Fascinating, brutally honest, and hard to put down! Even if you don’t know Maeley, the inspiration and insights are remarkable!


Amazon this week released a new book by CAPA21 leader Maeley Tom titled “I’m Not Who You Think I Am: An Asian American Woman’s Political Journey.” Buy your copy today!


This book is both a memoir and a political history. It is the personal story of an Asian American woman’s journey from political neophyte to seasoned insider, the first to reach the top of an all-male, nearly all-white power elite in the California capitol. And it is the story of a political movement’s coming of age, founded in California, but leading all the way to Washington, D.C. and beyond.

Maeley Tom grew up far removed from politics, the child of high-living Chinese Opera celebrities in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Her parents’ neglect forced her to learn early on how to fend for herself, but this impressive self-reliance still could not erase her insecurity and need for acceptance.

Her personal journey was at the forefront of a growing Asian American presence in California politics, which she, together with a core group of close friends and colleagues, helped to create and advance.

Maeley dedicated herself to giving voice to an under-represented community, leading by example, and her actions and accomplishments became inseparable from the rise of the Asian American political community. She has seen great success, as well as setbacks, hardship, and scandal—all part of coming to the realization that politics is not for the faint of heart.

The Clinton Asian fundraising scandal forced Maeley to endure prejudice and discrimination in the media and from the Washington establishment, but her perseverance and integrity helped the Asian community emerge from the ordeal stronger and more powerful.

Many leading political figures of the last 40 years, Democrats and Republicans alike, have touched her life or played a role in her career, as mentors, colleagues, and peers—including Norman Mineta, Art Torres, Maxine Waters, and Willie Brown, among many others.

Her path also led her to presidents, with memorable and meaningful interactions with both Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan. Her position as a Democrat never stopped her from successfully reaching across the aisle to form alliances that would further a cause, build a strong organization, or create a team with the clout to make real change.

This is a story of a life well-led, with hard-fought gains and deeply-felt sacrifices; a story of painful struggles for professional recognition, self-knowledge, and personal fulfillment; a story of the rewarding, but often harsh, intersection of the personal and the political.

Throughout, the story illuminates Maeley’s inner strength and steadfast commitment to principles. At its end, it is a story with a universal lesson: that even success in the bare-knuckled, ambitious world of big-league politics takes a back seat to the best measure of success—love of family and friends.

“I’m Not Who You Think I Am: An Asian American Woman’s Political Journey” by Maeley Tom is available now on paperback and on Kindle.