AANHPI Public Service Pipeline


with Victoria Tran, chair of the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership


May 04, 2018

The AANHPI community is the fastest growing population in the U.S. with immigration playing a significant role. However, Asian Americans are not well-represented in public service positions. Victoria Tran, chair of the Board of Directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership discusses efforts to empower Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) youth by increasing access to public service opportunities and building a strong AANHPI public service pipeline.

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Traynham: The Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander communities has long been among the fastest-growing populations in the United States, with immigration playing a significant role. But here´s the question -- Are those numbers reflected in public service positions? Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I´m Robert Traynham. Joining me is Victoria Tran, chair of the board of directors for the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership. Victoria, thank you very much for joining us. And welcome to the program.

Tran: Thank you so much for having me.

Traynham: So let´s talk about public service positions. I´m a long believer that public service is arguably one of the most honorable professions that we have in this country. Giving back to your community. Being a voice for your community. Especially in this town, Washington, D.C., where there´s so many non-profits. So many elected officials clearly advocating for a specific cause. Let´s talk about, specifically, your organization.

Tran: Sure. So the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, or CAPAL, we really believe that we need a representation in public service from local to federal government and in all branches the government. But what we´ve realized is that for a lot of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders is that they don´t see that representation currently. And if you can´t see it, you can´t dream it.

Traynham: So what type of programs do you have to change that narrative?

Tran: Yeah, we offer scholarships and internships for A and HPI students to come to D.C. or work in our field internships around the U.S., give them access to a larger network of talented professionals who´ve gone through the experiences that they´re hoping to go through, and help them learn more about Asian American history, the ways that they can advocate for the community, as well as give them a taste of what it´s like to work in government.

Traynham: I find internships to be the best testing ground, if you will, for both parties. Not only for the intern. Because clearly, as you mentioned before, they get the contacts, they get the experience. But also, quite frankly, for the employer to test the intern out, if you will. Any case studies that you can talk about? Any success stories that you can talk about where folks came away from the program and said, "Thank you for doing that. I´m going to send my brother. I´m going to send my friend or my sister," whomever, "to the program in Washington, D.C.?"

Tran: Yes, CAPAL has been around for about 29 years now. We´re celebrating our 30th next year.

Traynham: Congratulations.

Tran: Thank you so much. And we have former board members who are now sending their children through the CAPAL program, to go through the internship program. And it´s been a really exciting time to see that now many of the members who have been involved in CAPAL have been able to get into leadership positions in government, and have started working on campaigns, decided that they want to run themselves. It´s been really exciting to see that our population is really growing. And we´re learning to advocate for ourselves and for other people in our community who might not have that power.

Traynham: Victoria, can we focus a little bit more on the Washington Leadership Program? How does that -- how is that different from the internship program?

Tran: Yeah, the Washington Leadership Program is a speaker series that bring in talented professionals that work from arts to politics to news and gives our students, as well as students outside of the CAPAL program that are in D.C. for the summer, the ability to learn more about their career, their history, and give students the tools to advocate for their community. That´s what we really hope to gain through the WLP program.

Traynham: We have about a minute left, Victoria. You mentioned some of the programs that you have outside of Washington, D.C. Give us some examples of those.

Tran: So we have, currently, field internships that work with the Forest Service in Alaska, California, and North Carolina. And that gives students the opportunity to broaden their definition of what public service means. It´s not just working on the Hill, but it could be testing glaciers in Alaska, learning more about the local communities and seeing how they can be a broader voice. If they don´t want to live in D.C., but want to make a change outside of the capital.

Traynham: Victoria, for the folks that are watching this program now, perhaps at home or in their smart device, where can they get more information? Is there a website that they can go to?

Tran: Yeah, so they can learn more about CAPAL at capal.org. So c-a-p-a-l dot o-r-g.

Traynham: Victoria Tran, chair of the board of directors, thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

Tran: Thank you for having me.

Traynham: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation, visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I´m Robert Traynham.

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