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Legislative Leadership Summit

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2024 Legislative Leadership Summit Overview


The 2024 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 community and the nation at large. Past events focused on issues, policies, practices, and trends in the AA & NH/PI community in an environment that facilitates solution-oriented dialogue and building public service pipelines in communities of color.

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2024 Legislative Leadership Summit Details



Monday, May 13 | 8:00AM-5:00PM

Walter E. Washington Convention Center

801 Allen Y. Lew Place NW,

Washington, DC 20001



Tuesday, May 14| 8:00AM-2:00PM

The Royal Sonesta Washington, Capitol Hill

20 Massachusetts Ave NW,

Washington, DC 20001

Honorary Co-Chairs


Congresswoman Doris Matsui



Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal 


Honored Speakers

The 2024 Legislative Leadership Summit will feature remarks from a diverse group of AA & NH/PI and AA & NH/PI-affiliated leaders from across the country. We're honored to have speakers such as Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris, Former Congressional Delegate from Guam and APAICS Co-Founder Robert UnderwoodSenator Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), Hawaii Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke, City of San Antonio, Texas Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, City of Millcreek, Utah Mayor Pro Tempore Bev Uipi, Hawaii State Representative Elle Cochran (District 14), Hawaii State Representative Trish La Chica (District 37), CAPE Executive Director Michelle Sugihara, Starz actress Kelly Hu, and Writer-Director Adele Lim.

Watch fireside chats with Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Tammy Duckworth's (IL), and Mayor Ron Nirenberg of San Antonio, Texas below!

Day 1 | Plenaries & Breakouts

May 13, 2024
Our Community, Our Leaders, Our Legacy: AA & NH/PI Contributions to Public Service

In 2021 Politico reported that Asian Americans are the least likely to hold elected office, holding less than 1 percent of all elected offices. However, for the 2022 midterm election, a record number of AA & NH/PI candidates appeared on the ballot, and that trend is expected to continue in the 2024 general election. With the appointment of Norman Y. Mineta as the first Asian American Cabinet member in 2000, AA & NH/PIs have increasingly served as appointees in record numbers, with over 15% in the Biden Administration. This opening plenary will discuss AA & NH/PI contributions to public service, and the legacy that our leaders have left for our community.

Featured Speakers:

  • Fmr. Delegate from Guam Robert Underwood

  • Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke, Hawaii

  • Mayor Pro Tempore Bev Uipi, City of Millcreek, Utah

  • Mayor Aftab Pureval, City of Cincinnati, Ohio

  • Daphne Kwok, Former APAICS Executive Director, Former WHIAANHPI Chair

  • Susan Jin Davis, Al Roker Entertainment, APAICS Board Chair (moderator)

Caring for Mental Health in the AA & NH/PI Community

In 2019, suicide was the leading cause of death for AA & NH/PI ages 15 to 24, and high school-age AA & NH/PI males were 30 percent more likely to consider attempting suicide as compared to non-Hispanic white male students. AA & NH/PIs were also 60 percent less likely to have received mental health treatment as compared to non-Hispanic whites. The panel will bring together subject matter experts and community leaders to share their mental health services and resources, discuss unmet needs in mental health -- including serious mental illness, and provide their expertise to address audience questions. This panel will cover issues such as integrating mental health and primary health care services,improving accessibility through cultural competency and multilingual services, patient experience, and addressing stigmas about mental health that may help overcome barriers to care.

Featured Speakers:

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

  • Samira Khan, South Asian Public Health Association

  • Myron Dean Quon, Pacific Asian Counseling Services

  • Pearl Pugh, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson

  • Kimmy Yam, NBC Asian America (moderator)

Fireside Chat with Vice President Kamala Harris
How AI Is Changing The World

Technology has long offered the promise of democratization. However, in the wake of ChatGPT and deepfakes, the conversations around AI feel urgent, but they’ve been with us for a very long time. Technology – and digital technology like AI – has been shaping society for decades, if not longer, and has sometimes been used to amplify and entrench existing systems of power and inequality. This panel will discuss the opportunities and impact that AI technology presents in our society and how we see the role of data and AI in shaping or reshaping power imbalances with regard to individuals, communities, and society at large. 

Featured Speakers:

  • Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero, Commodity Futures Trading Commission

  • Suri Durvasula, Dell Technologies

  • Joel Elliott, Salesforce

  • Danyelle Solomon, Microsoft

  • Khanh Vu. Society of Asian Scientists & Engineer (moderator)

The Biden administration issued Executive Order 14096: Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, prompting federal agencies to weigh in on the environmental burden of new energy projects on historically marginalized communities. Following the Maui fire, the Administration pledged $20M to bolster climate resilience for NH/PI communities, but more needs to be done. This panel explores the critical nexus between rapidly developing and implementing sustainable energy projects and the imperative of achieving equity and inclusivity in the energy sector. As the world grapples with the challenges of climate change, energy reliability and affordability, and social disparities, it becomes increasingly evident that addressing sustainability and equity is essential for a just and prosperous future.

Community Resilience, Energy, & Environment

Featured Speakers:

  • State Representative Elle Cochran, Hawaii House of Representatives, District 14

  • Seema Agnani, National CAPACD

  • Sonali Nijhawan, AmeriCorps State and National

  • Susan Jin Davis, Al Roker Entertainment, APAICS Board Chair

  • Erika Symmonds, SEIA

  • Carianne Lee, Pioneer Public Affairs (moderator)

Asian Americans are a relatively young, growing, and increasingly influential population. With a median household income of $70k, the collective purchasing power of Asian Americans is over $1 trillion, growing 314% between 2000 and 2019, far exceeding the purchasing power of all other racial and ethnic groups over the same period. For comparison, the total U.S. buying power grew 119% during the same period. By 2024, Asian American buying power is projected to reach $1.6 trillion and last year, Asian American households spent 11% more annually on retail than the average U.S. household. This panel will discuss the untapped opportunities to engage this community.

The Ever- Growing Buying Power of the Asian American Community

Featured Speakers:

  • Patricia Ratulangi, Nielsen

  • Dawn Lee Williamson, Comcast

  • Bill Imada, IW Group, Inc. (moderator)

The Monolithic Mistake - Digital Literacy in the AA & NH/PI Communities

Although studies have shown that 95% of English-speaking AA & NH/PIs use the Internet, suggesting high levels of digital access and literacy, these studies often need to be more extensive in scope and obscure key inequities within our communities. Surveys conducted in English and online that aggregate data of over 20 different ethnicities select for people who are likely already connected and provide a skewed perspective on broadband access in our communities. Over 50% of Burmese Americans have less than a high school diploma and have a median household income of $39,730. Nearly 70% of Bhutanese Americans are SNAP recipients, and 37% of Pacific Islanders are enrolled in Medicaid or other public insurance programs. These indicators suggest that there are likely millions of AA & NH/PIs for whom the digital divide has yet to be bridged, and more work needs to be done. This panel will explore the importance of the Affordable Connectivity Program, data disaggregation, and other programs in achieving digital literacy in the AA & NH/PI community.

Featured Speakers:

  • Thu Nguyen, OCA National

  • Meredith Williams, AT&T

  • Victor Yang, NAPCA

  • Nicole Morgenstern, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC (moderator)

Redefining and Empowering Patients and Caregivers 

65+ has been the fastest-growing age group for the past decade, increasing by over 38%. AA & NH/PIs age 65+ is estimated to be near 3 million today, with Chinese Americans as the largest Asian ethnic group aged 65+, followed by Filipinos and Japanese. The AA & NH/PI 65+ community is projected to grow to 7.9 million by 2060. More than half of Americans 50 and older — 54 percent — are considered to be caregivers because of the help they provide to one or more people 65 and older. Additionally, our nation’s dialogue about caregiving is not limited to the 65+, but also includes our wounded Veterans, Americans with disabilities, and their families. The Census Bureau projects that by 2034, older adults will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history and, by 2040, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. With increased medical and caregiving costs and the growing need, how do we empower patients, caregivers, and the community to develop sensible and effective solutions? 

Featured Speakers:

  • Brandi Alexander, Compassion & Choices

  • Maricon Dans, Philippines Nurses Association of Metro DC

  • Clayton Fong, NAPCA

  • Melissa Gong Mitchell, The Global Coalition on Aging

  • Alex Lo, NBC News (moderator)

Satya Nadella, Indra Nooyi, Sundar Pichai, and Eric Yuan are legendary Asian American CEOs whose work impacts our daily lives. Yet, nationwide, AA & NH/PIs are largely absent from most corporate boardrooms, with only 6 percent of executives being AA & NH/PI. A recent study identifies that 16 percent of Asian American and 18 percent of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander workers participate in affinity ERGs—a rate double that of workers overall. Despite higher participation, 1 in 4 AA & NH/PIs feel excluded from discussions about DEI at work. This panel will address the model minority myth, among other stereotypes and obstacles AA & NH/PI professionals encounter. Panelists will share their personal and professional journeys, barriers they have overcome, and advice for future generations of global leaders.

AA & NH/PI Success and Challenges in Corporate America

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Sharada Iyer, Wells Fargo

  • Jay Kairam, Diageo

  • Dr. Michael Ku, Pfizer

  • Kohposh Kuda, Comcast

  • Linda Akutagawa, LEAP (moderator)

A Diverse Military and Ensuring the Needs of Veterans are Met

AA & NH/PIs have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolutionary War, yet their service has not been celebrated by history. Recently, Congress recognized their service in World War II by awarding them Congressional Gold Medals. Today, AA & NH/PIs comprise nearly 5 percent of the active duty service members, and less than 2 percent are General and Flag Officers. This panel will discuss the challenges and contributions of AA & NH/PIs in the military, as well as the needs of our Veterans.

Featured Speakers:

  • Mona Dexter, Comcast

  • Kim Mitchell, Department of Veterans Affairs

  • Tony Taguba, Pan Pacific American Leaders and Mentors

  • Capt. Eva VanCamp, US Coast Guard Academy

  • Jacob Harrer, APAPA (moderator)

AA & NH/PIs is a multifaceted community that looks for new ideas and tools for financial self-reliance and home ownership. Opportunities to prioritize developing and passing on wealth and supporting aging parents financially are priorities for many AA & NH/PIs. Yet, at the same time, many AA & NH/PIs are still unbanked and struggle to purchase homes. Financial institutions and community leaders have worked together to accelerate financial inclusion and increase home ownership. This panel will explore the partnerships between financial institutions and the communities they serve.

Financial Inclusion and Home Ownership

Featured Speakers:

  • Representative Kirstin Kahaloa, Hawaii House of Representatives, District 6

  • Hope Atuel, Asian Real Estate Association of America

  • Eileen Tu, Rocket Mortgage

  • Vivian Young, JP Morgan chase

  • Mona Mohib, McGuireWoods consulting (moderator)

Health disparities research is enabled by data diversity but requires much tighter integration of collaborative efforts. The spectrum of individual health is molded not solely by genetics or socio-economics but by numerous factors, including diverse lived experiences and exposures of various populations. Data collection needs to be inclusive of racial and ethnic minority groups, as well as other populations experiencing health disparities, including sexual and gender minority or socioeconomically disadvantaged populations. This panel will explore the need for greater disaggregated data and the importance of diversity in clinical trials.

Health Disparities and Data Disaggregation 

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Neerja Balachander, Novartis

  • Dr. Yanlin Wang, Chinese American Society of Nephrology

  • Fiby Daniel, Amgen

  • Nishith Pandya, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network

  • Meg Riordan, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

  • Juliet K. Choi, APIAHF (moderator)

AA & NH/PIs in the Entertainment Landscape

In 2018, Crazy Rich Asians became the most successful Rom-Com in nearly a decade and it effectively set the stage in the US market for films featuring an Asian cast. Parasite, which would typically compete in the best international feature film category, won in the Best Picture category the following year. In 2022, Everything Everywhere All At Once won Best Picture and, in 2023, eight Emmy Awards went to Beef. The AA & NH/PI community felt incredibly proud of these wins because they featured casts of interesting and complex characters who looked like us. Consider this success against the backdrop of earlier portrayals of Asian Americans such as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles.  Will the media and marketing industry embrace more AA & NH/PI representation with this recent success? The panel will discuss the representations of AA & NH/PIs in the media and the challenges faced in working toward more authentic portrayals of the diverse community.

Featured Speakers:

  • Kelly Hu, Starz

  • Adele Lim, 100 Tigers Productions

  • Janet Vissering, Disney/National Geographic

  • Michelle Sugihara, CAPE (moderator)

Unleashing Billions in Opportunities

The U.S. Small Business Administration delivered $52.4 billion in capital, disaster relief, and bonding to small businesses and disaster-impacted communities across America in Fiscal Year 2023. Record levels of funding have been announced for Black and Latino-owned businesses, and funding to women-owned businesses is up 70% under the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to equity advanced to Black, Latino, Asian American, Pacific Islander, and Native Hawaiian, Native American, women, and veteran small business owners. Three million businesses are owned by AA & NH/PIs employing five million people with annual revenues of more than $1 trillion. This panel will explore opportunities and challenges for AA & NH/PI small business development despite record levels of funding available.

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Karen Eng, National ACE

  • Jimmy Ferguson, McDonald’s

  • Susi Feltch-Malohifoʻou, Pacific Island Knowledge 2 Action Resources

  • Jennifer Kim, Small Business Administration

  • Pamela Phan, International Trade Administration

  • Brian Cheung, NBC News (moderator)

Day 2 | Plenaries & Breakouts

May 14, 2024
The Balance of Infrastructure and Protecting our Heritage

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the cornerstone of the Biden Administration Build Back Better agenda. Frequently referenced as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, it provided approximately $1.2 trillion in spending, with $550 billion being newly authorized spending on top of what Congress planned to authorize regularly. If we are not careful, this infusion of funding to improve our infrastructure has the potential to result in development that marginalizes communities of color, with historic neighborhoods and communities at risk of being displaced in the efforts to modernize. This panel will address how AA & NH/PI communities need a greater voice in the modernization and rezoning of our neighborhoods in efforts to improve our infrastructure.

Featured Speakers:

  • Representative Trish La Chica, Hawaii House of Representatives, District 37

  • Anni Chung, Self-Help for the Elderly

  • David Kim, WSP USA

  • Niala Boodhoo, Axios (moderator)

Teaching our History - Ethnic Challenges in Secondary Education

Once only a college elective, Asian American history is being integrated into secondary education curricula nationwide. California has mandated that the state’s public high schools must begin teaching the subject by 2025, and similar legislation and policies have been adopted in other states, including Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. The demand for Asian American history is growing. This panel will discuss the benefits and challenges of establishing an Asian American history curriculum in our public schools.

Featured Speakers:

  • Attorney General William Tong, Connecticut

  • Dr. Madeline Hsu, University of Maryland

  • Jon Osaki, Japanese Community Youth Council

  • Natalie Truong, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

  • CeFaan Kim, ABC 7 (moderator)

Fireside Chat with Mayor Ron Nirenberg
Immigration - The Asian American Perspective

The Asian American community is an immigrant community, with approximately two-thirds born outside of the U.S. Historically restricted from immigrating and denied citizenship based on race, a path toward comprehensive immigration reform remains an important issue for the community. Additionally, a recent New York Times article highlighted the growing number of Chinese migrants crossing from Mexico to the U.S. demonstrates that seeking the American Dream for Asian immigrants is still ever present. This panel will discuss the challenges of Asian Americans seeking family reunification, visa backlogs, and efforts to reform our immigration system.

Featured Speakers:

  • Anna Byon, Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

  • Jennifer Chan, Office of Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal

  • Martin Kim, Asian Americans advancing Justice | AAJC

  • Daishi Miguel-Tanaka, Federal Advocacy for the Immigration Hub

  • Irene Bueno, NVG LLC (moderator)

Inextricably Intertwined? Decoupling Anti-Asian American Hate and Competition with China 

The Administration has made clear that combating racism and intolerance against Asian Americans will be an important priority. Likewise, in 2021, Congress passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, the first federal legislation directly affecting hate violence against Asian Americans. Yet, at the same time, we saw increased anti-China legislation and rhetoric from our elected officials. This panel will explore the Department of Justice’s China Initiative and xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and racist rhetoric used by lawmakers and officials and its impact on the AA & NH/PI community.

Featured Speakers:

  • Gisela Kusakawa, the Asian American Scholar Forum

  • Cindy Tsai, Committee of 100

  • John Yang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC

  • Richard Lui, MSNBC/NBC News (moderator)

Fireside Chat with Senator Tammy Duckworth (IL)
2024 Elections - The Power of the AA & NH/PI Vote

AA & NH/PIs have made their voice heard in our national elections during the 2020 special election in Georgia, which resulted in Democratic control of the Senate. Long touted as the “margin of victory,” AA & NH/PIs play an important role where elections are decided by the slimmest of margins. As we head toward the general election, how will the AA & NH/PI vote make a difference in the presidential election and in the many swing states where the AA & NH/PI population has been the fastest growing? Hear from AA & NH/PI organizers in crucial battleground states about their efforts to combat mis and disinformation, energize voters around down ballot races, and engage AA & NH/PI voters on the issues most important to them. 

Featured Speakers:

  • Christine Chen, APIAVote

  • Wei Chen, Asian Americans United

  • Mahnker Dahnweih, Freedom Inc.

  • Tuyet Duong, NAPAWF

  • Jean Lee, Allen & Overy (moderator)

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