PRESS RELEASE: Prominent Asian and Pacific American leaders convene for statewide retreat

CALNET Hosts Annual Leadership Retreat of APA Elected and Appointed Officials – “Moving Forward: Prospects for an APA President”

LOS ANGELES, CA. — The California Asian Leadership Network of Electeds (CALNET) hosted their 3rd Annual Leadership Retreat this past weekend on January 5-6, 2017 in Ranchos Palos Verdes.  

The CALNET Retreat featured a number of California’s prominent elected officials including Treasurer John Chiang; State Controller Betty Yee; Board of Equalization Chairwoman Fiona Ma; Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon; Assemblymembers Rob Bonta, Phillip Chen, David Chiu, Steven Choi, Kansen Chu, Evan Low, Al Muratsuchi and Phil Ting. This was the largest gathering of the most prominent APA elected officials in California’s history.

The theme of this year’s retreat was, “Moving Forward:  Prospects for an Asian Pacific American President.” “With the focus on what it would take to have an APA President, we assessed the political maturation of the APA community and explored how other communities of color and minority groups organize and mobilize to gain more political representation,” said Amy Watanabe, Director of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation and CALNET. “There is still a lot of work to be done to achieve the ultimate American Dream of having an APA as President of the United States, and CALNET is where these conversations start.”

State Treasurer John Chiang opened the Retreat with a thought provoking roundtable discussion. Chiang, a candidate for Governor, was a crowd favorite and is a role model for many APA elected leaders. Becoming Governor of the nation’s largest state would position any California Governor as a potential contender for President.

Former Congressman Mike Honda was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award and stayed for the entire Retreat. Other retreat workshops and panels focused on building the pipeline for APA candidates to ascend to higher office, and a skills building session on media relations featuring MSNBC and NBC News anchor Richard Lui.  

The last decade has seen an explosion of APA elected officials at the state and local levels. Currently, there are more than 240 elected leaders of Asian Pacific Islander descent.  There are now record numbers of APAs in the State Legislature and in local elected office throughout California.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta, Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus, offered his support and that of other Assemblymembers in creating a pipeline to increase the number of APAs in the State Legislature. “We need to do our part in supporting qualified candidates for higher office and help mentor and inspire new leaders,” said Bonta.  “APAs can and should play a role in helping to lead our state. We have a lot to contribute to make our community stronger and truly representative of the diversity that is California.”

“With the increase in APA elected officials over the past 20 years, it is important we come together to share resources, network and learn from each other,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting, Chair of the Assembly Budget Committee.  

CALNET was created to be a resource to help APA elected officials be more effective. CALNET is a project of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization to help prepare and train qualified APA leaders for public service.

“CALNET provides a unique platform for state and local elected officials to connect and collaborate,” said Ronald W. Wong, Founder of APALF. “APAs are at a coming of age for political leadership in California from the local to national levels. There are 3 Constitutional Officers, 14 State Legislators and 7 Members of Congress, including the state’s first APA U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. We are going to lead by embracing diversity. With CALNET and APALF, we can ensure that APAs are well represented in governance and leadership.”

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has been a corporate sponsor of the program since its inception.  The generous support of PG&E has made this program possible.  Fong Wan, Senior Vice President, Energy Policy and Procurement, for PG&E was a featured speaker at the Retreat.  Other corporate sponsor include Comcast NBC Universal, BNSF Railway Company, California Dental Association, Coca-Cola, Imprenta Communications Group, Kaiser Permanente,  Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, Southern California Edison, CAPG, DART Container Corporation, Lyft, Recology, United Airlines, United Nurses Associations of California (UNAC), CAPA 21, Hilltop Securities, among others.

APALF plans to organize additional training programs in the coming months and will host the 4th Annual CALNET Leadership Retreat in 2018.


About California Asian Leadership Network of Electeds (CALNET)

The California Asian Leadership Network of Electeds (CALNET) is a statewide network of Asian Pacific American (APA) elected and appointed officials. CALNET provides a unique opportunity for APA public officials at all levels of government to connect, build relationships, and share best practices. CALNET is a project of the Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation (APALF), a 501c3 nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to helping prepare and better equip Asian Pacific American (APA) leaders for public service and civic involvement.