The 6th Annual CALNET Leadership Retreat took place on November 4-5, 2021 in Pasadena and hosted more than 90 of California’s leading Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) elected officials including Treasurer Fiona Ma, State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, State Senator Dave Min, Assemblymember Evan Low, Assemblymember Phil Chen, San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu, former California State Treasurer John Chiang, and local officials.
The retreat was themed “Coming Together in a Post-Trump and Post-Pandemic Era.” It highlighted the emergence into a new time and focused on how the AAPI community of elected officials can well-equip themselves to address AAPI hate and how to utilize resources and support after the historic passing of the API Equity Budget. The retreat also went into focused themes of the rise of fascism from the Far-Right and Far-Left as well as held a discussion on the influence of social media.
More importantly, CALNET serves to provide space to network and offers a two-day retreat for elected officials to share their vision and ideas of the work they provide to their respective communities throughout the state. This year’s CALNET was a hybrid event, inviting those who could not attend to join via live streaming.
The retreat started with an opening awards ceremony, recognizing leaders championing the AAPI community:
- CA State Controller Betty T. Yee, alumnae of APALF’s first candidate training cohort, who was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award – Our Fearless Leader Award;
- President of AT&T California Rhonda Johnson, who has long supported AAPI organizations but also increased their financial support during the increased violence against AAPIs, for the Corporate Warrior Award; and
- Darlene Chiu Bryant, Executive Director of GlobalSF, Co-Founder and Board Chair of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF), for the Woman Warrior Award.
The opening awards ceremony was followed by remarks by elected officials virtually including Assemblymember Phil Ting, Congressman Ted Lieu, Congresswoman Judy Chu, Attorney General Bonta.
Uniquely, the retreat offered hybrid panel discussions. The panel, “The Rise of Fascism” was moderated by APALF Board Member Joe Yew, and joined by political consultant Garry South (in-person) and GrassrootsLab Principal, Mike Madrid (virtually).
A special panel, “Fighting for our Fair Share”, was joined by an all-women panel moderated by APALF Co-Founder and Board Chair, Darlene Chiu Bryant and featured Stephanie Tom, Chief Consultant of the AAPI Legislative Caucus; Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and Co-Founder of Stop AAPI Hate; and Nkauj Iab Yang, Executive Director of the California Commission on Asian Pacific Islander American Affairs.
The panel, “The Influence of Social Media” was moderated by Assemblymember Evan Low and was joined in-person by Mona Pasquil Rogers with Facebook, Benny Luo with NextShark, and Anu Natarajan with Facebook (virtually).
The retreat ended with a closing reception to provide more opportunities for attending elected officials to exchange information and talk about the next steps of their work.
CALNET was made possible through the generous support of our many sponsors. They include: AT&T California, Southern California Edison, East West Bank, JDGiles LLC, Reyes Coca Cola Bottling, The Doctors Company TDC, Capp Coalition to Protect Micra, Smile Direct Club, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, Oportun, and Airbnb.
The goal of CALNET is to serve as a network of APA elected and appointed officials—a resource for APA public servants to help them succeed and lead. CALNET is a project of APALF, a 501c3 non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to helping prepare and better equip APA leaders for public service and civic involvement.