Washington Leadership Program 2012: APA Leaders of Today, Inspire the APA Leaders of Tomorrow

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August 31, 2012

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to MYDOSTI.COM

WASHINGTON DC — The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) is a dynamic 23-year old organization.

August 31, 2012

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to MYDOSTI.COM

WASHINGTON DC — The Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL) is a dynamic 23-year old organization.

A charitable and educational organization—501(c) (3) — CAPAL is dedicated to building leadership and public policy knowledge within the Asian Pacific American community.

Christopher Lu, White House Cabinet Secretary: “Whatever task is given to you, do it well… Do the little thing well and the big things will come to you."

CAPAL has served as the leading organization promoting Asian Pacific American (APA) participation and representation in public service. It has promoted the interests and success of the APA community at large.

CAPAL 2012: Members and Board of Directors (Photo-credit: William Kim)

Committed to building the next generation of leadership from within the APA community, CAPAL has, since its beginning, each summer, organized a seven-session leadership training program for interns and professionals in the nation’s capital called the Washington Leadership Program (WLP). The format of WLP sessions ranged from panel discussions to policy debates among experts.

Asians are now the United States' largest group of new immigrants. Asians in the United States are a well-educated group that tends to have more college degrees, a higher annual household income, and greater wealth than the overall U.S. population. APA leaders feel it is more important, now, for members of the APA community to get involved in public policy and public offices.  

CAPAL 2012: Washington Leadership Program Closing Ceremony

Some of the topics covered were: How to be Successful in Public Policy; Campaign 101: How and Why APA Should Get Involved; Empowering Communities: Coalition Building for Change; Inspiring the Next Generation of APA Leaders in Public Service.

Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders was one of the dignitaries who attended the closing ceremony of the Washington Leadership program of CAPAL to congratulate the graduates.

Kiran Ahuja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Some of the distinguished speakers were: Joel Szabat, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation policy in the US Department of Transportation, Todd Park– U.S. Chief Technology Officer, Joseph Yun – Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. State Department, Jennifer Park Stout– Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. State Department, Mako Haverlick – Deputy Issue Manager, Office of East Asia and Pacific Analysis, Central Intelligence Agency, Curtis Dubay – Senior Policy Analyst, Heritage Foundation, Parag Mehta– Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, U.S. Department of Labor, and Representative Judy Chu – California 32nd District.

Joel Szabat (left), Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation policy in the US Department of Transportation, was a speaker at the closing ceremony

CAPAL, this year placed nine (9) summer interns in the U.S. Federal Government, awarded three (3) scholarships to outstanding APA students committed to public service and community action. They complete their internship in Washington DC during the summer of 2012.

Priscilla Baek, Chair of the Executive Board of CAPAL.

Throughout the year, CAPAL organizes professional development programs in the Metro Washington area, to professionals from all sectors interested in public service and/or the Asian Pacific American community.

A 2012 CAPAL scholar, Amrita Sehgal says: “I learned the importance of networking.”

Vincent Fang, a 2012 WLP participant, recalls that at a youth roundtable, Christopher Lu said: “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but you have to be good enough to be lucky. I learned that there will be times when an opportunity presents itself solely due to luck but I have to work hard enough to position myself to take this opportunity.”

Rebecca Lee, Vice Chair of Executive Board of CAPAL: “A record, 200 Asian Pacific Americans attended the WLP inaugural conference.”

Another 2012 WLP participant, Anirudh (Raja) Krishna says: “The biggest lesson I learned is to never turn down an invitation…It seems to me that DC operates on serendipity. An example – the day I attended a CAPAL event, I also attended a Guam Independence day event in Cannon, and ended up making new friend 10:00pm.”

This year, a record, 200 Asian Pacific Americans graduated from the seven- week long WLP.

Christopher Lu, the Cabinet Secretary in the white House, and co-chair of the white House Initiative on Asian Americans and pacific Islanders, was one of the two speakers at the closing ceremony.

Lu, in his speech, gave two advices to the WLP graduates. His first advice: “Whatever task is given to you, do it well. This town is full of people who have started in mail rooms. This town is full of people who have started as answering the phones, are now chiefs of staff in their offices. I often say that ‘if you can’t do the little things well, you can‘t do the big things well…So, do the little thing well, and the big things will come to you.”

Christopher Lu, White House Cabinet Secretary shares his views about "Social Media"

His second advice: “The most important thing you have in this town is your reputation. This is an exceedingly small place —Washington— particularly, if you are involved in politics. If you do a good job, people will hear about you. Conversely, if you do a bad job, that reputation will carry on, and on… Be very, very careful about social media. The stuff that you put on your Facebook page, the stuff that you post on your twitter page, lasts forever. It really lasts forever. These are the things your potential employers will start looking at.”