24th Annual Gala

The CAUSE Annual Gala is the premier event for those interested in politics and community and boasts the largest attendance of APA elected officials. Attendees came together to celebrate the achievements of CAUSE and recognized those who have advanced the needs of the APA community. The gala also served as the largest fundraiser of the year for the organization. Funds raised will support the organization’s many programs and services, which include non-partisan voter outreach, training, and education programs as well as leadership development programs.

This year, we honored the 70th Speaker of the California State Assembly, Anthony Rendon, and Principal of Lam Consulting Group, Annie V. Lam, with the Partners in Public Service Award; John Kobara, Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at the California Community Foundation with the Community Championship Award; and Mr. Patrick Niemann, Managing Partner- Greater Los Angeles Ernst & Young with the Corporate Citizenship Award.

The theme for this year was “Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders.” As our country enters a new era of leadership, it is more important now than ever to empower the future leaders and change-makers of the APA community. It takes a community of passionate and committed advocates to mentor, nurture, and empower our next generation. All of the honorees and speakers of the night spoke to this.

Here are some of the highlights of the evening:

The Honorable Fiona Ma of the California Board of Equalization and Tami Bui of Southern California Edison served as the evening’s Mistresses of Ceremonies.


Congressmember Judy Chu delivered bold remarks about how 2017 has been a year of many historic election firsts for Asian American women, including U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, U.S. Congressmember Pramila Jayapal, and U.S. Congressmember Stephanie Murphy.


Congressmember Ed Royce praised the efforts of CAUSE, “I want to point out that [the people of CAUSE focus on] building up, mentoring, and helping those young people who need a little guidance on issues like how to connect, how to network– all the knowledge and skills!”

Assemblymember Rob Bonta expressed, “Our [Asian Pacific Islander] Legislative Caucus now has the largest number of members in its history. So we are sixteen API legislators strong… We are large and diverse, and we work on issues affecting our communities such as immigration reform, healthcare, and many more.”


CAUSE Executive Director Kim Yamasaki followed up by delivering the State of CAUSE, “Of course, there is still much, much more to be done in our community. Voter turnout rates are still at an all-time low. There are still so many who do not feel that they can voice their opinions, let alone lead. And that is why, now more than ever, it is up to us to empower anyone and everyone to vote, participate, and lead.”


“In politics, they say that you find out who your friends are after you lose an election…the first member of the California state legislature to reach out after my loss in 2014 was none other than Speaker Rendon,” Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi recounted as he and Assemblymember Ed Chau presented the Partners in Public Service Award to Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Annie V. Lam, Principal of Lam Consulting Group.


Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon spoke about his involvement with the Asian Pacific American community as he graciously accepted the Partners in Public Service Award.  He stated, “If you look at the API legislative caucus in Sacramento, it’s the API caucus that always has the best records on the environmental score card…This is a community that always stands up for its values, it has always ardently been supportive of core values that I share.”


Annie V. Lam spoke about the importance of moving forward as she accepted the Partners in Public Service Award.  She declared, “Tonight’s theme is empowering tomorrow’s leaders. It’s a very timely topic. Every day I read the news, and like you, I am depressed. Every day, I read something in the news that reminds me of mistakes I had read about in the history books…But tonight, I am reassured. CAUSE is the exact opposite of going backwards. CAUSE is all about tomorrow.”


Councilmember David Ryu stressed the importance of recognizing the work of organizations like CAUSE in shaping future leaders, “It’s organizations like CAUSE that have given me the opportunity to be where I am, not just myself, but for countless other current elected officials and future elected officials and all the students that go through your program.”


Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer John E. Kobara of the California Community Foundation shared significant moments of his family’s history as he accepted the Community Championship Award. He stated, “It is 75 years this week that buses rolled into Northern California and picked up my parents and their families to go to Poston, Arizona and to be incarcerated for 4 years in internment camps on executive order 9066 that FDR signed…and they emerged out of that process of 4 years without their possessions, but thinking about tomorrow.”


CAUSE Board Chair Charlie Woo expressed thoughts on the role of future generations, “For our generation, it has been about having our voice heard. For the next generation, it will be about hearing the different voices in the community, having the ability to bring the diverse opinions together and creating real change. For our generation, it has been about having a seat at the table. For the next generation, it should be about building the capacity and skills to take the seat at the head of the table.”


Lastly, Patrick Niemann, Managing Partner of Greater Los Angeles Ernst & Young accepted the Corporate Citizenship Award. He related, “At EY 2 of our top priorities are building and developing the highest performing teams, and building a better work world. CAUSE clearly shares these qualities: working hard to develop self empowered leaders to lead high performing teams that are poised to contribute so much to make our community and world better.”