8Asians At DNC 2016: Day 1 – APIAVote – Briefing & Kick-off Reception


Almost four year ago in September 2012, I attended the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina and first met Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote), where she was being honored for her work as its founding Executive Director from 2006-2008 and returning in Janutary 2011 to serve again as its Executive Director.


Me & Christine Chen, Executive Director, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Since then, I’ve seen Christine many times during her visits in the San Francisco Bay area, as well as at this year’s APIAVote event at the 2016 Democratic National Convention – Briefing & Kick-off Reception. APIAVote is a national nonpartisan organization that works with partners to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in electoral and civic participation.

The briefing was scheduled for 12:30 PM at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing – which was about 1.6 miles from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where the first day’s AAPI Caucus had concluded at 12:00 PM. By the time I got a Lyft to the hotel, it was almost 1 PM and Christine had begun her briefing on the AAPI electorate, titled “Inclusion, Not Exclusion,” including a look at the Spring 2016 Asian American Voter Survey, which had some interesting findings:



There were a lot of slides that Christine went through. If you’re interested in seeing more about the findings, you can download the slides from APIAVote’s Google Drive link.

Gregory Cendana, Executive Director of Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and Institute for Asian Pacific American Leadership & Advancement (IAPALA), spoke next.

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO was founded in 1992, “the first and only national organization of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) workers, most of who[m] are union members, and our allies advancing worker, immigrant and civil rights.”  IAPALA was founded in 2011 to ensure broader education, civic engagement, and capacity building.

I thought that the most interesting slide from Gregory’s presentation was:


Sadly, issues affecting AAPIs on the lower end of the labor market I think are often ignored due to the perception of AAPIs being the “Model Minority.” You can download the rest of Gregory’s presentation here.

Next, Christopher Kang, National Director, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), spoke about his organization representing issues and priorities for the greater AAPI community – like AAPI data dis-aggregation and language access. “NCAPA is a coalition of thirty-five national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues.”

Next, Mee Moua, President and Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), spoke about the efforts developing a presidential voter guide – both printed and electronic version specific to key issues in specific states. Asian Americans Advancing Justice addresses civil rights issues faced by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other vulnerable and underserved communities.

Next, Sayu Bhojwani, Executive Director, The New American Leaders Project, spoke about her organization and its goals in training those who can relate to the immigrant experience and help train them to run for public office. I really liked Sayu’s pitch on trying to broaden an American representative.

The Kick-off Reception started around 3:30 PM.

APIAVote at the Democratic National Convention – Kick-off Reception – “Our Dream. Our Votes. Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Leadership.”

  • 0:00:00 – 0:03:10 – Joie Chen, Master of Ceremonies
  • 0:03:10 – 0:04:30 – Christine Chen, Executive Director, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)
  • 0:04:30– 0:12:45 – Hillary for America campaign staff – Senior Policy Advisor Maya Harris and AAPI Outreach Director Jason Tengco
  • 0:12:45 – 0:15:05 – Jason Chan, External and Public Affairs Director, AT&T
  • 0:15:05 – 0:18:45 – Johnnie Giles, Board Chair, APIAVote and Executive Director of External Affairs for Comcast Corporation and Vice President of External Affairs for Comcast Cable.
  • 0:18:45 – 0:22:45 – Helen Gym, Philadelphia City Council Member
  • 0:22:45 – 0:27:30 – Congresswoman and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair, Judy Chu
  • 0:27:30 – 0:32:55 – Congressman Mike Honda  (D-California, 17th District)
  • 0:32:55 – 0:36:00 – Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-New York, 6th District)
  • 0:36:00 – 0:42:20 – Constance Wu, actress, Fresh Off the Boat
  • 0:42:20 – 0:44:35 – Joie Chen, Master of Ceremonies
  • 0:44:35 – 0:48:55 – John Chiang, California State Treasury
  • 0:48:55 – 0:54:45 – Luisa Blue, Executive Vice President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
  • 0:48:55 – 0:58:40 – Fiona Ma, Board of Equalization – Second District, State of California
  • 0:58:40 – 1:03:00 – Mark Keam,  member of Virginia’s District in the House of Delegates, District 35
  • 1:03:00 – 1:06:20 – Raj Mukherji, Assemblyman, District 33, New Jersey State Legislature
  • 1:06:20 – 1:07:09 – Final remarks  – Joie Chen, Master of Ceremonies

There were some familiar names and faces from earlier in the day from the AAPIA Caucus. However, it was still great to hear from speakers again like actress Constance Wu, who rather than being on a panel, spoke directly to the audience. First, Constance addressed the issue of whitewashing and stated that what you could do was vote with your movie-going dollars and with your attention (to which programs you watch on TV) . Constance also discussed why she supported Hillary Clinton – her active involvement in healthcare reform and her experience in government.

After the numerous speakers, the music resumed and there was plenty of food and drink for people to partake. However, a lot of people were going to head to the Wells Fargo Center for the evening program, which started around 4:00/4:30 PM  EST, but much later during prime time on the East Coast to see the key speakers such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, which happened around 9:30 PM or so on the East Coast – and there was the pain of getting to Wells Fargo Center, going through security, fighting the crowds, etc. – which I had to do after leaving the Briefing & Reception.

Additional photo from the APIAVote Briefing & Reception:

 DNC 2016: Day 1 – APIAVote - Briefing & Reception

Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel - .
How does this post make you feel?
  • Excited
  • Fascinated
  • Amused
  • Disgusted
  • Sad
  • Angry

About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
This entry was posted in Current Events, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.