APALF Hosts 6th Annual CALNET Leadership Retreat

APALF Co-Founder and Board Chair Darlene Chiu Bryant received the APALF Woman Warrior Award.

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. 

The Rise of Fascism Panel with Garry South and APALF Board Member Joe Yew.

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). 

Fighting for Our Fair Share Panel with CA AAPI Legislative Caucus Chief Consultant Stephanie Tom, Chinese for Affirmative Action Co-Executive Director Cynthia Choi, CA Commission on APIA Affairs Executive Director Nkauj Iab Yang, and APALF Board Chair Darlene Chiu Bryant (from left to right)

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 Influence of Social Media panel with Assemblymember Evan Low, Mona Pasquil Rogers, and Benny Luo (left to right)

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.

Opening remarks were keynoted by CA AAPI Legislative Caucus Chair & State Senator Dr. Richard Pan

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.

The Sacramento Bee | AAPI documentary

California Attorney General Rob Bonta will be featured in a documentary that is airing Thursday at the Center for Asian American Media Film Festival. The documentary, titled “The Race Epidemic,” tells the story of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders “and their unique history in the broader context of racism in America,” according to a statement released about the film.

Highlights from the 3rd Annual California Asian Leadership Network of Electeds (CALNET) Leadership Retreat

The Largest Convening of California’s APA Elected and Appointed Officials

Attendees of the 2017 CALNET Leadership Retreat

The Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF) hosted the 3rd Annual Leadership Retreat for the California Asian Leadership Network of Electeds (CALNET) on January 5 – 6, 2017 in Ranchos Palos Verdes, California.

California State Treasurer John Chiang leads a discussion at the Opening Dinner on January 5, 2017.
Over 80 of California’s key elected and state appointed officials returned for a third year in building the much needed CALNET, a network for APA elected leaders. Some of the state’s most prominent elected officials included California State Treasurer John Chiang; California State Controller Betty Yee; Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma; California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, Phillip Chen, David Chiu, Al Muratsuchi, Evan Low and Phil Ting.


The theme of the retreat was “Moving Forward. Prospects for an APA President.” The retreat offered an opportunity for the state’s most important decision makers to learn, share ideas, and discuss their vision for California and the APA community. Retreat workshops and panels discussed what it would take to have an APA President and assessed the political maturation of the APA community. There are currently more than 240 APA elected and appointed officials in California serving.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (left) and State Controller Betty Yee (right) provided remarks on state of California and leadership.

The Opening Dinner featured California State Treasurer John Chiang who led a discussion on “California Leading America.” Day 2 featured remarks from California State Controller Betty Yee and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, Phillip Chen, David Chiu, Evan Low, and Phil Ting, all alumni of the APALF Candidate Bootcamp Training, discussed how to build the political infrastructure to sustain and support APA candidates for higher office during the “Climbing the Political Ladder” plenary.

(From left): Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, Phillip Chen, David Chiu, Phil Ting and Evan Low speak on the “Climbing the Political Ladder” Plenary.
Other highlights of the retreat program included plenary sessions on coalition building and the Asian American and Pacific Islander vote in 2016 elections. Break-out session topics included “California Leading the Way: The Future of Clean Energy” and “Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Overcoming Unique Challenges.”


Participants also received Media Training with Richard Lui, MSNBC & NBC News Anchor, and Yusef Robb, former Communications Director for Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.
APALF partnered with the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Legislative Caucus, the League of California Cities API Caucus, and Chinese-American Elected Officials to host and convene the retreat.
The goal of CALNET is to be 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 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to helping prepare and better equip APA leaders for public service and civic involvement.

The 4th Annual CALNET Leadership Retreat is scheduled to take place in 2018.

Thank you to the 3rd Annual CALNET Leadership Retreat sponsors!





BNSF Railway Company
California Dental Association
Imprenta Communications
Kaiser Permanente
Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
State Building & Construction Trades Council of California

Southern California Edison
Dart Container Corporation
United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC)

Assemblymember Phillip Chen
Hilltop Securities
Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS)
Partner Organizations
Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
League of California Cities Asian Pacific Islander Caucus
Chinese-American Elected Officials (CEO)

Hon. Phillip Chen Testimonial

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“Thank you to APLAF for providing me with cutting-edge information, training and strategy to significantly bolster my candidacy for State Assembly and create the best possible pathway for a successful campaign. The training I received was second to none.”