Los Angeles, CA – On Thursday, April 18th, CAUSE held our 26th Annual Gala: “The Future We Define” at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
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 as well as leadership development programs.
Our theme this year was “The Future We Define.” As the Asian Pacific American community continues to grow, there is one thing that is clear: we cannot be silenced or ignored. Since our inception, hundreds of emerging leaders have become empowered to vote, participate, and lead. These are the faces of tomorrow and together we define the future we want to see.
As guests arrived for the evening, they had the opportunity to network with other attendees and place bids for the silent auction to help support CAUSE’s mission to empower the APA community through leadership development programming.
The dinner program kicked off with Los Angeles-based indie singer-songwriter Leo Xia, who performed several original songs and pieces centered on his Asian American identity with his band throughout the evening.
As the Masters of Ceremonies for the evening, CAUSE Board Members Wendy Greuel and Ralph Barnes welcomed the audience to CAUSE’s 26th Annual Gala.
Representing the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), Congresswoman Judy Chu and Congressman Mark Takano remarked on how much the APA representation has grown in terms of elected officials and highlighted CAUSE’s important role in the growth process. Congresswoman Chu remarked, “Tonight’s theme [The Future We Define] is so fitting for the work CAUSE has done.”
Next, California State Controller Betty Yee remarked on the state of Asian Pacific Americans. She spoke on the APA community’s collective responsibility to support and galvanize each other. She emphasized, “Our democracy is only as strong as each and every one of us tonight.” Controller Yee closed her statements with, “We are elevated...I want to congratulate all of you for the support of CAUSE and our mission.”
Afterwards, attending CAUSE board members, sponsors, elected officials, and nonprofit leaders were invited to the stage for the annual Portrait of Power to document the community’s growing civic leadership and power.
As the co-founder and Board Chair of CAUSE, Charlie Woo spoke on the importance of finding opportunities to help and elevate the APA community regardless of your sector or title. As long as the passion is there, anyone can help drive the change they wish to see. He shared with the audience, “Our future depends on our emerging leaders.”
After many years of service, Ron Won and Sandra Lau officially transitioned off the CAUSE Board of Directors this year. Charlie Woo and Kim Yamasaki thanked them for their contributions on stage and wished them the best in their future endeavors.
This year, we were proud to honor Kim Delevett, Community Affairs & Grassroots Regional Leader of Southwest Airlines, with the Community Partnership Award.
Kim shared her deep gratitude for community, on how it rescued her and made her who she is today. Her passion for community and identity led her to Southwest, where she has the opportunity to connect people and fulfill her purpose of building and fostering community.
Kim Yamasaki, Executive Director of CAUSE, shared the State of CAUSE. Kim shared the CAUSE’s leadership development approach and the type of leadership CAUSE alumni embody. She shared the story of how a student found her calling by meeting different APA leaders through the Leadership Academy program and how CAUSE structures programs in a way that tailors growth experiences to meet individual needs just as much as the collective. She stated, “Everyone’s leadership journey is their own. We don’t reinvent the wheel, we innovate it.”
Andrew Murphy and Olivia Lee, both alumni of the 2018 CAUSE Leadership Institute program, were invited to speak on how their experience at CAUSE affected their growth as leaders.
Andrew Murphy, Policy Deputy at the Office of LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, shared how his journey to better understand his own heritage and experiences through CAUSE’s leadership development programs drive his work, stating, “My explored identity as an Asian Pacific American fuels my policy work...My experiences in the Leadership Institute and Leadership Network have reaffirmed my personal belief that in the future we define as Asian Pacific Americans, it begins with the ‘We’”.
Olivia Lee, Public Policy Manager at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, talked about her longtime and widespread involvement in politics, and how CAUSE gave her the opportunity to connect with and learn from leaders she otherwise would have never had the the chance to meet. She thanked the audience for supporting the organization, and closed with “The future we define today pays homage to those who uplift us so we can uplift the leaders of tomorrow.”
This year, we were also proud to honor Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, with our highest distinction, the Norman Y. Mineta Legacy Award, presented by CAUSE Board Members Tammy Tran and Adam Ma.
Although Dr. Leana Wen was unable to attend the gala in person, Crystal Strait, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, was able to accept the award on her behalf, sharing “Thank you so much to CAUSE tonight for recognizing how powerful and American Dr. Wen’s story is.” Crystal expressed the ways current healthcare policy is restrictive for marginalized communities and the value CAUSE’s recognition has on Planned Parenthood’s efforts towards healthcare accessibility.
We’d like to express our appreciation for this year’s sponsors and supporters for making the CAUSE 26th Annual Gala a great success. CAUSE looks forward to many more years of developing leaders across all sectors to define the future we want to see!