To build new foundations for effective public service, community leadership and multicultural citizenship, the APYLP was founded in 1990 by legislative staffers in the state capitol.
The vitality and effectiveness of government depends on strong ties to the people in the community. By increasing Asian Pacific representation, government will gain a richer texture, and can better respond to the needs of people from all ethnic, geographic, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
To fulfill its commitment, APYLP depends on donations of time and money from a broad range of individuals, corporations, and university sponsors who believe in making a difference by giving teenagers attention, new aspirations, and a chance to dream of a better world.
Learn more about the Project's history, our board members, past and present sponsors, and read statements by those who have benefited from their involvement.
"Every year we would see hundreds of students converge on the State Capitol as part of Boys State, Girls State and the YMCA Model Legislature, but we rarely saw Asian or Pacific Islander students among them. Finally, a few of us got together and decided that we could create a more meaningful experience for API students. We are the insiders, after all."
These comments were made by one of the participants at a meeting of the Asian Pacific Legislative Staff Caucus in 1989, when the idea for the Asian Pacific Youth Leadership Project was born. The founders of APYLP were driven to action by the absence at that time of legislators of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, and by a seeming lack of interest in politics by the next generation. Over the next few months, the group worked feverishly to pull together the first conference. Only seven students applied. So the conference was canceled for that year and the group went back to the drawing board.
The following year, APYLP gained the attention of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, who helped mail applications to all of the state's high schools. Applications began arriving in boxfulls. APYLP was off and running and soon incorporated as a nonprofit corporation.
APYLP refines the conference each year making adjustments for demographic changes in the Asian and Pacific Islander community, increased sophistication of students, the steady growth in numbers of API legislative staff, election of API Legislators, and emerging community issues. Aggressive fundraising was undertaken and new corporate sponsors were brought on board, providing APYLP with a balanced budget and the ability to offer a first-rate conference at no cost to the student participants. The original board of directors had decided that no student should have to turn down the opportunity to participate in the conference because his or her parents couldn't afford the trip.
Due to the conference staff's intimate knowledge of the legislative process and access to the State Capitol and its facilities, the cornerstone of the conference remains the Mock Legislature. By assuming the roles of elected officials and presenting bills for passage in committee and on the Senate Floor, students are able to put into action the public speaking, advocacy and other skills they gain in workshops they attend during the first two days of the conference. The opportunity to debate real-world issues and experience the influential role that elective office plays in their lives inspires students to consider their own career options. The supportive environment created by conference staff allows students to discover and explore their own leadership potential.
APYLP continues to draw students from across the state, from rural and urban communities, from small towns and big cities. Some of the 50 students selected each year to participate in the conference have strong backgrounds in leadership and student government, but many have little or no such experience. Instead, they have a strong desire to learn and a potential for leadership that has been recognized by their teachers and counselors. Together, these student leaders and potential leaders share in a new learning experience in the halls of the State Capitol. They face their fears of public speaking, learn to rely on each other to further a cause, and share personal experiences. They develop networks that could help them in future careers and friendships that could last a lifetime.
Board of Directors
- President: Karen Kim
- VP, Development: Sophia Kwong Kim
- VP, Programs: Jeremy Nishihara
- VP, Outreach: Curtis Notsinneh
- Secretary: Joyce Iseri
- Treasurer: Rohimah Moly
At-Large Executive Board Members:
- Dina Fong
- Jody Fujii
- Georgette Imura
- Agnes Lee
- Jonathan Tran
- Eric Astacaan
- Anthony Bhe
- Ryan Kawamoto
- Anita Kung
- Sandra Michioku
- Andrew Nakahata
- Beverly Ng
- Melanie Ramil
- Susan Sun
- Jacqueline Wong
- Elaine Yamaguchi
- Karen Yamamoto
- Hon. John Chiang, California State Controller
- Hon. Betty Yee, California Board of Equalization
- Hon. Rob Bonta, California State Assembly
- Hon. Ed Chau, California State Assembly
- Hon. Paul Fong, California State Assembly
- Hon. Ted Lieu, California State Senate
- Hon. Carol Liu, California State Senate
- Hon. Al Muratsuchi, California State Assembly
- Hon. Richard Pan, California State Assembly
- Hon. Philip Ting, California State Assembly
- Hon. Das Williams, California State Assembly
- Hon. Mariko Yamada, California State Assembly
- Hon. Leland Yee, California State Senate
Past Board Members
- Betty Yee
- Bill Wong
- Charmette Bonpua
- Christopher Cabaldon
- Jai Sookprasert
- Maeley Tom
- Mona Pasquil
After APYLP, I took an active role by working for the California State Legislature, representing Los Angelesí Koreatown concerns to our Sacramento office. I helped suggest legislation and provide assistance and constituency services on behalf of many Korean American constituents. -- 1992
The conference definitely worked to break down stereotypes that even Asian Americans have about themselves Ė I really appreciated that. It was eye-opening to meet all the conference goers and discover that Asian Americans are indeed a diverse group. -- 1993
The conference opened my mind to new things in the world. It was one of the two major turning points in my young adult life. Basically I was ignorant of everything, didnít care, didnít want to care. APYLP changed all that, and I thank you. -- 1996
I used to be afraid of taking leadership and expressing feelings or opinions to others. As a first generation alumnus of APYLP, Iíve gained courage and basically Iím not afraid to be a leader. -- 1997
"APYLP has been one of the best experiences in my life. I've developed friendships and connections in one weekend that will last a lifetime." -- 2003
"APYLP opened my eyes up to the world around and my role as a leader in this world." -- 2003