Leadership Institute Session #1


Monterey Park, CA – CAUSE held the first Leadership Institute session of 2019 at the SoCalGas Learning Center in Monterey Park.

The CAUSE Leadership Institute (CLI) is a community leadership and advocacy training certificate program for high-potential professionals with seasoned leadership experience and a passion for serving the needs of the APA community in California. Participants complete the program armed with the skills and connections vital to advocate for the APA community. Graduates of this program have gone on to change the civic landscape in the region through elected office and leadership roles in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Our program is highly selective and each member of our cohort is selected based on their leadership abilities, public service, and passion for community involvement. All of our program fellows are identified and nominated by leading elected officials, select nonprofit partner organizations, or a CAUSE Board Member.

Read more about this year’s Leadership Institute cohort here.

The first presentation focused on a Civic Overview & Snapshot of API Civic Engagement with Raphael Sonenshein, Executive Director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles. He went over the unique geography of Los Angeles and the difficulties with APA voter turnout. When asked how APA issues can get more attention, Raphael responded, “Vote in large numbers, and get a reputation for voting in large numbers…The reputation is where the power comes from.”


Next, the fellows heard from past alumni of the Leadership Institute program: The Honorable Thomas Wong, Board President of the San Gabriel Valley MWD; Jenifer Harris, Prevention Coordinator at Behavioral Health Services Inc., and Olivia Lee, Public Policy Manager at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

The alumni panel shared how to make the best of the 6-month long program, and encouraged the fellows to work together to uplift each other. They also answered questions from the cohort about program details and best ways to approach the cohort fundraising project.


After lunch, Charlie Woo, Board Chair of CAUSE, and California State Senator Maria Elena Durazo spoke on the topic of Working Across Communities.


Charlie shared that his involvement in the community stems from wanting to use his connections and resources to uplift the next generation. He stated, “The next generation of leaders is the one who can make a connection and create change.”


Senator Durazo also shared how she became involved in the Labor Movement because it was essential for her to do work that helps people who work everyday to get where they deserve to be. She emphasized the importance to hold a responsibility to our communities, stating, “We can’t just think of ourselves and move forward…You cannot move forward selfishly.”

The fellows were then given an overview of CAUSE through a prerecorded video by Kim Yamasaki, Executive Director of CAUSE. Kim introduced CAUSE’s mission to empower the community through leadership development programs, such as Leadership Institute, by providing the necessary knowledge, access, and network needed to for young leaders to reach their full potential.

Afterwards, Haidee Pan, Director of Marketing & Communications at CAUSE, invited the fellows to participate in the “Rice Bowl” Activity, which reinforced how politics impacts nearly every aspect of our lives reminded the fellows to always look at the bigger picture. Lastly, Adam Hsu, Director of Programs at CAUSE, went over the Leadership Institute program in greater detail, including outlining the program’s mission and cohort expectations.


Afterwards, the 2019 Leadership Institute fellows gathered at Brew Kitchen Bar in Monterey Park for a welcome reception. Attending guests included friends and family of the fellows, alumni of the Leadership Institute, and other members of the CAUSE network.

We look forward to working with our 2019 Leadership Institute fellows!