Capitol Conference in Sacramento


On June 27 and June 28, 2016, the CAUSE Leadership Academy – Los Angeles interns traveled to the California State Capitol to participate in the annual Asian Pacific Islander Internship Conference to gain a deeper understanding of politics. The Leadership Academy interns engaged with top-notch speakers from all branches of government. The interns met with legislators, political staffers, think tank staff, commissioners, and lobbyists.


First, the interns had the opportunity to speak with Freddie Quintana, a Legislative Aide to Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez. Quintana candidly recounted his path to the Capitol. He emphasized the importance of building a professional network of supportive individuals who will help guide you through your professional careers.


Next, the interns went to the Sacramento headquarters of the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), one of the most reputable non-profit, non-partisan think tanks in California. They had an intimate discussion with Director of Government Affairs Deborah Gonzalez, Government Affairs Associate Kellie Longo, and Research Associate Brandon Martin. The PPIC staff underscored PPIC’s mission of informing and improving public policy decisions through evidence-based research.


Their lunch time roundtable discussion underscored the importance of APA civic leadership and they had the opportunity to meet with:

  • Mandy Lee, Legislative Advocate, Platinum Advisors

  • Bill Wong, Political Consultant, Bill Wong LLC

  • Andrew Medina, Policy Manager, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California

Bill Wong reflected how as a lobbyist, “everyone needs to perform to the best of their abilities, even if it’s with people from the other side of the aisle or people you don’t agree with. That’s the only way that the best policies are going to be made.”


Later that day, the cohort spoke with Evan Corder, the Legislative Director for Assemblymember Rob Bonta. He invigorated the idea of student engagement in the policy process.


Later that afternoon, the cohort had the opportunity to meet with Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil Rodgers from the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

She generously shared her insights on the inner workings of the Governor’s office and divulged some advice to the interns on the importance of coalition building—especially in the APA community. She encouraged, “We have to remember to bring others along. It’s not about competition; if we don’t support one another, another group will pass us because we aren’t organized.”


The first day of the Annual Capital Conference ended with a meeting with Assemblymember Young Kim. She imparted: “regardless of party affiliation, a healthy debate is what Californians need and deserve.”

The following day was filled with just as many stellar speakers who shared valuable insight and experiences with the interns.

The cohort learned about ways to get involved from Capital Fellow Bijan Mehryar, currently working for Senator Jeff Stone.


Assemblymembers Ed Chau and Evan Low shared their insight on the importance of political participation.

During the Third House & Advocates Panel, the interns had a chance to hear from Legislative Advocate Mandy Lee from Platinum Advisors, Director of Government Affairs Angie Manetti from the California Retailers Association, California Policy Manager Andrew Medina from Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California, Policy Advocate Jith Meganathan at Western Center on Law & Poverty, and Assistant Director Jai Sookprasert at California School Employees Association.

As advocates, the speakers explained their role in policy-making. Mandy Lee reflected on one of her core values as an advocate: “Look at policy through the lens of what is possible. As a lobbyist you have a responsibility to make policy that is beneficial to the people of California.”


The interns wrapped up the conference with a taste of the legislative process through participating in a mock committee hearing on AB1726, Accounting for Health & Education in API Demographics.

The CAUSE Leadership Academy is generously supported by:

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