CAPA21 Welcomes Courtni Pugh to Leadership Team

CAPA21 Chair Glen S. Fukushima and CAPA21 President Dale Minami welcome Courtni Pugh as a Leadership Council Co-Chair.

capa21-courtni-pughCourtni Pugh is a Partner at Hilltop Public Solutions where she heads all California-based operations for the firm. In this role, she serves as Senior Political Advisor for Senate President pro tem Kevin de Leon and helps lead a number of initiatives for political and non-profit causes.

Prior to joining Hilltop, Pugh served as Executive Director of SEIU Local 99. In this post, she helped lead negotiations for a landmark increase in the minimum wage for Los Angeles Unified School District employees. Hailed as a significant victory in the nationwide “Fight for $15,” the wage increase capped Courtni’s impressive career as the head of the local.

A veteran political strategist and community organizer, Pugh has managed numerous multi-million dollar independent expenditure campaigns in California. She began her career as a field organizer in Oakland, California. She later held senior posts in such campaigns as John Edwards for President, Kerry-Edwards 2004, and Gore-Lieberman 2000. She served as Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Danny Davis in Washington D.C. Courtni is also co-founder of CAPASA, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Staff Association.

Courtni joins an incredible group of AAPI leaders and luminaries as Leadership Council Co-Chairs: Tessie Guillermo, Kiran Jain, Virginia Delegate Mark Kean, Phong La, Ginger Lew, Steve Ngo (honorary), Mona Pasquil, Dilawar Syed, Maeley Tom, and Helen Zia.

Leadership Council Co-Chairs help Glen and Dale focus CAPA21’s strategic direction and help ensure that we have viewpoints that represent the diversity of our Asian American communities.


Here’s 8 Ways Asian Americans Can Stand Up to Racist Presidential Candidates

Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush and Donald Trump this week unleashed a string of racist insults against Asian Americans and Latinos.

Trump pulled a “ching chong” at a rally and earlier called for the deportation of all undocumented immigrants. He then threw out a renowned Latino journalist from a press conference just for asking questions. Bush said “anchor babies” was an immigration problem caused by the “Asian people” and then said today he would “quadruple down” on his position.

UPDATE (8/29/2015): And now Carly Fiorina.

We just got a terrific preview of how a President Bush III and President Trump would treat Americans who are not White. In a more perfect Union, these idiots would have been forced to end their candidacies by Americans of all colors who believe that our President should at least be a decent person.

What to do? For one thing, forget about apologies. Genuine contrition by candidates and elected officials can only be proven by actions. In the context of a high stakes political battle, a well-crafted apology is often used simply to counter a news cycle, and not reflect the person’s true feelings.

Here’s eight suggestions on what Asian Americans can do to hold Bush and Trump accountable.

  1. Strengthen alliances with Latinos and other people of color. These candidates don’t discriminate when it comes to racism against Americans. They’re equal opportunity racists. Asian Americans are in the same boat as Latinos. Bush and Trump see us as The Other, not as Americans. Let’s stand up for our Brown and Black brothers and sisters, because we’re all in this together. Don’t know where to start? Here you go: and #BlackLivesMatter.
  2. Find pressure points and make them hurt. Asian Americans may not have the largest numbers, but we have buying power. Let’s identify a Trump business that depends on Asian Americans and boycott the hell out of it. With Bush, we can comb through his FEC records and identify his Asian American donors to contact and ask them to hold their candidate accountable.
  3. Ask our organizations to step up. Many Asian American groups quickly responded to the racist insults. Other organizations have yet to respond. Understandably, many 501(c)(3) organizations are leery about weighing in to political situations because of IRS restrictions. But certain groups, like the Asian American Journalists Association, have watchdog roles that would be helpful in this situation. Let’s nudge them into action. UPDATE (8/29/2015): AAJA issued this. 
  4. Join in ongoing actions. The most notable response to this situation has been a hashtag campaign by Jason Fong, a 15-year-old student in the Los Angeles area. #MyAsianAmericanStory was started on Monday evening and has been used more than 6,500 times.
  5. Share your voice in the media. Write a letter to the editor, or an opinion piece. Write a blog post. Throw something up on social media. Staying silent is the worst thing we can do. Search for your favorite ethnic media or mainstream media outlet; most have easily accessible information on how to submit letters or opinion pieces.
  6. Ask the political parties and other candidates to weigh in. The Republican and Democratic parties seem to be watching this from the sidelines. If they oppose racist rhetoric in campaigns, we need to hear from them. We need the other candidates to demonstrate their opposition as well. Here’s contact info for the Democratic and Republican parties and a website listing the various presidential campaigns.
  7. Share this blog post. This one is pretty easy, right? The share buttons are below!
  8. Do the one real and tangible action to influence this election. If you’re not registered to vote or if you don’t vote, you’re giving up the one essential tool you have to ensure that we elect a President who can advance this country by caring about all Americans, not just some. Register today.

Let’s elect a President who is, well, not racist.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how we can respond to these racist candidates. Share your comments on Facebook or email

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CAPA21 ( is an Asian American Pacific Islander political action committee that invests in progressive candidates, AAPI field operations, and projects to improve AAPI participation in the political process.

August 12 Meet-and-Greet with Congressman Mark Takai of Hawai’i

MarkTakaiCAPA21 co-hosted Congressman Mark Takai (D-HI) at the Minami Tamaki law firm in Union Square.

Meet-and-Greet with Congressman Mark Takai
Hosted by CAPA21, Glen S. Fukushima, Phong La, and Minami Tamaki LLP
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Law Offices of Minami Tamaki LLP

K. Mark Takai was elected to Congress in 2014 and currently serves on the House Armed Forces Committee and the House Committee on Small Business. He is one of the fourteen Asian American Members of Congress currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.

Mark represents Hawaii’s First Congressional District, a district that encompasses much of Oahu and is one of the few Asian American majority districts in the United States.

Mark was a 20-year member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives before being elected to Congress. He represented the district of Aiea/Pearl City, first winning his seat at the age of 27.

Mark has served as a member of the Hawaii National Guard for 14 years. He is currently a Lt. Colonel and works as a Preventive Medical Officer. He deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2009.