The National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs (NAAPPPA) is proud to present the 2022 list of the top 40 AAPI political operatives and public affairs professionals under 40 primarily sponsored this year by the American Beverage Association with additional support from AAA Southern California Automobile Club, AT&T, California Faculty Association, East West Bank, Joon Kim, SEIU California, and UDW/AFSCME 3930.
NAAPPPA established this bipartisan list to highlight emerging AAPIs in the professional unelected side of politics. These honorees are trailblazing AAPI campaign strategists, lobbyists, legislative staff, and corporate public affairs professionals that work behind the scenes in the halls of power. They’re breaking the model minority stereotype by excelling in the rough and tumble, rule-bending, bare knuckle world of American politics.
NAAPPPA is a non-partisan non-profit national organization dedicated to promote and develop Asian American and Pacific Islander career advancement and excellence in political consulting, public affairs, and legislative advocacy through networking, innovative training, and professional development programs. NAAPPPA’s members include legislative staff and professionals specializing in political campaigns, direct mail, polling, communications, opposition research, political compliance, fundraising, public and government affairs, media relations, and legislative advocacy.
2022 NAAPPPA 40 Under 40 List (For full bios, click this link)
1. Mary Lou Akai-Ferguson, Political Activist & Organizer
2. Michelle Alexander, Charter School Growth Fund
3. Jessica Caloza, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Attorney General Rob Bonta, California Department of Justice
4. Vivian Cao, District Director, Office of Senator Shannon Grove
5. Gregory Allan Datu Cendana, President and Co-Founder, Can't Stop! Won't Stop! Consulting
6. Linette Choi, District Director, US Rep. Young Kim
7. Ricky Choi, Director of Government and Community Relations, San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments
8. Tiffany Chu, Chief of Staff to Mayor Michelle Wu, City of Boston
9. Sonali Desai, Chief of Staff, CAPAC Chair Rep. Judy Chu
10. Alisa Finn, Managing Director, Targeted Victory
11. Mason Fong, Director of Government Relations, Peregrine
12. Jassy Grewal, Legislative Director, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council
13. Gina Hwang, Vice President, Targeted Victory
14. Samuel Hyun, Political Director, Sonia Chang-Díaz for Governor
15. Andrew Jiang, Principal, AJ Campaigns, LLC
16. Nainoa Johsens, Director of Asian Pacific American Media, Republican National Committee
17. Nic Jordan, Executive Director, ASPIRE PAC
18. John P.B.Jose, Director of APA Engagement, Republican National Committee (RNC)
19. Noah Kim, Senior Account Executive, AL Media
20. Nancy Lê, Chief of Staff, City of San José Councilmember Sylvia Arenas
21. Allison Lim, Chief of Staff, Assemblymember Alex Lee
22. Denise Luu, Assistant Vice President, Communications and Media, East West Bank
23. Caeli Mahon, Vice President, Targeted Victory
24. Paulette Maskarino, Senior Field Representative/Legislative Aide, Office of Assemblyman Phillip Chen
25. Lindsay McLaggan, Public Policy Advocate, California Cattlemen’s Foundation
26. Bijan Mehryar, State & Local Government Affairs Manager/Salesforce
27. Andrew Mendoza, Legislative Director, California State Assembly
28. Tommy Nguyen, Professional Staff Member/US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
29. Peter Oh, Field Representative, Assemblymember Steven Choi
30. Jas Sajjan, Director of Communications and Public Affairs, San Francisco 49ers
31. Ghazal Seino, Field Representative, Assemblymember Phillip Chen
32. Samantha Seng, Policy Advisor & Legislative Director, NextGen
33. Rina Shah, Principal & Founder, Rilax Strategies
34. Shreya Singh Hernández, Data Programs Manager, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
35. Oliver Truong, Executive Outreach Director, Lead PA
36. Kevin Wen, Government Affairs Manager, Edison International
37. Nancy Xiong, Executive Director, Hmong Innovating Politics
38. Yee Xiong, Associate Consultant, Lam Consulting Group
39. Nkauj Iab Yang, Executive Director, California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs
40. Jack Yao, Founder and Principal, SC Strategies
In addition, NAAPPPA honored the following individuals and organizations this year for their efforts to promote AAPIs and diversify the industry:
NAAPPPA's Annual Forward Award
Ron Wong, CEO of Imprenta Communications and the Executive Producer of the award-winning "Race Epidemic" documentary for his work mentoring and promoting young AAPI professionals in the political and public affairs arena.
NAAPPPA's Torch Awards
AsAmNews and The Yappie for outstanding trailblazing news media platforms that support and promote AAPI political and issue-based news content.
NAAPPPA's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champions
California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon that retained an unprecedented number of senior AAPI staff in the state Assembly, appointed a historic number of AAPIs to chair, vice chair, leadership positions, and board and commission appointments, and dedicated many hours to speaking to AAPI youth and young professionals about careers in politics and public service.
California Faculty Association for its outstanding work on anti-racism and social justice, as well as recognizing the strong representation of AAPIs in their leadership, at the senior staff level, and its active support of the efforts of the CFA APIDA Caucus.
East West Bank for its outstanding efforts to support and promote AAPIs at the senior executive level and its active support of the AAPI community. Headquartered in California, East West Bank is a top performing commercial bank with teams of experienced, multicultural professionals that have helped guide businesses and community members on both sides of the Pacific looking to explore new markets and create new opportunities.