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Legislative Leadership Summit

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2023 Legislative Leadership Summit Overview


The 2023 APAICS Legislative Leadership Summit brings together nonprofit and corporate leaders, subject matter experts, as well as local, state, and federal elected officials to discuss important issues that affect the Asian American & Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AA & NHPI) community and the nation at large. Past events focused on issues, policies, practices, and trends in the AA & NHPI community in an environment that facilitates solution-oriented dialogue and building public service pipelines in communities of color.

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2023 Legislative Leadership Summit Details


Dates & Times:

May 8 | 9:00AM-4:00PM

May 9 | 9:00AM-2:00PM



Hilton Capitol Hill

525 New Jersey Avenue, NW

Washington, DC

Honored Speakers

The 2023 Legislative Leadership Summit will feature remarks from a diverse group of AA & NH/PI and AA & NH/PI-affiliated leaders. We're honored to have U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii), Senator Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), Congressman Mark Takano (California-39), Hawaii Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, City of Oakland, California Mayor Sheng Thao, Director of the White House Presidential Personnel Office Gautam Raghavan, and Starz actress Kelly Hu.

Watch the two of the Fireside Chats below!

Ambassador Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative
Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, APAICS President & CEO
Dalila Wilson-Scott, Comcast

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii)
Senator Tammy Duckworth (Illinois)
Irene Bueno, NVG, LLC. (Moderator)

Plenary Sessions

Advancing Education and Alternative Career Pathways

Minority Serving Institutes, community colleges, and vocational training programs serve many purposes. Nearly half of California AA & NH/PIs students begin their higher education path at a community college. For some people, attending a community college is a stepping stone on the path to a four-year college degree – particularly for individuals who may not have the time, money, or academic scores to matriculate into a four-year university. Others may view community colleges and vocational training programs as viable alternatives to earning necessary professional credentials and skills. From remedial studies to professional certifications, to a path to a bachelor’s degree, to post-career enrichment, community colleges serve a range of needs. Likewise, MSIs play an essential role by preparing a diverse workforce and preparing underrepresented students for graduate and professional school.

May 8, 2023 | Monday


• John Quintas, Amazon

• Estella Owoimaha-Church, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities

• Dr. Julie Ajinkya, PhD, APIA Scholars

• Frank H. Wu, Queens College, The City University of New York (Moderator)


Protecting Women’s Rights and Fighting for Gender Equality

Seventy-five years ago, the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights established gender equality as a basic human right. Today, women’s rights have been at the forefront of U.S. policy debate, most recently with the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision last year. Although stereotypes and social norms, such as the model minority myth, may mask the needs of AA & NH/PIs, there are leading AA & NH/PI women leaders passionate about speaking out to support reproductive rights and gender equality for their communities and generations after. What are AA & NH/PI women leaders doing to lead the reproductive rights and gender equality movement? How can companies, leaders, and other community members support them?

May 8, 2023 | Monday


• Sharita Gruberg, National Partnership for Women and Families

• Shwetika Baijal, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes

• Yvonne Gutierrez, NARAL Pro-Choice America

• Aliza Kazmi, MPP, Heart to Grow

• Mona Mohib, McGuireWoods Consulting (Moderator) 

Voting Rights, the Changing Electorate, and Language Access

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2021 was introduced to restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by requiring certain jurisdictions to seek federal approval before enacting specific changes to their voting law. This bill failed to pass. There have been attempts to erode voting rights at the state level further. The Georgia legislature passed the Election Integrity Act of 2021 (SB 202), a voter identification law that advocates against the bill argue will restrict access to voting and disproportionately burden voters of color, new citizens, and religious communities. Additional voting legislation in Texas and other states and challenges in the courts continue to challenge the Voting Rights Act. What’s the impact on AA & NH/PI communities? How are our communities working to ensure our voices are heard?

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Dr. Anar Parikh, PhD, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta

• Christine Chen, APIAVote

• Lily Trieu, Asian Texans for Justice

• Vida Lin, Asian Community Development Council (ACDC)

• Jessica Jones Capparell, League of Women Voters (LWV)

• Em Nguyen, ABC News (Moderator)

Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Media and Entertainment

Media plays a vital role in shaping public perceptions and attitudes about race, ethnicity, and culture. Historically, the representation of AA & NH/PIs has been limited and stereotypical, from entertainment to the news media. However, as media and entertainment leaders are striving toward programs that feature authentic storytellers, whether by sharing stories of real people or fictional characters, AA & NH/PI programming has come to the forefront of attracting new audiences who are interested in viewing more diverse content across all types of media.  Hear from entertainment and media experts on how content is being created to address the diverse needs of the AA & NH/PI community and how stories can educate and bring positive change to society's perceptions of the AA & NH/PI community.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Michelle Duke, NAB Leadership Foundation

• Em Nguyen, ABC News

• Kelly Hu, Starz

• Michelle Sugihara, Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE)

• Greg Saphier, Motion Picture Association (MPA) (Moderator)

Housing and Home Ownership: Building Equity and Stability

Housing is one of the most basic needs for any individual or family, yet the Asian American and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (AA & NH/PI) community faces unique challenges in accessing safe, affordable, and stable housing. One challenge is that AA & NH/PI are often treated as a monolith data set. However, the group consists of many different ethnic communities with large differences in homeownership by country of origin. But the average variables of socioeconomic status, suggesting that the AA & NH/PI community fares relatively well, tend to overlook these differences. Disparities in the AA & NH/PI homeownership rates vary depending on each ethnic group based on the group’s history of migration to the US, economic status, and citizenship status. Join us for a conversation with leaders in housing and home ownership who are striving for equitable housing opportunities to address these disparities and create solutions for the most underserved members of our community.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Glenda Beach, JD, CLU, ChFC, State Farm

• Seema Agnani, National CAPACD

• The Hon. Sheng Thao, Mayor of the City of Oakland, California

• Stacy Spann, Wells Fargo Foundation

• Scott Wong, NBC News (Moderator)

Anti-AAPI Hate and Violence: Community and Policy-based Solutions

The AA & NH/PI community has begun to change their daily routes in fear of violence and hate attacks. Just this year, we have seen back to back mass shootings during the Lunar New Year holiday impacting the AA & NH/PI community fueled by misinformation and stereotypes. Additionally, pandemic has placed the AA & NH/PI community under blame and the growing tensions in US-China relations has increased anti-China rhetoric and xenophobia sentiment. How does the AA & NH/PI community protect itself sustainably and guard against these attacks? What legal and cultural shifts need to occur—how do they intersect? How can the community come together to heal and move forward simultaneously?

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• Congressman Mark Takano (California-39)

• Aarti Kohli, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Asian Law Caucus

• Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition

• Gloria Pan, MomsRising

• The Hon. William Tong, Attorney General, Connecticut

• Manjusha Kulkarni, AAPI Equity Alliance; Stop AAPI-Hate

• John Yang, PBS NewsHour and PBS News Weekend (Moderator)

Diversity in Government: From Congressional Staff to Political Appointees and Elected Office

Last year the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies reported that people of color account for 40 percent of the U.S. population but only 18 percent of all top House staff last year. Additionally, no AA & NH/PI served on any of the 41 committee staff director positions or any of the 20 top staff positions in the top leadership offices of either party. The Biden Administration continues to prioritize a government reflective of our nation, with Katherine Tai as USTR, Krystal Ka`ai as the first Native Hawaiian to serve as head of WHIAANHPI, and the nomination of Julie Su to Secretary of Labor. And although AA & NH/PIs are the fastest growing demographic, a recent report from the Reflective Democracy Campaign identified that AA & NH/PIs are the least likely to hold elected office and made up just 0.9 percent of elected leaders across all levels of government. Join us to discuss what is needed to ensure AA & NH/PIs are fully represented.

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• The Hon. Gautam Raghavan, White House Office of Presidential Personnel

• Dr. Sesha Moon, PhD, U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Congress

• The Hon. Toshiko Grace Hasegawa, Port of Seattle; Washington State Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA)

• Will Reese, Democratic Leadership Office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer

• Irene Bueno, NVG, LLC. (Moderator)

Health Equity and Accountability Act: A Blueprint for the Public Health of Our Nation

Healthcare in America looks very different for various populations in terms of access and affordability. For communities of color, individuals and families continue to face disparate health outcomes due to underlying challenges to care. Since 2007, the Congressional Tri-Caucus (the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus) have introduced the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) every Congress to provide a legislative solution to address these pressing issues. In this panel, experts will discuss the social determinants of health, how HEAA acts as a blueprint, and what legislative actions can be taken to ensure that all Americans have the resources and care they need to thrive.

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday


• Casey Lee, CAPAC

• Erika Ninoyu, Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-12)

• Jade Rowland, Office of Senator Mazie K. Hirono (Hawaii)

• Tony Tran, Office of Congresswoman Nanette Barragán (CA-44)

• Adam Carbullido, Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO) (Moderator)

• Jennifer Van der Heide, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) (Moderator)

Women in Elected Office: A Discussion with Lt. Governors

The highest state office after the Governor, 45 out of 50 states have Lt. Governors with varying roles across different states. In three states, including Hawaii, Lt. Governors are empowered with the duties of Secretary of State. At the same time, Lt. Governors in other States are appointed to head cabinet-level agencies, boards, and commissions. Lt. Governors and other elected officials serve as a pipeline for higher offices, including Governor and U.S. Senator. Join us for a discussion on how these positions serve as a solid platform to engage AA & NH/PI communities.

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• The Hon. Sylvia Luke, Hawaii Lieutenant Governor

• The Hon. Betty Yee, Former California State Controller (Moderator)

Panel Sessions

Advancing Health Equity: A Discussion on Diversity in Clinical Trials, Innovation in Healthcare, and Access to Care

Clinical trials are essential to advancing medical knowledge and developing new treatments, but historically, they have not always included diverse populations. The COVID-19 pandemic brought health disparities into the spotlight and further highlighted the stark differences in trial demographics—particularly with Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities. Despite regulatory directives and public expectations, there remain underrepresented populations in clinical trials, such as women, diverse ethnic and racial groups, people living with disabilities, children, and the elderly. The COVID-19 pandemic also resulted in an unprecedented acceleration and adoption of innovative healthcare technologies. As our nation continues to improve our healthcare system beyond the latest pandemic, innovation must be explored in a broader context, examining previously underdeveloped opportunities in areas such as access to care, data analytics, consumer behavior, provider incentives, and process improvement in care delivery. We will explore the latest innovations in healthcare and how they can benefit AA & NH/PI communities, as well as potential barriers to access and adoption.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Nishith Pandya, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

• Sean Kolaskar, Alexandria Health Department

• Dr. Tonia Vinton, MD, UT Southwestern's Weight Wellness at Texas Health Dallas

• Alisi Tulua, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

• Dr. Simona Kwon, DrPH, MPH, NYU Grossman School of Medicine and NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health (Moderator)

Climate Resilience: The Need for Bold Action

Climate change affects the critical functions of communities nationwide — disrupting the provision of health care, education, and financial services; cutting people off from electricity, natural gas, phone, and internet; and shrinking viable real estate and transportation byways. This panel discussion focuses on how industries, governments, and other private and public organizations have increased their resilience in the face of climate change, what is needed to improve resilience further, and the kinds of data and tools being developed to proactively and effectively reduce disruptions and its impact on AA & NH/PI communities.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Darek Lau, Chicago Asian Americans for Environmental Justice

• Vivian Huang, Asian Pacific Environmental Network

• Angela Manso, Natural Resources Defense Council

• Benetick Kabua Maddison, Marshallese Educational Initiative

• Melisa Laelan, Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese

• The Hon. Kay Bounkeua, The Wilderness Society (Moderator)

Nourishing our Community: Agriculture, Nutrition, and Food Insecurity

Access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food is critical to the well-being of individuals and families. While research shows that food insecurity disproportionately impacts minority populations, the pervasive ‘model minority’ myth has led researchers to assume that few Asian Americans would have trouble affording or accessing food. Demographic differences between waves of immigration have lingering effects, contributing to a significant wealth disparity between South and East Asian Americans and those of Southeast or Central Asian heritage. The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted Asian American households as they experienced an increase in food insecurity during the first few months of lockdown. Agriculture and food production are also  important industries that create jobs and promote economic development. Hear from experts who will share the missing  information about food insecurity among Asian Americans and discuss solutions that can impact the nation’s fastest-growing minority population.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Vida Lin, Asian Community Development Council (ACDC)

• Winston Chiu, More Than a Meal

• The Hon. Kirstin Kahaloa, Hawaii State House Representative

• Jamila Shipp, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF) (Moderator)

Advancing AA & NH/PI Leaders in the C-Suite

Despite making up a significant portion of the workforce, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AA & NH/PIs) are often underrepresented in the highest levels of corporate leadership. This lack of representation can limit career advancement and opportunities for AA & NH/PI professionals. In a 2020 analysis, 5.6% of 682 executives of C-suites at Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies identified as Asian. How can we support the career progression of AA & NH/PI employees and address the limitations hindering this progression?

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Jennifer Rasing, Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS)

• Edna Ezzell, Accenture

• Julian Ha, Heidrick & Struggles

• Linda Akutagawa, Leadership Education For Asian Pacifics (LEAP)

• Susan Jin Davis, Al Roker Entertainment, Inc. (Moderator)

Connecting Communities: Addressing Barriers to Internet Access

In today's digital age, internet access is crucial for education, healthcare, employment, and social engagement. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities were forced to live, work, and learn online. However, there are many families within the AA & NH/PI community facing social and economic challenges that inhibit their access to the internet at high enough speeds to meet their work and schooling needs. How can community organizations, government agencies, and companies come together to support and connect underserved communities as they navigate the developed and technological world? We will discuss challenges such as lack of infrastructure, affordability, and digital literacy, as well as the role of government policy in promoting digital equity and inclusion.

May 8, 2023 | Monday 


• Maia Wagner, Dell

• Thu Nguyen, OCA

• Parul Desai, NTIA

• Joon Kim, Comcast Meredith Williams, AT&T

• John Nakahata, HWG LLP (Moderator)

Breaking the Stigma: Addressing Mental Health in our Community

Despite facing higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than other ethnic groups, AA & NH/PIs are less likely to seek mental health services due to cultural stigma, language barriers, and lack of access.

While 18% of the general U.S. population sought mental health services and resources, only 8.6% of Asian Americans did so. According the Office of Minority Health, suicide was the leading cause of death for Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders ages 15-24 and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders were three times less likely to receive mental health services or to receive prescription medications for mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites. The COVID-19 pandemic and anti-asian hate incidents created an even greater need for mental health for everyone, including AA & NH/PIs. In addition to the fear of stigma as well as a lack of culturally responsive care to support the growing need for mental health care in many minority and immigrant communities, the isolation from community and fear from anti-Asian racism and violence are factors in the increasing importance of individual and community mental health care. Organizations, governments from federal to local levels, and companies are working to meet these needs and will share their stories and expertise.

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• Myron Dean Quon, Pacific Asian Counseling Services

• Pearl Pugh, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

• Samira Khan, South Asian Public Health Association

• Mary Michael, Otsuka

• Krystle Canare, National Asian American Pacific Islander Mental Health Association (Moderator)

Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Driving Economic Empowerment for the AA & NH/PI Community

Small businesses and entrepreneurship are critical components of economic development, and they play a vital role in creating jobs, generating wealth, and fostering innovation. As violence and hatred disrupts the AA & NH/PI community, it’s more important than ever to elevate community members who are succeeding in their small businesses and driving innovation. In each small success is hope for healing and community building among AA & NH/PI leaders and consumers. Public policy can also have a significant impact on the success of small businesses, and it is important to advocate for policies that support entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for our communities. Hear from business leaders on how they are supporting the small/medium sized enterprises, opportunities and challenges in entrepreneurship, and the importance of  innovation within the AA & NH/PI business community.

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• Alyn Toalepai, Pacific Island Chamber of Commerce

• Nayana RenuKumar, Airbnb

• Stephanie Hutch, Native Hawaiian Organizational Association

• Susi Feltch-Malohifoʻou, Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources (PIK2AR); Pasifika PAC

• Chiling Tong, National Asian and Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) (Moderator)

21st Century Caregiving: Supporting Workers, Family Caregivers, Seniors, Veterans, and People with Disabilities

Over the last twenty years, the definition of caregiving has expanded greatly, and the COVID-19 pandemic exposed long-standing challenges American families confront each and every day. The pandemic highlighted the essential value of care—both that supported by a professional workforce and that of unpaid family caregivers. This assistance often includes help with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing and managing medications. But too many Americans are not able to access these services, placing significant financial and emotional strain on families. AA & NH/PIs face additional unique challenges in caring for their community, including linguistic and cultural barriers. However, technological advancements, development of new therapeutics, and the growth of food & delivery services have created more options than ever to assist in caregiving. As our nation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, and with greater needs in the caregiving community, how do we ensure our community receives the love and care needed?

May 9, 2023 | Tuesday 


• Kham Moua, SEARAC

• Nancy Hoff, Philippine Nurses Association of America Foundation

• Rhonda Richards, AARP

• Victor Yang, National Asian Pacific Center on Aging (NAPCA) (Moderator)

Thank You to Our Partners





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