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On June 1, 2014, Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC) held a graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of its Leadership Institute. With generous funding from the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Southern California Gas Company, the APIDC Leadership Institute was established to develop young adults to become leaders and advocates for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with disabilities. Raymond Kwong, Daphna Patel and Joanne Lee of Pasadena Community College, Kevin Phung from Rio Hondo Community College and Silkvia To from California State University, Los Angeles completed a 15-hour training program over three weekends which covered the history of the disability rights and the Asian American civil rights movements and leadership qualities, and skills in coalition-building, communications with the media, fundraising, networking, advocacy and establishing and running a non-profit organization. Speakers included California State Controller John Chiang, public relations professional Trisha Murakawa, and youth and community organizer Bryan Takeda.
At the graduation ceremony, the graduates, together with their families, friends and teachers were addressed by Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles and Guy Leemhuis, Commissioner on the California Commission on Disabilities Access and a former APIDC Board Member. Graduates were then given the opportunity to reflect on their experience in the Leadership Institute. They spoke about how the leadership training gave them more confidence and inspired them to advocate more for themselves and others with disabilities. They also mentioned how they came away with more skills and ideas to develop their initiatives, and expressed appreciation for the newfound community of fellow advocates, friends and mentors of whom they can now reach out to for support and advice.
APIDC is a grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice and face to Asians and Pacific Islanders with all mental, physical, and developmental disabilities through research, advocacy, and community engagement