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Description of the Program:


The foundation of National CAPACD's advocacy efforts is the grassroots leadership of our membership network. Over the last decade, we have convened more than 85 AAPI leaders from across our membership through an annual leadership development program called Community in the Capital (CITC) to do the following:

  • Support the development of emerging leadership from its base.

  • Provide opportunities to build strategic relationships with other community leaders.

  • Deepen their perspectives on critical issues and concerns impacting AAPI communities at the federal level.

  • Develop a coordinated national and local advocacy strategy around an identified AAPI policy agenda.

  • Study the legislative process, including experiential learning on conducting education and advocacy with congressional representatives, policymakers from federal agencies, and the Administration.

  • Build coalitions with allies and partners

  • Graduates of our CITC program have been promoted to executive directorships and other leadership roles within their organizations, hold roles as policymakers within federal agencies and the Administration, and continue to serve as key representatives on issues affecting low-income AAPIs.

 Learn more about the 2019-2020 CITC Fellows!  


Aian Mendoza, Site Organizer, AYPAL (Oakland, CA)


Aian Mendoza is a Site Organizer with AYPAL. AYPAL seeks to empower and grow leadership of Asian / Asian American high school students in Oakland. Their role is to work directly with a team of nine interns to discuss social justice issues, develop leadership skills, learn about ethnic histories and cultures, and engage with arts activism projects.

Prior to their work with AYPAL, Aian organized throughout Southern CA with different non-profit social justice spaces such as API Equality LA, Pilipino Workers Center, and student organizations. They also spent time directly managing a campus food pantry as well as organizing programs and speakers on food justice topics.

Aian graduated from UC Riverside with a Bachelor’s in Ethnic Studies, and is a proud transfer student from Santa Ana College where they received an Associate’s in Business Administration. They enjoy reading queer graphic novels, hanging out with their dog (Amber) who comes to AYPAL twice a week, attempting to play soccer, and making vegetarian dishes.


Chrissy Sam, Executive Assistant, Khmer Girls in Action (Long Beach, CA)


Chrissy Sam is the Executive Assistant at Khmer Girls in Action. She works closely with the Executive Director around the financials of the organization. Khmer Girls in Action is a community-based organization whose mission is to build a progressive and sustainable Long Beach community that works for gender, racial and economic justice led by Southeast Asian young women.

Chrissy is involved with advocacy fellowships such as Long Beach Rising, a coalition that works to create a sustainable Long Beach and with the Cambodian Advocacy Collaborative a coalition of Southeast Asian organizations that leverage resources for marginalized community members.

Chrissy is a second generation Cambodian American living in Cambodia Town. As a high school youth, Chrissy got involved in KGA through their membership program where she recognized that there were lack of resources and different disparities and injustices that affected her and her community. She hopes to find better solutions for the Cambodian community and larger Southeast Asian and API communities as a whole through growing her skill sets around strategizing around advocacy work. When she is not organizing for collective power you can find Chrissy dancing to music and watching Korean dramas.


Farzana Linda, Advocacy & Organizing Manager, Chhaya CDC (Jackson Heights, NY)


Farzana Linda is an Advocacy and Organizing Manager at Chhaya Community Development Corporation. Chhaya CDC is a nonprofit organization that works to build the housing stability, economic well being and political power of the South Asian and Indo Caribbean community. Her current role is to oversee Chhaya’s civic engagement, economic justice work and building community power through various initiatives like GOTV and the 2020 Census campaign. Prior to her current role, she was a Public Allies Fellow where she helped lead the early stages of Chhaya’s housing organizing work against Zara Realty. Since then she has built out Shakti: Community Ambassadors, a leadership program for community members to learn about civic engagement and housing justice. Farzana is a long time resident of Queens and a strong believer in community power and recognizing that everyone's liberation is tied to each other.


Frances Huang, Policy Associate, Chinese-American Planning Council (New York, NY)

Frances Huang is the Policy Associate at Chinese American Planning Council (CPC). CPC is the nation’s largest Asian American social services agency, promoting social and economic empowerment for 60,000 New Yorkers through education, family support, community and economic empowerment each year. Their work involves educating community members about complex policy changes, such as immigration and healthcare that affect their daily lives, as well as elevating the work that staff on the ground are doing to elected officials and other state and local decision-makers. Previously, they were a Health Educator at CPC’s Community Health Services division, where they provided sex education and HIV prevention workshops for AAPI low-income, second generation high school students. They also created curriculum regarding advocacy, career mapping, consent and boundaries, healthy relationships, and financial literacy. Outside of CPC, they have been involved in many forms of community organizing around trans and gender justice, environmental, and racial justice issues. They are currently studying mental health counseling at Teachers College, Columbia University, and previously was interested in entering the film industry to become a health documentarian.


Journey Chen, Youth Programs Manager, Asian Community Development Corporation (Boston, MA)


Journey Chen is the Youth Programs Manager at Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC). ACDC is a nonprofit located in Boston Chinatown that builds affordable housing, and supports residents and community members in the Greater Boston area through resident, civic engagement, and youth programming. In her role, Journey oversees ACDC’s youth programs department through strategic visioning for the department, managing the youth programs staff, and directly running a school year youth program.

In her previous role, Journey served at ACDC as the Massachusetts Promise Fellow and Youth Programs Associate through AmeriCorps. Her task as the MPF Fellow was to create and spearhead a pilot year of ACDC’s youth leadership program in the city of Malden, and to co-facilitate a pilot year of ACDC’s financial literacy and matched savings youth program in Chinatown.

Journey graduated from Bentley University in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing with a Liberal Studies Major focused in Diversity and Society.


Kristina Doan, Civic Engagement Manager, CAPI USA (Brooklyn Center, MN)


Kristina Doan is the Human Services and Civic Engagement Manager at CAPI USA. CAPI USA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping Minnesota’s newest refugees, immigrants, and people of color gain access to employment, food, benefits, and senior social services in order to promote economic independence, self-determination and social equality. Kristina oversees CAPI’s basic needs programs including a client-choice food shelf, healthcare enrollment, a benefits enrollment center, and senior programs. She also leads CAPI’s civic engagement work integrating voter engagement at the agency and through a non-partisan campaign to reach Minnesota’s AAPI communities through outreach, canvass, and phonebank efforts.

Before joining CAPI USA, Kristina was a program evaluator for the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor, a financial services consultant for local county and state government at MAXIMUS Inc, and worked as a paralegal at Crowell and Moring in Washington D.C.
She graduated with a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with an emphasis on Global Policy-U.S. Foreign and International Security Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Macalester College.


Lamei Zhang, Projects Manager, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (Philadelphia, PA)


Lamei Zhang is the Projects Manager at the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC). Lamei first joined PCDC as a college intern, and after graduating, she found herself working full-time at PCDC. As Projects Manager, Lamei is responsible for various short-term and long-term projects, including real estate development, PCDC’s street cleaning program, and event coordination. During her time at PCDC, she has also managed and initiated civic engagement activities, such as voter registration and voter education. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation is a grassroots, community-based nonprofit organization with a mission preserve, protect, and promote Philadelphia’s Chinatown as a viable ethnic, residential, and business community.

Prior to PCDC, Lamei spent much of her undergraduate career working with youth and children. She volunteered with local schools and acted as residential advisor in summer camp programs.

Lamei received her BA in Growth and Structure of Cities and a minor in Chinese from Bryn Mawr College. During her free time, she enjoys playing badminton and board games.


Nikki Sutton, Director of Fund Development and Communications, Little Tokyo Service Center (Los Angeles, CA)


Nikki Kealalio Sutton is the Director of Fund Development & Communications for Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) where she focuses on generating support of the organization’s work. Driven by LTSC’s mission and goals, Nikki, along with her team, focus on storytelling, fundraising and support building in order to help ensure long-term organizational sustainability.

Nikki was fortunate enough to attend Kamehameha Schools Kapālama on a full financial aid scholarship. Attending Kamehameha pushed her to become a first-generation college student, earning her B.A. in Communications from Whitworth University, and left her with the realization that opportunities and resources can have a significant impact on the trajectory of ones life. Her time spent as a board member for Young Variety, an arm of Variety - the Children’s Charity of Southern California, furthered her interest in creating opportunities for youth residing in under-resourced communities.

Outside of LTSC, Nikki is a member of hula hālau Kaulana Ka Hale Kula `O Na Pua `O KaʻĀina. Her involvement allows her to learn more about Hawaiian history, culture and indigenous practices which has in turn informed her work related to gentrification, displacement and racial equity.


Seema Choudhary, Young Women's Leadership Program Manager, South Asian Youth Action (Queens, NY)


Seema Choudhary currently serves as the Young Women’s Leadership Program Manager at South Asian Youth Action (SAYA), based in Queens, New York. Through her role, Seema works with high school-aged young women in their leadership development using a social-emotional framework in her curriculum design. She additionally manages an external site at a high school for immigrant youth where she develops and facilitates a co-ed leadership curriculum. Her organization, SAYA, aims to foster a strong sense of belonging in youth and provide them with tools to thrive academically, professionally and personally.

Seema has over ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector, with a focus in the education and youth development space working at organizations like The School District of Philadelphia, The Ministry of Education in Spain, and Queens Library. Some of her other past experiences include conducting community outreach in partnership with New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and volunteering for community-centered organizations during her free time.

Seema is a graduate of the prestigious National Urban Fellows program, a rigorous fourteen-month leadership development fellowship. And, she completed both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at the City University of New York. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from Queens College and a Master of Public Administration degree from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College. Seema is passionate about providing youth with the resources that they need to holistically thrive and drive change in their respective communities. Although born and raised in New York City, Seema is a traveler at heart. Having been to over thirty countries in five continents, her favorite part of travelling is connecting with the soul of a place through the locals who call it home.

The 2020 CITC Advocacy Institute was scheduled for in-person March 30-April 2nd, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to pivot to adjust in-person events. A four day online Advocacy Institute was planned with the fellows with an emphasis on advocacy, data and amplifying the fellows' stories of the impact of COVID-19 on their organizations and community members. 

Photos included here are from the fellow's organizations

Photos from their virtual learning:

Learn more about the CITC program! 

To learn more about the CITC program, join our CITC Happy Hour from 5-6pm EST on Monday, September 14th to hear directly from this year's fellows! Applications for the 2021 program will be released later this fall - please email to express interest in joining the program!

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