Los Angeles, CA – On Friday, June 21st, CAUSE held the 2019 Leadership Academy (CLA) Kickoff at the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to introduce the CLA Class of 2019 interns.
The CAUSE Leadership Academy (CLA), is a nine-week paid internship program for college undergraduates that prepares the next generation to lead and represent the Asian Pacific American (APA) community.
Founded in 1991 as the California Asian American Student Internship Coalition (CASIC), CLA’s goal is to develop a pipeline of civic leadership for the APA community. As the fastest growing community in the United States, it is key that representation and leadership in the public, private, and non-profit sectors keep pace with our country’s changing demographics.
Through CLA, students are exposed to thought leaders, policymakers, and the issues of the day. Interns gain a deeper awareness of the civic issues facing the APA community in California. By the program’s end, students will have an understanding of how to engage in the politics of the day to affect the change they want to see in the world. Graduates of this program have gone on to run for political office and become leaders in politics, business, and nonprofits.
Read more about this year’s Leadership Academy interns here.
As the Master of Ceremonies, Erika Ngo, Assembly Fellow in the Office of California State Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer and previous 2017 CLA Alumnus, welcomed all attending friends, family, community leaders, and more in congratulating the inception of the 2019 CLA intern class.
Kim Yamasaki, Executive Director of CAUSE, reflected on her experience as a former Leadership Academy intern as she introduced the CLA program. She stressed the importance of equipping the next generation of leaders with the knowledge and network needed to reach their full leadership potential -- with the CLA program being the first step in showcasing that anyone can take part in the civic process.
Charlie Woo, Board Chair and co-founder of CAUSE, identified the significance of power and self-empowerment. “You can use power for bad things or worse, but more importantly you can use power to do positive things: influence (and) change society.” He wishes for the interns to come out of the CLA program with the experiences that will make them more defined leaders.
As the keynote speaker, Tami Bui, Associate Vice President for Government and Community Relations for California State University, Fullerton, emphasized the importance of active participation and how it allows us all to be part of the community. “There is more at risk than when we do not speak up.” She then went on to share her 3 F’s: failure, friends and family, and future. She encourages the CLA interns to take risks, emulate the people that inspire them, and to be intentional with their actions.
Next, Tammy Tran, Senior Manager for Community Engagement at Southern California Edison, recounts Edison’s support for the CLA program over the years. She is a proud supporter of the development of young leaders within the program and hopes that the interns learn the value of “leading life with a purpose, being mission driven, and the power to network.”
Audrey Soriano, Manager of Leadership Development and supervisor for the 2019 Class of CLA interns, further acknowledged the importance of the program, explaining that it provides them with the knowledge, access, and network to help them better advocate and serve their community. She then welcomed each member of the 2019 Leadership Academy class to the stage for their self-introductions.
Amber Chong, a rising sophomore at Scripps College, spoke about the importance of civically engaging with those that feel they are underrepresented in the APA community. She is especially excited to participate in voter outreach as she believes the voices of Asian Americans deserve to be heard.
Amber will be interning at the Office of Assemblymember Ed Chau.
Shekinah Deocares, a recent graduate from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, studied Business Politics and Law with a minor in Ethics, Public Policy, Science and Technology. She spoke about the difficulty of protecting workers rights without resources. As a Filipino American, she hopes to break down the barriers that prevent access resources for the Filipino community.
Shekinah will be interning at Pilipino Workers Center (PWC).
Olivia Dulai, a rising sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley planning to study Political Science with a minor in Conservation and Resource Studies, shared the importance of environmental protection to her, especially during a time when the climate is ever changing. She intends to pursue her passions and advocate for issues she cares about all the while reaffirming her place as a civically engaged Asian American.
Olivia will be interning at the Office of Senator Ben Allen.
Maamaloa Finau, a rising junior at Pierce College planning to study Political Science, shared the difficulty she faced growing up in a community where there was a lack of Pacific Islander leaders. As a result, she intends to increase civic engagement among the Pacfic Islander community because she knows that “...we are stronger together.”
Maamaloa will be interning at Los Angeles Walks.
Shumin He, a recent graduate of Haverford College who studied Anthropology, spoke about her aspirations to work for immigrant and refugee communities. She is excited to expand her network and learn about policies that impact marginalized communities.
Shumin will be interning at the Office of State Treasurer Fiona Ma.
Amy Ho, a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles studying Political Science with a double minor in Global Studies and Public Affairs, stressed the importance of immigrant rights and funding for public education. She is most excited to be in a space where her voice is heard and her views are valued.
Amy will be interning at the Office of Congressman Lou Correa.
Matthew Lee, a rising senior at the University of Southern California, is studying Communication with a minor in Communication Design and a Master’s in Law. He spoke about how sociology classes sparked his fascination of the intersection of both culture and policy, stating, “I am excited to be part of a space where I can witness policies being formed and cultures being changed.”
Matthew will be interning at the Office of Congresswoman Judy Chu.
Yanqing Lei, a rising freshman at Wellesley College planning to study Political Science and Gender Studies, spoke about her experience moving to America and experiencing firsthand what it’s like to work as an immigrant. Consequently, she hopes to ensure better opportunities for all immigrants.
Yanqing will be interning at the Center for Asian Americans United for Self Empowerment (CAUSE).
Nina Long, a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles studying Public Affairs with a minor in Asian American Studies, spoke about the connections she sees with transportation and the shared API identity. “More than just a way that we get around, transportation speaks about how we value equity, access, and the environment.” She hopes to ensure these values for future generations.
Nina will be interning at EV Connect.
Thanh Mai, a rising freshman at the University of California, Los Angeles planning to study Psychology, shared her excitement on continuing her passion for civics and also learning more about her self-identity, her community, and the APA community, sharing, “I look forward to being able to develop the skill set needed to bring about change in the APA community.”
Thanh will be interning at the Office of Congresswoman Grace Napolitano.
Lena Nguyen, a rising junior at the University of California, Los Angeles double majoring in Communications and Political Science, shared her aspiration to provide resources to communities that may not have them in the first place. Although growing up in a community without a predominantly APA space, she looks forward to seeing what she can bring to the table.
Lena will be interning at Southern California Gas Company.
Brandon Tabata, a rising freshman at the University of California, Riverside planning to study Mechanical Engineering, shared his passion in community service and leadership development. “In order to make a positive impact in our community, it takes a lot of hard work, patience, and dedication.”
Brandon will be interning at Transparent Arts.
Angela Wang, a rising senior at the University of Southern California, is studying International Relations and Global Economy with a minor in Web Technologies and Applications along with a Master’s in Law Studies. She spoke about her passions in sharing the stories of those in the API community that may otherwise be hidden.
Angela will be interning at IW Group.
Maya Wong, a rising sophomore at the University of California, Merced studying Human Biology with a Natural Science Education Minor with Teaching Credentials (NSEC), shared her opposition to being a bystander by taking part in the CAUSE internship. “I get to be a part of my community and see a change, rather than just looking at others change it for me.”
Maya will be interning at East West Players.
Amanda Yuen, a rising sophomore at Johns Hopkins University studying International Studies and Anthropology, spoke about the importance of diversity of opinions, world views, and perspectives. She intends to focus on storytelling and civic engagement and is excited to intern with Planned Parenthood where she can bridge her passions for civic engagement, feminism, and women’s rights.
Amanda will be interning at Planned Parenthood Pasadena & San Gabriel Valley (PPPSGV).
We look forward to an exciting summer with this year’s interns!