Board Spotlight: Salvador Mendoza 

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Salvador Mendoza serves as Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at NBCUniversal. Mendoza is responsible for the development of short and long-term strategies in the areas of workforce, leadership development, community partnerships and NBCUniversal’s Employee Resource Groups, with a focus on enhancing the company’s diverse and inclusive environment. In addition, he is responsible for building and maintaining partnerships with local, regional and national diverse organizations. 

Sal is considered an expert in the field of diversity & inclusion and holds several leadership positions in many Advisory Boards, among them, the American Red Cross, the Center for Asian Pacific American Women and the National Hispanic Corporate Council.

Born in Honduras and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Mendoza’s adjustment to a new culture and environment created an incredible formative experience that shaped his passion for diversity & Inclusion. Sal received a B.S. from Chicago State University and M.S. from Governors State University. Among his many accolades, he has been recognized as one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Hispanics, iConexion Game Changer Award, Imagen Foundation’s Powerful & Influential Latinos in Entertainment, Black Meetings & Tourism APEX Award for Distinguished Service, the Disability Champion Award and Chicago State University’s Latino Alumni Award.

Application: 2019 National APAWLI Signature Program is NOW OPEN!

APAWLI Fellows, Corporate Partners and Community Leaders,

The Center for Asian Pacific American Women is now accepting applications for its signature leadership program - the Asian Pacific American Leadership Institute (APAWLI). We are looking to invite and unite 12-14 AAPI women throughout the country to have a unique and powerful learning experience as APAWLI Fellows. They will be joining the 157 APAWLI graduates, since the organization was incorporated in 1995.  

Candidates should have the following qualifications: 

  • Five years of work/community experience

  • Acknowledged within their communities as talented high achievers and role models

  • This intense learning experience brings together women from diverse ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, geographic areas, ages, careers and interests.  

  • Possess personal responsibility for their own self-development and public responsibility for bringing teamwork, diversity, equality and opportunity to their companies, organizations, communities and families.

Application is open now until December 5, 2018. The application details, key dates and the process is linked here. If you know of candidates who would benefit from this program, please forward this information to them. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your support and we are excited to meet the 2019 APAWLI Fellows.  Be ready to be inspired!


Sue Ann Hong

Executive Director, CAPAW
T: 309-287-6240

Gena Lew Gong: 2018 Marjoree Mason Center Top 10 Women of the Year

Gena Lew Gong is an APAWLI sister from the Class of 2002 who was honored as one of Marjoree Mason’s Top 10 Women of the Year. We are so incredibly proud of Gena and excited to share a link to her acceptance speech posted on Facebook.

Gena Lew Gong is the Board President of Central California Asian Pacific Women, a nonprofit organization with a 38-year history of empowering generations of Asian Pacific Islander women in the Central Valley. She has extensive experience working in Los Angeles area nonprofit organizations, including serving as Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Community Fund; Director of Development for A New Way of Life Reentry Project; Program Director for Community Partners; and Director of Public Policy and Communications for Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP).

In recognition of her nonprofit leadership, Gena was recently selected as one of the 2018 Top Ten Professional Women by the Marjaree Mason Center in Fresno. She is a Lecturer in Critical Thinking and Asian American Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Fresno State, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Educational Leadership with CSU Fresno and CSU Channel Islands. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from UC San Diego and her M.A. in Public Policy from Duke University.


Central California Asian Pacific Women (CCAPW) was founded in 1980 and continues to thrive as the only pan-Asian women's organization addressing the needs and concerns of Asian Pacific Islander (API) women in the Central Valley. Over its lifetime, CCAPW has granted more than $204,000 in scholarships to low-income, API women to attend the college or graduate school of their choice; the vast majority of these recipients have been first-generation college students. CCAPW also recently completed its 5th year of working to eradicate domestic violence by convening forums to educate and raise awareness about the prevalence of this problem and, in particular, how it impacts Fresno's API communities. 

APAWLI Class of 2018 Reunion

Over the weekend of September 22, the APAWLI class of 2018 gathered in Atlanta, GA for a Women’s Build for Habitat for Humanity, hosted by Laura Cansicio. They came from Seattle, Santa Fe and Washington DC to participate and to gather as sisters. We’re excited to share photos from this weekend of exploring Atlanta, building houses, attending the 13th Annual Who’s Who in Asian American Communities (WWAAC), and visiting the Center for Civil and Human Rights.

 Sue Ann Hong, E.D., Laura Cansicio, Eli Cansicio, Jennifer Cruz, Huong Nguyen, Jennifer Brower, Grace Choi in front of a State Farm tent. State Farm is a major sponsor of CAPAW.

Sue Ann Hong, E.D., Laura Cansicio, Eli Cansicio, Jennifer Cruz, Huong Nguyen, Jennifer Brower, Grace Choi in front of a State Farm tent. State Farm is a major sponsor of CAPAW.

 Huong Nguyen, Sue Ann Hong, Jennifer Cruz, Jennifer Brower, Laura Cansicio, and Eli Cansicio

Huong Nguyen, Sue Ann Hong, Jennifer Cruz, Jennifer Brower, Laura Cansicio, and Eli Cansicio

 Handmade bracelets made by our founder Martha Lee gifted to the APAWLI Class of 2018 for this reunion.  Read more about the story of the star fish here!

Handmade bracelets made by our founder Martha Lee gifted to the APAWLI Class of 2018 for this reunion. Read more about the story of the star fish here!

 Sue Ann Hong, Jennifer Cruz, Huong Nguyen, John C. Yang (President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice), Laura Cansicio, Jennifer Brower, Grace Choi at WWAAC. APAWLI fellows were guests of Sachi Koto, founder.

Sue Ann Hong, Jennifer Cruz, Huong Nguyen, John C. Yang (President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice), Laura Cansicio, Jennifer Brower, Grace Choi at WWAAC. APAWLI fellows were guests of Sachi Koto, founder.



Dear APAWLI Alumni,                                                                                    

Greetings! This is the first newsletter I’m sending out but the name is still CONNECTIONS

It’s already been 3 months since I started as the interim Executive Director for CAPAW.

I can say it’s been exciting, exhausting, invigorating all at the same time. I spent time building relationships with Board members, connected with APAWLI sisters and reached out to potential funders. Houston, Washington D.C., Denver and Charlotte were some of the places I had a chance to spend some time, and this is just a start. I will continue to reach out to more people. It has been wonderful connecting with APAWLI sisters and others who were interested in the APAWLI program and our organization. There were phenomenal women from oil companies, banks and non-profit organizations and they provided feedback. Here are a few examples:

  • One person said to me, “I was told by my boss I do not possess any leadership skills.” Seriously, none what-so-ever? It broke my heart to hear that.
  • Two individuals shared similar feedback, “My boss said I needed to work on my communication skills, but it wasn’t because of my accent. But I was never told what I needed to work on.”
  • “We have Employee Resources Groups but we don’t necessarily have sponsors. We need to understand more about personal branding.”
  • “I don’t think I can get the financial support from my company to attend the program.”
  • “I have never heard of Executive Presence. What is it? How do I learn about it?”

I felt disappointed and grateful at the same time for the opportunity to hear honest feedback. I also feel a deep sense of responsibility and conviction that we can help people. By the way, I also heard positive stories where support was demonstrated for women to move up in the organization. What is evident is that there is still a strong need for our organization and what we have to offer. 

My focus is to communicate the mission and vision of CAPAW out to individuals, organizations and our community. The impact of the program was very impactful for me personally and I know it was for many, if not all of you. My goals are to:

  1. Support our three programs we offer: APAWLI Program, Regionals, Summits
  2. Engage volunteers to help with their time, talent and resources for our programs
  3. Grow our resources/funding so we can develop more women

What are we working on?

1. APAWLI Fellows, where are you?

Prior to September 30, you will be receiving a request through Survey Monkey to refresh your contact information, your current role along with additional questions to help us update our database (This is new!). This information is important to:

  • Build-in a directory of APAWLI fellows on the website
  • Leverage to form an APAWLI mentoring program in 2019
  • Create a calendar of events for the year, where you will receive various newsletters & invitations to events.

How you can contribute: These were ideas from APAWLI fellows, so keep the feedback coming. It makes a positive difference.

2. CAPAW’s 25 Year Anniversary

Did you know that APAWLI (name changed to CAPAW in 2006) was incorporated in Denver, CO on May 31, 1995? That means 2020 is CAPAW’s 25 year anniversary. It’s hard to believe but it’s true. Look what passions of a few women could do and how they transformed lives over so many years. Yes, it’s truly inspiring. Imagine APAWLI sisters connecting from all classes attending this event spanning 25 years. Can you visualize it?

How you can contribute: I invite you to create our 25 year anniversary experience together. We need you! Our goal is to establish the steering committee in September and start looking forward with venue and theme. Our founder Martha Lee has already volunteered along with several APAWLI sisters in Denver to work on the special convention.

Please submit your name to Sue Ann Hong at if you are interested in serving on a committee. More information will follow once the steering committee members have been confirmed.

3. Website Refresh

Yes, it’s true. Mandy Kao of Titan Management (Houston, TX) has graciously volunteered 10 hours of their firm’s time to refresh the website. The goal is to launch the new website in time for the new year. THANK YOU Mandy!

How you can contribute: If you have photos, videos, please let me know. We may be able to use it for the website. Note: We will need to have individuals sign a photo waiver.

4. APAWLI Fellows Program

The 2019 application for the APAWLI program will open on 10/1/2018. The refreshed program will be in April, June and September. More to come.

How you can contribute: If you know of potential APAWLI candidates, I would appreciate you forwarding their names to me. I will reach out to them to start the dialogue.

What’s coming?

Denver Reception 10/26/18 - We are introducing our organization to the Denver community. Though we were incorporated in Denver, this is the first time our organization is making ourselves known in Denver. Martha Lee and APAWLI sisters Ding Hsu, DJ Ida, and Yem Fong are assisting. Ramona Chun is a strong supporter of CAPAW and is helping us to ensure we have a successful event. Several community partners are providing support including the Asian Chamber of Commerce, Sakura Square LLC, and CU-Denver. All one-hundred tickets were spoken for as of 8/29. Thank you to the Denver community for the great response and look forward to a wonderful event. We appreciate Comcast/NBC Universal for being the main sponsor for this reception.

Board Meeting 10/27/2018 – This is the first face-to-face Board meeting since I have been on board. We will discuss and finalize our 2019 strategic plan. We should also have our programming schedule ready to go.

That’s all for the first newsletter. Please let me know if you have thoughts, ideas or just want to have CONNECTIONs.

Keep breathing from the HARA. Maybe a refresher is needed? Something to think about for 2020 convention.

Sue Ann Hong
Executive Director, CAPAW
Phone: 309-287-6240

Our top Sponsors are:

  • State Farm Insurance Companies
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Comcast/NBC Universal
  • Cole Chemical
  • Walmart

Key Volunteers:

Meet Tuyet Duong!


Tuyet Duong is a 2015 APAWLI fellow and also a Board member for the CAPAW. She and her partner are moving to Korea for the next three years.

What is your partner's assignment?

My partner is going to be an International Officer/Diplomat at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul.

What will you do?

I will be Director of Partnerships at DAWN, a global creative agency that is Asian and women owned! I will handle a variety of nonprofit, philanthropy, and political accounts. I’m thrilled and privileged to be able be an entrepreneur and have so much freedom to fly right now!

What city will you be in and how long? Who is all going?

We will live in an amazing flat/villa in Seoul for 3 years. All of us are going! (My partner, me, 3 boys, and my mother-in-law.)

What are you looking forward to the most about Korea?

I am looking forward to eating, connecting with incredible and diverse people from around the world, exploring my future and my career, showing my children the world and Asia, and having many many adventures.

Where can people reach you?

The Story of the Star Fish

In his book, The Star Thrower, author Loren E. Eisley talks of the early morning when he finds himself with “writers block”. On that morning, he decided to take a walk along a sandy beach where hundreds of starfish had been washed up on the shore overnight. He noticed a boy picking up the starfish one by one and throwing each back into the ocean.

Observing the boy for a few minutes Eisley asked him, “what are you doing?” The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the sea; otherwise they would die when the burning rays of the sun hit them. He explained that it was worth the effort if only "to help this one.”

Eisley left the boy and went home to continue writing, only to find that he could not type a single word. He returned to the beach and spent the rest of the morning helping the boy throw starfish back into the sea.

It is from Eisley's story that The Center for Asian Pacific American Women draws its inspiration.

For while it may not be possible to “save the entire world”, one can do her part to take care of her corner of it.

"Sisters, Let Us Gather at the River" by Puanani Burgess

I was at an APAWLI gathering, and called to the women, I said, "Sisters let us gather at the river."

And they came as though it was a river. You know what I saw? I saw my Japanese grandmother at the river washing rice; I saw my Hawaiian tutu cleaning the dirt off the kalo; I saw thousands coming to the river.

It was a place of peace, a place of commerce, a place where you met each other, a place where you shared stories over washing laundry, washing babies, washing rice.

And the river was a mode of transporting us to the worlds beyond that place on the river we were a part of.

It became also a place of dreams and dreaming. Because by being at the river, we all knew that it flows to somewhere. That somewhere unnamed, the river always flows, like it or not. I think that's what drives us as women to go to the unnamed places, to travel that river -- to ride that raft of dream-hope.

The river must move and you can choose to become part of it or not. You can choose to stay on the bank, You can choose never to come close to it. But our choices can never deny that the river exists.

"In each of us, there is a river." When I said that at the women's gathering, you could tell for some unknowable and un-namable reason, those women felt the river flow through them, and they responded just as they would have one hundred fifty or two hundred years ago. They just came.

And there's something about going to the river. It's purposeful. We go to the river for a reason. And sometimes, the river will teach us things that we never thought we wanted to know.

And so APAWLI for me is a river.

It has a physical presence. And that's why we come to these gatherings. It's not just a gathering of human beings. It's a gathering of histories. It's a gathering of futures. It's a gathering of all time. We represent so many, many histories. I'm traveling on this river because it's what I want to do, where I want to be. I want to experience all those voices inside of us. Every time I come, every time I work on something with you, I hear a thousand voices that I never heard before. And they become part of the story, my own and yours.

So, let us gather at the river.