API Women's Leadership Conference

Empowering API Women For Civic Engagement
National Online Virtual Event

An Online Virtual Event
Saturday, August 22, 2020
9:30 am to 12:30 pm PST

Representation Matters: Empowering API Women for Civic Engagement

The number of women in government leadership positions is growing. They’re winning elections and getting appointments. They’re making tremendous contributions in their communities.

APAPA has assembled a panel of influential API leaders who will discuss their challenges and accomplishments while serving in different public service roles. They’ll share their vision of where they think opportunities are for API women and their own next steps. Get ready for an exciting morning of honest and open communications!

The API Women’s Leadership Conference commemorates Women’s Equality Day, which celebrates the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. constitution, giving women the right to vote.

Join the live stream at facebook.com/apapahq/live. This is a FREE event. No registration is required.

Welcome Speaker

Amy Tong
CA State Chief Information Officer
>> Read Bio

Keynote Speaker

Betty T. Yee
CA State Controller
>>Read Bio

Keynote Speaker

Eleni Kounalakis
California Lieutenant Governor
>>Read Bio

Shero Award Recipient

Regina Yin
APAPA National Governing Board Member
>>Read Bio


Maeley Tom
Author & Founding President of the API Legislative Caucus Institute
>>Read Bio

Mona Pasquil Rogers
California Public Policy Facebook
>>Read Bio


Political Lessons Learned

Fiona Ma
California State Treasurer
>> Read Bio

Ling Ling Chang
California State Senator District 29
>> Read Bio

Lily Mei
Fremont, CA
>> Read Bio

Stephanie Nguyen
Elk Grove, CA
>> Read Bio

Pathways to Leadership

Sheng Thao
Oakland, CA
>> Read Bio

Priscilla Cheng
Director Of External Affairs Office of Governor Gavin Newsom
>> Read Bio

Shery Yang
California State Captiol's
First Hmong Chief of Staff
>> Read Bio

Lindsey Nitta
Executive Director
California Women Lead
>> Read Bio

Opening/Ending Remarks

Yen Marshall
National Executive Director, APAPA
>> Read Bio

Event Co-Host

Susanna Wong Ordway
APAPA Tri-Valley Chapter
>> Read Bio

Event Co-Host

Marsha Cheung Golanco
APAPA Tri-Valley Chapter
>> Read Bio

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Hear from California State Chief Information Officer, Amy Tong, about why you should tune in to the API Women’s Leadership Conference.

Founded in 2001, APAPA has grown to 30 chapters in the U.S. We empower Asian and Pacific Islander Americans through education, leadership, and active participation in civic and public affairs. 

Download flyer and sponsor info

“I want every girl to know that her voice can change the world.”

– Malala Yousafzai

Women's Leadership Event Sponsors

Title Sponsors
Sandy Chau
Civic Leadership USA
Golden Arch Enterprises, Inc.
Dr. Ken Fong/Kenson Ventures
Dr. Hsing Kung
International STEAM Education Association
Royal Business Bank
Yin Foundation
Gold Sponsor


Silver Sponsor


Bronze Sponsor
Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry 
Assemblymember Timothy Grayson

For full list of APAPA sponsors visit: www.apapa.org/sponsors/

API Women's Leadership Conference

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using.

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’

Amy Tong was reappointed as State Chief Information Officer (CIO) and California Department of Technology (CDT) Director by Governor Gavin Newsom to continue the statewide leadership she has exhibited since her original appointment by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016. She is also the chair of California Broadband Council, a governing body with the mission to close the state's digital divide. Prior to her current roles, Ms. Tong was recruited by the California Department of Health and Human Services (CHHS) Agency as its Agency Chief Information Officer and Chief Deputy Director for the Office of Systems Integration.

State Controller Betty T. Yee was elected in November 2014, following two terms of service on the California Board of Equalization. As Controller, she continues to serve the Board as its fifth voting member. Reelected for a second term as Controller in 2018, Ms. Yee is only the tenth woman in California history to be elected to statewide office. As the state's chief fiscal officer, Ms. Yee chairs the Franchise Tax Board and serves as a member of the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) Boards. Ms. Yee also serves on the Ceres Board of Directors, a nonprofit organization working to mobilize many of the world's largest investors to advance global sustainability and take stronger action on climate change.

Eleni Kounalakis was sworn in as the 50th Lieutenant Governor of California by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 7th, 2019. She is the first woman elected Lt. Governor of California. From 2010 to 2013, Ms. Kounalakis served as President Barack Obama's Ambassador to the Republic of Hungary. She was the first Greek-American woman - and at age 43 one of America's youngest - to serve as U.S. Ambassador. After her stint as Ambassador, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Ms. Kounalakis to chair the California Advisory Council for International Trade and Investment in 2014. Ms. Kounalakis was also a Virtual Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) between 2014 and 2017, specializing in international trade and immigration. She is currently a director of the Association of American Ambassadors and a National Democratic Institute (NDI) "Ambassadors Circle" advisor.

Regina Yin was born in China, grew up in Taiwan and came to America at age of 23 as a graduate student to study Social Work. During her 2 years of study, she earned her room and board by working as a nanny in a medical doctor's family near the University Hospital in Seattle. This gave her a great opportunity to learn about western family dynamics and culture. Later she worked 17 years as a Clinical Social Worker in Juvenile Court, Child Protective Service, Mental Health, Geriatric and medical services, and family welfare programs. Regina was an immigrant, but through her professional work, she immediately became part of the mainstream as she was helping others to cope daily life problems in America.

In 1984, her husband C. C. took great risk and entered into the McDonald's restaurant franchise business. She had to give up her Social Work profession in order to help C. C. The Restaurant was located in a very rough neighborhood of Oakland City. The business required her to work with the community to establish "good will" relationship to survive. At that time, it was not well accepted by some like African Americans for "foreigners" to run American mainstream business, like McDonald's restaurant. It was a great challenge for them, but their die-hard effort paid off. Not only did they ran great operation and were recognized by McDonald Corporation, but also received many Community awards. One can say this experience in Oakland was where the concept of APAPA was originated.

30 years later today, Regina, her husband and their two daughters/son-in-law run about 30 McDonald restaurants in Northern California. They have organized An Asian McDonald's Network group to help many other Asian owners in the McDonald's business. As she and her husband pass their business to their next generation, they would like to see APAPA organization to grow. They are both passionate , devoted and eager to use whatever it takes to support the equal/ fair opportunity for Asian Americans to contribute /lead in the future in America.

Maeley spent 20 years in the California State Legislature. She holds the unique distinction of serving in the two highest level staff positions of both houses, the Chief Administrative Officer of the California State Assembly under Speaker Willie L. Brown Jr. and the Chief of Staff to the former Senate President pro Tem David Roberti in the California State Senate. She was also the co-founder of the Capitol Asian Legislative Staff Caucus, the Capitol Asian Youth Leadership Project, and the founding president of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute. Her election as Chair of the Asian Pacific Caucus of the Calif. Democratic Party and subsequent appointment as the Chair of the National Democratic Council of Asian Pacific Americans enabled her to organize the first national convention of APA democratic leaders. This convention in 1987 marked the first time U.S. presidential candidates addressed APA issued before a national public forum. Ms. Tom was selected by President Reagan to serve on his Advisory Committee on Women's Business Ownership. She was appointed by President Clinton to serve on the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Women's World Conference in New York in 1995. In February 2003, Governor Davis appointed her to become the first Asian American to serve on the State Personnel Board which oversees the policies and merit system governing over 200,000 State employees. From 2006-2008, she served as the State Personnel Board's representative on the CalPERS board which oversees the nation's largest pension fund. She has also advised the California State Controller John Chiang on pensions and investments and she is the founding co-chair of the Assn. of Asian American Investment Managers.

Mona Pasquil Rogers is the Head of California Public Policy for Facebook. She was also Governor Gavin Newsom's appointee as Senior Advisor at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services where she served until 2019. Previously, Pasquil Rogers served as Appointments Secretary in the Office of the Governor since 2011. She was Chief of Staff to Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi from 2008 to 2009 and served as acting Lieutenant Governor from 2009 to 2010, upon Garamendi's election to Congress. Pasquil Rogers was a business development consultant at IBM from 2003 to 2006. She was Deputy Political Director for John Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004, Political Director for Governor Gray Davis' gubernatorial campaign in 2002, California Political Director for Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000 and Western Political Director for the White House Office of Political Affairs from 1996 to 2000. Pasquil Rogers was also the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Democratic National Convention in 2000. She is President of the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus Institute and President of California Women Lead.

Fiona Ma is California's 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018 with more votes than any other candidate for treasurer in the state's history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position. Treasurer Ma was also a member of the State Assembly from 2006-2012, serving as Speaker pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012. She built a reputation as a solution-oriented public servant and was adept at building unlikely coalitions to overcome California's most complex problems. Prior to serving as Speaker pro Tempore, she was Assembly Majority Whip and built coalitions during a state budget crisis to pass groundbreaking legislation that protected public education and the environment while also expanding access to health care.

Senator Ling Ling Chang was elected to the California State Senate in June of 2018 and represents District 29. She grew up in the District she represents, which includes cities of Diamond Bar, Fullerton, Brea and Yorba Linda, and is a product of the local public schools. She is Taiwanese-American and is currently the only Asian-American female in the California Legislature. Prior to the Legislature, Senator Chang served as the President of the Walnut Valley Water District Board of Directors, a Councilmember and Mayor of Diamond Bar, and President of the Youth Science Center, a non-profit promoting STEM education. As a project manager for a health information systems firm, Senator Chang helped develop software products for the health information management and clinical documentation industries.

Mayor Lily Mei was sworn in December 2016 as Fremont's first woman and minority mayor in Fremont's 63-year history. She first was elected to the Fremont City Council in 2014. Mayor Mei actively represents Fremont's interest on critical infrastructure issues including transportation and housing. Currently, she serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission as Chair for the I-680 Sunol Express Lane Joint Powers Authority, Vice Chair for the Goods Movement Planning Committee, and as a Member of the Planning, Policy and Legislation Committee. She was also elected twice as a School Board Trustee to the Fremont Unified School District serving from January 2008 to December 2014.

On February 2, 2017, Stephanie Nguyen was unanimously appointed to serve as the Councilmember for District 4 in the City of Elk Grove making her the first Asian woman to serve as a Councilmember for the City of Elk Grove. On November 6, 2018 she was elected to continue her term as the only woman on the Elk Grove City Council. Stephanie credits her life experiences from growing up in a low-income family household to her professional experience where she has built the drive and passion to continue to work in the community to bridge the gap between those less fortunate than her to resources that can help them become sufficient. Her community service includes serving on the Sheriffs Community Advisory Board, Vice Chair for the Council of Asian Pacific Islander Together for Advocacy and Leadership (CAPITAL), Advisor to the Full Circle Project and To'utupu'o e'out Felenite Association (TOFA) and a member of the Juvenile Justice Commission and Delinquency Prevention Council.

Sheng Thao was elected in November 2018 to the Oakland City Council, representing District 4. She is the first Hmong American woman to be elected to City Council in the State of California and the first Hmong to be elected in the City of Oakland. Sheng is the daughter of Hmong refugee parents from Laos, and was born and raised in Stockton and is the 7th of 10 children. She is a domestic violence survivor and as a single mother, Sheng put herself through college while working and raising her son. She graduated as Valedictorian from Merritt College and transferred to U.C. Berkeley, where she earned her degree in Legal Studies. During her time at U.C. Berkeley, she helped established the Bear Pantry, a food access program for students with families who could not afford to buy healthy food.

Priscilla Cheng is Governor Newsom's Director of External Affairs. She was instrumental in working on his office transition in 2018 and was a political adviser to his gubernatorial campaign. Previously, Priscilla was chief of staff for the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor where she brought over a decade of experience in the organized labor movement. She also served on the City of Los Angeles Workforce Investment Board and the Los Angeles Convention and Exhibition Center Authority.

The first Hmong Chief of Staff to work at the California State Capitol, Shery Yang has just been appointed as Communications Director for the CA Democratic Party. A first generation American, Shery is the first in her family to graduate from a four-year college. Raised in Yuba and Fresno Counties, Shery's family escaped the Secret War in Laos and as refugees, settled in California in the 80s. She has 13 years of experience in politics, policy and communications - managing outreach and community relations strategies for companies and non-profit organizations including AvidXchange, National Wildlife Federation's Choose Clean Water Coalition, California Trucking Association and more. Shery received her Bachelor's in Government from Sacramento State.

Lindsey Nitta is the Executive Director for California Women Lead. California Women Lead brings together elected and appointed women from different levels of government to build a robust pipeline of next women leaders in government. Lindsey's professional achievements and personal commitments expose true passion and vision supporting women leaders across the State. She leads with determination to advance community and organizational transformation. Lindsey's extensive skills, experience, and abilities were proven through her previous stints as Principal Consultant at Venture Consulting, Intergovernmental Affairs Director for the office of Mayor Kevin Johnson, Vice President at Mercury Public Relations and Vice President of Communications at California Forestry Association.

Yen Marshall is the National Executive Director of APAPA responsible for overseeing the administration, programs and strategic plan of the organization. She is also responsible for APAPA's fundraising, marketing, and community outreach efforts.

Yen is an experienced leader in community affairs and nonprofit board leadership, with a distinguished 30-year management career at AT&T in Treasury, Information Technology, and External Affairs. She earned multiple Presidential Volunteer Service Awards for her community related work.

Yen is passionate about helping the underserved community. She served as board member on various local community non-profit groups such as Sacramento Urban League, Sacramento College Track, City Year Sacramento, and APAPA Greater Sacramento Chapter. She was President of multiple Employee Resource Groups, which she continues to serve as their Advisor. Yen currently serves on the Board of Directors for My Sister's House, a culturally sensitive Safe Haven for survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking. She has also served as a mentor for many young professionals. She co-chairs Expanding Your Horizons, an annual STEM conference for 400 middle-school girls held at Sacramento State University, as she has for the past thirteen years.

Yen is an immigrant and proud to be the first one in her family to graduate from college. She earned her bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Sacramento State University, and recently earned her Executive MBA degree. She is an alumni of the Nehemiah Emerging Leader Program (NELP), a leadership program designed to prepare its Fellows for effective and ethical leadership in their companies and communities. She and her family reside in Sacramento, home to APAPA headquarters.

Susanna Wong Ordway is the first non-Caucasian to serve on the Board of Education for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District. Appointed to the Board in June 2018, she was then elected unopposed in November 2018. Her role as an education leader is not limited to K-12 public education. With her private practice in college admissions advising, she works with high school students and their parents to help them navigate the college admissions process. Her volunteer work also includes being on the Executive Boards of the Tri-Valley Chapter of the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA), and the San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs. Immigrated from Hong Kong as a child, she was the first in her family to attend college and graduate school. She earned her BA at Pomona College in Claremont, CA and her MBA at Arizona State University's Thunderbird School of Global Studies.

Marsha Cheung Golangco - Author, Speaker and Entrepreneur, is a longtime community leader. Her mission is to promote a harmonious world for all.  As a former Human Relations Commissioner, she sees herself as a bridge, connecting her Asian American heritage to all communities.

Marsha actively participates in a diversity of community groups, including as a Board Chair of APAPA Tri Valley Chapter and a Cofounder of Sustainable Contra Costa County. Marsha received numerous awards including the President's Award of the Year of the Building Industry Association for her dedication to the advancement of professional women in building industry and also an Honorable Mention Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award of the Year for her numerous community contributions.

Marsha holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Santa Clara University and a M.A. degree in Economics from California State University in San Francisco.  She has completed a Ph.D. academic program in Environmental Science from the University of the Philippines.