July 26, 2014

DC, July 21: AAAF’s Political Speednetworking Event

Editor’s Note: Join the Facebook Event at our Facebook Page.

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Asian American Action Fund * Asian American Action Group * America’s Opportunity Fund * PowerPAC+
Present
Political Speednetworking Event: Midterm Elections: Where and How Do I Help the Democratic Cause?

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to work on a political campaign, or how to become a fundraiser, campaign manager or press secretary? Do you want to know how working on a campaign can further enhance your job prospects once Election Day is over?

AND most importantly, ARE YOU READY to help Democrats win back the House and keep the Senate?

Bring your resumes, be part of the 2014 election cycle resume bank AND JOIN the Asian American Action Fund and other leading progressive groups for a very special professional speednetworking event! We know for Democrats to succeed, we need to have both candidates and campaign staff that reflect the diversity of America. Learn how you can get involved in this critical 2014 political cycle and come hear first-hand candid advice from distinguished political veterans who have been on the campaign trail and in Washington!

KEYNOTE SPEAKER:

Raghu Devaguptapu, Principal with Adelstein Liston, first Asian American to be named Political Director of a national party committee, first at the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and then at the Democratic Governor’s Association

Panelists confirmed include:

Jessica Byrd, Manager of State Strategies, EMILY’s List, former Obama for America 2008 staff

Lisa Changadveja, LGBT Americans Director/Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Director at Ready for Hillary

Joon Kim, Vice President of New Partners Consulting, New Mexico Statewide Field Director, Kerry for President 2004

Alissa Ko, Deputy Director at Ready for Hillary, Former Organizing for America Operation Vote Director – VA

Parag Mehta, Former Director of External Communications and Director of Training for the Democratic National Committee

Madalene Mielke, Principal, Arum Group, Former Director of Training and Curriculum for the Ron Brown-Paul Tully Institute for Political Action

Oscar Ramirez, Principal, Podesta Group, DNC Member and First Vice Chair, Maryland Democratic Party

Mario Salazar, Coordinated Campaign Director at Democratic Party of Virginia, Former Operation Vote Director for Obama for America – Nevada

Nina SmithPress Secretary for Governor Martin O’Malley, former publicist for TheRoot.com

Brandon Thompson, National Training Director, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee

DATE/TIME: Monday, July 21
Pre-event networking: 5:30 PM, Program promptly starts at 6:15 PM

LOCATION: Hunton & Williams, LLP, 2200 Pennsylvania Ave NW (Foggy Bottom Metro, directions)

RSVP REQUIRED: Seating is limited, RSVP for free online

Real people and their stories: How the government shutdown affected journalists

Editor’s Note: We welcome Jayna Omaye to our blogteam! She’s a journalist with Northwestern University and we are very excited for the professional insight and writing she brings to you our reader.

What happens when your job is covering the government as a journalist, but the government shuts down for two weeks? That was the dilemma many journalists faced as hearings, speaking engagements and other events were postponed so legislators could focus on reopening the government.

Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in the politics of an issue, especially when you’re in D.C. When the government shut down, many people were concerned with which politician was arguing for what, why the two parties couldn’t get along, etc.

But the real effects of the shutdown could be seen through the eyes of the average, everyday person: the furloughed employees, the tourists who traveled all the way to D.C. to see barricaded monuments, and the businesses near the Hill that took a beating.

These stories were worth telling, and that is what my classmates and I tried to focus on during the shutdown. If you weren’t in the district during these past two weeks, the shutdown may not have been as obvious. But it has affected everyone, including those not in D.C.

I remember calling my mom to ask her if the federal cemetery where my grandparents are buried was still open. The thought of it closing only hit her as she was driving up the hill to the cemetery.

During the first week of the shutdown, I was working on a story about how well youth followed government news. A Pew study found that younger Americans were least likely to follow the shutdown.

I remember talking to a furloughed intern who was worried about receiving college credit for her internship if the shutdown didn’t end soon. In the meantime, she had to substitute her internship experience with reading textbooks and writing essays. Another intern I talked to was not furloughed because her Congressman deemed his entire staff essential.

Another story I worked on was a video about how D.C. tour companies were affected by the shutdown. I went into the story expecting that these businesses would say the shutdown was horrible and devastating to their business. But again, I was surprised.

Even though one tour company said they were losing business and customers, they also said the shutdown allowed them to explore other avenues and be resourceful. They were able to increase their neighborhood and food tours, which weren’t affected by the shutdown, and help furloughed local workers tour and see their own neighborhoods.

Many people think working as a journalist in D.C. is all about covering government hearings and the politics of an issue. While that is half true, the other part of the job is understanding how what happens in D.C. affects the rest of the country.

I know many people who don’t like “politics.” And while I understand where they’re coming from (because it can be very confusing to grasp), politics and policies encompass everything in this country.

Every single bill that passes through Congress and is signed by the President affects citizens nationwide, whether they know it or not. This idea was even more apparent these past two weeks.

So what happens when your job is covering the government as a journalist, but the government shuts down? As always, you concentrate on real people and their stories.

My shutdown stories:
“D.C. tourism takes a hit during government shutdown”

“Youth least likely to follow government shutdown news, report says”

– Jayna Omaye

McAllister & Quinn Appoints Chief Operating Officer

Editor’s note: The below is a re-posting of a press release about our Board Member Melissa Hampe. Congratualtions, Melissa!

McAllister & Quinn

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2013

Contact: David Grenham
Tel: (202) 296-2741
Mobile: (202) 445-3133
Email: dgrenham@jm-aq.com

McAllister & Quinn Appoints Chief Operating Officer

Melissa Unemori Hampe to Oversee Firm’s Growth and Daily Operations

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – McAllister & Quinn, a government affairs and specialized grant consulting firm, recently appointed Melissa Unemori Hampe as the firm’s first-ever Chief Operating Officer.

In addition to working to develop and implement the firm’s strategic goals and overseeing general firm functions, Melissa will continue to manage the firm’s suite of federal and foundation grant services, an area of growth for the firm over the past four years. Melissa served as Senior Vice President of the firm prior to her appointment as Chief Operating Officer.

“As we continue to grow, Melissa will help us to manage the firm’s operations and execute on the firm’s strategic business plan,” says John McAllister, who founded the firm in 2004 with Andy Quinn. “Melissa helped us to develop our federal and foundation grant services platform, and she will be a key resource as the firm continues to chart its growth.”

McAllister & Quinn is a comprehensive, bipartisan government relations consulting firm that provides a full range of services to a diverse group of clients with issues before the federal government. Based in Washington, D.C., with 25 full-time employees, the firm was founded in 2004 by John McAllister and Andy Quinn.

Melissa brings to her role 17 years of public policy experience working on Capitol Hill and in the private and nonprofit sectors. Prior to joining McAllister & Quinn in 2008, Melissa was Director of Government Relations at MENTOR/National Mentoring Partnership. Melissa previously served in key staff positions in the House and Senate, including: Legislative Director to former Senator Daniel Akaka; Domestic Policy Advisor for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee under the leadership of Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD); and, legislative and press staffer for the late Congresswoman Patsy Mink (D-HI).

Melissa earned her B.S. from Cornell University and M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management. Her political work includes serving as Deputy Executive Director of the Asian American Action Fund.

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Political Appointments 101: Opportunities in the Obama Administration

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Asian American Action Fund
Presents:

Political Appointments 101: Opportunities in the Obama Administration

Asian Pacific Americans voted overwhelmingly for President Obama with a decisive 73% for his re-election in 2012. In order to have a successful second term, we need a government that represents the full diversity of America. The Asian American Action Fund invites you to a professional development panel to learn about opportunities for serving as a Presidential political appointee or on Presidential-appointed Boards and Commissions. Come and hear first-hand from the White House Office of Presidential Personnel and a panel of distinguished public servants of varying professional levels of experience about their service in the current Administration.

NOTE: This event is off the record and should not be recorded.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Kamala Vasagam, Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel
  • Paul Igasaki, Chair and Chief Judge of the Administrative Review Board, Department of Lab
  • Rajan Trivedi, Special Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Francey Youngberg, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Engagement, HUD
    Others TBD

Moderator: Irene Lin, AAA-Fund Board Member and current appointee

DATE/TIME: Monday, September 16 6:00 PM Check In

6:30 – 8:30 PM Panel Starts

LOCATION: O’Melveny & Myers, 1625 I St NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 (Farragut West and Farragut North Metro); Google Maps

RSVP REQUIRED: Seating is limited, RSVP required at EventBrite.

In Mike We Trust

Ed. note This Op-Ed by Kal Penn appeared in the May 10 edition of India Abroad

I first worked with Congressman Mike Honda when I was a White House aide to President Obama, working on issues related to young Americans and the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. In a sea of chaos that is Congress, it was always refreshing to see Mike go to bat for his constituents, and to join the President in standing up for young people and community members in a way that most members of Congress did not.

Having worked alongside Mike in both policy and politics, I am proud to endorse him for his re-election to Congress in 2014. Washington, DC, can be sort of a crazy place. To many of us, it’s unfathomable that there is opposition to commonsense issues like access to health care, comprehensive immigration reform, and education. And we often look to our leaders to see how they intend to engage on those issues we care about.

As the Congressman representing the innovative spirit and drive of Silicon Valley, as chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus for an unprecedented seven years, and now as chair emeritus; as a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, it’s rare and refreshing that Mike really moves and lives by the conviction that every one of us deserve an opportunity and a voice.

As a young person, that kind of leadership was refreshing to see.

On health care, Mike and CAPAC worked with the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses to include critical provisions that tackled health disparities in the President’s final historic health- care reform legislation of 2009.

On immigration, over the previous three Congresses as chair, and now as chair of CAPAC’s Immigration Task Force, Mike has led the constant drumbeat to pass a comprehensive immigration reform that leaves no one behind. He believes in an immigration system that is inclusive, family- based and humane, and invests in America’s future.

On education, he worked to dispel the model minority myth, and to push for greater resources flowing to colleges and universities that serve underserved Asian American and Pacific Islander students.

Mike’s record speaks volumes to his character. He has continued to push for issues that are critical, regardless of whether there is existing political appetite for it amongst his peers in Congress; essentially, he has helped to create the tenable space for much of the action we have seen.

His advocacy for social justice and serving communities that do not have a voice is unparalleled. Mike grew up behind barbed wire in a Japanese-American internment camp, even as his father served in the United States Military Intelligence Service during World War II.

As a young boy, he learned that being Japanese carried a negative connotation in America. But he knows that the reason Japanese Americans were unjustly and illtreated was because no one in Washington said no.

Today, Mike continues to be an unwavering opponent of hate speech and bullying perpetrated against all communities, regardless of creed, race, gender, sexuality, disability, country of origin, and immigration status.

Mike has been a friend and mentor to many young leaders, artists, business folks, and innovators. I know that he will continue to deliver that which is just and best for his constituents and for this nation.

- Kal Penn

It Takes A Village To Blow One Up

West, Texas was best known as a place to grab something from the Czech Bakery while driving between Austin and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Now, West is best known as the latest in a long line of American industrial disasters reprehensible for their utter preventability.

The explosion at the fertilizer plant comes from failure of the local, state, and federals governments and the plant owners and operators to satisfy the needs of worker safety, community safety, and national security. OSHA has not inspected the plant since 1985. Schools and homes were allowed to be built very near the plant. The plant had 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate at which Department of Homeland Security regulation is triggered. We know the plant had so much ammonium nitrate, because paperwork indicating such was filed with with a Texas regulatory entity. The mishmash of regulators is not required to share information. Unlike the inability of first responders to communicate with each other because of technical incompatibilities, government regulators don’t interact with each other. Given the large variety of regulating agencies, better intercommunication is needed.

A tangle of agencies regulates plants like the one in West. Different agencies were assigned oversight for different chemicals there. Among the federal agencies responsible were the E.P.A., Homeland Security, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. State agencies include the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the state chemist’s office and the state health services department.

Ammonium nitrate is a national security concern because in nefarious hands it can cause this:

Murrah_Building_-_Aerial

Terrorism isn’t the only reason for concern about the large amount of such an explosive chemical:

The explosion was so powerful it leveled homes and left a crater 93 feet wide and 10 feet deep. Judging by the size of the crater and the extent of the damage — pieces of twisted metal landed in distant pastures, and ceiling tiles and lights shook loose in buildings two miles away — the explosion was more powerful than the Oklahoma City bombing, experts said.

Texas markets its lax regulations as a reason for businesses to relocate:

Loose regulations” in Texas may be a nice pitch for out-of-state business, however, in 2010 the state accounted for 10% of all workplace-related fatalities in the country. In 2011, Texas had the second-highest number of fatality investigations from OSHA (California was first), in 2010, Texas led the nation in Latino worker fatalities.

The marvelous economic tales spun about Texas even beguile those who should know better like a writer for Texas Monthly. Jack Ohman and the editors of the Sacramento Bee, however, were not beguiled:

RTSHf.St.4

The owners and operators of the plant seem to have long thought they could pick and choose what few regulations with which they were supposed to comply would apply to them. Among other problems, the company received a citation for construction of 6,000 gallon ammonia tanks without a permit, did not have a sufficient risk management plan, and had no signs or illegible signs on many storage tanks, many of which did not meet safety standards.

The Czech connection in West remains strong; the Czech Republic may provide nearly $200,000 to aid recovery. That’s very helpful and kind; it’s greatly appreciated. I wonder, though, if Bangladesh provides something even better, a guide on how to handle preventable disasters — arrest the owners.

How many other extremely dangerous plants and chemical storage facilities continue to operate in similar fashion with such disregard for the workers, the community, and national security?

- Justin Gillenwater

White House Initiative On Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders Comes To Houston On February 23

On Saturday, February 23rd, the Texas Asian American & Pacific Islander community and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders invite you to attend the Texas Regional Conference at the University of Houston‘s main campus. This free, first-of-its-kind conference will be a unique and valuable opportunity for the Texas AAPI community to interface with the White House and federal agencies to learn about federal programs and potential policy developments, leverage resources, develop solutions to address AAPI concerns, and bring together people from all across Texas together to collaborate on empowering our community.

In addition to connecting with federal resources, this is an opportunity for community members and leaders throughout the entire state to gather in one place and discuss ways to collaborate, share resources, and maintain communication.

The morning will feature speakers including Kiran Ahuja, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders, and a keynote from Chris Lu, Cabinet Secretary and Special Adviser to President Obama. Lunch will be provided (vegetarian options included), followed by breakout sessions addressing specific topics, including Economic Development, Healthcare, Civil Rights, Immigration, Education, Housing, Senior Issues (Social Security, Medicare, housing, etc.), Labor/Employment, and more. These breakout sessions will feature staff from local federal agency offices that can help directly address specific issues or problems, as well as featured local speakers from the community. The agencies will also provide information on federal job and internship opportunities for students.

Participation is free and open, but online registration is required.

Question of the Week: Silicon Valley

Asian Americans make up over 50 percent of all high-tech employees in Silicon Valley.  So why do only 12 percent of Asian Americans have executive positions at those same companies?

– Gautam Dutta

Sam Yoon To Lead Council Of Korean Americans

I wanted to share an update on what has been happening since you joined me in our historic campaign for mayor of Boston in 2009.

Several months after the election I made the difficult decision to leave Boston and move to the Washington, D.C. area. Though I loved Boston dearly, I took the opportunity to move closer to my family, but also to lead a national organization advocating for community economic development.

I learned so much about how grassroots community organizations all around our country both thrived and struggled due to the Great Recession. I took their message to our national leaders and even documented them in our own YouTube channel. But by the end of 2011, I was offered a chance to serve in the Obama administration.

Most of you know I was an early and strong supporter of Barack Obama in his historic 2008 race, and I was honored to work for him during most of this year at the Department of Labor in the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) as a senior policy advisor. The time I spent there was both eye-opening and sobering. It is an enormous challenge to prepare a 21st century workforce in a struggling economy with a gridlocked Congress. Yet I saw the good people at ETA march on every day, for American workers, and I salute them.

This brings us to today. I am pleased to let you know through this email that I have recently been hired as the President of a non-profit organization called the Council of Korean Americans (CKA). CKA is a national, non-partisan group of Korean Americans whose mission is to assert a clear, strong voice on matters of importance to our community and to advocate for our full participation in all aspects of American life.

Founded in 2010, CKA fulfills a clear need in the Korean American community, which, like many immigrant and ethnic communities, lacks a national, unified voice. I firmly believe our members and our allies have the talent, energy, and drive to make this happen. I would love for you to be involved.

Check back from time to time at our website. I plan to start a blog and comment on issues of the day from a more personal point of view. I encourage you to sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch with me as I take on this new venture.

That’s my update, in two minutes or less! Thank you for reading, and thank you so much for your friendship over the years.

Please stay in touch, and God bless!

- Sam Yoon

The 2012 DNC AAPI Caucus

The second AAPI caucus meeting was well-attended and filled with remarks from a number of Asian American politicians, several Secretaries, and one Second Lady. I wish I could say the same for the first meeting, but I wasn’t there. It was over by the time I picked up my media credentials. Lesson learned.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, Chair of CAPAC, reminded everyone in the room that President Obama is good for our community, and I don’t just mean Asian Americans. Delegate Madeleine Bordallo of Guam reminded us President Obama grew up an island boy — he doesn’t forget about the territories. Perhaps the key takeaway from Chu’s remarks, Republicans are working so hard to prevent those who wish to register to vote from doing so — 81% of first time voters voted for Obama in 2008. Congressman Honda, former chair of CAPAC, rightfully declared Asian Americans the theoretical margin of victory, but only if we register to vote. Only 55% of eligible Asian Americans are registered.

Chu also focused on the anti-Asian sentiments percolating throughout unsavory elements of the American polity with particular focus on Pete Hoekstra bringing in yellowgirl in Michigan in the year of the 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder.

Chris Lu, President Obama’s Cabinet Secretary, noted that 2012 is not only the 30th anniversary of Vincent Chin’s murder but also the 70th anniversary of the Japanese Internment and 130th anniversary of the Chinese Exclusion Act. Lu also reminded us that before President Obama, a meeting of every Asian American Secretary throughout history would fit at a table for 2. Now if they all got together, there are many board games they wouldn’t be able to play together since Obama appointed the third, fourth, and fifth Asian American Secretaries.

Secretary Arne Duncan gave some of the best news of the caucus — the Department of Education is working to dispel the model minority myth. Duncan also shared that this was his first convention and he’s having a great time. There’s always something special about one’s first. Duncan stressed the importance of America leading the world in college graduation; the Department of Education is working to make that happen.

Secretary Hilda Solis reflected the feelings of many, many people. The Democratic National Convention looks like America, unlike the Republican National Convention. Solis also celebrated AAPI politicians and leaders, whom she collectively referred to as “fast and effective.” Solis’s words also included high praise for Michelle Obama.

Tina Tchen, Michelle Obama’s Chief of Staff, also praised the First Lady, noting how critical her work on childhood obesity is to many AAPI communities. Tchen reminded the crowd that 17 new Asian American federal judges have been appointed and confirmed thanks to President Obama with 3 more on track for confirmation.

Former White House Chief of Staff Pete Rouse expanded on the theme of federal judges, making the point Gautam says is ignored in this presidential race — 2 SCOTUS nominations could arise in the next presidential term. Rouse also urged everyone in the room to make their best efforts to maximize turnout.

Dr. Jill Biden appeared for a few brief remarks largely stressing the importance of involvement in the political process.

Maya Soetoro-Ng also spoke.

Daniel Inouye gave a speech that should have been televised.

Mayor Ed Lee was the most amusing speaker, upstaging Mike Honda, who usually has no competition for most amusing:

I’ll be short because I am.

On a personal note, I don’t know if anyone in the room needed or made use of it, but I greatly appreciate the accessibility provided to the hard-of-hearing:

- Justin Gillenwater