I started off my Monday of Week 3 of the CAUSE Leadership Academy and stepped on a quick flight (thanks to Southwest!) to Sacramento, the center of California’s political universe! This week of the CAUSE Leadership Academy was truly a treat! I had the honor of participating in the CAUSE Leadership Academy’s Annual Capitol Legislative Conference, which was held from Monday, June 27 to Tuesday, June 28.
The Conference was an amazing whirlwind on many levels and allowed me to take a glimpse into the numerous opportunities that await passionate individuals at California’s capital.
The Conference’s first day consisted of exclusive meetings and discussions with Assembly members, legislative aids, lobbyists, consultants, and other important leaders in the capital.
The second day was the Asian Pacific Islander American Capitol Internship Day, hosted by the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus. We had the pleasure of meeting with panelists, participating in a mock hearing, and touring the California State Capitol with other interns from other APA organizations from across California.
The first day of the Conference was my most memorable experience of the Leadership Academy, so far, because it exposed me to the passion, teamwork, mentorship, empowerment, and compromise that are essential to a successful career in politics. In addition, each individual I spoke to was extremely caring and honest about their experiences in the world of politics.
The three meetings that impacted me the most are as follows:
We started off our stay in Sacramento with a hearty breakfast with Freddie Quintana, Legislative Aide at Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez’s capitol office. Freddie emphasized the importance of being involved in campaigns not only to become civically engaged but also to expand our network.
He also discussed the importance of compromise and mentioned how polarized America’s politics have been in recent years. Freddie dispelled some misconceptions about compromise by stating, “some people think compromising means losing, but it really comes down to a mutual understanding.”
From our meeting with Freddie, I witnessed the thought process of legislative staff and the kind of attitudes needed to succeed in Sacramento and California politics. Underlying our discussions about networking and compromise, it was clear that Freddie subscribed to the importance of eliminating barriers and treating others with humanity, which are important lessons I intend to implement in my life.
In the mid-afternoon, we had the honor of meeting with Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil Rodgers from the Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. She not only invigorated us with her vibrant personality and charisma, but also inspired us with her candid discussions about female minority empowerment and emphasized the importance of women working together to overcome social and gender norms that restrict their success.
Secretary Pasquil also empowered us (especially the women) to take initiative and ask for any kinds of opportunities we are passionate about. She discouraged competitiveness and encouraged mentorship, and she also embodied the idea of setting aside each other’s differences and treating each other with compassion to create more equality.
Our last speaker of the day was Assemblymember Young Kim of the 65th Assembly District. Assemblymember Kim possessed a very strong passion for the welfare and happiness of her constituents, which was apparent when she discussed the legislation she introduced.
Assemblymember Kim was also very honest about the challenges she faced as a Republican and member of the minority party in the Capitol.She stated that “regardless of party affiliation, a healthy debate is what Californians need and deserve.” I admire how Assemblymember Kim refrains from judging or labeling individuals based on their political identity, and I hope to emulate her ability to be inclusive and considerate towards those who have different beliefs.
The Annual Capitol Legislative Conference was valuable because I experienced a multitude of perspectives about Californian politics and it provided many topics for personal reflection. Freddie, Secretary Pasquil, and Assemblymember Kim’s separate but overarching remarks on cooperation, compromise, and compassion resonated with me. The political polarization in America has increased my appreciation for their remarks, and I hope to become a more compassionate and cooperative leader myself in the next six weeks.