top of page

The National Association of Asian Pacifics in Politics and Public Affairs (NAAPPPA) is proud to present the 2024 list of the top 40 AAPI political operatives and public affairs professionals under 40.


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.

Click this LINK to download the 2024 NAAPPPA 40 Under 40 List with bios and photos.


NAAPPPA’s 2024 40 Under 40 List in alphabetical order:


  • Maheen Ahmed | Deputy Director of Community Awareness, Response, and Engagement, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta.

  • Celia Bote | Managing Director, Targeted Victory.

  • Alexander Chang | Director, Targeted Victory.

  • Lance Chih | President - California Associate Staff.

  • Tommy Choi | Deputy Executive Director, Illinois Republican Party.

  • Cynthia Chou | Public Policy Manager, Uber.

  • Rob Chua | Principal Consultant and Founder, Avenues Consulting.

  • Matthew Estipona | Director of Government Affairs, Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California.

  • Arya Hariharan | Chief Oversight Counsel, Senate Judiciary Committee, Office of Chair Dick Durbin.

  • Tasi Hogan | President, TH Strategies.

  • Akbar Hossain | Secretary of Policy and Planning, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Chai Jindasurat-Yasui | Vice President, Policy, Nonprofit New York.

  • Ashley Juhn | Communications Director, Congressman Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07).

  • Cynthia Kaui | Executive Secretary, Chula Vista Mayor John McCann and the Chula Vista City Council. 

  • Lucy Khuu | Consultant, California Asian American and Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus.

  • Monika Lee | Chief of Staff, Sacramento City Mayor Pro Tem Karina Talamantes.

  • Susan Li | President-Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Asian Pacific Islander Caucus.

  • Heather McGuire | Counsel, Republican National Committee.

  • Mariko Nakawatase | Assistant District Director, San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson.

  • Miyu Oda-DesHotels | Legislative Assistant, San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson.

  • Sophie Ota | Director of Digital Strategy, Office of New York City Comptroller Brad Lander.

  • Anurag Pal | District Director, California State Assemblymember Alex Lee.

  • Vedant Patel | Principal Deputy Spokesperson, U.S. Department of State.

  • Tu Pham | Field Representative, California State Assemblymember Tri Ta.

  • Koy Saeteurn | Vice President, Sage Strategies.

  • Leslie Shim | Management Analyst, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

  • Navdeep Singh | Principal, Novalux Solutions.

  • Farrah Su | Senior Communications Manager, Center for Asian Americans United for Self-Empowerment (CAUSE).

  • Kristine Esposo Telford | Executive Director of External Affairs, The Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

  • Tina Tran | Senior District Representative, California State Senator Janet Nguyen.

  • Mai Vang | CEO, Heart & Hustle Strategies, LLC.

  • Kayla vanWieringen | Senior Vice President, EDGE Communications.

  • Finley Varughese | Programming and Political Manager, Republican National Committee.

  • Newton Viengkhou | Field Representative, California State Assemblymember Phillip Chen.

  • Dyanna Volek | Government Affairs Manager, San Francisco International Airport. 

  • Darlene Vu | Chief Operating Officer, Asian American Women's Political Initiative (AAWPI).

  • Danni Wang | Deputy Campaign Manager, Lisa Blunt Rochester for Senate.

  • Clint Weirick | Senior District Representative, California State Senator John Laird.

  • Mon Yuck Yu | Policy Director, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President.

  • Boo Yuen | Co-Founder and Executive Vice President, The Adwell Group.


In addition to the 2024 40 Under 40, NAAPPPA recognized the following:


NAAPPPA's Annual Forward Award


Johnnie Giles, for his work mentoring and promoting young AAPI professionals in the political and public affairs arena.

Johnnie Giles is Founder and President of JDGiles LLC, which helps companies in three specific areas: CA political strategies, business consulting and private equity solutions. Prior to forming his own consulting firm Johnnie served as Executive Vice President for a private equity firm specializing in mezzanine funding. He joined the firm to help reorganize the company and ultimately sell its holdings to two strategic partners. Giles had a successful 15-year career at Comcast NBCUniversal. After more than 10 years leading the government and regulatory affairs office for Comcast’s California region, he finished his career at Comcast Corporate HQ External Affairs group working on Asian American Pacific Islander and Center Left strategies and program activations. Johnnie has been an Executive Board Member for the California Foundation for the Environment and Economy for more than 10 years and has been active within the Asian Pacific Islander community for nearly three decades. He has served on the executive board of the Center for Asian American Media. He was a founding member and served on the board of Asian Americans for Good Government. He is the founding board chairman for the California Asian Pacific American Chamber of Commerce, Board Chair for APIAVote, Board Advisor for Asian American Victory Fund, and has served on the board and advisory board of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Los Angeles, Asian American Justice Center, OCA National, Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies C4, Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce & Entrepreneurship, and the Japanese American Citizens League President Circle.

NAAPPPA's Torch Award


Pamela Wu for her exemplary representation of AAPIs as an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist, leader in the Asian American Journalists Association, mentor, and media relations expert. Pamela Wu is the Director of News and Media Relations for UC Davis Health, one of the nation's leading academic health systems. Since 2017, she has led a team that produces award-winning health stories. In 2021 and 2023, she received Emmy Awards in the category of Health/Medical Long-Form Content. Previously, she served as Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at UC Davis School of Law. Pamela joined UC Davis in 2009 following a career as a television news anchor and reporter where she was nominated for an Emmy Award and received the Unity Award in Media for political reporting.  Pamela hosted a CapRadio health care documentary that won the 2012 Edward R. Murrow Award. She is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA), where she has served on both the national and Sacramento chapter boards. She is the founding co-director of AAJA’s Media Institute, a program in which top journalists and communicators train thought leaders to become valuable sources to the media. In 2015, she was named AAJA’s Member of the Year for excellence in service to the organization and the journalism industry.


NAAPPPA's Diversity Champions


Asian Pacific American Leadership Foundation

APALF was founded in 2004 as a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization to help prepare and equip AAPI leaders for public service and civic involvement. APALF was founded with the mission of engaging the AAPI community in active civic participation by creating, supporting, building and strengthening the local community infrastructure to help prepare and train qualified AAPI leaders for public service.  APALF encourages AAPIs to be active and become leaders in their local communities, and beyond, equips AAPI leaders with tools and skills to better serve their constituencies, and connects AAPI leaders from around the country including past and current elected and appointed officials.


CalCities API Caucus

Established in 2000, the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Caucus provides API municipal officials and their colleagues with a forum to share ideas and develop leadership experience. It also provides resources for city officials to discuss League priorities and issues, and offer avenues to communicate with the state's API constituency. The Asian Pacific Islander (API) Caucus is a diversity caucus organized within the League of California Cities. Asian Americans are the fastest-growing ethnic population in California. The API Caucus serves as leaders to improve the quality of life, advocate on behalf of the API community, and provide resources to develop the next generation of leaders. Its mission is to strive for greater API representation, equity, belonging, and inclusion in all aspects of the Cal Cities’ policies and practices; advocate for the well-being of the diverse API community throughout the state; and support and empower API local elected officials.


The Asian American Foundation

TAAF is dedicated to building a safer, more inclusive future for AAPIs everywhere. Founded in response to the rise in anti-Asian hate and violence, TAAF is reversing the longstanding under-investment in the AAPI community and addressing the root causes of hate and discrimination. Its mission is to serve the Asian American and Pacific Islander community in their pursuit of belonging and prosperity that is free from discrimination, slander, and violence. Its vision is an America where opportunities to participate in all aspects of society are equally accessible, and individuals and communities are not rendered invisible, nor singled out for false stereotypes, discrimination, or hate on the basis of race.

bottom of page