A Letter From Lisa
Greetings National CAPACD Family, Partners, and Supporters,
At the end of this year, I will be stepping down as the Executive Director of National CAPACD. I have been with the organization for 15 years, and in that time, the organization has grown tremendously from two staff to 15 employees in two offices, with a budget of over $4 million. I first joined the organization in 2001, a few years after the organization’s inception. We opened our DC office only one month before September 11th, during a time when we were reflecting upon what it meant to be “AAPI” and to be true to our social justice values. I am so proud of the organization’s accomplishments thus far - our deep partnership and collaborations with sister civil rights and advocacy organizations, our programs that have delivered real resources to our members, our amazing staff team, and our collective impact on national AAPI advocacy. I am truly excited about the future of National CAPACD and its next chapter.
Through the years, National CAPACD conceived of and launched programs that are near and dear to my heart, such as the Community in the Capital and the ACTION peer-to-peer technical assistance programs. During the housing and economic crisis, we launched our HUD housing counseling program and have since built on that infrastructure to provide asset building and financial capability programs with our members. Today, we re-grant over $2 million to community-based organizations serving low-income AAPIs and the neighborhoods in which they live. Our published research reports have made incredible headway in ensuring that the national conversation about equity includes AAPIs. We have had a number of accomplishments in the policy and advocacy front, including expanded language access and better data collection and disaggregation with federal agencies and financial institutions, legislation to establish Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions, and a historic convening at the White House on AAPI public-private partnerships – all things that I hope will have a lasting effect on improving the lives of our communities for years to come. We have done so much together, but more than anything, I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to grow and learn with this organization and with all of you.
As you know, I moved to Southern California to be closer to family and aging parents earlier this year. The board and staff have been working with me since early 2015 to build a strong leadership team and infrastructure to manage organizational growth and support my need to be closer to home. We have been planning specifically for the Executive Director transition since March 2016. The organization is financially strong because we have brought on very talented and diverse staff who run our programs, operations, and fundraising activities. In addition, we have made investments in building a robust senior leadership team to guide the organization during this period of growth and change. I am fully confident in the team that National CAPACD has in place. In particular, I am grateful for the leadership of Seema Agnani, who has agreed to serve as the Interim Managing Director while National CAPACD goes through the process of selecting a new, permanent Executive Director. Since joining National CAPACD in January 2015 as our Director of Policy and Civic Engagement, she has anchored our national policy work and provided key leadership for the organization. Seema’s leadership, seasoned managerial skills, and familiarity with our issues and relationship with members will serve the organization well during this time.
National CAPACD staff members, past and present, have such passion for our communities and our core values of equity, justice, and fairness. Together, we have lived through two Administrations and were able to witness history with our first African-American President, the creation of a new federal agency – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and strides towards recognition for Native Hawaiians. We have seen unprecedented levels of engagement by the White House Initiative on AAPIs and tremendous increase in the number of AAPIs in Congress, in the White House, and in presidential appointments. I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to be in DC these past two decades, to play a small part in changing the narrative about AAPIs, as well as strengthening our presence and collective influence on national policy.
In the coming years, I hope that National CAPACD continues to serve as a platform for action and dialogue, and I am glad that we recently recommitted ourselves to our explicit social justice values and partnerships with organizing groups. The national conversation about race and systemic, institutionalized racism is, I believe, at a historic turning point. The importance of centering black lives, raising our voices in solidarity and not allowing AAPIs to be used as a wedge to denigrate other communities of color, has never been more critical.
We have come a long way and I leave knowing that National CAPACD is well-positioned to continue on this path moving forward. In 2017, the new Executive Director will be able to work with the staff, board, and member organizations on a new strategic plan for the future. I look forward, with anticipation, to see how National CAPACD will evolve and continue to lead our communities. Though I am stepping down, know that I will never leave my beloved National CAPACD family and I will take your stories and lessons with me in my next adventure.
With love and gratitude,