Policy and Research Analyst within the Educational Equity team at Advancement Project California. As a multiracial civil rights organization grounded on furthering racial equity and economic justice, her work focuses on fostering policy and program opportunities to increase education equity for all children, particularly for children of color in low-income communities. Her current research and advocacy focuses on uplifting the assets and needs of California's diverse dual language learners in early care and education. JunHee comes from a background of extensive policy research in non-profit and international organizations.
Prior to joining Advancement Project California, she served as a Junior Research Consultant for the United Nations Development Programme Seoul Policy Center. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Public Policy Studies from the University of Chicago, and completed her Master’s Degree with Highest Honors in International Cooperation from the Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University. She currently serves on the Board for the Korean American Democratic Committee.
She resides in Koreatown and enjoys watching birthing videos on Instagram (@empoweredbirthproject) to support the movement to normalize birthing, empower women/mothers, and confront fear of childbearing!
Caseworker, Office of Congressmember Karen Bass
Kenneth has worked as a caseworker at the Office of Congressmember Karen Bass since 2016. His background is in social work, first obtaining his B.A. in Psychology from UC San Diego in 2011 and his Masters of Social Work degree from USC in 2016.
Kenneth’s first real taste of politics began when he interned for his current office as a graduate fellow in his senior year of his masters program. Prior to this, he had no experience in politics, nor any interest. However, the more he was involved, the more he realized the impact policy had on marginalized communities, including Asian Pacific Americans. The biggest wake up call happened during the Hillary Clinton campaign when she pandered for Asian American votes by drinking boba. This brought to light how little regard Asians had in the political arena. This inspired Kenneth to join the Korean American Democratic Committee (KADC) to empower the asian community through civic engagement and community organizing. He is now on the executive board of KADC and hopes to lead the effort in building a strong voting base for the next election cycle.
When Kenneth isn't politicking, he enjoys eating all over LA and hiking Griffith Park.
Community Coordinator, Consulate General of Israel in LA
Kyle Lee is currently a Community Affairs Director for a Foreign Mission based in Los Angeles. Kyle previously served as a Field Representative for Asm. Mike Gipson (AD 64).
He received his B.A in Political Science from California State University Dominguez Hills. He has deep roots in community building and civic engagement in the Asian Pacific Islander Community. He is the Vice-President of the Korean American Democratic Committee and also served as a United Nations Global Ambassador involved in environmental policy projects.
Senior Accountant, East West Bank
Melody Zhang is a CPA and Senior Accountant at East West Bank. She is responsible for the financial reporting and financial statement analysis for the bank’s major assets. Prior to this role, Melody worked for Ernst & Young LLP in the external audit practice where she audited financial service companies with revenues ranging from $60 million to $5 billion. Melody also managed staff auditors and lead various audit engagement teams to deliver high quality audit.
Melody received her bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance from University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management. She is currently pursuing an MBA degree at University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business. Melody is passionate about volunteering and she served as the United Way campaign co-chair at East West Bank and raised over $870,000 within two weeks.
Melody lives in the beautiful neighborhood of Pasadena. Melody has over 16 years of Kung Fu training experience from her mother, who was a professional Kung Fu athlete and national champion in China in 1980s.
Community Relations Manager, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network
Meredith Maimoni is fourth-generation Japanese American, and is committed to improving the health of Asian Pacific Islander (API) families and communities. Meredith serves as the Community Relationship Manager for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, the nonprofit leader in the fight against pancreatic cancer. She is responsible for fundraising, corporate engagement, government advocacy, and volunteer management in Indiana and Ohio.
Meredith has volunteered with Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, the Long Beach Japanese Community Center, and the Asian American Pacific Islander Health Research Group. She has organized galas, provided health service referrals to homeless people, and led a team of student researchers to investigate and publish findings on API health issues. She recently joined a US committee to support an NGO in Mongolia established to keep families together and prevent poverty and homelessness.
Meredith earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and minor in Music from University of California, Berkeley. She aspires to work in public health policy, creating and managing programs that promote healthy API families and communities in the US and abroad.
Project Manager ll, SoCalGas
Stephanie Cherng is a project manager at SoCalGas, the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, and leads the development and implementation of the program governance framework for one of the company’s major initiatives – a pilot project in which mobilehome park distribution systems are converted to safer and more reliable systems directly served by the utility. Additionally, through the AAPA Board Leadership Program, Stephanie was connected with the Asian American Drug Abuse Program (AADAP) and currently serves as a board member on its development committee.
Stephanie earned her Bachelor’s degree in English at the University of California, Los Angeles and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). A second generation Asian-American born and raised in Los Angeles, she is also an avid traveler who has visited all seven continents and continues to seek out opportunities to see the world and learn from diverse perspectives with the hopes of broadening the discourse on cultural experiences and interactions.
Field Representative, Office of Congressmember Jimmy Gomez
Steven Chow was born and raised in Los Angeles. He is a descendant of Chinese Cambodian refugees who escaped the Cambodian genocide as children. Currently, he works as a Field Deputy for a Member of Congress representing the Los Angeles area.
Prior to joining the congressional office, Steven was a legislative associate at a LA based affordable housing real estate development and government relations firm, where he advocated for landed use related issues. Steven was also a legislative assistant in Washington, D.C. for United Parcel Service (UPS) Corporate Public Affairs, where he handled governmental affairs issues and public relations crises on the national and international level.
Steven has worked on political and civil rights campaigns on the local, state, and national level, including advocating for immigration and education reform with the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC) and various API advocacy organizations. Additionally, Steven was an intern at the OCA National Center in Washington, DC and is currently Vice President of the Greater Los Angeles chapter of OCA. Steven graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor of Arts degrees in both Sociology and Political Science.
Staff Assistant, Office of State Senator Ling Ling Chang
Taylor Quan is currently a Staff Assistant at the Office of State Senator Ling Ling Chang (SD-29) where he manages constituent correspondence and covers the cities of La Palma and Cypress. As a Political Science undergraduate at California State University, Fullerton, he was and intern at the Office of Representative Ed Royce (CA-39) and was the secretary/treasurer for his university’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha (the National Political Science Honor Society). In addition, he was a member of the Intelligence Community Centers for Academic Excellence which is a program for students interested in working in the field of national security. He currently lives in La Palma where he grew up and went to high school. His hobbies include photography, with a particular focus on landscape photography. He looks forward to being an active voice in his community and helping facilitate meaningful change to better the lives of everyone.
Project Director, WE Empowerment Center
Xeres Villanueva is the Co-Founder and Project Director of WE Empowerment Center, a grassroots fiscal sponsorship organization and nonprofit incubator for local community projects in Los Angeles and beyond.
She graduated from Azusa Pacific University with degrees in English and Communication Studies. She is involved in community building projects such as Tuesday Night Cafe and various Christian social justice groups such as Jesus 4 Revolutionaries. She has been in the world of freelancing, small business and non-profits. Her interests are media and pop culture, cultural activism, liberation movements, economic empowerment and food.