New Board Stands Firmly with Governor Newsom Amidst Republican Recall Effort

At its recent meeting, the California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus elected new board officers, hailing from diverse AAPI communities and serving areas of California with burgeoning AAPI populations. The Board added several key positions in order to better reflect the AAPI community’s diversity and ensure outreach to these various communities in areas such as Orange County, the Central Valley, and the Desert region. The new API Caucus Board–which includes members of the East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian communities–are gearing up to fight the recall elections. 


“The Asian American and Pacific Islander communities constitute a pivotal voting bloc for Democrats, and Governor Newsom understands that,” said Deepa Sharma, the newly-elected Chair of the CDP API Caucus. “Proponents of the Republican recall effort have engaged in divisive and hateful rhetoric against the AAPI community, are anti-immigrant, and have historically used our community as a wedge. The AAPI community stands firmly against the recall and the GOP’s duplicitous power grab,” added Sharma. 


Outreach to AAPI communities will prove critical in the recall election. Republican recall proponents have circulated a memo detailing their strategy, which includes the creation of a “Volunteer Citizens Brigade” that will identify potential supporters, “ballot harvest” Republican votes, and target Latino, AAPI, and Independent voters. The memo is available here.


Recognizing the importance of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, California Democrats at their recent convention voted to approve a resolution condemning hate crimes which have impacted the AAPI community in record numbers. More than 6,600 hate incidents have been reported in the year after the pandemic began in the United States according to Stop AAPI Hate. A full text of the approved resolution is available here.


The 2021-2023 API Caucus Executive Board Officers are as follows:


Chair: Deepa Sharma
Vice Chair: Adam Ma
Communications Secretary: Alfred Twu
Treasurer: Hon. Shawn Kumagai
Recording Secretary: Jessica Caloza
Parliamentary Chair: Aref Aziz
Legislative Director: Olivia Lee

Northern California
Chair: Harris Mojadedi
Vice Chair & Political Director: Emily Ramos
Central Valley Vice Chair & Political Director: Hon. Rachel Hernandez
Secretary: Shivam Patel
Outreach & Local Clubs Chair: Zahra Hajee

Southern California
Chair: Hon. Tammy Kim
Vice Chair & Political Director: Michael Milan
Secretary: Vanndearlyn Vong
Outreach & Local Clubs Chair: Steve Kang

Hon. Melissa Ramoso, State Chair Emeritus

Governor Newsom Sends Support to India

The CDP API Caucus expresses its gratitude to California Governor Gavin Newsom for sending lifesaving supplies to India amidst its devastating COVID crisis. Just yesterday, Gov. Newsom announced that California will be sending to India hundreds of oxygen concentrators, oxygen cylinders, pulse oximeters, and a deployable oxygen concentrator system. The public health emergency in India is impacting the diaspora community here in California, and we are thankful that Governor Newsom recognizes this. Moreover, California has an outsized role in combatting COVID worldwide as the fifth largest economy in the world. We encourage Californians to give to reputable relief organizations, and we send our thoughts and prayers to members of the community impacted by the crisis.

General Membership Meeting Agenda

Join the California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus for our annual California Democratic Party Convention General Membership Meeting. This year’s meeting is jam-packed. Join us for a discussion of our Anti-Xenophobia Resolution, some of the most exciting awardees for our annual Trail Blazer and Rising Star Awards, the creation of a new API Action Award, and the election of the largest Executive Board the California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus will ever welcome in its history!

There are two ways to join us for the 2021 CADEM Convention Asian Pacific Islander Caucus meeting. If you have registered and credentialed for the 2021 California Democratic Party Convention please watch this video for instructions on how to attend the 2021 CADEM Convention and events through the Virtual Convention Platform. For members of the API Caucus who did not register for the 2021 CADEM Convention or members of the public you may join the Caucus meeting through the Convention’s Public Access Platform.

Se the agenda below!

California Democratic Party 2021 State Convention Meeting
Asian Pacific Islander Caucus Meeting Agenda
Friday, April 30, 2021 | 7:30pm – 9:30pm
via online:

Register for the meeting: https://hopin.com/events/cadem-2021-convention

  1. Call to Order | Welcome
  1. Approval of Agenda
  1. Approval of Minutes                             
  1. Elected Officer Reports
    1. State Chair’s Report
      1. 2019-2021 Term Review
    1. State Treasurer’s Report
      1. Caucus Membership
      1. Dues Update and Membership Renewal
    1. State Secretary’s Report
    1. Northern California Report
    1. Southern California Report
  • Committee Reports
    • Resolutions
  • 2021 API Caucus Trailblazer and Rising Star Awards
  • 2021-2023 Executive Board Elections
  • Board Transition
  1. Adjournment

#StopAAPIHate recognized with API in Action Award

In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. The center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Our approach recognizes that in order to effectively address anti-Asian racism we must work to end all forms of structural racism leveled at Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

Our 5-pronged approach is to:

  • Serve as the leading aggregator of anti-Asian and anti-Pacific Islander hate incidents
  • Offer multilingual resources for impacted community members
  • Provide technical assistance from rapid response to preventative measures
  • Support community-based safety measures and restorative justice efforts
  • Advocate for local, state, and national policies that reinforces human rights and civil rights protections

For questions or info, email: community@stopaapihate.org.

Website: www.stopaapihate.org

Leadership

Manjusha P. Kulkarni, Executive Director of A3PCON

Cynthia Choi, Co-Executive Director of CAA

Russell Jeung PhD, Professor, Asian American Studies Department, San Francisco State University

Founding Organizations

Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council is a coalition of more than 40 community-based organizations that serve and represent the 1.5 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the greater Los Angeles area, with a particular focus on low-income, immigrant, refugee, and other vulnerable populations.

Chinese for Affirmative Action advocates for systemic change that protects immigrant rights, promotes language diversity, and remedies racial and social injustice.

Asian American Studies Department, San Francisco State University uses interdisciplinary approaches in teaching, community service, and research to address the structural and ideological forces that shape the lives of Asian Americans.

Harini Krishnan Named 2021 Trailblazer

Harini Krishnan is an Indian American Democratic Organizer who is passionate about Gender Equity, Civil Rights, Public Education and Arts. A former Lead Volunteer Organizer for the Presidential Campaign of VP Kamala Harris in California in 2019, Harini co-founded NorCal Joyful Warriors for Joe and Kamala in early 2020, was elected as a Biden Delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention and was featured in several videos at the historic convention. Harini joined South Asians for Biden (SAB) as the National Grassroots Organizing Lead and California State Director in June 2020, helping to not only mobilize the South Asian community to be the margin of victory in key battleground states for the Biden-Harris campaign during the General Election, but also coordinating grassroots efforts with AAPI groups on the ground in Georgia, to help elect Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in the Special Election in 2021. Harini is currently working with her SAB colleagues to launch a new National South Asian Political Advocacy Organization, South Asians for America (SAFA), and will serve as Co-Chair of Community Organizing Campaigns & Training for SAFA on the leadership team.

In addition to her involvement with Presidential campaigns, Harini is an elected AD 22 Delegate and Platform Committee Member of the California Democratic Party; a San Mateo County Democrats Central Committee Alternate and Co-Chair of Events committee; a Board Member of Fund Her, which elects progressive women to state legislatures nationwide; Board Fund Committee Chair of Equal Access International, an International NGO which combines media programming with community mobilization to address gender inequities and increase civic engagement; Vice Chair of the San Mateo County Arts Commission; a well-known Indian Classical Vocalist and Lecturer for the past 2 decades; and is currently enrolled in the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Leadership Program. A resident of the Town of Hillsborough in Northern California for more than 2 decades, Harini is the recipient of the 2020 Hillsborough Citizen of the Year Award and 2018 Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Vida Benavides Named 2021 Trailblazer

Vida is a Filipino American, born in the Philippines, raised in San Francisco East Bay Area, CA. Benavides is a proven leader who has harnessed the intersection of policy advocacy, civic & electoral engagement, social justice, equity and multicultural activism.

Vida is the first Filipino American to serve as a Public Affairs, Political and Multicultural Affairs Strategist, and Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion (J.E.DI) facilitator in the country. Vida serves as a strategic counsel to national, state and local leaders from the private and public sectors.  Vida has advised and consulted Forbes 50 Company C-Suite Executives, Global Foundations, Federal Agencies such as CDC and OMH, and National Advocacy Organizations. 

Prior to her career as a Strategist, Vida served as the Executive Director for APIAVote (National Organization, Executive Director,) Community Technology Policy Council (California Statewide), Director of Constituencies, (Democratic National Committee), Deputy Political Director (Clinton Presidential Transition Team), Special Assistant (Clinton-Gore Campaign) Management Analyst (Solano County, County Administrators Office).

As a leader in Political Affairs and within the Democratic Party, Vida served in various leadership roles: DNC Platform Committee Member; DNC Commission Member, Presidential Nomination, Timing and Scheduling; Convention Site Selection Committee Member; Delegate to two Democratic Party Conventions and DNC Director of Constituencies.

Vida has advised, consulted, and worked on Presidential Campaigns since Clinton-Gore Campaign. And served as a Deputy Political Director for the Clinton-Gore Transition. She was the first Asian American to consult the DNC and Democratic Presidential Campaigns for General Election. Just recently, Vida served as Senior Adviser to Filipino Americans for Biden-Harris guiding infrastructure, data driven and GOTV strategies.

Benavides as a community leader serves on boards that support emerging leaders and grow capacity for community involvement at all levels.  She currently serves on the Boards of Civic Power of Media, Civic Power of Change and America’s Opportunity Fund.  Benavides served distinguished honors as German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Fellow, Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute Fellow, Outen-UMC GBCS Fellow, Ron Brown Civil Rights and Economic Development Honoree and Filipina American Women’s Network Top 100 Influential Women Honoree.

As one of Vida’s life achievement is her volunteer service as a Co-Founder and Campaign Strategist for the National Alliance for Filipino World War II Filipino Veterans for Equity (NAFVE).  After WW II, Filipinos who served under the US Flag’s military benefits were rescinded.  From 2007-2009, Benavides developed policy engagement infrastructure at the grass tops and grassroots levels, raised funds, and implemented policy-communications strategies. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, authorizing the release of one lump sump payment to eligible World War II Filipino Veterans, widows and eligible family members.

The value of service by her parent’s example is Vida’s foundation and purpose in Life.  Her parents became civically engaged by serving as leaders in the Filipino community of San Francisco East Bay Area. Her father, Eugenio served as an Board Executive Officer for the Filipino American Center of the East Bay that provided employment, job training, immigrant services for Filipinos.  Her mother, Belen served as a Medical Social Worker and Social Services Director for

Alameda County and Health Care Systems in the area of health care access and affordability for Immigrant and senior populations.

Kevin Acebo Named 2021 Trailblazer

Kevin M. Acebo is President and Owner of Acebo and Associates, a consulting company focused on strategic public policy advice and representation for corporate and public clients on matters before local, state and federal governments. Acebo and Associates also provides strategic political campaign advice to state and local candidates as well as local ballot initiatives.

Prior to establishing Acebo and Associates, Kevin’s 30+ year public service career included:   Deputy Mayor for the City of Los Angeles; Statewide Political Director for the California Democratic Party; Assistant Chief of Staff for Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; Principal Legislative Consultant for California Assembly Speaker Willie L. Brown, Jr; and, Campaign Consultant for the Assembly Democratic Campaign Committee.  Kevin also was elected as President of the Los Angeles Asian Democratic Caucus and State Chair of the California State Democratic Party’s Asian Pacific Caucus.

Kevin also served in Washington, DC, as research assistant for both the White House Commission on the Review of the Federal Impact Aid Program and the Office for Civil Rights within the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.  Returning to Los Angeles from the Nation’s capitol Kevin worked as a budget and program planner for the United Way of Los Angeles.

Acebo’s public service career started with two Los Angeles area Asian Pacific American community-based, non-profit organizations:  Youth Counselor for Search to Involve Pilipino Americans, Inc. (SIPA), and as a social work fellow with the Asian American Mental Health Training Center mentoring under the legendary Pilipino American community leader, Alfred Mendoza, Jr.

Kevin served twice — in 2001 and 2011 — as Chair and a General Member of the Los Angeles County Boundary Review Committee, a public member body charged with gathering public testimony, implementing an extensive community outreach effort and developing redistricting recommendations for each of the offices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with each district representing close to 2 million residents. He also served as a consultant to the 1990 reapportionment of California’s congressional and legislative districts.

Today, Acebo sits as a Member of the Los Angeles Commission on Mental Health, responsible for advising the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Director of the Department of Mental Health on various aspects of local mental health programs.

Kevin Acebo also is a Principal Officer the American Opportunity Fund Political Action Committee, supporting Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) candidates and candidates who representative the voices of the AAPI community; Votamos, Inc., a non-profit voter registration and education 501(c)3 organization targeting California Latino, Asian, and  Pacific Islander communities; and, the Asian American Victory Political Action Committee PAC, a non-partisan PAC to support AAPI candidates for running for state and local office in California and candidates who represent the needs and issues of the AAPI community.

Kevin graduated cum laude from the University of Southern California’s School of Pubic Affairs and returned during his tenure as Los Angeles City Deputy Mayor as an Assistant Adjunct Professor. 

Ajay Mohan Named 2021 Rising Star

Ajay Mohan is an Orange County native with almost a decade of experience electing Democrats across California, where he has worked on successful campaigns for public office from water board to Congress. He was appointed to serve as the first Indian American and youngest ever Executive Director for the Democratic Party of Orange County in 2021 after serving as Political Director in 2020, where Orange County Democrats flipped 20 local seats and 2 State Senate seats from red to blue. As Executive Director, Ajay has championed youth and AAPI participation in our Party, and furthered the work of recruiting and electing Democrats to every single level of elected and appointed office. Ajay is a product of local public schools and currently serves as a Commissioner for the City of Irvine, where he resides with his partner Jill and dog Anakin.

Hon. Ellen Kamei Named 2021 Rising Star

The Honorable Ellen Kamei is one of our 2021 Rising Stars. She serves as the Mayor of the City of Mountain View, California in the heart of Silicon Valley. A third generation Mountain View resident, Ellen is the daughter of a Chinese and Puerto Rican American mother and a Japanese American father born at Heart Mountain Internment Camp.

Ellen is passionate about youth and civic engagement, mental health services, and social equity. She chairs the City of Mountain View Ad-Hoc Committee on Race, Diversity, and Inclusion as well as the City’s Youth Services Subcommittee.

She is a member of various boards and commissions including: Vice President of the League of California Cities Women’s Caucus, the Peninsula Division Executive Committee for the League of California Cities, and is a board member on the Community Health Awareness Council (CHAC). Her professional experience includes over a decade of experience at every level of government, local, state, and federal, as well as political campaigns. Ellen also has experience in the classroom as a former English Teacher for Kindergarten, Elementary, and Middle Schoolers.

Ellen completed her M.P.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, B.A. from UC Santa Barbara, and is a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in State and Local Government. Pronouns: she/her

Statement on Indianapolis Shooting

The California Democratic Party Asian Pacific Islander Caucus is saddened and angered to learn that members of the Sikh community were among the victims of yet another mass shooting, this time occurring in Indianapolis.

The Sikh community has a long and painful history of being targeted by xenophobic violence in America. Although details of last night’s attack are still being released, the CDP API Caucus extends our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all of the victims and their families. Enduring yet another violent attack against members of our API community is unbearable, and we call on our lawmakers to act.